A crazy festival party where everyone joins in and brimming with ideas and creativity that takes place at Mill Hill Field, at Huntingdon, in Cambridgeshire. Set in a 220 acre landscaped garden, bordering a river and lake, The Secret Garden is a garden-party-gone-crazy. As well as music there's loads of activities for kids and adults alike, and this event is more of a party experience Parades, Art tents, Walkabout Theatre & Theatre workshops, Big Wheel Rides, Boat Rides, Swimming, Treasure Hunts, Bands in trees, a festival-wide train service, open mic stages and as always, participatory games of all descriptions. The festival offers restaurants, food talks, cocktail bars, ale tents, massages, kids area, barefoot discos and twilight fire circle tales. The festival is spread out over two sides of a lake with a large main stage area, 'The Great Stage' and then smaller tent venues dotted around, like 'Where the Wild Things Are', 'The Living Room', and 'Small World' which all have artistic décor. As an independent festival, bar sales keep the event alive so organisers limit the amount of alcohol you can bring. I get the feeling The Secret Garden Party would have been amazing in better weather – home to a crowd who in the majority are polite and friendly.
However the theme was mostly ignored by the festival goers who instead appeared to dress in the ongoing SGP theme of glitzy festival freaks, and those that did take part (mainly on the Sunday) referred to cultural references I was more familiar with as my daughter is of a similar age to the younger festival goers – there were a lot of bears, unicorns, ponies, cartoon characters, crayons, nursery rhymes and the like.
Whilst the theme was less adopted by the crowd it was the major theme of the site art which was incredible at times. We spent much of the last few days around the main two stages, rather than the further reaches of the festival. However we were near the brilliantly entertaining Dance Off, and also got to enjoy the paint fight on Sunday. Interestingly it was noticeable these were clearly veterans of the festival, there were also a large number of newcomers who were less banded together, and some I spoke to felt a bit out of the loop.
A timetable where venues are listed together would have really helped those of us who like to map out our day's entertainment.
The purpose built site, one of only a handful of festivals I can think of that has such a feature, means that stages are in sculptured amphitheatres, there’s undulating raised banks, the two water features and a load of lovely planting. The social interaction, parades, and games all helped to bond the attendees together particularly good at achieving this was the paint fight where by the end of it everyone looked the same, regardless of costume and plumage.
As for the music, well I mainly stayed listening to the bands rather than the DJs, and the big winners in this respect were anything with a reggae, dub, or ska beat, and the main stage speakers were able to be fantastically loud (no neighbours close by on the 6,000 acre site). Other acts worthy of note include the brilliant acoustic mash-ups of Gypsies of Bohemia, plus the moody Angus & Julia Stone, FURS, Haelos, The Acid, Imperial Leisure, Beans on Toast, Ward Thomas, Captain Hotknives, Ella and the Blisters, The Fontanas, Temple Funk Collective, Orchestra Cumbia Mela, The Brass Funkeys, and Voodoo Love Orchestra. The last few acts were all discovered in the Kitsch Inn programmed by Continental Drifts and Global Local and on the other side of the lake to the main stage, part of The Spiritual Playground, this area along with Small World, Guerilla Science (speakers), and the Kids Area was practically devoid of mud and at night a fair few degrees warmer than those further up the sloping site.
We ended up seeking sanctuary here when the mud and rain got too much with comfort food like duck wraps, fish fingers, stew, Caribbean chicken, the delightful curry feast that is The Peckish Peacock, and the Cider Cottage all nearby it was a welcome escape. Gosh, they know how to throw a party though, and design a festival site, fill it with good stalls and caterers and hire decent staff to hold it all together. It achieves interaction with the audience and participation as much if not more than any other festival I’ve been to. A range of arts, interesting speakers, unusual activities, gave you a wealth of interesting options to do stuff away from the music.
Despite the weather the festival still outshone the bands, on a sunny weekend it must be incredible to wander effortlessly between the 40 or so areas offering participation, merriment, and music, even with the horizontal rain it ranks in my top five festivals. The dates for next year are confirmed as Thursday 21st to Sunday 24th July 2016 and it's no wonder tickets sell out every year, the super early birds have already flown. Once people have passed their 60th, they may well feel less like having a party to celebrate their birthdays. The guest of honour may well prefer to keep numbers small, so perhaps lunch, afternoon tea, or a small dinner party might be more suitable that a full-on party. I also suggest creating a photoslide show that documents their lives through the decades and highlights their achievements. One word of warning though, if you are using a photo slideshow remember to keep the atmosphere light with a few funny photos, particularly towards the end.


If you don't find any 70th birthday party ideas you like from here, be sure to check out Party Themes A-Z incase something from a different category catches your eye. Thru The Decades For my Mother-in-law's 70th birthday party I decided to go thru the decades as far as food and drinks. Matt James is a professional event planner and owner of event agency Left Field Productions, which has produced events for Elton John, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kevin Spacey, Stella McCartney, David LaChapelle, John Waters, and Elvis Costello & Diana Krall.
If you have your own site or blog, copy and paste the code below to link to this site with the button shown here. As well as music there's loads of activities for kids and adults alike, and it is more of a party experience. You could pay one part now and the remainder anytime up until Friday 1st May 2015 (midnight).
We will automatically let you know if a payment hasn’t gone through and you will have 7 days to correct it. Everyone will be given a Litter Bond in addition to the normal festival wristband, plus TWO bin bags.
The happenings on the main stage side are generally more dancey and louder, and the other side has a more acoustic and chilled vibe.
There’s much less sign of complete mashedness compared to other similar events that attract the youth in such numbers. As my school years are best left forgotten, I was at a different school nearly every year and a kid that didn’t make friends easily, nor was I particularly sporty or picked for teams often. Interestingly these activities served to really bond the crowd together, many of whom were often large groups of friends, in matching themed costumes. The disconnect was further enhanced by an incredible hard to get your head around schedule were it was almost impossible to plan your day, instead you had to surrender to the will to explore or wait in one venue hoping an act hadn’t played (in the case of those without times).
It also would have helped negate the feeling that there was probably something fantastic going on somewhere else - though it's quite likely there was. There was only one block in the campervan field, alongside usual the urinal pods and a waste water dump.
The second stage is in a roughly built wooden area surrounded by trees with eyes in them, giant plasters can be spotted holding it together, lillypads light up, the trees are underlit, the woods hold rough hewn disco venues, there’s hot tubs, and topless swimmers.
It was a bonus that it didn’t rain whilst the powder flew, and it drew a decent crowd revealing just how many people were still partying on the final day.
The early acts on each day on the main stage – Will And The People, Natty, and Gentleman's Dub Club draw large up for it dancing crowds.
But, this is a festival that proves you don't need big names, just good acts, to sell out each year. There’s also interesting talks in Guerilla Science on sleep, the mind, and hearing voices, plus a mini zoo, and a fire organ.
It’s definitely aimed at a younger audience but not so much that the older ones feel excluded. The last thing the guest of honour will probably want to see are balloons, decorations, and tableware with 70 printed all over them.
This creates a nice sentimental touch to the party and lets everybody share in some fond memories.
You don't want the guest of honour to get too emotional as they look back over the lives—especially if it has involved some losses. Since 2004, Left Field Productions has won 30 industry awards for excellence including Production Company of the Year. The festival has been granted a permanent licence with a capacity of up to 32,000 for each of the four days.
Or you can pay in three stages, where final payments are due 6th April or 6th May, depending on which payment option you prefer. Past this one-week warning, you will NOT be entitled to a refund and there will no longer be a festival ticket secured for you.


The £10 will be redeemed when gardeners hand in their full bin bags, which can be given to members of the litter crew in the campsite hubs. Plus, I expected most of the cultural references would be lost on me, my early years were spent on the other side of the world. These crews danced off against one another, roamed the site together, camped together, and were even acknowledged by the walk by Radio Station and added to the flavour of the event. There was also a lot of Noz and a rash of thefts from tents, that dreadful alleged rape, as well as knitting groups, yoga, a small zoo, a fair number of kids (and lots for them to do), and dogs, not too many numbers are limited but it’s nice to see the occasional pooch on site. I thought it was too few, but the number of mammoth vehicles with their own loos meant that there was sufficient. It not only looks lovely it also smells terrific too of festival smells rather than rubbish. As do Lianne La Havas, Kate Tempest, Public Service Broadcasting, Brassroots, The Correspondents (now a proper full band), Roots Manuva, and headliners Jungle, and The Cat Empire, I missed Caravan Palace.
Across the way a big fire pit resided outside the wellies off, brandy chocolate, carpeted warmth of Small World. It’s the same age having started in 2004, and they all share the same approach to festivals that was perhaps borne out of a reaction to the fence going up a few years before at Glastonbury. We were camped next to a young Dutch family, and some old school ravers and both parties loved it. Focus your efforts on creating some good food and drink, a nicely dressed table, perhaps a birthday cake, and a small group of family and friends.
Everyone was really good at keeping complete strangers' chins up when they saw it was getting to them. Water points were also about, marked on the map at the back of the free programme, but not very cleanly signposted. It's all about getting the tone right, so think of it less like a traditional party and approach it perhaps more like a family gathering or informal get-together of friends. You don't need to worry too much about entertainment or elaborate decorations for 70th birthdays. I've never seen such spirit keeping grins on faces in such a driving relentless wind and rain. It was a bit surprising the bands didn’t try to join in more with the theme, and bring a bit more stage craft to their shows. Older people have so many great stories to tell and it's a great opportunity for them to take a trip down memory lane while letting everyone else share in the memories. And don’t believe the photos you see of SGP the audience is far more diverse than the pretty pictures of young model types wanting to be photographed would have you believe. Heavy wet weather gear is not designed for sweaty dancing, so there were a lot of changes of clothes. Aim for something that is slightly out of the ordinary yet at the same time tasteful and understated. I could sleep for 2 weeks and I'd still be tired, and I’m still cleaning mud off stuff . Think about how you can make the party as personal as possible by focusing on their tastes and interests. There were some great acts though, a loud booming PA, and some clever ideas - I'd go back next year if only it wasn't so far away from our home, it's a 7 hour journey for me. Talking of which the waste teams are brilliant they put in Herculean effort to keep the site clean in all weathers, and do a grand job.



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