Festival Spotlight: Intent at Arcadia Spectacular
Fire, flying and beats
Grace Jones and moonlight swimming, hip hop karaoke and craft cocktails, laser shows and Benedict Cumberbatch, forest raves and midnight feasts – we’re still digesting the whirlwind that was this year’s Wilderness Festival.
With stunning performances from the likes of Bonobo and Laura Mvula, invigorating talks by the country’s leading thinkers and gourmet dining from top-notch chefs, Wilderness proved yet again that you really can have it all in a field!
And here at Intent, we were delighted to be involved for a fourth year in a row, with seven of our light-coloured stretch tents dotted across the site hosting a mix of venues varying from late night dance parties to decadent dining.
Here are our highlights…
From swing to disco and everything in between, we danced our way across the site this year. The Atrium stage – a gorgeous half open-air, half tented stage sitting smack bang in the middle of the site – teemed with action from the word go. Morning yoga, swing classes, choir singing and live opera lit up a magical space throughout the three days.
That said, it was Friday night with the blues legend Lucky Peterson and the Ronnie Scott’s Blues Explosion that really got us moving. Lucky’s powerful bass tenors roared through the crowd working us up into a frenzy – finishing up with Lucky stage-diving and playing the remainder of the set floating on a sea of spellbound punters. What a show! We’d love to have been a fly on the wall at The Atrium back of house afterwards (a 10.5×6m stretch provided by Intent) where word has it that there was plenty of celebrating such a great performance.
And that was just the beginning! Over in the naughty corner, The Hustle (with drinks served up by Bristol-based The Remedy cocktail bar), was pumping out beats until 2am. One of our 10.5x6m stretch tents housed this awesome new venue, which included an LED-lit dance floor, a Martin Audio Wavefront sound system by Audiofeed, giant mirror ball DJ booth, secret DJ sets and craft cocktails flowing on tap – delicious and dangerous! The vibe was perfect late night hustle: warm, intimate and seriously funky.
From there it was a short walk (read: stumble) to The Valley where Eats Everything, Crazy P and Nightmares on Wax kept the late-night revellers going into the wee hours. This year the festival seemed to take it up a notch: beaming out stunning graphics and laser shows from the DJ booth across the forest floor and up into the banks of the valley, lighting up the huge sparkling crowd along the way. Keeping the party peeps refreshed were the Upper Valley and the Lower Valley Bars, housed by large Intent stretches at 25x20m and 21×10.5m respectively. We swung by a fair few times to check things were running smoothly, naturally.
Thankfully, the Peacocktails Bar – a converted 1965 Morris Ambulance that really must be seen to be believed – provided perfect Bloody Marys for the morning after. From there it was a short walk over towards the main stage via the Jose Cuervo’s Tequila Town – another Intent stretch at 7.5×5.5m and home to far too much tequila… Let’s just leave that there, shall we?
Fuelling the dancing and drinking were plenty of excellent dining options. As Rory Bett, MD of Mama Group and essentially Mr Wilderness, told us: “Wilderness is probably the only festival where you gain weight!” So, as required, we stuffed ourselves. Among our favourite stalls was the Polental stand, which fed us deep-fried cheesy rosemary polenta balls smothered in tomato, lentil herby ragu and topped with egg. Pure gooey deliciousness.
We were also rather partial to the Vegan Sushi truck, toasted cheese sandwich stands and CLAW: “a causal restaurant brand specialising in sustainable British seafood” that does mouth-watering crab. For those looking for a good old-fashioned burger and chips there was the Patty & Bun tent (an Intent stretch 15x9m), a gorgeous cosy venue with plenty of seating options – perfect for when it all gets a bit much and you just need to sit down and scoff some fries!
And for those looking for a swankier affair there were, of course, the banqueting options provided by Yotam Ottolenghi, Nuno Mendes, Thomasiner Miers and Angela Hartnett of Café Murano fame. We played our own small part in the Wilderness feasting too, providing a 12x9m tent for the ever so lovely, The Chef’s Table: an enchanting little restaurant perched on the hill overlooking the lake.
Sigh. Take us back!