By now you will have heard the sad news that this year will be the last Secret Garden Party. From humble beginnings as a gathering with a few hundred friends the passionately independent Secret Garden Party has grown organically over the years. Its fun-loving friendly outlook, its much-loved eccentricity, and its meticulous attention to detail has inspired and enabled a generation of creative artists, musicians and performers to develop and thrive, whilst embracing the core values of friendship, participation and ownership with its audience. It has also been a major hub for leftfield, like-minded people who were eager to ‘escape to reality’ through the counter-culture. It can be proud of a legacy that inspired so much (and so many) as well as having been the setting for such a collection of wonderful memories and lifelong friendships.
Having gone for seven years straight (excluding last year) it is fair to say that Secret Garden Party is one of my favourite festivals in the UK. Anyone who has been to SGP will understand why, its different and doesn’t try to be like any other festival. Below are the top 10 reasons, Secret Garden Party is the best UK festival (in my opinion).
10. Enjoy the art
Secret Garden Party is one of the very few festivals, which isn’t sponsored by big corporations so you won’t have to be plagued with big coca-cola, Tenants or what not billboards! Instead the festival is filled with quirky art installations, which you simply must check out. Quite frequently the art is designed to make you think and that thought process will change and become more and more challenging as the day goes by i.e. once you’ve had a few drinks.
9. The Fireworks
Every SGP is different, you enter its gates and the familiar site has slightly changed and new adventures await. One thing that doesn’t change though is its Saturday night fireworks, which are always packed with a huge audience ready to be dazzled by fire and sometimes glitter (yeah really).
8. The Paint Fight
Another reoccurring event that takes place at the festival its its Sunday paint fight, which should not to be missed. Virgins fight veterans and the result is a colourful mess which sums up Secret Garden Party.
7. Cool down in the pool
Long before Glastonbury talked about building their own pool Secret Garden Party had its lake and for years the gardeners have been enjoying a nice refreshing dip in it. Since 2013 and to cope with a growing demand of swimmers SGP built a man made lake, which is solely for swimming and sits on the other side of the site. On a hot summers day and after a heavy night spent raving a nice dip in a cool pool is the perfect way to recover.
6. Become a naturist
SGP is all about discovering yourself and letting the festival take over. This is not a place where you come to look for something, instead that something will find you. And maybe you’ve always wanted to be a naturist and what better way to enjoy your body in all its glory then to do it with like-minded people. Back in the day Secret Garden Party even had its very own naked rave, which would take place on the Saturday, whether this will be the case again this year we don’t know but there’s a chance.
5. Take part or watch
The Secret Garden Party is all about taking part and you can do so in many ways, whether you decide to take part in a conversation in the forum, becoming a mermaid (yes really), wacky races, zorb football, mud gladiator fighting, dance fight, fancy dress or simply watch the events unfold, SGP is a treat for all your senses.
4. Become a kid again
The first time I visited the garden the theme was Alice in Wonderland and so the garden was adorned with tea parties, mad hatters galore and many questionable Alices. I remember the first time and every year after that, that SGP made me feel careless and silly. The garden’s fancy dress day is one of the best I have seen at festivals, the immersive games are off the charts and the lack of advertising onsite, which is replaced with art makes you feel like a kid discovering a wonderland.
3. Dance yourself silly
As it says on the website, this is a serious party and therefore you have to give it all you got. Whether at the main dance arena or the smaller stages Pagoda, the Drop or the secret woodland parties, there’s always a stage for you to show off your dance moves and there’s always a DJ that will blow your mind with new beats that you’ll rarely get to hear again.
2. It’s not all about the music
There is plenty of great music going around but Secret Garden Party is much more than that. From its art installations, secret venues in the woods, swimming lakes, the forum’s interesting talks and just silly immersive experiences, the garden doesn’t just focus on what goes into your ears but instead wants all your senses to be tickled.
1. The atmosphere takes over
Secret Garden Party is great place to meet new people, whether they are freaks, goblins or your average Joe, there will be someone there that will spark a conversation (or maybe that will be you). This is a place where you can make friends for life as they just like you have discovered the wonders of the garden.
The last ever Secret Garden Party (!) will take place near Huntingdon between the 20th and 23rd July.