Wilderness Festival with Appleton Estate Rum

Most people live for their weekends. Wishing the week away so they can get to the weekend, and then the next one, and then the next. 

But if I could, I'd rather like to go back to a weekend two weekends ago.

I was very kindly invited to Wilderness Festival by Appleton Estate Rum who I've been working with on their #CraftedWithJoy campaign, celebrating the 20th anniversary of their Master Blender, Joy Spence, through a series of summer collaborations with British artisans. 

Being a somewhat novice when it came to festivals, I jumped at the opportunity to go. I've been to day festivals before but never one that lasted a few days - heck, I hadn't even camped since I was about 17. I remember the envy I felt last year when all my friends came back from Wilderness as it looked like the most fun, so I said to myself this year that I was going to make it happen - there was no chance the festival was going to slip out of my fingers this year. 

I was able to bring a friend along to join in the fun and I instantly thought of Julia, who I've adored since we worked together over a year ago. We have the most fun when we're together and I knew she'd be the perfect festival partner-in-crime. The festival ran from the Thursday - Monday, but as it was my birthday on the first day, we decided to go the following morning bright and early, setting off in the car with non-stop chatting the whole way to Charlbury Park in Oxfordshire. 

We arrived in good time and faced the first hurdle of our weekend - how to carry all our bags, tents, food etc to the camp site where the others were already set up. Powering through the pain and almost making it the entire way without any help, we eventually found the spot at the top of the hill and set to unloading ourselves of our home for the next three nights. After a quick change and a few gems stuck to our face, we made our way into the thick of the action for a rather fancy treat to start the weekend off nicely: lunch cooked by Thomasina Miers in the banquet hall. After the feast was over it was time to get lost in the Wilderness. 

Wilderness is a festival for all. I was surprised to see as many families as I did! I even strolled right past David Cameron & Sam Cam. It's a festival for eccentrics or closet-eccentrics - I wish I'd captured some of the outfits I saw. Also, I wish I could forget some of the nakedness that I saw too... There's activities during the day that you can get involved in - from exercise classes, karaoke, comedy cricket, talks and even musical chairs - and more than your fair share of amazing food stalls that we really didn't give enough attention to as we should have. We were blessed mostly with good weather (aside from one stormy morning that really tested the strength of our tent!) which just added to the weekend. Our days were spent bumping into people from all walks of life and our evenings were filled with rum-fuelled fun and music. Just thinking about the memories makes me miss it so much.

Now, I'm really not just saying this because I came with them, but the Appleton Estate Rum Bar was by far the place to be. The staff were the friendliest (I even recognised some of the bar guys from my uni days in Leeds!), the drinks were delicious (I truly am a Mai Tai convert now) and the atmosphere was second to none. Even on our last night, the mood was electric and everyone was dancing away like they hadn't a care in the world... or work the next day. We thanked our lucky stars that we were here on behalf of Appleton Estate as it really made the entire experience that much better. The stand also offered up a number of workshops throughout the festival and we couldn't resist getting our creative flair on at the 'Sip & Paint' class - a hilarious 45 minute session where Julia and I discovered our artistic foray left a lot to be desired. 

For anyone thinking about going to Wilderness next year, I 100% recommend you go. This is the festival for those that love festivals and for those that aren't sure whether they love festivals. 

I'll be there, dancing my head off, covered in glitter, with the biggest smile on my face.

Thank you to Appleton Estate Rum for the most magical of weekends, made even better with a Mai Tai or two.