Are you looking for somewhere remote, wild and beautiful to recharge your batteries? Out & Wild may be the place for you this summer
BY JANE FAE, IMAGE VIA OUT & WILD FESTIVAL ON INSTAGRAM
Polly Shute is the co-founder of Out & About, a group that connects the LGBTQI community through shared experiences, as well as the moving genius behind Out & Wild, the UK’s first Wellness Festival for LGBTQI women and non-binary people. Describing herself as a Triple-L – a Late Life Lesbian – Polly is keen to support the community. She joined Pride In London in 2013 where she helped to build the brand and launch a women’s stage. She has also worked with DIVA publisher, Linda Riley, helping to establish the first Lesbian Visibility Week in 2020. During lockdown, she was involved in setting up the DIVA Community Channel for people who were struggling.
The Out & Wild Wellness Festival, she explains, was very much the result of serendipity. Following up on this community project, she set up a retreat last year. In the process, she came upon what she describes as an amazing space looking over a river on private land in Wales. As luck would have it, the woman running the retreat already had a June Festival going on and wanted to do more for the LGBTQI community. So, it made sense to put on festival using the equipment already in place.
The result is an eclectic mix that is, as Polly emphasises, nothing like a music festival. Well, not much! Yes, there will be music, but there will be loads of other stuff, too.
Tastes of sport include five-a-side football for those who want a kick about, and on the water there will be wild swimming and paddle boarding provided by Canoe Wales. There will be spoken word events hosted by a number of authors, including best-selling poets. There will also be workshops, ranging from foraging and nature to sexual health and bushcraft. The wellness dimension is supported by pilates, yoga, and meditation.
As for the evening, there will be music, dancing and comedy. Though it won’t be all noise, as Polly speaks wistfully of silent dancing under the moonlight. This is a weekend packed with stuff to do from start to finish, but for those who want a quieter time, there is a chance just to watch and meet other like-minded people.
Close to the Welsh village of Lawrenny, the festival is nestled in the far corner of Pembrokeshire. With good access by rail and road, it is perfect for those who like to get away from it all, and Out & Wild is all about escaping the city and retreating to a quiet, private space for total relaxation.
Some have asked Polly why she has not described the festival as a lesbian event. After all, at its heart are lesbian women. She is clear, though, that Out & Wild unashamedly centres queer women, even if “queer” remains a challenging word. It also caters for bi people, as well as those who question their sexuality and gender. Polly has taken calls and received emails from trans women wondering if they are allowed to attend. “It makes me sad that they would feel they have to ask”, she explains. Out & Wild is inclusive, and all are welcome.
If you are interested in going, you’ll have to hurry. Early Bird tickets have now gone, so expect to spend £100 for a no-camping ticket and £135 for a weekend ticket that includes camping and all activities for £135. To find out more or to book your tickets, check out the Out & Wild website here.
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