SECRET GARDEN PARTY
Dates: The last was 2017
Location: Abbots Rippon, Cambridgeshire
This mainstay on the festival calendar needs no introduction. Over a decade since it first opened its gates, SGP has become a beacon for alternative festival culture. Whilst the lineup boasts everything from Folk and Gypsy Swing to House and Techno, and several reputable acts top the bill, it’s not necessarily for the music that people come to The Garden; rather the complete festival experience.
The ethos here is “anything goes”, and taking a walk around the site it’s clear to see through the onslaught of, well, everything, that a huge amount of time and effort goes into creating the organised madness that is The Secret Garden Party. Launched by Fred Fellowes in 2004, who was hugely inspired by Burning Man, it has grown from 1000 visitors to 26,000. Set in ten acres of landscaped garden, it brims with colour, adventure, imagination and mystery.
Lachie of Portobello Tents and Bassline Productions actually began his career in events working in the SGP office as a production assistant; as a result of these ties we’ve had the privilege of providing audio and stretch tents for the past three years across the site – covering art installations, life drawing spaces, and a number of other areas that needed a canopy.
There are around fourteen different stages, offering up anything from disco to “dirty drum and base”, with each act carefully selected so the overall line up is an exquisitely well-tailored affair. Each venue is brilliantly decorated, ensuring your visual voyage is stirred at every corner. The Great Stage will host your main headliners; the Pagoda (floating dance floor, of course) is a supreme platform from which to show off your best moves. The Drop, a natural hollow, pulsates underground house, techno and more. If you can’t find what you’re looking for – just keep walking, you’ll find it soon enough.
Incredible art installations are appointed throughout the entire site, and this is a large part of what makes this festival so special – a jamboree of aesthetic brilliance. Last year, they had a giant sunflower field (entrance through a Portaloo) and LED falling stars. It’s enough to make you want to go in itself. Fancy dress, is, as you’d imagine, is requisite – though if anyone’s below par on that front, The Paint Fight ought to sort them out pretty quickly – I don’t think we need say more. They have an annual theme – perhaps a little more contemplative than your average ‘summer of love’ costume demands – for instance, last year they had ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ – “a tribute to shirking the notion of social and financial redemption” – do with that what you will… (!)
Families are welcome here too – they have a brilliant Kid’s Area and your child will remain as diverted as you from start to finish. You might even say that the adult entertainment is basically just games for big children… There are also food stalls and vendors specifically geared to a younger palate, so you won’t need to worry about when or what to feed them. There’s also a wide range of culinary treats for you too – delicious offerings to keep your revelry levels at optimum range. The Sanctuary will do the rest of whatever it takes to keep your body happy over the weekend – fabulous treatments and wellbeing classes in an oasis of calm.
The spectacular position of SGP – lush gardens, fresh country air, and your own river, lakes and ancient woodland – make for a truly delightful setting in which to sleep under the stars. If you felt like you needed a break from the madness, you might chose to go and visit the nearby market town of Huntingdon, and its museums, pubs and spa. Alternatively, you could just relax in your own, private, boutique tent. Glamping at Secret Garden Party is the ultimate place to re-charge your batteries, without leaving the fairytale.