Now, before I start I should probably explain that I used to go to festivals a fair bit. Glastonbury, Latitude, Lost Village, Lovebox. I used to be a big fan. Recently – and when I say recently I mean over the past five years or so – I’ve kind of gone off them. I much prefer a weekend away somewhere I can go walking, or climb a mountain, or explore an old town. Festivals don’t really do it for me any more though. The last one I went to I think I left at 8.30pm.
I hadn’t actually heard of Camp Wildfire before, so when the nice people at Keen invited me over to the festival, I spent quite a bit of time looking through the website. “What exactly is this festival?” I muttered to myself. Archery, quad biking, nipple tassels, BEE KEEPING? “This looks incredible!” I exclaimed, alone. “Sign me up instantly!” There was no way I was missing a festival that had spear throwing.
So what exactly is it?
Well, it says on the website that it’s half adventure festival and half music festival over near Sevenoaks. The general gist is that every day for three days (it’s starts on the Friday) there’s a range of over fifty different outdoorsy type things going on to enjoy. Then in the evening it suddenly becomes a music festival with people like DJ Luck and Mc Neat, Norman Jay and Horse Meat Disco pulling out the tunes.
What’s it like?
To be completely honest, the whole thing is pretty incredible. The festival area is designed like an old American-style summer camp (I say American because I’ve never seen or heard of a UK one) – think Wet Hot American Summer or the band camp in American Pie. People are put into various teams when they come in and take part in wholesome outdoor games like dodgeball, escape and evade and various other non-digital age fun.
The staff are kitted out like camp leaders, riling people in their teams on like scouts and getting people involved with the activities. The whole time there’s a camp radio station piping out notices and information on things going on around the festival. It works really well.
There are two main areas. The first is a big woodland area where a lot of the nature type activities take place, like camouflage skills, shelter building and fire making. The second area is the more conventional central point where there are food vans, little wooden huts and a fairly big marquee, all kitted out like a quaint little campsite from the 1970/80s.
What activities are there?
I mean, there’s so many I’m not even going to try to list them. There’s a massive range of activity types, so you can go all out and take a hovercraft for a spin or you can sit and play board games. It’s a really impressive selection. Take a look at what they had on here.
I had wanted to do some of the more extreme activities like the hovercrafting, however I actually ended up pottering about and trying some of the less intense things like spear making and astronomy. I’m glad I did as the result was a really nice and relaxing couple of days, unlike most other festivals I’ve been to.
Highlights for me included the swing dancing, the field games (think old school sports day) and the ridiculously charming obstacle course hosted by Keen (which was more like a quaint “how-to” training session on the best way to do mid 20th century obstacle courses. Think Hi-de-Hi! instead of Tough Mudder).
Who’s it for?
Based largely on the fact that all the music being played, all the bands on stage and the general vibe of weekend was massively focused on the 80s and 90s, I’d say there was a pretty clear demographic in terms of age. For me it felt like a festival designed for people like me that want to actually do stuff and interact with people.
It’s essentially a festival for people who still want to go and see live music and have some fun, but they also want to do stuff as well. The whole thing is centred around learning, trying new things and generally meeting like-minded people. Throughout the day there was very little drinking going on, with people more interested in pottering about and getting involved. That did change in the evening though.
I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to so many people at a festival, especially sober. But it seemed like everyone was just on the same wavelength.
How much is it?
Tickets for next year’s event are released on September 5th with tickets (early bird) starting at £129 (they went up to £179 this year), camping was included this year and the ticket also includes a set amount of activities to book onto. Additional costs include boutique camping, parking, bedding and various other things.
A lovely little boutique festival designed for people who like trying new things and meeting new people. It’s probably the friendliest event I’ve ever been to with a frankly ridiculous amount to do over the three days.
To find out about next year’s event, head over to the website here.