THE summer festival season may still be some way off, but lovers of the great outdoors are being invited to get into the spirit by taking part in a series of fun events.

The organisers of Wilderness festival, held at Cornbury Park, near Charlbury, are putting on three weekends of countryside activities to celebrate the build up to this year’s event, and to give local people a taste of what they can expect.

Every householder in West Oxfordshire’s OX7 postcode area (including Charlbury, Chipping Norton, Chadlington, the Tews and Wychwoods) is invited to come along with their families to join in with the May Marvels events, hosted by Lord and Lady Rotherwick, who will later be throwing open their gates for the festival, which is supported by the Oxford Mail.

The events will allow local people to meet the organisers and to find out more about its nature-friendly ethos.

The events begin at 11am, on Saturday, May 12, with the Forest Run – a fun run around the heart of the ancient Wychwood Forest.

A week later, on May 19, the Bushcraft Company, experts in outdoor skills such as fire-lighting and shelter-building, will hold outward bound workshops.

Then on Saturday, May 26, visitors will be invited to test their natural knowledge with a woodland treasure hunt.

Jim Whewell, Wilderness organiser, said: “The first year of Wilderness was a great success and we really appreciate all the support that we’ve had from the community. For us at Wilderness HQ, it’s really important to build relationships with the local residents that will continue into the future.

“We’re putting on these weekend activities so we can get closer to the residents before the festival and for us all to get a glimpse of what’s to come.”

Bands as diverse as American country rock act Wilco, psychedelic rockers Spiritualized, Oxford folk-pop band Stornoway, and Latin acoustic guitar wizards Rodrigo y Gabriela will be gracing the bill at this year’s Wilderness, from August 10-12.

There will also be theatre, comedy, talks, banqueting, cookery demonstrations and late-night partying. For the adventurous there will be craft workshops, horse riding, rambles and wild swimming in the park’s protected natural surroundings.

Lady Rotherwick said: “I’m thrilled that the organisers of Wilderness have developed this campaign for the local community. The grounds and forest are perfect for exploring and I’m pleased residents will have the chance to experience the festival before it even begins.

“The organisers have created something really exciting and unique and I’m delighted to open the doors of Cornbury Park for the local community to get an insight of what to expect this summer.”

May Marvel activities are open to anyone in the OX7 postcode area. All ages are welcome and activities are free. To book, email your details and date of workshop you’d like to attend to:

For details of Wilderness festival, and to buy tickets, go to