Bestival 2017 – THE GIANT REVIEW!


Bestival. The summer finale. The big kahuna. Bestival has been my homecoming for the last twelve years and this is the first time I don’t have to catch a ferry to get there. No lies – it feels weird. There was something sort of magical about catching the ferry with everyone, the anticipation, the journey, knowing that you were really going on an adventure. The short drive from the motorways to The Lulworth Castle estate just isn’t the same. On the other hand, the hefty hiked Red Funnel ferry prices I certainly will not miss, nor the uncertainty of whether your entire party will actually make it onto said ferry (my brother missed it once due to an accidental detour round the M25 at rush hour. He didn’t make it onto the island for another twelve hours…).

Anyway, we’re here – the sun is trying to shine and we’ve just driven through a very castle-y looking gateway to get into the carparks. Now, first thing to mention – the carparks are at first thought, extremely pleasingly close to camping. Trussed up with all our camping gubbins we head through the bag and ticket check which isn’t too busy at this time in the morning, though the searches aren’t super through (maybe I just have an innocent face?) there are police and sniffer dogs quite clearly overseeing operations. In fact, we watch some scallywags being unceremoniously marched offsite whilst we queue.

Grabbing our wristbands, we head into the campsites in search of high ground in Rainbow Rave (we’ve checked the weather… no-one wants to be downhill…). After a quick set-up and drinks we head into the arena to see what’s what. To my utter dismay there seems to be only one route through the campsites into the main arena and it’s a valley, with a great stonking near vertical hill either side. My foreboding barometer is going wild… I know what this will look like in the rain.

As we traverse the site we pass Slow Motion which doesn’t look entirely set up yet, there are men still hammering things… a very sad looking tiny cousin of The Wishing Tree, and then we are into the main arena, greeted by The Lovebot and the two giant astronauts which flanked last years’ Space Port. It’s very weird seeing all this out of situ on the IOW. Taking in the site it’s considerably smaller and a lot more cramped in than Robin Hill, it’s also pretty damn hilly, with The Temple and Bollywood up at the top, presiding over everything.

We decide to tramp our way to The Castle in search of The Feast Collective for some late lunch and find it tucked away in a small field behind, alongside the kids and crafty area. It’s cute, but it’s pretty remote/removed from everything else. The Feast Collective itself is one of my favourite additions to Bestival’s lineup over the last few years, I mean the food is great all over site, but this is always something special. Today we hit up The Rac Shack for Poutine, which is absolutely epic (who doesn’t love chips, cheese and gravy?!) but there’s just so much on offer it was pretty hard to choose. The music is loud, the fairy lights and foliage give it atmosphere and everyone is chowing down on a world-tour of amazing food. You can wrap your chops around crispy duck Bao, buttermilk fried chicken, Indonesian street food, vegan maki rolls… we’re spoilt for choice. Another notable addition – plastic Bestival beer cups, much less drunk hazard and probably the cheapest souvenir on site.

After food we take a quick tour around, the main stage area isn’t open yet (and looks like it’s still being built) we take a quick peek over the site from the top of Oberon’s Observatory and then make a pit-stop at the Old Mout cider garden for a boogie. Our friend manages to split the ass of his jumpsuit during a dance-off, and proceeds to can-can with his pants hanging out. We do some karaoke, have a go at their tiny zip-line and join in a very ill-advised and danger-laden conga around their small stage. It’s a nice little area complete with swing seats and the most useless periscopes ever, but we’re in search of different feels so it’s onto a firm favourite of mine – Caravanseri. It’s a different layout, a little bigger, but with two distinct sections – the tent/bar area and the stage area. As the rain begins to pour we dart into the Carousel tent for a dance and shelter, here it most feels like we’ve returned. The twinkling lights, the DJ’s, the laughter coming from each little caravan pocket of seating, the glitz and glam of this otherworldly little circus. It’s hard to describe, to put into words… it feels like I’m made entirely of fibre-optics and being at Bestival again is lighting up all the pathways. There’s something about being surrounded by other people setting themselves free, embracing the moment as if nothing else exists. I mean, that’s the point of all this, surely.

Drunk on freedom and well… vodka, we set off for The Box (for Besti returners… the artist previously known as The Big Top) to catch a bit of ‘Oh My God! It’s The Church’ who are bonkers and brilliant. As instructed, we sinners crouch down low as the Reverand yells “The church has one last thing to tell you… I have to praise you!” before jumping about like loons on the drop of Fatboy Slim’s classic track.

We take a hike up the hill to check out The Temple – a beautiful neon beacon in the night, it’s all lasers and light with bass thumping heavy in our chests. After a brief (excuse the pun) encounter with a very friendly, ginger-bearded, shiny-hot-pants wearing Santa Claus and some pretty crap Kevin-and-Perry style raving, we flop down on beanbags in the shisha tent next door. It’s cosy and calm but all the drinks taste of chai no matter what you’ve ordered and the staff seem to be a little bit squiffy themselves.


…and so it pours. There was never going to be any escaping it this weekend, and luckily we packed accordingly. After fetching our friend who spent last night in her car just outside of Bestival due to arriving after the midnight curfew, we wait out the stormy morning weather in the tent, playing some very revealing drinking games and then head into the arena during a relatively dry break. It’s clear the valley between the campsites is already a problem, we stick to the sides but watch a number of people go down hard as it’s really slippy. One other thing we’ve noted so far is that there seem to be really few toilets around in the campsite, and they don’t seem to be being cleaned or emptied as regularly. A shame considering decent loos were something Bestival has been known for over the years.

We catch a little of Sinkane’s set in The Box, it’s a pretty decent crowd and he has an incredible voice, the jazzy, disco sound is just right to blow away the blues of a wet afternoon. Over at Old Mout we witness the greatest Karaoke ever – a guy who knows every single word of Men At Work’s ‘Land Down Under’ wins himself a tambourine, and the admiration of all who heard, and then the crew of Coppafeel proposition us for photos posed with a giant wearable boob, and tell our friend how to check his pecs.

Over on the main stage Dub Pistols are bashing out the electric feels and looking way too cool to be there, but next up we have Bestival legends (and my personal heroes) The Cuban Brothers. Throwing shapes on stage we have Archerio and Kenny (the bastard) alongside Juan Erection who busts big flares and flips, whilst Miguel tell us all about his #sexyfavours. I’m sure its incomprehensibly weird to anyone new to the Cubans but you learn to just roll with it, promise. After a quick costume change into their signature fringed lycra, Miguel apologises for Arch “…it’s a big guy in a gold suit with a tiny penis… it’s like a shittily wrapped christmas present…we’re giving to you” before Arch drops freezes and Kengo performs insane head-spins. Despite the expected de-pantsing of Miguel and the frighteningly small Swan pouch pants, the Cubans are never not entertaining. You know, in a nightmare-inducing way.

Soul II Soul bust late 80’s hit ‘Back To Life’ and we are instantly transported into nostalgia, they are every bit as vocally strong as they ever were and it’s clear that despite the iffy weather, the crowd are absolutely loving every second of it. Over at the Bramble FM Roadshow (a tiny caravan stage behind the castle) a comedian is making terrible historical jokes about Cholera, so we catch some of Ray BLK’s incredible vocals on the main stage, ‘Doing Me’ and ‘Chill Out’ are just awesome to hear live, it’s beautiful and serene. Over in The Box, Romare is all big visuals and mixed up beats. From the same label as Mr. Scruff (also playing this weekend) it’s a stay-n-sway chilled set, and everyone in the tent is moving.

Closing the main stage tonight are English indie-rockers The XX, with an incredible, forceful yet intimate set replete with hits old and new. Check out our full review HERE!

After the high of The XX we’re not ready to finish the night there, so head into Caravanserai to catch some acts at Cirque Bijou, and we are beyond impressed by the extremely talented @_thathoopgirl who even managed to spin her LED lit hoops ON HER TONGUE. We also loved the slackline twins and Slightly Dubious Science, despite the bubble failures. Heading into The Ambient Forest for a roam we quickly deduce that this is a considerably smaller space than Robin Hill, with about as many people trying to get through it. There are some trails with serious drop-offs, not a single security guard in sight (other than at the entrance) and nowhere near enough lights on paths to be safe. It’s a long chalk from the beautiful and eerie forest we knew at the previous site. I did love the cosy fire-tent at the top, and there were some hilarious attempts at umbrella limbo in The Frozen Mole, but to be honest it didn’t really work overall. It felt really separate to everything else, where the previous Ambient Forest was full of pathways to other areas and an adventure in finding secret happenings.

Over in Club Dada, we catch the New York Brass Band (who are actually from North Yorkshire… go figure) in an extremely sweaty but friendly tent, under the soft light from strings of old lampshades. They play amazing big band covers like Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ and Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’, with the entire crowd singing along. We join in for Bob Marley cover ‘One Love’ and Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing’ but head for the sides when they drop into the rowdy LMFAO ‘Party Rock Anthem’. One of my favourite things about Bestival is all of these individual pockets of joy all over the site.


Well things overnight have improved a little – it’s actually verging on sunny so we’re donning our best sparkly outfits today. After a cracking breakfast of avo-on-toast from The Breakfast Club and a couple of cans of G&T (I don’t care how hipster that sounds, it was glorious) we’re heading into the arena. Witness The Fitness is giving yoga-bods their daily dose of zen, there’s glitter in the air and the true colours of Bestival are showing in everyone’s fabulous outfits.

Over on the main stage, UK rapper Nadia Rose is cute but fierce in her pink shellsuit jacket spitting ‘Skwod’ to a bouncing crowd but we’re charging The Box for Disney Rascal. Dressed in an eclectic mix of costumes from Disney movies the band play ska/pop punk covers of all our favourites. There’s ‘The Bare Necessities’ and ‘Kiss The Girl’ but the mashups are the real stroke of genius; Queen’s ‘I Want To Break Free’ flows seamlessly into ‘Hakuna Matata’ whilst Bob Marley’s ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’ becomes Toy Story’s ‘You’ve Got A Friend In Me’. As if that all isn’t Disney enough for you, the show is halted so that guitarist Peter Pan (aka Chris) can propose on stage to his girlfriend, who is dressed as Absolom from Alice in Wonderland. It’s surreal and adorable. We loved you Disney Rascal, please return!

Just as we decided to head out in search of food, the heavens opened with the biggest downpour of the weekend yet, and the realisation that we’ve all opted for trainers instead of wellies, sets in. Arse.

Luckily for us a second exceptional cover band is up next – The Smiths Ltd. with a very realistic (though definitely less politically sassy) Morrissey frontman. The entire tent is singing at the top of their voices for ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ and honestly, it’s a pretty damn good replacement for those of us that never got to see The Smiths themselves. Bonus points for not having to listen to Morrissey whine about the world mid-set too. Oh and I have to give special mention to the dude in the crowd wearing the ‘Rizla Fedora’ – you sir are a king among men. For everyone who didn’t encounter this top cat, he had glued packets of rizla and filters to his hat in a help-yourself buffet of cigarette rolling genius.

With a small break in the rain, we traipse through the pooled mud and grab ourselves some stomach-warming Katsu curry and then watch a strange pop-up mariachi band on the stage underneath the Astronaut rainbow, who play covers of Five’s ‘Keep On Moving’ and The Spice Girls’ ‘Spice Up Your Life’. It’s bonkers and brilliant. At this point it’s becoming clear we’ll have to trek back to the tents for wellies due to the increasing danger the arena is posing underfoot, and as expected – the valley between campsites has become deadly slick and there aren’t really any other options for getting up or down it safely. It also takes an incredibly long-time to get back to the tents which is a shame because it means missing even more. Here’s hoping next year a second entrance to the main arena can be organised, cause death valley is not my idea of fun festival times.

After some fortifying beers and more appropriate footwear, we are back in the arena for Rag ‘N’ Bone Man. Towering over everyone else on stage, Rory Graham (aka Rag ‘N’ Bone Man) strides on with confidence, wearing a red and black varsity jacket. Starting off with ‘Wolves’ and letting us know “I feel very lucky to stand in front of you beautiful people and play today”, the crowd is already absolutely taken with his flawless vocals. Bowling through old and new hits, Graham jokes “That was a song about people with big heads and big egos… I dedicate it to Donald Trump… the orange prick” to much laughter and clapping across the arena. ‘Human’ and ‘Hell Yeah’ just top off a stunning set, marred only slightly by the crappy weather.

With the cooler temperatures and intermittent downpours, The Feast Collective is ram-jammed with bodies but we manage to commandeer some table space for dinner (I chose a Prawn/Chips/Samphire box of joy from Shrimpy’s – amazing) but no sooner than we had finished, security guards were clearing the tent due to a ‘health and safety issue’. Talking to the Bestival team we discovered it was a national grid issue – it seems the weather is a pain in the arse for everyone this weekend!

Over at The Port (which is considerably smaller and a bit sad compared to it’s original conception) Fatman Scoop and Jaguar Skills are delivering beats and laughs, but we’re back at the Castle stage for Dizzee Rascal. The much needed injection of energy coming from Dizzee helps us forget the dire weather for a while and we get down to ‘Dance Wiv Me’ like it’s 2008. Dizzee shouts out to the dude dressed as Batman and busts out the one we’ve been waiting for: ‘Bonkers’, and it is just that. The arena erupts in a muddy, bouncy, frantic mess. Which is precisely the kind of release everyone seems to have needed today. Yelling into his custom yellow mic “Put two fingers in the air and shout peace!” Dizzee notes that there’s a “…lot of bollocks going on the world right now but we all came together.” to a huge roar from the crowd who’ve battled death valley to be there.

Unfortunately due to rain and the state of the arena, there’s no safe way for the night parade to, well, parade. It’s a sort of sad little gathering in front of the castle, until the Portsmouth Batala Band get on the case with their rolling drums. It’s a shame the parade couldn’t have marched around the castle walls, away from the mud – it would have looked amazing.

Back on the main stage we are ready for A Tribe Called Quest’s final ever show. Following the death of bandmate Phife Dawg last year, this show is above all else a tribute act and a way to say goodbye. Despite a dodgy start the show goes on to be one of Bestival 2017’s highlights, and to be there, to be part of the history; amazing. Read our full ATCQ review HERE!

Embarking on the grueling walk back to the campsite we see an unfortunate person with what looks like a dislocated knee being attended to, and I can’t help thinking that the weather gods really have decided to smite this new site. On the other hand, we also watch a girl ride an inflatable unicorn down death valley with wild abandon, so it’s obviously not too awful for some!


After a hairy night of holding onto the sides of the tent in fear of ending up in Kansas, we pop our heads out to see that the campsite is looking decidedly emptier. It seems a lot of people have packed up this morning/been forced to evacuate wind-trashed abodes. Robin Hill campsites were blessed with the shelter of the valley and cliffside but here we are open to the elements and it shows, there are broken tent-poles and piles of scrapped polyester strewn around the place. Another bugbear for this new site/year is the toilets don’t seem to have been cleaned or emptied at all this morning, they are very full, stinky and gross – not something we’re used to experiencing at Bestival to be honest.

After hiding out for most of the morning, trying to muster up the courage to brave the walk in, we top up with all the booze we don’t want to carry home tomorrow and head to The Box for a little warmth with Weymouth Ukeleleans who are dressed in Hawaiian shirts and playing T Rex’s ‘We Love To Boogie’. It’s a bit of a culture shock to be honest.

At The Port we catch a gospel choir singing Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ to a meagre and beleaguered crowd (well, except for that stag party down the front who are clearly already half cut and loving it), and over near The Feast Collective we get in on a small bluegrass band playing washboards and roping in audience members for percussion.

On the main stage L.A. Salami is part spoken word, part soft lounge jazz. He has a fantastic voice and it’s a shame the crowd is so sparse, the arena is a picture of devastation with churned up channels of mud knee deep. The area near the corner toilets looks like the bog of eternal stench, and if you get too close, smells like it too.

Too many T’s are drafted in to fill another spot and joke about the “The great British summertime” as the wind picks up again. In a perfect twist of fate, three songs in to their set after declaring “We’re gonna do our debut album, it comes out on Friday… front to back, in it’s entirety” the show is halted due to rising winds and some dangerously flappy stage-side screens. It’s 1.20pm and the winds are driving in hard. We get word that the Ambient Forest has also been closed for safety, and within half an hour the call goes up for the arena to be evacuated entirely. By 5pm the screens have been strapped down, most of the site has been bathed in hay and we’re back on track, but by now it seems the damage has mostly already been done.

The information about the arena being back open went out via the app and Bestival social media… only one problem… how many people still have charged phones, data, or signal left on Sunday afternoon of a festival? We also heard reports of some security staff telling people that the whole thing was closed and the arena wouldn’t be re-opening, prompting many to give up and leave early, I suppose with the high risk of drink driving – had they spent the morning in full festival mode.

On the main stage a po-faced Loyle Carner calls out “I’m really sorry I can’t play this show… but I can do you one poem if you want?” before playing to the meagre 20 or so people who actually made it back out. Luckily people begin to filter back in and a couple of acro-yoga performers get entertaining in the mud, even roping in a security guard for a go. They’ve gathered a pretty massive crowd and are epitomising the true spirit of Bestival – no fucks given. It’s awesome.

Circa Waves up next and they’re just what the doctor ordered. The wind has died down and the sound is cracking, calling out “…this the last song of our festival season… thank you for coming to see us…” they are lifting the spirits of the growing crowd, now a sea of mud, glitter and laughter. There are also rumours that Simon from The Inbetweeners is running around in the mud naked, as they’re filming for ‘The Festival’ here this weekend. I can only imagine the terrible, perfect portrayal of British festivals that will be…

Up next with a last minute fill in for the absent Justice, are masters of the electro – Soulwax, and OH MY WORD their set is infuckingcredible. 3 giant metallic boxes house 3 drummers, playing all manner of weird and wonderful toms and cymbals, the beats are so strong it feels like the ground is shaking beneath us. The whole crew are decked out in bright white lab coats which are pulsing bright under the flashing strobes, and a spinning silver cyborg head on a mic stand at the front flashes like a disco ball.

Pushing and prodding at giant NASA-esque synths, Soulwax seem as lost in the moment as we are, but there’s time enough for them to joke “…to be here, on this stage… because Justice didn’t turn up… we turned up in the rain with our studio…” before dropping ‘NY Excuse’. It sounds like a wry dig at Justice and we wonder if they know something we don’t about the bands’ absence this weekend. As a giant version of the android head rises from the back of the stage and spins in tandem with the small one, the beats continue to ramp up to a point where every single body in the now fuller arena is going all out mental, this is hands down the best show of the entire weekend and I can’t believe so many people are missing it. It’s a travesty!

Yes it’s cold tonight, but the wind has died down and the rain has thankfully abated in time for the almost-didn’t-happen finale of the Pet Shop Boys. With an amazing laser-filled extravaganza absolutely saves the day with a proper, justified ending to the festival, instead of the wash-out it certainly could have been. Check out our full Pet Shop Boys review HERE!

Turning around to watch the fireworks show go off from the top of Lulworth Castle, we hug each other and say our goodbyes to the summer (hah), it’s a perfect moment only spoiled by the knowledge that we have to make the trip back to the tents once more. We take one last detour to Anna-Mae’s Mac N Cheese, passing The Temple and The Port which are both still going heavy with the remainder of the Bestival 2017 survivors. The campsite is a tent graveyard, broken poles like the bones of destroyed carcasses stick into the sky and we all duck as a loose pop-up whirls past our heads, escaping into the night sky. The toilets still haven’t been cleaned and seem to be taking on a presence of their own, a la Foul Ole Ron. If you know, you know.

However bad it is, I know that moving this festival was a crazy feat, there are teething problems here for sure, but the feel… the spirit of Bestival is still alive. Tomorrow I will rejoice in clean toilets, sinks with running water and a bed that I didn’t have to inflate, but the Bestival blues will hit just as hard after that, as any other year. I love you, you weird wonderful place.

The tragic news of the death of Louella Michie doesn’t hit the papers until Monday, and leaves extreme sadness – she was just someone who was there, like us, for freedom and fun. Bestival had all the measures in place that they should have, but it’s hard to deny that UK drug culture has been on the rise again in the last few years. It’s a tragic and sobering end to what was a rocky, but great first year for Bestival in it’s new home.


All photographs © A. McHardy for SFG – Do not use without permission

Oxegen announce Snoop Dogg, David Guetta, Calvin Harris and more

OXEGEN returns to Punchestown from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th August Bank Holiday weekend.

Headlining this years festival is superstar DJ David Guetta, voted worlds #1 DJ in DJ Mag Top 100 DJs fan poll. Guetta has sold over six million albums, 15 million singles worldwide and has consistently topped the charts with dancefloor hits such as Play HardTitaniumSweat, and When Love Takes Over featuring some of the worlds biggest music stars.

David GuettaGuetta will join Calvin Harris who has just broken the record for most top 10 singles from the one album. His current LP 18 months has achieved eighth top ten hits, including the latest ‘I Need Your Love’ featuring Ellie Goulding beating Michael Jackson who previously held the record with seven top ten hits from his 1987 LP Bad.

Also heading to Punchestown this summer are UK rapper Example, dub step duo Chase & Status, one of hip hops finest Snoop Dogg, chart toppers Labrinth and Rita Ora, as well as AlessoPitbullDJ FreshSoulwaxNeroRizzle KicksNicky RomeroSashaWretch 32 and Devlin performing across three stages including the Heineken Live Project stage and the Red Bull Electric Ballroom.

Joining the line up are a host of top DJs and Live acts including Otto Knows, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Iggy Azalea, The Original Rudeboys, Duke Dumont, Erol Alkan, Crookers, Jack Beats, Fake Blood, Congorock, Jacob Plant, Gin ‘N’ Juice, The Dead Prezidents, Al Gibbs, George Fitzgerald, Dave DeValera, John Gibbons, Borgore, Monsta, Ayah Marrar and Danny Byrd with more to be announced alongside Ireland’s largest Silent Disco.

Snoop Dogg


Save €75 on 2011 ticket price when purchased between 8am Friday 26th and 8am Saturday 27th April 2013 from Ticketmaster outlets or on line at

Regina Spektor to headline The Secret Garden Party + more announced!

Great Stage / Where the Wild Things Are / Crossroads













The Temple of Boom

Lovingly curated by Eddy Temple Morris….
















The Living Room…










It is a very welcome return for Regina, who first played the Garden back in 2005 when she was just starting out. Now lauded as one of the most talented songwriters of her generation there is precious little that the Russian born songstress hasn’t achieved. Her music has graced television and film around the world and won her a multitude of fervent admirers including Barack and Michelle Obama for whom she performed at The White House in 2010. 

Regina says:

"I'm so excited to return this summer and play The Secret Garden Party! Whenever I'm gone for a while I really start to miss the UK! 

It's amazing to get to play this festival again. It is full of people who are really passionate about music. Thanks for having me!"

Regina Spektor

Also confirmed are Swedish indie-rockers the Shout Out Louds. Having just released their fourth album ‘Optica’ to much critical acclaim the Stockholm- based quintet are famed for their mesmerising live shows and multi-layered harmony. Spanning ten years their musical CV includes a globetrotting tour with The Strokes and a single release on a record made entirely of ice – you really can’t get cooler than that…

Watch out for American folk-starlet Lissie who has collaborated with the likes of Band Of Horses, Robbie Williams and Snow Patrol; synth-toting troubadour Youth Lagoon; UK buzz band Temples and Willy Mason to name a few.



With only four months to go, we are urging all gardeners to book now if you have not done so already. Tickets in tiers 1 – 3 have all now sold out and there are now only a limited number of tickets left in tiers 4 & 5.  We want to make sure that those who are planning on coming to play with us this summer do not miss out. 



Our deposit scheme allows you to spread the payment of a ticket over 2 simple installments. Youcan reserve a ticket in tiers 4 & 5 now and pay the remaining balance before 13th June 2013.  Balances on teen tickets and tickets in tiers 1, 2 & 3 MUST be paid by the stroke of midnight on 30th April 2013.  If you miss the deadline you will lose your deposit.  Deposit tickets are non-refundable. However you can pay the balance on your ticket anytime by entering your reference number here.

And in other news….


This summer’s theme ‘superstition’ brings all kinds of strange and bizarre action camps into the Garden, each one lovingly programmed by fellow gardeners and promising to captivate, charm, hypnotise, enchant and enthrall you. Here are just a few of the many, many camps you’ll find at the party this summer…

Open up the doors to discover what may be lurking behind. Located in a land of beasts Monsters Inkwill provide hours of daytime entertainment for Gardeners. Draw out your inner monsters and rid the Garden of your beasts.

But if the monsters unnerve you why not channel your creativity at The Bohemian Artists’ Studio – the aficionados of festival life drawing, return once more to Secret Garden Party. Strike a pose and be forever immortalised on canvas by our virtuoso artistes at an evenings’ entertainment worthy of the most refined and discerning of reprobates.

Tongue of toad and eye of cod; be sure to visit the Witches of Odd. Enter the witches’ lair into a world of magic, spell chanting, potion mixing, join in on a traditional binding spell and make a wish for your inner most desires to come true or even cast a spell to determine the fate of other gardeners.

Perhaps you might stumble across the unlucky No.13 Club, a very superstitious 80’s neon micro disco, perfect for a moment of superstitious solitude. Release all inhibitions and dance your heart out.

After years of burying all you Gardeners, Funeral Camp makes an epic return as the Cult of the Sturdy Virgins. Their ritualistic death methods have enhanced their own supernatural powers through the manipulation of dark energies.  WHATEVER your gripe… they have the answer. Visit their Supernatural Hospital Camp, they’ve assured us their occult practises and ceremonies have been tried and tested. Enhance your spiritual deficits resulting in sense of alleviation.


Emerging from the mists of the deep dark Badger Woods the Artful Badgers underground campaign for world domination begins in earnest this year, as they march out roaring, to take on the new beautifully landscaped Amphitheatre. Here all manners of wild and unprecedented badger antics will pepper a program of their most diverse live music line-ups to date.  Occult ceremonies, animal dance, pagan circus, bizarre performance art and wild fire shows, join their in-house team of immersive theatrics and ecstatic dancers to bring the woods alive with the shadows of joyful woodland creatures.

The Feral Fever DJ Stage will boast some of the most spectacular laser shows ever seen under a leafy canopy, with wild beats from an extraordinary line up of mystery superstar DJs.  Heady Balearic rhythms, deep dance floor journeys and old school uplifting classics will be brought to life by a crystal clear system, our thumping dance crew and the flying wonders of aerialists suspended from our old man oak tree.  Journeying on sound doesn't get better placed than this.

Badger Bingo returns to the homely bar space and the warm twangs of the northern bingo caller will make you at home in an appropriate realm of wrongness. And the lonely hearts need not go home empty handed amongst all the ecstatic joy, as Badger Dating returns to spread the Badger Love and help you break through any blocks to your eternal happiness with another.

The badger continues to help you break through on all levels, presenting mystical afternoons of their trademark WILD workshops: including Shamanic Journeying, 5 Rhythms Ecstatic Dance, Mask Making and Dance your Naked Truth: a small graze on the surface of our deeper shamanic selves – where better to explore that than in the warm womb of the woods.

All in all, the badgers intend not only for you to never leave the underworld of the badgers once you have entered, but that when you eventually do, you will be so thoroughly grounded, feralised, expressed, refreshed and enthralled that there will be no other way to put it than to say, "I got seriously badgered this weekend!'. Bring it on.


Roll up! Roll up! Roll up! Stroll around our fayreground imaginarium where Alkhemysts ply their trade & tricksters work their craft, where tattooed ladies rub shoulders with tarot readers & circus lads & bearded ladies vie for your attention. Come m’dearios & taste our wares… feast your eyes on our Hoochie Coochie girls, wet your whistles at the Honeymoon Tavern & be merry with our Tarts & Tramps. The legendary Feast of Fools has unleashed a delicious taster line-up for this summer.

The Burning Man Project has shown us the way when it comes to installation art in the Garden; free from the gallery and as interactive as possible. Once again, the Secret Arts Foundation has embraced this concept whole-heartedly and for the party this summer have pledged to fund and support art which is interactive in its approach, participatory in its social stance and emotive in its realisation. 

This summer the Garden will be alive with interactive art created by some of the finest contemporary artists from across the Globe. There will be plenty of unique pieces commissioned especially for the party for Gardeners to discover, climb over, crawl under and dance around.

In previous years Secret Arts has championed projects such as the towering robots made from scrap; street art from Europe; shrines from San Fransico; Cartoon Confessionals from Tony Husband; giant floating islands that defied the laws of physics; tunnelled labyrinths; flocked treesand of course the infamous lake stage installations…. including a pirate ship; a blimp; a dragonfly; figure heads of the ages and many more…

Work is already in full swing for this summer’s art installations. More information on this summer’s incredible artists and collectives coming soon.

This video, filmed for Secret Arts during the weeks in the run up to last summer’s party, gives us a sneak peak into just a fraction of the hard work and love which went into last summer’s art installations. 

Secret Arts video:


There are lots of things for young Gardeners to see and do at the party too. There are family friendly action camps, theatre, art works and fairground rides dotted throughout the garden, as well as a dedicated kids camp which provides a fun, creative haven for young Gardeners.  Some of our favourite workshops taking place in Kids Camp this summer include Aunty Dots magic science experiments & weather casting, Bling Your Thing craft space, supernatural Stick Men making, Mr Wolf Shadow Puppets and pizza making.  There will also be plenty of theatre from the likes of the Flying Seagulls.


Atoms for Peace to headline Melt Festival + many more!


Soulwax, Rhye, Mark Ronson vs. Riton and many more added to line-up

The 16th edition of Melt! Festival is taking shape, with a new wave of acts ready to perform on the Ferropolis peninsula from 19th to 21st July. Joining acts already announced, such as Atoms For Peace, The Knife, Alt-J and James Blake, are a whole host of thrilling new acts includingSoulwax, Ryhe, Mark Ronson vs. Riton, Local Natives and Austra.

Atoms for Peace

Over a decade ago, Soulwax emerged with edgy alternative and electro sounds. Having done an incredible range of remixes for countless artists under the guise of Too Many DJs, they also made themselves a name as versatile producers. Now they'll bring the unique sound of albums like Any Minute Now and Much Against Everyone's Advice to the City of Iron.

Electronic sounds will also be represented this year by Melt! residents Digitalism, whose track ?2 Hearts? was made the official festival song two years ago, plus Trentemøller with his electrifying live performance, and star producer Mark Ronson and Riton who will be getting behind the DJ booth together this year. Archive, who released their ninth album, With Us Until Your Dead, in 2012, and Amon Tobin will spin under the guise of Two Fingers, and the cryptic Swedish electro project iamamiwhoami will also perform.

Canadian trio Austra will cross the Atlantic to bring their epic soundscapes to the industrial backdrop of Ferropolis this year. Also making the journey are LA duo Rhye and Brooklyn-based Friends, who released their debut album Manifest! last year. Local Natives, MS MR, Diamond Version, Metro Area (live), Trümmer and Bicep also star and Berlin label Suolwill bring their unique sound to the Gremmin Lake with Daniel Bortz, Chopstick & JohnJon, Till Von Sein and Trickski.

Tickets for Melt! Festival are available under the following link. More acts will be announced soon.

All confirmed acts so far

Alt-J | Atoms For Peace | Archive | Austra | Azealia Banks | Bambounou | Julio Bashmore | Barnt | Ben UFO | Bicep  | James Blake | Chvrches | Dan Deacon | Daughter | Marcel Dettmann | Diamond Version | Disclosure | Django Django | DJ Koze | Eats Everything | Everything Everything | Ellen Allien | Fantastic Mr Fox | Flying Lotus | Friends | Function | Get Physical Special feat. Andhim, Catz 'N Dogz, M.A.N.D.Y., Smash TV (live), Wankelmut | Henrik Schwarz & Band | iamamiwhoami | James Holden | Joy Orbison | Karenn | Kettcar | King Krule | Ben Klock | Laing | Local Natives | Christian Löffler | Mark Ronson vs. Riton | Metro Area (live) | Modeselektor & Apparat (DJ-Set) | Mount Kimbie | MS MR | Miss Kittin (live) | Mykki Blanco | The Knife | Oliver Koletzki | Markus Kavka | Owen Pallett | Purity Ring | Rebel Rave @ Big Wheel feat. Art Department, Jamie Jones, Damian Lazarus u.a. | Rhye | Roosevelt | Rudimental | Ry/Frank Wiedemann | SBTRKT (DJ-Set) | Schwarzmann (live) | Scuba | Shields | Sinkane | Solomun | Soulwax | Suol special feat. Daniel Bortz, Chopstick & JohnJon, Till Von Sein and Trickski | Swim Deep | The 1975 | Todd Terje & Lindstrøm live | Trentemøller | Trümmer | Two Fingers | Otto Von Schirach | Woodkid | Zebra Katz and many more to be announced…

Soulwax, Django Django, Bastille and more for The Secret Garden Party!

Theme For 2013 – ‘SUPERSTITION’

Great Stage / Where the Wild Things Are / Crossroads

Soulwax – Django Django

Bastille – The Strypes

Big Youth – Wolf Alice – Childhood – Eliza and The Bear

Public Service Broadcasting – Rodigan

Findlay – Mø – Roo Pains – Dan Croll

Lee Fields & The Expressions – Winston Francis

Skip ‘Little Axe’ McDonald – Son of Dave

Ava Leigh – The Family Rain – Ben Caplan

Deep Sea Arcade – Big Boy Bloater – Treetop Flyers

Annie Eve – The Ladykillers – Steve Hooker – Blackbombers

Unkle (DJ set) – Embrace (DJ set) – Evil Nine (DJ set)

The Temple of Boom

Lovingly curated by Eddy Temple-Morris

James Lavelle (special UNKLE DJ set)

Embrace (DJ set) – The Correspondents (Live)

Evil Nine (DJ set) – Loadstar (DJ set) – The Other Tribe (Live)

Wilkinson (DJ set) – Foamo (DJ set)

Never Say Die Allstars (DJ set) – Josh Butler (DJ set)

Head Gardener and programmer Fred Fellowes says: 

‘Every couple of years it seems that music bubbles up an endless host of new wonders in a relatively short space of time. In such a moment as this, we feel incredibly honoured to be hosting so many of these incredible new bands at the Garden Party. When added to the amazing new site works I really just can’t wait for this year’s SGP.’

Famed for their immersive live shows and pioneering use of multimedia Belgian brothers David and Stephen Dewaele aka. Soulwax are confirmed as headliners for this year’s Garden Party.  In the decade since they released the ground-breaking compilation ‘As Heard on Radio Soulwax Pt. 2’  (under their 2ManyDJ’s moniker) they've established themselves as one of the world’s top electronic acts.

London (via Edinburgh) quartet Django Django enjoyed an incredible 2012 last year, culminating in a Barclaycard Mercury Prize nomination for their eponymous debut album as well as picking up the hallowed ‘Best New Act’ gong at the Q Awards in October. 

Django Django

Having sold out two UK tours already it’s hard to believe that Bastille are yet to release an album. Their debut long-player ‘Bad Blood’ drops on March 4thand is one of the most eagerly anticipated releases of the year. 

Hailing from Cavan in Ireland The Strypes are a group of 16-17yr-olds with a penchant for all things rhythm and blues. Having recently signed to Mercury Records and Elton John’s Management company they can count Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller and Carl Barat amongst their rapidly growing legion of fans. The NME have named them as one of their most hotly tipped bands.

NEW FOR 2013

For 2013 the Garden’s beloved Artful Badgers have been given their very own new landscaped Amphitheatre to frolic in.  This will be a dedicated space for feral theatre and games throughout the day and at night will be transformed into a space full of wild gatherings, ceremonies and ferocious celebrations. There will be new aerial walkways throughout these enchanted woodlands so that Gardeners can take a leisurely stroll amongst the towering trees – and spy on fellow Gardeners below.

This year’s theme, ‘superstition’ brings the Black Cat Bar, which will be offering up the very finest of cabaret & cocktails, into the seductive spotlight.

The Garden’s legendary Pagoda Stage will see further improvements for 2013. Along with a crème de la crème line-up of surprise guest DJs, this will include the new nearby Yacht Club Bar on the lakeside where Gardeners can sip on a sea breeze or take a boat out for a row. For those who have not yet witnessed the Pagoda’s infamous allure, expect to be completely hypnotised by its magic this summer.

A major mover and shaker location in the Garden is the Temple of Boom, curated by Eddy Temple Morris, which will be returning back to its original home, south of the lake. Look out for the full outstanding line-up announcement coming soon for this stage.

The Feast of Fools has been given a new nest within a whole dedicated realm of interactive theatre, crazy games and workshops. The Woodburner is coming back with a new friend in the form of a beautiful alfresco gypsy caravan stage.  And … 2013 sees the return of the much-loved Village Hall to the Garden… the villagers will be playing host to our new gravel beach lagoon, providing you with a place for high diving, paddling and lino lounging. Be sure to bring your most outrageous bathing suits…  Hip Hip…

We are also delighted to be welcoming back the Oddball Dancehall, after its swinging debut last summer, as well as the much loved Small World Solar Stage for their 7th year in the Garden.

The Bearded Kitten’s Collo-Silly-Um is back with a slight boost in size due to its ever-growing popularity and will be over-spilling with superstitious silliness this summer.  This year it will be situated by newly landscaped rolling hills – perfect for suicide sports games.

Supernatural forces will take hold of the brilliant Dance Off Stage as we watch it shimmer, shake and expand into a beautiful, fully-power outdoor participatory venue for 2013. More Gardeners than ever before will be able to bust out their best moves and watch the greatest of party battles unfold.

Casting a spell over the whole Garden will be Secret Arts’ incredible Lake Stage. Dance into the witching hours with some of the best DJs from across the land and row out to the middle of the lake to watch the sunrise together.

Last but not least, the Garden’s favourite stages include the spellbinding Where the Wild Things Are, a mysterious, twisted area entangled in the finest new music; The Living Room – home to special one-off, intimate acoustic sets from some of the best singer/songwriters in the land; the Rumba Rum Bar, back by popular demand to bring you lashings of Ska, Latino and Reggae, all washed down with barrels of, yes, you guessed it, Rum. And the scandalous Crossroads, which showcases the very best rhythm and blues, soul and Americana on offer today, will once again be unleashing its voodoo magic on Gardeners this summer.

The campsites in the Garden will not be left untouched either, with plans for extra walkways and better access making the campsites even safer for everyone.  Boutique Campers can expect a few new surprises too, ensuring that we offer Gardeners the best boutique camping experience this summer.

The reviving Sanctuary area will itself be reimagined and revived this year. As well as offering a whole host of therapies and massage, Gardeners will be able to immerse themselves into a beautiful world of chill out vibes, rhythms and sunset sessions.

And finally, every now and then, Secret Garden HQ receives a proposal for a new venue which excites us to the very core…. we simply couldn’t say no. Keep looking out for more information about an epic new dance venue, brought to you by Bristol’s finest, coming soon. 


Each year the Secret Garden Party’s intellectual platform, Secret Forum, plays host to some of the greatest minds and speakers in the country. This year we are very proud to announce just a few of the brilliant thinkers who will be enriching and stimulating Gardeners this summer…

David Icke

Jonathan Cainer

Prof David Nutt

The British Humanist Association

Reverend Billy Talent & The Stop Shopping Gospel Choir

L.E.D Festival Review

L.E.DL.E.D Festival held it's inaugural 2 day event at London's Victora Park on Friday 27th August and Saturday 28th August 2010. Brought together by heavyweights Cream, Loudsound and Goldenvoice, the lineup spoke for itself which included friday headliner David Guetta and Saturday headliner Leftfield.

With a bit of rain during the week and on Friday morning, we were happy to see it dry up a little before we arrived there.

Audio Bullys L.E.D We walked in just in time to catch the Audio Bullys with Simon Franks on the mike. As the crowd slowly builds out by the main stage, a massive roar is heard when the Audio Bullys play "Shot You Down".
Afrojack L.E.D FestivalNewcomer Afrojack is one of the hottest talents coming out of Holland at the moment and he took to the decks for the next hour. He took things up a notch with a very energetic performance. As the sun starting to shine out through the clouds, Afrojack dropped his new tune "Take Over Control" featuring the lovely vocals of Eva Simmons and to finish, tune of the moment Swedish House Mafia's "One", to see the crowd run to the main stage to join in made for a great end to a very impressive and enjoyable set.
Calvin Harris L.E.D FestivalCalvin Harris took to the decks next performing a DJ Set. Its been a while since I have seen Calvin DJ however his skills on the decks are second to none. Geting the crowd going with his latest tune "You used to Hold Me" Calvin played a uplifting house set before making way for the exceptional SoulWax.

Soulwax took to the crowd with a full band setup and rocked it like they do. Soulwax are well known for their energetic and non-stop performances and didn't disappoint at L.E.D.

Soulwax L.E.D Festival

Moving to the Planet Turbo tent we catch the end of Zombie Nation just as they drop the always brilliant Kernkraft 400. Headlining the Planet Turbo tent was none other than Turbo Recording label boss Tiga. With a loyal following Tiga kept the tempo up with a typical uplifting Tiga set.


David Guetta L.E.D FestivalHeadliner David Guetta takes to the Main Stage with a massive stage setup. Perched high above the crowd in a stage built full of led lighting, he kicked off with his latest successful collaboration with Fergie (from the Black Eyed Peas), Chris Willis and LMFAO "Gettin Over You" Going through his plethora of tunes we also heard his new collaboration with Kelly Rowland "Commander". For me David Guetta was the highlight of the day, closely followed by Afrojack.

Overall we quite enjoyed the first edition of L.E.D Festival in London, we look forward to seeing it back at Victoria Park next year.

Photos for L.E.D Festival can be found here