Vicky Fenton Talks Wild Wood Disco 2024

An interview with The Insider

Wild Wood Disco has been running since 2017 and at a time many festival’s have struggled it has built a loyal following by focusing on strong artist curation and slick festival experience, basically everything a festival should be right now. It’s back for summer 2024 from 21st – 23rd June and the Magic Happens at The Woodland Glade, Horseheath Racecourse, Linton, Cambridgeshire, CB21 4QP.

With lots of Le Visiteur favourites appearing on the bill we sent The Insider to chat to the woman behind the festival Vicky Fenton about all things Wild Wood including, how the festival came into being, her own background and what goes into festival curation.

You can check out more on Wild Wood HERE

Thanks for taking the time to talk Vicky.

A pleasure, thanks for talking to me:)

Where were you and what were you doing when you first had the idea about doing your own festival?

I had been called to view a racecourse site by their land manager – they wanted to hold concerts and festivals on the land. It’s a large open site, which would hold a huge event, but I went wandering off into a woodland and got very excited.

My busy brain started imagining stages and bars and people and a party there. I often say it was the first really strong gut feeling in my life that I really listened to. I could just picture it.

How did the idea eventually come to life?

I had to convince the landowners to let me use the wood, and then I started planning a party, threw everything into it, my tiny amount of savings, and a lot of passion and hard work, then it happened. It was brilliant and everyone loved it.

Has this always been a solo venture, or did you start out working with someone else?

It’s always been solo; I describe it as my baby as it can be painful to push out every year, but I love it!

I can’t tell you how much space in my brain it uses up, I think about it all the time.

Vicky Fenton

What was your background before the festival? Had you organised other events?

I had been organising regular events and two small festivals for a venue near Cambridge, that job had come to an end so visiting the site happened at exactly the right moment!

Working there for 4 years had given me an amazing opportunity. I’d built up a following of people that liked what it did and made me realise I was really good at something.

My boss there would always tell me I had magic wand waving capabilities, everything I touched had something special that people loved. Without that job I wouldn’t be doing what I do now.

When was the first festival, and who was on the line up?

It was in 2017, the line up had local DJs, Freddie from SGP and Jazzie B – I’d seen him in Victoria Park at a festival and he’d played a very crowd pleasing set and as I had a very mixed following, I thought he’d work, and I could just afford him! He loved it, video called his wife and walked her round and said – it’s just like parties used to be in the nineties.

How did the first one go? What did you learn from the first event?

It went brilliantly, people loved it. I also loved it being small, I had time to do loads of great décor, create a secret Absinthe bar through a wardrobe, and run our own bars. People always asked how much money I lost doing the first one, but I didn’t it was a total success. I learnt loads. I learn every year a lot of new lessons and now so more than ever. It’s a really difficult time to be running a festival, the business side of it and me has had to really step up.

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What were some of the challenges you faced in the beginning?

Nothing compared to what I face now. Post Covid is so challenging compared to those first 3 years.

Was there any point after the first festival that you thought, I don’t want to do this again?

No, I just loved doing it then. Now with the ticket sales stress that all organisers are under, I think I can’t put myself through that again. Here I am though, doing it all again, it’s got to be getting better – hasn’t it?

Do you think that some of the challenges are to do with being a woman?

Yes, some of them have been for sure. I’ve had to deal with a lot of misogynistic male behaviour and lack of respect. In particular in the older males in the industry, tech and crew, agents – some awful experiences there. Also, people trying to rip off the festival maybe seeing a woman as a weak link.

Unfortunately, I now try to be very cautious dealing with new people to work with and have had to toughen up a bit. I liked to assume the best of people before this.

Tell me a little about the location and how you acquired the site?

It’s a huge site with a beautiful woodland that is perfect for a small festival, I love decorating and dancing under the trees- nothing is prettier than lasers in leaves. We also have amazing sunsets from the top of the woods- our sundown stage.

I have a license for the woods but rent it for events from the landowners, we also do weddings and private parties there. It’s pretty handy location as it’s only an hour from east London up the M11 and half hour South of Cambridge. I’m never happier than when working in the woods, I love it.

Have all of the festivals been in the same location? How much of the festival is about the place?

It’s a lot about dancing under the trees, the winding paths to wander and discover parties and art installations. I wouldn’t have felt inspired to hold a festival in an open field, I don’t think DJs work on big stages in fields at festivals there is no atmosphere.

How do you go about curation? Is this personal taste and eclectic, or are you thinking strategically?

The lineup is really carefully put together with our wonderful crowd in mind. We have a really mixed crowd of ages and kinds of people, seeing acts in clubs or at other festivals sometimes you just now this will work in the woods and the people will love it. This year we have a really eclectic line up on our main stage and I’m really excited to see the reaction to Raz and Afla – who I fell in love with at Shambala festival – and then see the journey to Goldie at the end. We haven’t had any drum and bass on our main stage before.

If you had to put the music ethos into a few words, how would you describe it?

For people to dance and party with smiles on their faces.

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You had a strong theme of inclusivity at last years festival, why is that so important to you?

The best dance floors are mixed, free spaces. I’m quite old so I suppose I’m trying to make sure the woods have dancing spaces like the rave and clubbing days of my youth- it fills me with joy to say this is indeed the case. People dance with each other, no phones, no staring at the DJ, they hug and make friends-it’s so beautiful to see and it makes it so much better for artists to play here, they all notice this difference and compliment the crowd.

If there is one thing that you improve on this year from last year, what would it be?

My stress levels, I want to try and enjoy it this year. Other than that, we had a hiccup with our bars at peak time Saturday which had a huge impact and meant the festival lost money, so a smooth-running bar and a successful event.

Have you a got any highlights from last year you can share?

I got a huge buzz from walking around and looking at the crowd interacting with each other and dancing, smiling and the sound of laughter, I kept thinking – what beautiful people. The procession of people going to the campsite on Sunday night singing- “I’ve had the time of my life.”

Also, the giant disco ball penis up at the sundown stage and seeing people worship it late at night.

Give us a round up the line up this year?

Well, I’ve mentioned Raz and Afla live, they are brilliant, it’s beatsy, African, dance music. Excited for both B2Bs that came off, Rufdug and Dr Banana and Dan Shake and Laurence Guy.

We haven’t had B2Bs before, it will be interesting.

Erol, I love Erol, every time I’m on a dance floor with him playing it seems like I’m on a magical trip to outer space, he’s just so good. Wallace, I love, what a talent. Also, Gina Breeze, she closed the festival as part of Homoelectric and was insanely good, we’ve given her a well-deserved big slot before Goldie, She’s just so talented.

What do you think sets your festival apart from others?

Some people say you can tell it’s been organised by a woman, maybe the detail.

It is the crowd here that really sets us apart, like I said it feels like parties should do and used to. Maybe because I’m not a DJ and lots of electronic music festivals are run by DJs. I’m a party girl so it really is put together with the party experience in mind, not just the music.

There is no ego here or choosing the artists I like or want to be associated with, everything is chosen to make it the best experience possible for the people that come- I want everyone to have loads of goose bump moments.

How can we get involved in Wild Wood 2024?

We still have applications open for volunteers of all kids including décor, if you are an artist or have an interesting creative idea or something you’d like to showcase we are still accepting applications for this.

Otherwise support us, get a ticket, and get fully involved for the weekend, you’ll meet amazing people, have a brilliant dance, and really appreciate the magic of a small festival in the woods.

For more on Wild Wood Disco please check:

Wild Wood Disco Facebook
Wild Wood Disco Instagram
Wild Wood Disco WWW

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Tags: Vicky Fenton, Wild Wood Disco, Wild Wood Disco Festival

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