No More Secrets – An obituary to Secret Garden Party

29 July 2004 – 24 July 2017

As the mud settles in Huntingdon and we readjust to normality, it’s those moments where we find ourselves alone with our thoughts where we reflect on a whirlwind weekend that chewed us up and spat us out, kicking and screaming, back into the real world. Billed as the last ever (though rumours flood those conversations as the rain flooded our tents) this review inevitably strikes a more consolatory tone of what has to go down as one of the best festivals this country has seen.

I’ll crack on with my actual review of this year’s SGP. The one that’s a compromise between what the festival was like and what I actually got up to (which is probably best reserved for a private audience) in a language we can all understand. If you’re familiar with my festival review style, which is unlikely, you’ll know that I prefer to relay the festival as an experience, not a blow-by-blow account or detailed description of a particular set. I hate writing generic baloney like so-and-so stole the show with their trademark blend of floor-ready Venezuelan techno beats and signature Botswanan ukelele riffs, reminiscent of their first few albums before they went mainstream, and they mixed their music in their gran’s greenhouse using samples recorded from the humming churners at an early industrial cheese factory. If you want that, you’ve come to wrong little crevice of the internet.

Line-up

In another festival this would probably be the biggest section. Whilst credible and enjoyable, the strength of SGP lies beyond the list of names on the payroll. Acts ranged from Akala to Eats Everything, Toots and Maytals to Metronomy. None of which were particularly inspiring on paper but I enjoyed every set one I took in.

Musical highlight

The absolutely fucking radical set of fanny-out, bass heavy anthems from Peaches. Dick, dick, balls, 2000-and-dick… and Sucking on my titties like you wanting me… She was incredible, from start to finish. An unexpected treasure; defiant, empowering and spectacularly unapologetic.

Peaches

Lowest moment

The rain on the Friday night [this is when Paul's camera broke!]. I left for the Main Stage area in a t-shirt, shorts and a jacket of optimism but by the time to main acts kicked off I was riddled with drizzle and my motivation to slide through the puddles speedily fizzled. There were welcome breaks from the black clouds as day broke. The sun poked its head out to brown my mud-specked skin before applying another level of slippy slop to the festival floor pretty much from thereon-out. 

Setup, setting and organisation

As always impeccable. Originally conceived as an antidote to the increasing commercialisation of the UK festival scene (and that was in 2004) the way I always pitched SGP to my friends was an unrivalled setting with a unique and genuine approach to the finest of details.  A festival that embraced it’s rural surroundings; that simultaneously allowed the locals to celebrate their environment, and culture, but also people from across the country to immerse themselves in a world that blended the pastoral and the fantastical, or magical. It’s something which has been embedded in our culture for thousands of years, both reaffirming and reconnecting with a past. Everything from Stonehenge to Narnia is woven into this place they created to escape from the grind of daily life – our relationship with nature, through the looking glass. 

I tell my friends about the stage design; the Pagoda on the lake, the Drop cut into the verge, the Lost Woods, the boxing ring and its terrace of hay bales. The world they have created through the years is immersive, authentic, full of surprises and most importantly, believable.

The sound was underwhelming, never quite loud enough to get lost in. I guess sound is more of an issue to some than others but it was universally noticed. Personally it didn’t kill my buzz as much as the rain but there were several occasions where I could found boogieing pretty much inside the speaker boxes at Pagoda.

Pagoda stage

Vibe

As good as it gets. Perhaps a victim of its own success, the broadening of the crowd added a few extra elements that I hadn’t noticed in previous years but there was never an edge. Our gang of three snowballed into diverse bunch of dispersed groups within 24 hours. We flicked between and clung to these guys the whole rest of the time; a cracking bunch of maybe twenty people – unbelievable characters. In my head it felt like our age and experience framed us these mythical role models; heavenly manifestations of reprobatory shenanigans. In reality they probably just kept us within sight like loco parentis guardians of lost children. In the name of balance we’ll just leave it at a group of absolute sick guys that found another two kindred spirits and joined forces gloriously, and effortlessly. Every random encounter and interaction ranged from entertaining to uplifting; weirdness, coolness and just a general unguarded approach by nearly everyone I came across.

Best food

We quickly got word of a stall known colloquially as ‘Buttermilk Chicken.’ I don’t eat meat, but let me tell you, their buttermilk, deep fried hallumi burger with a hash brown on top was probably the best burger I’ve ever had the pleasure of hamming.

Personal highlight

Personal highlight for me was just the people I met and whom I shared the whole experience with; from Thursday morning to Monday afternoon. A real festival experience should be a story in of itself – a deeply personal one, much deeper than simply following an itinerary and wandering between stages at specific times on specific days to specifically have a specific laugh. So many good people. We met a few first timers, who’d never done a festival before, and the way the embraced it for me was an inspiring cocktail of expectation and nostalgia. It’s hard to explain without sounding like a complete twat, but I’m willing to sprinkle a little twattery on top at the expense of integrity, so chiggedy check this one: as a seasoned festival head, I knew what to expect in terms of the camaraderie and connections you can make at such places, but seeing it spark for the first time in someone else filled me with a bittersweet ambivalence. It was beautiful to see people’s minds being opened, and blown while at the same time being acutely aware that although for them, it was the start of the incredible journey that is your twenties, and your youth, it was also the end of mine. There were parallels between myself and Secret Garden Party itself. An unwavering commitment to celebrating the weekend as if it was my last, and the knowledge, that actually, maybe it was my last, at a festival.

Summary

In the end, a great send-off and a particularly poignant one for me because it was also a send-off for my best friend and photographer/general partner in crime at all these festivals we’ve done over the last decade, starting with Exit ‘07. It also turned into a send-off for my new friends, and in many ways, the remaining part of my own youth. All these goodbyes – old friends, new friends, a fair few clothes and trainers, Huntingdon and SGP. This is an obituary of sorts and I have to give thanks to SGP, the organisers, the people who worked it, the people who went, everyone, for giving me everything I wanted from it to such a significant extent. It was a complete festival experience undoubtedly. I gained a part of me on those fields and I left a part of me on those fields and I guess that’s as big a compliment as you can pay to a festival. It will be missed.

I’m still sad now. I’ve got a bad dose of festival blues. Midnight blues not by-the-beach-at-high-noon blues. I got back Monday night. The next 48 hours are a blur of nostalgia and social, physical and emotional withdrawal. I was holding back tears at Grey Worm and Missandei’s sex scene when I finally got round to catching up on GoT. I had to get a ten hour flight to Vegas on Thursday and cried at the inert and sterile performances in Rogue One, a true testament to the serotonin splurged in that incredible weekend (and I’m usually one of those ‘if the milk turns out to be sour’ cool af mf’s). Even in the cold, wet reality of Monday morning, I didn’t want to leave. But life is not a festival (I write this on a road trip across America) but I couldn’t imagine life without them. At 31 I’m coming to terms with some melancholy realities but if I have any advice it’s as follows. Go to festivals. Go to as many as you can. Meet as many people as you can and soak up as much as you fucking can, while you fucking can. You’ll be a better person for it. I heard someone describe Secret Garden Party as ‘Glasto-lite’ by the kind of person whose personality slid quicker than my old Reeboks in the Cambridgeshire mud but it has been a true great in a superficial, over-commercialised scene and the perfect platform for me to express myself outside of the boxes and hoops we navigate in our day-to-day.

Special shout-out to the tepee wankers and the ‘Secret’ girls and of course man like Paul Taylor, best of luck in the Big Apple my g x

 

words: lloyd w

photos: paul taylor

Secret Garden Party announce amazing full lineup for their last edition

The Secret Garden Party is pleased to announce the full line-up for its Grande Finale. For those in any doubt, this is categorically the final edition in its illustrious 15-year tenure as one of the most celebrated and fun events on the summer calendar. Tickets are about to sell out so SGP has issued a strong ticket warning for those who may be still undecided. Don’t miss out on the ultimate send-off for this much-loved slice of eccentricity. Because when it’s over there will be nowhere quite like it again….ever.

Throughout the 4-day event, 15 stages and venues will feature some incredible live music and dj sets, including many unique collaborations and b2bs. Plus, there’s a whole host of theme-based hilarious and very naughty VIP activities and games to get involved with. As ever, the devil is in the detail, and SGP promises to deliver one of the most idiosyncratic and original parties on the planet to celebrate this final send-off.  Sweet dreams indeed.

The full line up for Secret Garden Party 2017 is as follows (there will be a few unannounced secret special guests so ears to the ground). 

 

THE GREAT STAGE  

METRONOMY / CRYSTAL FIGHTERS / TOOTS AND THE MAYTALS

JAGWAR MA / PEACHES / WILD BEASTS  / JEREMY LOOPS / HONNE

JORJA SMITH / KATE NASH / DEAP VALLY / DMA'S / FICKLE FRIENDS 

 TOM MISCH / RAY BLK / REJJIE SNOW / DAVID  RODIGAN  / CHARLOTTE OC / WILL JOSEPH COOK /

TOM GRENNAN / THE CORRESPONDENTS  / ANTEROS / BEANS ON TOAST

~~~~~~~~

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

JAIN / AKALA / BONZAI /THE MOONLANDINGZ / ZAK ABEL / PUMAROSA / ALL THEM WITCHES / CLEAN CUT KID / MABEL / ETTA BOND / BE CHARLOTTE / TOOTHLESS / NORTH DOWNS / LET’S EAT GRANDMA / SERAMIC / BOXED IN / LAUREL / AINE CAHIL / CROOX / COSMO SHELDRAKE / ALICE JEMIMA / MONT JAKE / WOWH / OSCAR MIC / LOST COLOURS / MALKA / SASHA BROWN / GECKO / MR VAST / NED DYLAN / EARL OKIN / ALL ABOUT TOBE

~~~~~~

THE LIVING ROOM

THE WANDERING HEARTS / HONEY & THE BEAR / SKUFF & INJA / SIVU / ETHAN ASH / MORGANWAY / SUNDAY DRIVER  / OPAQUE  / WILL ROBERT / KYAN / THE INEXPLICABLES / PARK BENCH POET / LAURA OAKES / AMETHYSTS / SAMUEL JACK / CRINKLE CUTS / MATT MALTESE / SONNY / TOM LUMLEY/ FLINT MOORE /GOLDEN BANTIC / ANNABEL ALLUM / ISAAC GRACIE / KERRY DEVINE MAHALIA / THE KINGS PARADE / SONIA STEIN / HEAVY SUGAR DJ'S /  PIXEY / RICKY BOOM BOOM  plus SUPER SECRET SPECIAL GUESTS

~~~~~~~~

THE COLOSILLYUM 

RINSE FM TAKEOVER

TEMPLE OF BOOM PRESENTS:

EXAMPLE & DJ WIRE / NERO / ALEX METRIC / HERVE + MC JDP / MAJESTIC / UTAH SAINTS / EDDY ™ + MC ANGEL / 1991 / DOCUMENT ONE / SHAPES /THE DANDADDA / MISTRESS MO + MC BOOGIEMAN

HOSPITALITY VS RAM:

SUB FOCUS VS METRIK /  CAMO VS KROOKED / SPY VS RENE LA VICE /

FRED V & GRAFIX VS CULTURE SHOCK

NU:LOGIC VS DC BREAKS /  KEENO VS CHORDS / FRANKEE VS KRAKOTA /DAXTA RUTHLESS ID / CARASEL

 

STANTON WARRIORS

 FISH SEEKS BICYCLE PRESENTS: THE CRAFTY RASCALS

~~~~~~~

THE DROP

VERY SPECIAL GUEST: MATHEW JONSON LIVE

 

EATS EVERYTHING PRESENTS EDIBLE

 

JACKMASTER / SKREAM / DJ TENNIS / NASTIA / CRAIG RICHARDS B2B NICOLAS LUTZ

BUSHWACKA! / BAMBOUNOU / SOUL CLAP / TOM TRAGO / PEGGY GOU / WAZE & ODYSSEY /JONAS RATHSMAN / B.TRAITS  / ARCHIE HAMILTON /

FELIX DICKINSON / DEWALTA / ALEX & DIGBY / MR PRICE / MELE / DENNEY B2B WAIFS & STRAYS  / ELLIOTT ADAMSON / COUSN / KRANKBROTHERS /

MAZE & MASTERS / JESSE CALOSSO / JAKE HODGKINSON & HARRY MCCANNA /

WILD SIRRENDA (LIVE) / CHILDREN OF THE DUST / DAX LEE / BANOFFEE PIES / SHAPES / NICK GYNN /

JESS FARLEY / MANAMI BABA / SARAH FRENCH / TAMMY MILES

 

….and many more secret special guests

~~~~~~~~

THE LABYRINTH

GEORGE FITZGERALD /MARIBOU STATE (DJ SET) / WAZE & ODYSSEY /SOUL CLAP / JONAS RATHSMAN / CRAIG RICHARDS /MAN POWER  / HONEY SOUNDSYSTEM / MAXXI SOUNDSYSTEM /LUKE SOLOMON / PEDESTRIAN /FELIX DICKENSON / MATT TOLFREY / ADAM SHELTON / DAVE HARVEY / WAIFS & STRAYS / CHRISTOPHE /BOBBY PLEASURE / ITCHY RICH / CHARLIE MCFARLEY / OLLIE MUNDY / ASHLEY WILD / SLEAZY WONDER / FOR BETTER OR WORSE

~~~~~~~

LOST WOODS LIVE  – CHAI WALLAHS

K.O.G & THE ZONGO BRIGADE / SHEELANAGIG / SMASH HI FI /HORSEMAN & THE UPPERCUT BAND / HONEYFEET / GYPSIES OF BOHEMIA / ABSTRACT ORCHESTRA  KOFFIE /GALLOWSTREET / SOCCER 96 / THE URBAN FOLK QUARTET / LAKUTA  LIAM BAILEY / MAMMAL HANDS /NEW ORLEANS SWAMP DONKEYS / YUMI & THE WEATHER  / LAZY HABITS / TIME FOR T / ME AND MY FRIENDS / DOJO / SOLA ROSA / OLAH BLISS /HOLLY HOLDEN / Y SU BANDA / DAKHLA BRASS / BALAPHONICS /MORE LIKE TREES / SOLANA / FEELGOOD EXPERIMENT / KIOKO / TOKIO MYERS / VOJTA / ASH WALKER

~~~~~~~~

LOST WOODS DISCO

 

ANDHIM / JONAS RATHSMAN /STEVE DAVIS & KAVUS TORABI /ADAM FREELAND FLAMINGODS DJ SET / JONO MA / ZERO 7 DJ SET /OLAF STUUT LIVE

MOJO FILTER / POLYNATION DJ SET / UONE / SAM GOKU / MARIBOU STATE DJ SET / HEAD GARDENER / LANCELOT / AUDLEY LEELAND WILD LIFE) / GENTLE MYSTICS SOUND SYSTEM / DOM SERVINI (WAH WAH 45s) / QASH / LU:SID / TIMANTI /SLUG RAVE / RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW / DAVID MINNS

~~~~~~~~

THE PAGODA

WAZE & ODYSSEY PRESENTS:

 

LORD LEOPOLD / DUSKY / EDU IMBERNON / WAIFS & STRAYS B2B ITCHY RICH /MELE / EATS EVERYTHING / HUXLEY / EJECA  / MELLA DEE / JONAS RATHSMAN /STEVE HUERTA / URULU / CITIZENN / THEO KOTTIS / DENNEY / BUCKLEY / FRANK TOPE / RED RACK'EM / SOUL CLAP / HONEY SOUNDSYSTEM / KRYWALD & FARRER / HOUSE HUSBAND / MAZE & MASTERS / THE BAY DJS / ED KARNEY /DOM CHUNG / JAMIE MORRISON / ALIE HORTON / CHARLIE MOORE / MR PRICE / JAY KARIM / MICHAEL PALMER / SOPHIE LLOYD / TOSH OHTA / BEDLAM DJS

~~~~~~

LITTLE GAY BROTHER

ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK / CRAIG CAMPBELL / FAT TONY / FRANK CO. / JAMES PHILLIPS / JIM WARBOY / JONATHAN BESTLEY /JONJO JURY / LEWIS BURTON /MANSUSHI / MAZE & MASTERS NIC FISHER /OLI KEENS / PAUL HERON /SPACESTATION /TERRY VIETHEER /THE MENENDEZ BROTHERS / TIM FANUCCI /TWICE SHY PRESENTS GAY GARAGE /WAX WINGS /ZENZERO

~~~~~~~~

THE TEMPLE OF EXCESS

THE PLUMP DJS / SHADES OF RHYTHM / EVIL NINE / DUKE SLAMMER / HEAD GARDENER / VIGI / MR B / PAUL DARKING / MARGARET SCRATCHER / CAPTAIN STEARNE / SAM GREENWOOD / PIRATE / KONTROVERSI / C-UNIT / S. SEAGULL / ANDY BARLOW / EUAN SIMPSON / SIMON HOME BOY HOLMES / QVC / SMYLEY JAY / BONGO TED / EMBER / PUKA 1 UP /  SILVER SURFER & THE GENERAL DEALER / MARK HOUSDEN / BROTHERS AND SISTERS FROM THE ORDER OF THE VELVET NOSTRIL CURTAIN / SISTERS COLLEEN & SUZIE BROTHERS JULIAN & PAUL / BEYOND MONKEY / IRRELEVANT DISCO / GRANDADS BACKROOM ANTICS / DEREK INCOGNITO

~~~~~~~~

THE KITSCH INN

THE CORRESPONDENTS / SAM AND THE WOMP /THE SKA VENGERS /THE BAGHDADDIES / LAZY HABITS /SWING ZAZOU / THE DESTROYERS / CUT CAPERS / THEY SAY JUMP / EMPATEE DU WEISS / TOKYO SEXWAIL / WORLD’S TALLEST DJ CABARET SPECIAL / DJ CHRIS TOFU / BEATING HEART /BAKERS BROTHER’S FUNKY FAREWELL / TWO FOR JOY TAKEOVER / WOODBURNER TAKEOVER

~~~~~~~~~

THE COCKTAIL BAR

HALF BAKED / FLUX /  SHAPES / GIN & JUICE /  SO FRESH SO CLEAN /

FUNK FROM THE TRUNK / WONKY DISCO / B.A.R.E  / HOUSE OF CLEARANCE HOUSE PARTY / KITE HIGH  /

JONNY CADE / SKINNY & SELECTA / MISS T / MAX HAGENBACH / ALGY STRUTT

~~~~~~~~~~

THE LIDO

THE HEATWAVE /FELIX DICKINSON /JOE LYE & KATIE BARBER

 

CLASH MAGAZINE PRESENTS: ANNA WALL + NIMMO

CHRISTOPHE / PETE LUNG / KENNY WISDOM / CRAIG CHRISTON /JENNY JEN /ANDY ALLDAY /MORPH & SANKY / WAYWARD / SOPHIE SKY /REMI /CASA VIDA

~~~~~~~~

THE LAKE STAGE

PRAWN CRACKER / LYNX AFRICA / DJ CHEEKY

SECRET GALS PARTY PRESENTS: ANNA WALL /  COLLYER TWINS /  EDA /  E11E / EMERALD /  GEORGIE ROGERS / GI JAMES / HAZE / LOU ELLIS / SWEET LEMONADE 

 ~~~~~~~~

The Temple of Boom returns to Secret Garden Party’s finale

The Secret Garden Party’s patron saint Eddy Temple Morris is bringing back the spirit of The Remix tent and the much loved Temple Of Boom to the last ever Party in The Colosillyum.

Taking place Friday and Saturday, 6pm to 6am, The Colosillyum is the perfect venue for the high octane artists that Eddy always pulls in. This year, the line-up will be both spectacular and ground-breaking, with several acts who've played blistering sets in the past, coming back to send SGP off in style.

Friday night sees an eclectic bill of friends old and new:  Utah Saints, Hervé and two very special surprise superstar artists are coming back (to be announced nearer the time), plus Eddy's Producer Of The Year, the brilliant (Chase & Status signed), 1991, along with Document One and hotly-tipped bassline/mash up duo,Shapes, who made such waves in 2016, join the Party for the very first time.

"I wanted to strike a balance between history and nowism" says Eddy, "to have sets by people who've both had and given such good times in the past, and for a few newer producers to come and see why this is the best party on planet earth."

Then roll up roll up for Saturday’s gladiatorial exclusive, an unprecedented union of the two biggest brands in Drum & Bass:

Temple Of Boom presents: Hospitality Vs Ram

 

Saturday Night! The Colosillyum! Never done before, never to be repeated, this is a special present for all those attending the last Party ever.

Line-up is as follows:

 

Sub Focus Vs Metrik

 

Camo Vs Krooked

 

SPY Vs Rene LaVice

 

Fred V & Grafix Vs Culture Shock

 

Nu:Logic Vs DC Breaks

 

Keeno Vs Chords

 

Frankee Vs Krakota

 

 

HOSTED BY

Daxta, Ruthless ID & Carasel!

 

"Without question the two most titanic labels in this genre, and most played on my Remix radio show, are Ram Records and Hospital Records. To have them collaborating on an event for the first, and probably last time in history is a dream come true and a reflection on how profoundly SGP is loved by the electronic music community.

I cannot thank both Ram and Hospital enough and all the artists who've supported us over the years. I'm truly honoured to be a part of SGP and to be hosting such an incredible line up this year."

Secret Garden Party will close it curtains for good in 2017

The multi award-winning Secret Garden Party, the event that set the creative benchmark for festivals in the UK and around the world, announced today that this year’s event, July 20-23, will be the final instalment in its illustrious 15-year tenure as one of the most celebrated events on the summer festival calendar.

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.

There is never a perfect time to announce this as either too early or too late would have consequences for the loyal gardeners.

Founder and Head Gardener Freddie Fellowes says:

“15 years ago I started out with a set of ideas as to what makes a good party and the most perfect venue for it. But with no set idea of what the destination was for this venture the ‘festival’ was, at that time, the perfect medium through which to explore these ideas. But rather than getting too excited and telling you about the phoenix we are going to raise from all of this, it bears explaining why we are lighting the fire.

Much has changed since our first Garden Party, when there was nothing else like it in the UK: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter had yet to be invented and no one knew what a boutique festival was, let alone Glamping.

Since then the Garden Party has defined and redefined outdoor events in the UK; we have done so as a collective of truly independent outsiders.

We have never compromised our principles and we never will. SGP has always been a beacon of what you can do within those terms and, as imitation (being the sincerest form of flattery) proves, it has set the bar for everyone else going forward.

But it is exactly because of those principles, and the love of those who have made the Garden Party what it is, that we are committing this senseless act of beauty.

What better way to honour the love that has been given to this project and wholly demonstrate this principle than finishing now? This isn’t some principled self-immolation: this is opening up it for the future. So this summer will be the almighty send-off that the Garden Party deserves and whilst that is going to cause some tears to be shed, think of it more as ‘Dylan goes electric’ than our Altamont.

Because after all you can’t be avant-garde from within an institution and lest we forget: the frontier always moves.”

 

Come join us for the grande finale!

 

Secret Garden Party announce theme for 2017

Fame, celebrity, a media that obsesses over both and huge business that sells us access to, and relics of, them: the one thing that’s clear is we have ourselves a new religion…  of sorts. But this is a doctrine that offers us a troubling vision of Heaven on Earth; a room, full of our idols, guarded behind doors, with a strict entry criteria…

 

So, in this Strictly X Factor Love Island I’m a Kardashian #get-me-out-of-here social, instant, online world; what should we do?  How much do we embrace this idea of the universal right to fame and, if we do, should we all start immediately baking, blogging, dancing, cooking, singing and redecorating our little hearts out, to get 'there’?  You know that place down the red carpet and behind the velvet rope…

 

Well this summer the Secret Garden Party invites you to join it ‘there’ and finally find out if it’s anywhere we want to be.

In the tradition of the bacchanals, we will satiate this worldly distraction to the point we can break free from it – to finally gain a true perspective.  And in doing so, set a new, true precedent. So we’re donning our finest threads and polishing up like never before for the biggest VIP LOL-off you’ve ever seen. Where everyone likes / follows / adores you, the bouncers all know your name and the Sweet Dreams are made by You…

 

AIF Conference, Cardiff last night….SGP wins award for ‘Act of Independence’.

Whether channelled through its distinctive themes or its confrontation of social issues, Secret Garden Party’s ethos and spirit of independence has always been to encourage a free-thinking and forward-thinking community. So organisers are genuinely gratified to receive recognition for this pioneering work on drug testing – the first public testing facility in the UK.

 

Freddie Fellowes founder of Secret Garden Party, along with Steve Rolles from the Transform Drug Policy Foundation and Fiona Measham, Professor of Criminology at Durham University and director of The Loop ( a not-for-profit service for drug and alcohol harm reduction) last night were  presented with the Association of Independent Festivals’ ‘Act of Independence’ gong at the AIF awards ceremony for spearheading the first UK public drug-testing scheme at last summer’s Secret Garden Party  – a  service approved by Cambridge Police and local health authorities  – where people could have their drugs tested for safety on site.

 

Paul Reed, General Manager of the AIF said:

“There was a very strong shortlist for the inaugural ‘Act of Independence’ award and the result is some well -deserved recognition for an initiative that was both preventative and proactive, focusing on harm reduction, promoting safer drug use and helping people to make informed choices. It was achieved following years of hard work behind the scenes engaging the various agencies involved so congratulation to Secret Garden Party and The Loop for their perseverance and pioneering work in this area. We hope to see MAST testing become rapidly widespread at festivals, and AIF are working closely with The Loop and the organisers of Secret Garden Party to develop best practice and national guidelines for drug use and health and safety services at festivals”

 

Art Applications now open:

SGP is calling out for next year’s creative wonders. Since launching the Grants Programme in the Garden, there’s been an explosion of creative work adorning the site with imaginative installations year on year.  Now SGP is on the hunt for the new and spectacular, theme-inspired pieces for 2017. Artists, Designers & the wildly creative, be a part of this credible arts collective. With commissions, grants and development funds available contact: [email protected]enparty.com

 

HG’s Theme Playlist:

http://bit.ly/SGP17spotify

Tickets for Secret Garden Party 2017 are now on sale at: tkt.to/sgp2017 

 

Secret Garden Party announce 2016 theme

The theme for the 2016 edition of Secret Garden Party is……. The Gardeners Guide To The Galaxy!

Our mission is to explore the world of Science Fiction and imagine a new garden out of the old. Using the inspiration of Arthur C Clarke, Azimov, Philip K Dick and Douglas Adams we are going to grow our imaginations from childish roots up into something more. But in selecting the protocols for this mission we looked back not forward.

In 1889 a convention of the ‘gentlemen of the road’ came up with, and ratified by vote, a version of the following. They called it the Hobo Code We’ve called it ‘The Gardeners Guide To The Galaxy.’

Here is the induction video trailer: http://on.fb.me/1P7nlv5 

And for full mission protocols visit the new website launching today at 12:00: www.secretgardenparty.com

Easy Payment Plans…

The instalment scheme is now on sale; with even more options. To help those Gardeners, who prefer to spread the cost of their tickets, there are two types of instalment plans now available for adult tickets.

You can check all the details HERE….

Transport: Big Green Coach….

NEW FOR 2016!!  COACH TRAVEL DEPOSIT SCHEME – pay just £10 now to secure coach travel. Coaches operated from 19 locations direct to the Official coach park destination. For full details click HERE: 

More artists announced for Secret Garden Party 2015

Enigmatic Australians The Cat Empire have a reputation for buoyant live shows and are always a big draw when they visit the UK. Their mash up of Cuban salsa, ska, reggae and pop becomes something joyous and truly original whenever they take to the stage. Angus and Julia Stone are also Australians; a brother/sister duo whose heartfelt and textural folk/blues is beginning to make big waves in Europe. Their recent self-titled album co-produced with the legendary Rick Rubin is the highest-charting by the duo to date, reaching the top 10 in several countries including France, Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand. Public Service Broadcasting are more familiar to UK festival goers.  They made quite an impact on their debut, combining a wonderful mix of electronics, guitars with vintage public service information samples. Their brand new follow-up album, The Race for Space, takes as its theme the exciting late ‘60’s American-Soviet exploration contest, mingling evocative archive footage with harmonizing electronic soundscapes.

Merriment and Participation

The Secret Garden Party is all about a magical immersive experience and everything a for 2015’s event nods to this year’s arts & expressions theme ‘Childish Things.’ Content includes:

Giant Parades – Visual Spectaculars – Boating Lake – 24 Hour Woodland Parties – 14 Live Music Stages & 6 DJ Stages –  Goat Racing – Aerial Displays – Toys & Games – Art Installations – Mud Wrestling – Revelries & Merrymaking – Fire Walking – Sanctuary & Hot Tubs – Massage Area – Guerilla Science – Floating Dance Floors – Wild Swimming – Little Gay Brother Bar – Paint Fights –24 Hour Toad Hall Bar – Live Theatre & Comedy – Organic Food Stalls – Intellectual Exchange & Mart Dialogues  – Camp Fire Tales – Dance-Offs – Poetry Slams & Spoken Word – Kids’ Area – Fine Dining

Full lineup announcement:

THE CAT EMPIRE

PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING – ANGUS AND JULIA STONE

TEMPLES – BEARS DEN – BERNHOFT – PALMA VIOLETS  – IBEYI – SAY LOU LOU DARWIN DEEZ  ROOTS MANUVA – THE ACID – HINDS – CHARLOTTE OC HÆLOS – GENTLEMANS DUB CLUB – 8:58 (ORBITAL’S PAUL HARTNOLL) – ZOLA BLOOD – YAK – EKKAH

  THE MAGIC GANG – LAUREL  – KIKI BUN – LITTLE BARRIE  – FURS – FICKLE FRIENDS  BEATY HEART  PLUTO SHERVINGTON – EAVES – MEANWHILE – KAWEHI – LUSTS  VESSELS – BLACK HONEY – THE MOON  LOLA COLT – BEANS ON TOAST

WILL AND THE PEOPLE – GULF – BEN UFO/JOY ORBISON – RICHY AHMED

They will join as previously announced;  JUNGLE – KATE TEMPEST – CARAVAN PALACE – JACK GARRATT – MARIKA HACKMAN – JAGAARA FLYTE – ELDER ISLAND – MENACE BEACH –and IYES

Jungle and more set for Secret Garden Party 2015

Jungle, the celebrated London funk collective, and probably the hottest band in the UK right now, are set to join the Secret Garden Party 2015 line-up. Described by Time Out as a band who ‘make electronic music with a human heart, marry underground cool with main-stage appeal, and do it with vision and conviction,’ they released their self-titled debut album through XL Recordings in the summer to widespread acclaim.

Kate Tempest, who really needs no introduction, is officially added to the line-up this time round having busked at the Secret Garden Party a few years ago. Winner of the Ted Hughes Poetry Award for her narrative poem, ‘Brand New Ancients,’ she was also nominated for the Mercury Prize for her album ‘ Everybody Down.’  She will be performing her new poetry collection ‘Hold Your Own’ along with the current album.

French ensemble extraordinaire and long-time Garden Party favourites also join this first wave of bands. Renowned for their outstanding live shows Caravan Palace bring together elements of jazz, gypsy and dance music in a vibrant, upbeat and exhilarating fashion.

Rising stars Jack Garratt and Marika Hackman are also confirmed along with Flyte, Iyes, Jagaara, Elder Island and Menace Beach. New artists, who all possess excitingly unorthodox and distinctive styles.

Secret Garden Party announce 2015 theme and new website

The Secret Garden Party is very pleased to announce the launch of its new website today, illustrated by Dave Little www.secretgardenparty.com and its theme for 2015 which will be, ‘Childish Things.’

The Secret Garden Party has also been shortlisted for ‘Best Medium Festival’ and ‘Extra-Festival Activity’ awards at the forthcoming UK Festival Awards. It won Best Medium Festival’ at the UK’s Live Music Business Awards last month.

In addition, grant applications are now open for creative submissions and luxury camping is now on sale.

‘Childish Things’ theme…

Head Gardener, Fred Fellowes explains the thinking behind the ‘Childish Things’ theme for 2015……

‘Why are we encouraged so much to grow up and leave, what adults call, the best days of our lives? Not that we needed that much encouragement; we spent our time hurtling towards the 'next stage', determined to be bigger, more grown up, older, more mature and tall enough to take the ride. And what have we found? Certainly not all of the freedoms we thought we would.

"WHEN I WAS A CHILD, I SPOKE AS A CHILD, I UNDERSTOOD AS A CHILD, I THOUGHT AS A CHILD: BUT WHEN I BECAME A MAN, I PUT AWAY CHILDISH THINGS." Corinthians 13:11

Join us this summer as we’ve decided it's time to get those ‘Childish Things’ out of the box again and embrace them as this year’s theme. Escape the world that wants us to grow-up (and behave); and explore what we all left behind. Next July we will create for you a 100-acre toy box of a party, complete with jelly, ice cream and sprinkles, so you can release and realise your inner child. Remember youth is wasted on the young; so here’s your second shot at it.’

Secret Garden Party 2014 Review

“The longest yard”

Wow, where to start? Secret Garden Party blew my mind. After spending seven hours on a coach to get there, which was inevitably delayed, I got into the festival just in the nick of time and met up with my photographer. We’ve done a dozen festivals together and he took me on the short walk to the campsite where I was reacquainted with our trusty festival tent, the nickname of which I probably shouldn’t share, but nonetheless, this sagging, red mess was our dishevelled but not unloved HQ of the next three days and for its part, it did the job.

So bag down, party gear on, we headed into the festival proper. Our first port of call was the Fox, a giant, hay-filled canid used several times thereafter as a meeting point for lost friends. Atop its tail, during several conversations with excited randomers, I got my first real inclination of the scale and atmosphere and it was impressive, but at that point I had seen nothing.

Our first taste of action was Little Dragon on the Great Stage where thousands were crammed in to take in the surreal sounds of the Swedish synth-pop veterans. It was here that we met our extended group and after we made our way back towards the main area of the festival to take in more of the mise en scene: all kinds of different bars and hang-outs, food vans, huts, shacks, bars, art installations and of course people; lots of people.

“Are those people hanging from the ceiling?”

The next two acts we saw took us by great surprise as they were two of our favourites and yet we hadn’t even realised they were on the lineup. We noticed the familiar gait of Skream silhouetted against a constantly pulsing, fractal visualisation behind him. Then straight off the back of that the MC announced the arrival on stage of none other than DJ EZ who eased us in with some UKG classics before showcasing his flair on the ones and twos, bringing dirtier, grimier sounds to a packed crowd of willing skankers at the Drop, plus a gratuitous three minutes of ‘Deep Inside’. 

I rated SGP highly already. I came to the festival with a head full of names, my top DJs and artists and everyone who I’d planned to see but what I hadn’t bargained for was the rest of the festival experience being so fun. I could have stayed there for a week. Under the dark, expansive sky, bright lights shone and big beats rumbled; a different vibe around every corner. I got my first taste of the Drop coming from the back end and the way the wooden overhangs looked over the arena – like the wall around a fort – meant that the excitement of what I had in store over the next couple of days was growing with every moment. 

As the house beats rolled and the visuals evolved, surrounded by trees, lakes and these wooden platforms, the revelry atmosphere was almost spiritual. Gas canisters lined the floor, we danced on hay bales as night turned into day and the sun came up to techno rhythms. I got to see the festival in a completely new light and it was from this point that I got to fully appreciate the size and effort SGP had put into every single detail. Friends that had been before told me that in fact this year had been scaled back slightly and there were a few things missing and I remember thinking there wasn’t really anything I could imagine being better.

“This is the first festival where I’ve seen a dog shit”

Then came Saturday. All the days blurred into each other, so much overlap – the hallmark of any good festival – but there are distinct parts of each day which makes it impossible to pick a favourite. Saturday started with a walk to the lake where we sat by a cloud on the shaded banks. I could’ve stayed there all day, it was idyllic. We had a picnic, of sorts, and drank happily in the summer heat, the sound of Spitfires swooping above and balloons here there and everywhere.

Most of our group were SGP veterans, unlike my photographer and I who were straight up virgins to the Huntingdon festival, so I was happy to take their lead and they assured that the next stop was the Pagoda. The queue was huge and I couldn’t really see what all the fuss was about. Then our time came and on we got in, a floating stage on the edge of the lake in full sun with banging, hypnotic house and techno. The Pagoda was unbelievable, packed full of likeminded ravers, intermittent squirts of Super-Soakers and scantily clad, golden goddesses. We raved there for hours before heading back to campsite in the evening to recharge our batteries. This where my lack of sleep caught up with me. 

“Make sure you see the fireworks, you’ve gotta see the fireworks, the fireworks are the best bit, are you coming to the fireworks?”
“Yeah I’m coming, sounds sick, can’t wait!”
“Did you go to the fireworks?”
“Nah I fell asleep.”

Yeah I flopped on the fireworks which I was naturally wounded about. I sat down for a rest about 9pm and came-to in a tent around 1am. What I was playing at I don’t know, but I can tell you what everyone told me and that was I was an idiot for missing them and to be fair, the photos looked incredible; and I have it on good authority that Public Enemy smashed it shortly after, just like they had at Parklife when I saw them earlier in the year.

When I woke up, alone at the campsite, with a phone with no battery I set forth into the festival to find someone, anyone. Our group was led by the high leader Larry whose bright, yellow face you could pick out of a crowd from any distance; Larry was a flag. But after two hours of looking for my compadres – while simultaneously dancing ruts into the ground as I circled the Drop, Temple of Boom and everywhere in between – I decided probably just to make some new ones; and so I did. A bold claim maybe, but I think SGP had the best crowd I’ve ever seen (aside from one or two goblins and Technicolor madmen) and even the brief but fierce rainstorm couldn’t dampen my spirits.

I managed to find the crew just in time to see Route 94 at the Drop and when he brought in ‘My Love’ just as the sun was rising up, followed by his remix of ‘Fly 4 Life’, it was going off; that was until the technician told him to pack it in and (light-hearted?) boos rang round the venue.

“We’re a travelling rebetiko band”

After that I found myself on my own again, in a peculiar little tent in the early hours with fiddlers three and all kinds of mad ukuleles and mad, eccentric instruments being strummed, plucked and banged. I sat on a bench and a man in a fez carrying a violin pulled apart the curtains that formed the wall and sat down next to me. We sipped (“proper”) cognac and chatted at length about all sorts, then all of a sudden he popped up and said “oh I’ve gotta play now,” and off he went onto the stage.

SGP is the first festival I’ve been to where the place itself was more impressive than the music. There were bars hidden in secret wooded paths. You could go through a wardrobe in a fence and into Narnia, with snow-covered paths and its own ice rink and a toilet cubicle through which was a field of six-foot sunflowers and various specimens of wristband-wearing flora and fauna. Hay bales stacked 20 feet high with hologrammatic faces singed into them, fire pits, rolling fields, soft hillsides and ponds and lakes surround you; believe me I’m going back next year.

“It’s going off in these glasses”

Sunday came and it was a dream. Off we went again to the cloud by the lake and lay in the sun, swigging Kopparbergs like they were going out of fashion. We got to the Great Stage to see the Correspondents tear it up – another hot tip from the regulars – then we had the paint fight. If you’ve never been in a paint fight with tens of thousands of people, I’m inclined to say you’ve never been to a proper festival, but then again that wouldn’t be fair. 

Cannons of dry paint, fireworks cracking in the sky, grenades of powdered blue and red tossed back and forth between the two sides and no one left unscathed. Everyone was covered in dry paint, gold glitter and all kinds of festival wear and tear as ‘Jump Around’ blasted out across the heavily populated fields and hills. David Rodigan was next to do his thing, with sweet reggae music pumped loud from the Funktion Ones, followed by more bass-heavy sounds from Fat Freddy’s Drop in probably the most chilled environ possible.

The rest of Sunday was spent exclusively at the Drop with b2b sets from the likes of Joy Orbison, Optimo and Jackmaster. In between pounding four-four beats and intangible vocal whirls came classics like ‘Sugar is Sweeter’, timed to perfection – this was heaven for me. There’s something about house music that never ceases to amaze me and I found myself in awe at times wondering how the DJ was gonna play himself out of this tune or that tune, but they always did. 

“Chaise-Lloyd”

Rather than go out with a bang however, the music fizzled out around midnight and we were left to collect ourselves and head back to the campsite. Somewhere in the distance lightening filled the sky, like one final goodbye, and that for me was the end of Secret Garden Party.

Review by Lloyd Wall

 


Created with flickr slideshow.

 

Photos by Paul Taylor