Come as you are Into the Wild

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Into the wild 2023

There is something endearingly homespun about Into the Wild. It’s this that makes it such a charming and enjoyable festival. Indeed, after a particularly stressful and convoluted drive to its rural idyll Sussex site, the moment I entered its embrace I felt like I was coming home. Okay, maybe that’s just a little bit too Waltons, but I most definitely took in a deep breath and relaxed into the promise of a better world.  

The weekend got off to an engagingly Dad’s Army-esque start with the opening ceremony. The local Hippierati elders who run the show did their best to make things moving and inspiring, but the wind, noise and size of the crowd rendered many of their worthy words inaudible. I got the gist though, and I am very much onside with the need to foster a nature-nurturing, loving and supportive community. Aho as they say in these circles. Amusingly for the more irreverent among the assembled, aka me, the magnificently attired Buddhist monk who said blessing prayers went on so long he had to be initially-gently-rising-to-determinedly encouraged to come to a halt. Don’t panic Mr Mainwaring!

Into the Wild attracts a truly eclectic crowd. The age range is spread pretty much equally right across the board, from happily engaged toddlers (there’s loads organised for them to do), to young people, middle agers and elders. There’s no sense of anyone having to fit into some sort of festival-image mould either, you don’t have to be hip, cool or even vaguely groovy to feel part of things. It’s a come as you are allsorts kind of a vibe. 

In fact it’s pretty much vital to come as you are if you’re going to make the most of the many workshops on offer over the long weekend. Real and lasting personal development isn’t possible, or at least is a great deal harder to achieve, if your starting point isn’t authenticity, warts and all. The workshops are inevitably a mixed bag of course – some are amazing, some less so – but in my experience you are always left with something of worth as a takeaway.

My workshop activities included ‘singing myself home’ with the ever popular Sophia Efthimiou, ‘co-creating my best life’ with the rather cool Lula Rose (which unexpectedly involved a number of yoga poses – does my best life have to include these?), ‘liberation from fear’ with hypnotist Lucy Lloyd, and increasing my ‘connection to self’ with the impressive Dr Clare Chandler. The latter involved some useful techniques to change habitual negative thinking patterns, not least noting to yourself ‘I am thinking x’ and ‘I notice I am thinking x’ when you find yourself slipping into your portfolio of less than positive thoughts.

Due to a torn calf muscle I spent my time mainly chilling out in cafes and around fires and being earnest in workshops this year, but there was plenty of music and dancing to be had too for those who felt the need for more hedonistic pursuits. I did though catch most of Robbie Underwood rasping like Dylan on the excellent Zutopia Stage, and I enjoyed other briefer liaisons with quite a few bands – which may well have included Folkadelix and Kangaroo Moon (both really good) – on the lovely Enchanted Wood Stage.

For a small to medium sized festival there’s a huge amount to do at Into the Wild, it’s like entering an activity Tardis, so it’s inevitable you finish up missing a fair few talks, workshops, bands and you-name-its you’d really liked to have gone to. My fomo moments included missing all of the excellent sounding talks about the earth and our future in the Wilderlands Tent, doing a bit of Forest Bathing, melting in the Hello Sunshine Sauna, learning some Circus Skills (although this may have been for children only), and discovering what on earth Embodied Animism is. Next time!

I’m not entirely sure why I always feel the need to comment on loos and showers in my reviews as they’re consistently dodgy at festivals, but hey I’m not going to stop now. Enough though to note that the standard of these facilities at Into the Wild is, well, pretty standard. More edifyingly the numerous workshop, talks and music venues were well spaced out and mainly pleasantly intimate, the food and drink choices were vegetarian and good (it’s an alcohol and drug free festival by the way), and the camping areas are attractive if at times fairly tightly packed, ditto at most festivals of course. 

All said and done, Into the Wild is a lovely place to wander around aimlessly and relax, to lay down the weight of your everyday life for a few days and breathe freely. I’m already looking forward to next year. 

Neil del Strother

Published on 30 August 2023 by Neil del Strother

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