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WITH big name bands and artists, a sprinkling of celebrity stardust and a sea of elaborate glittery fancy dress, the weekend’s Wilderness Festival confirmed its reputation as the country’s best, brightest and most beautiful festival.

Hollywood actor Richard Gere and Made in Chelsea star Millie Mackintosh were among the tens of thousands of revellers at the boutique festival held at Cornbury Park, near Charlbury.

They were joined on one of the hottest weekends of the year, by actor sir Ben Kingsley, comedians Olivia Colman, Ruby Wax and Shappi Khorsandi, Oxford’s Alexander Armstrong, rapper Ashley Walters – aka Asher D, songwriter Tom Odell, Jordan Stephens of Rizzle Kicks, Casualty and Sherlock actress Louise Brealey, who delighted the crowd with readings as part of the event’s popular Letters Live series.

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The biggest cheers, however, were reserved for the undisputed star of the weekend – disco legend Nile Rodgers and his band Chic.

Rodgers, 65, took top billing on the main stage to headline Saturday night, playing a medley of his dance classics, such as Le Freak, Good Times and Everybody Dance and tunes from artists with whom he has collaborated, such as David Bowie and Diana Ross.

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The veteran musician, songwriter, producer and composer has been battling serious illness, and received a standing ovation when he revealed to the crowd that he was “now cancer-free.”

Other big names included electronic producer John Hopkins, pop act Bastille, jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington and dance duo Groove Armada, who played an extended DJ set in the festival’s Secret Valley – a spectacularly illuminated ravine hidden in the woods. They also treated guests to a secret show in the backstage bar, run by the team from upmarket country house venue Aynhoe Park. The bar was suitably decorated with models of unicorns and a large dinosaur.

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Organisers were delighted with the weekend, describing it as the best Wilderness yet. Event manager Charlotte DC, said: “This year wilderness surpassed itself. It was a combination of the perfect audience and innovative programming, each stage bursting with creativity.

“Believe it or not, we are already planning for 2019. We all believe we are putting on the best festival we possibly can, and that takes time, love, passion and a lot of hard work.”

Revellers were full of praise for the safe and crime-free event. Johnny May from Bicester, said: “It was absolutely brilliant. I have been before and couldn’t wait to come back. We had a fantastic time – dancing in the valley, eating great food and just swimming in the lake. I will definitely be here next year.”

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