FROM Humble Beginnings
What began as a small party for some music-loving friends has now become a multi award-winning family festival, attended by some of the biggest names in music, and the place it calls home is the biggest permanently-licenced events venue in Cornwall.
To be honest, we’re not quite sure how it all happened either, but here’s what we remember…
The Wyldes began with the very first Leopallooza, back in 2006. It was meant to be a one-off…
Co-founder and director, Lee Ellis (whose family farm still sits at the top of the festival site) was frustrated at the lack of decent local music venues at which his band – The Fires – could play. With help from his friend (and now fellow co-founder and director) Sam Dunnett, that frustration was channelled into creating a live music party of their own. On Lee’s farm, with the help of Sam’s hard-won tax rebate.
Lee knew his friends (and definitely his bandmates) had a tendency to get a bit loose when there was cider involved. So instead of having the party in his house, he decided to hold it in a little tree-filled hollow at the far end of the farm, where his mum & dad wouldn’t get disturbed by the music.
A stage was built out of reclaimed wood and old telegraph poles left behind by a phone company. Half a caravan and a ratty tarpaulin became the backstage office, where complimentary burgers were barbecued for the artists, in lieu of any actual payment. Large and unsafe holes in the ground were noted, but generally left large and unsafe. Local bands were invited to play. Someone drove a car into the middle of the ‘arena’ and set it on fire.
250 friends and friends-of-friends showed up that night… and it was a hit.
It didn’t have a name back then. It was just a party.
The next year the buzz spread fast in local live music circles, when it was suggested there would be another, bigger party. Lee and Sam were now joined by two other close friends, co-founder and director Matt Daniel, and Cai Waggett. Plans were drawn up to double the capacity of the event, bring in some higher profile acts, and fill in some of the large and unsafe holes. Team of four set about creating the second party. Hours were spent drinking tea and watching music videos on Myspace. A local graphic design company were sweet-talked into making a poster.
And now it had a name: Leopallooza.
In the weeks and days before the event, friends of the team would rock up on site and help our where they could… just as they have since. Once again, it was a roaring success. Clearly, there was no turning back now.
Things Get LegiT
In 2008, due to its success and growing size, Leopallooza went fully legit. Seeking the relevant licence and abiding by all the rules laid out by the authorities. Especially those regarding large and unsafe holes. Things were changing, but it was agreed amongst the team that the initial spirit of the first had to remain, just as it does today – that ‘house party’ atmosphere.
A festival built by festival fans, steadfastly sticking to the rootsy fundamentals of a homespun event, while now attracting some of the biggest names in contemporary music.
Bigger and Better Than Ever
In 2015 it was decided that the site needed some serious investment if it was going to continue to grow. And so, with an army of helpers and Leopallooza believers, many of who (but definitely not all) knew how to use a hammer, the two main stages were taken apart. In their place grew the most hi-tech and hi-spec permanent stages in the southwest.
The main stage is built with reclaimed wood and motorway sidings, and it is designed to be the most modifiable stage in the UK. It can host an entire orchestra, it can be an outdoor cinema, it can even be a wedding chapel…
We realised that the arena we had created deserved to be loved and used much more than just once a year. We had created an events space that the people of Cornwall had needed for years, the very space that we were crying out for when we had thrown that little party nearly a decade ago. And so Leopallooza became just one weekend in our calendar of events… and we became The Wyldes.
In 2017, we introduced the first of our Live in The Wyldes events. Inviting some of our favourite artists – and their friends – to come and help us put on a party for their fans. Rag’n’Bone Man and Chase & Status were both up for the challenge, and they damn well smashed it out of the park! The following year Paloma Faith brought her charismatic and hypnotising stage show to Cornwall – the sun shone, the arena filled, and the good times rolled.
Over the years we’ve hosted a few private events, but we always kept them relatively quiet. But more and more people started asking and we realised this was another string to our bow that we could be utilising – you know us, the more parties we get to be a part of, the better! The Wyldes played host to its very first wedding for Lisa & Ash back In 2012, and we’ve had some of the most awesome couples say their I Dos with us in the years since, launching Weddings in The Wyldes officially in 2017.
We’re working hard on planning the 13th Leopallooza as well as a whole host of exciting one-day events. We’re hoping to grow to whole new heights in the next couple of years, and we’re hoping you will be along for the ride.
A lot has changed since 2006, almost all the holes have been filled in, the car was moved, some trees were cut down, and even more were planted. In fact, the festival site is almost unrecognisable compared to what it was. But a lot has stayed the same too.
It’s run by the same small team who work year-round to create, curate, and run each event. Helped out by a collective of friends, family, helpers, and handypeople. Who, in true Woodstock spirit, know that the good times lie as much within the project as in the outcome. We have stuck to our core values, we keep ticket prices as low as we possibly can. Bar prices remain sensible, we run a 0% landfill policy, banned single-use plastic, and our independence is intact. We insist on only the friendliest staff across the site – from the bar crew, to the security team, to Pete the Poo – who cleans the toilets with a smile.
And, happily, it works – it works because there is an understanding between all those who graft on it and all those who pay to attend – that we put this on not for the money, not for the cool points, not for the girls, not for the boys, not for corporations, and not for the small change we find in the mosh-pit when you’ve all gone home.
We put this on because we love music, we love Cornwall, we love a party, we love experiencing new things, and we love making new friends.