The countdown to Secret Garden Party is on.
Secret Garden Party, taking place from the 25-28 July, is described by its founders as ‘a party like no other.’ Each year over 26,000 ‘gardeners’ flock to Abbot’s Ripton estate in Cambridgeshire: a 220 acre landscaped garden surrounded by a river and lake to take part in the four-day festival extravaganza. Focused on participation, it aims to be a temporary community that is free and friendly. With this year’s theme set as Superstition, organisers are asking festival goers to ‘Leave reason at the Garden gates, search for the four-leaf clover along the path and see where lady luck takes you.’
Here are five highlights we are looking forward to:
It’s a line-up that literally runs from A-Z. From Animal to Z-Stat, there’s something for everyone and lots of new musicians and bands to discover. We’ll be dancing our welly-boots off to Django Django, Bastille, Regina Spektor, 2ManyDJs, Goldie, Soulwax and The Strypes. Before reliving our nineties dance music dreams when Faithless hit ‘The Great Stage.’ With europhic anthems like We Come 1′ and ‘Insomnia’ they are bound to be the ultimate crowd-pleaser.
Think festivals are all dodgy kebabs and soggy chips that you guzzle on the go? Well think again. At Secret Garden Party it’s all about the gourmet experience. Not gastroenteritis. The Soul Fire restaurant – set within an oak framed canvas hall with chandeliers and white linen is definitely festival dining at its finest. Serving Bloody Marys and eggs for breakfast (our hangover souls give praise,) a three-course evening meal with dishes including braised octopus, sirloin of beef and salted caramel chocolate brownies, plus a full Sunday Roast on, well, Sunday, duh, this is set to be one hell of a feastival. Those who prefer to guzzle on the go will be spoilt for choice with the best street food producers on site. Just a few we’ll be paying a visit to include Anna Mae’s for some pimped up Mac N Cheese, Barbaby Skyes for hand-made pies (FYI festivals are all about carb-loading) and Ruby Violet for some refreshing sorbet. And we’ll definitely be checking out Home Grown Cafe. Run from solar energy, their space, decorated with flowers both in-and-outside, has a ‘no shoes’ policy and alongside ‘reggae breakfasts’ and falafel platters you can take part in a hula-hoop workshop. Well, it’s one way of working up an appetite.
Secret Garden Party is all about the ‘experience.’ According to the organisers, there is only one rule at SGP and that is participation. They even give back to ‘Gardeners’ half of all programming money in the form of arts and expression grants. With this year’s theme as ‘Superstition,’ Gardeners are encouraged to join in and ‘explore their affinity to the supernatural, the inexplicable and the irrational.’
We’ll be heading to the Action Camps to start our exploration. At Everything is Connected you’re encouraged to enter the den of stories, adorn yourself in glitter and look in the mirrors of unreality. Gypsy Disco aims to celebrate the odd and obscure with a euphoric performance featuring fire-breathers and exotic dancers, circus performers and jugglers. While ‘Giant Guess Who’ provides all the props to let you dress up as the characters. Giant beard and googly glasses anyone?
Art installations include ‘Lucky Shit;’ a giant pigeon sculpture which drops coloured goo on those who pass beneath it, ‘Twilight Tweets;’ a series of mechanical puppet owls hidden amongst the trees, ‘Luz;’ a 3 sided-pyramid which takes you on a journey celebrating light and ‘The Street;’ a miniature floating world of one hundred illuminated flying paper houses.
Then there are the theatre and performances like ‘Rebel Bingo,’ ‘Head Hacking’ (impromptu hypnosis) and ‘The Black Cat Bar’ – the garden’s naughtiest place to enjoy seductive cabaret. That’s not to mention the various workshops from the ‘Dirty Dancing Lift Scene’ reenactment to samba. Plus, there’s the art boats that ravel around the lake and fields looking for passengers to entertain. Some play music others take you to hidden areas of the garden. All aboard!
‘We’re looking forward to camping at a festival.’ Like seriously, it’s a sentence we never thought we would ever utter. But then we discovered what exactly ’boutique camping’ involves at Secret Garden Party. Once you pull up to the private car park you’re greeted by barrow boys and trolley dollies who whisk you and your luggage to your home for the next four days. And when we say home that’s exactly what you get. Just check out these examples:
Bell Tent; featuring a double soft mattress with cotton bed linen and battery powered lighting. Waking up here will certainly lessen the painful hangover. (Sleeps 2 people from £550.)
Lotus Tent; King size beds, hand appliqued bedspreads, decorated with hand-made bunting. This is just dreamy. Plus there is a stock of velvet eye masks, mineral water and baby wipes. (Sleeps up to 4 people from £1000.)
Suite Huts; each wooden hut comes with a full ensuite bathroom. It’s even got a power shower! Then there’s the bedroom with coffee machine and fridge. (Sleeps up to 4 people from £1000.)
The Classic Airstream; this is why the celebs wake up looking so festival fresh. A fully fitted kitchen, lounge with double sofa bed, air-con, central bathroom – this list of luxuries goes on and on. Warning: you may never want to check out. (Sleeps up to 4 people from £2500.)
Gypsy Wagon; Featuring a double sized bunk complete with patchwork and crocheted blankets this is perfect for making your hippy dreams come true. Sadly you don’t get your own horse but who really cares when you’ve got tea and coffee making facilities. (Sleeps up to 4 people from £1500.)
Plus for those in need of some pampering can check out The Boutique Sanctuary which will be offering massages, facials and manicures. It might be the first festival you return looking refreshed, not crumpled, from. Elsewhere there are hot tub and sauna sessions. And breathe…
All campers can also enjoy the Festival Whole Foods General Store – a 24-hour source of bread, milk and whatever else you need. Plus there’s Love Camping, which has everything from sleeping bags to wellingtons on sale. Phew!
Secret Garden Party is known for being the it fancy dress festival with Gardeners embracing feather head dresses, bold clashing prints and novelty sunglasses This year’s ‘Superstition’ theme is sure to delight. Forget picture-perfect festival dressing. This year we’re thinking face-paint and glitter galore. Bring it on.
Secret Garden Party takes place from the 25- 28 July. Tickets from £142.50 including camping are on sale now. Visit the Secret Garden Party website.