Secret Garden Party is a festival for those who like to say goodbye to the yellow brick road, those who relish the journey, not the emerald city at the end. Secret Garden Party’s emerald city wasn’t found at the end of the yellow brick road, instead it sat in the middle of the Great Lake – the centrepiece of the party – which came burning down on the last night. Dance music was heralded by the Temple of Boom, a large space age barn that most of the time couldn’t hold its audience.
The Beaded Space Pioneers journeyed back from the year 2017 to give us the weirdest and gravity defying games the universe has to offer at the Collosillyum. Festivals are known to be a place to loose yourself, your inhibitions and sometimes even your mind. The Secret Garden Party, which runs 23rd - 26th July this year, started in 2004 in picturesque grounds at Abbots Ripton near Huntingdon.
In the past acts including Super Furry Animals, Grace Jones, Lily Allen, Gorillaz and Blondie have played, but music is just one strand of the event that constantly stimulates the eyes and ears with performances and art installations everywhere you go. Here are just ten of the acts who will be soundtracking attendees surreal second childhood. Kate Tempest is one of the most powerful voices on the contemporary poetry and spoken word scene.
Public Service Broadcasting reached new heights with 2015 album The Race for Space and single "Gagarin", delivering a perfect blend of funk, rock and cosmic grooves. The enigmatic Where The Wild Things Are stage nestled among twisted branches and tree trunks is the perfect setting for Marika Hackman’s beguiling vocals.
Since parting ways with his brother, Orbital’s Paul Hartnoll has continued producing his innovative brand of electronica, which he will be showcasing in a live solo set. The veteran rapper recently returned with a jazzy dub collaboration with Four Tet and is due to release his first album in four years. An explosion of brass, jazz, funk, pop and soul The Cat Empire are an irrepressible carnival of a band guaranteed to get even the most reticent spectator swinging their hips to their unrelenting dance rhythms.
The Drop stage promises a hands-in-the-air celebration of all that is great and exciting about British dance music. The wonderfully wonky French Swing collective blending 20s jazz with modern electro pop play the Great Stage ahead of the release of their third album due out in the autumn.
DrunkenWerewolf is a music website and free cutting edge Bristol-centric music publication that covers national and local acts, promoting Bristol as a destination for the arts and music. Now the summer holidays are upon us, I am forever looking for projects to do with the children. Zoe Clark spent some of her early cake decorating years at Cakes 4 Fun Ltd so we were delighted to see her second book at the end of last year. The cake designs themselves are imaginative and would be the centre piece of any party table.


Mill Hill Field in Abbots Ripton was full of sights to behold, decorated with comedic artworks, glory-hole boxes for hugs, large art installations made from hay, plus many many more.
Little Dragon, Public Enemy, Clean Bandit and Martha Reeves and the Vandella’s all brought the crowds to The Great Stage.
When Kidnap Kid took to the stage, everyone spilled out over the hills and far far away, dancing like there was no tomorrow. As the party’s best kept secret, this hidden gem of a dancefloor was a magical yet eerie setting.
It was here that Chase & Status played their secret special guest performance and also where we discovered the ET Phone Homo bar, with out of this world cabaret, Chewbacca in a bikini and dancing girls with more than just two breasts. However, the garden gave us the chance to find them again, by providing us with an exciting array of intriguing talks and debates from the rarest of renegade academics. With a lake at the centre and a plethora of marquees, stages, dance floors and chill-out areas scattered among parks and woodland, the Secret Garden Party is a true wonderland. Those attending are known as gardeners, and interactive artworks and performances mean everyone is part of the show.
Gardeners will be able to discover their inner child with a 100-acre toy box of a party, complete with jelly, ice cream and sprinkles. Expect her band to whip up a storm, with tracks from Mercury nominated album Everybody Down.
He’s sure to have the Great Stage sound system pulsating with an irresistible clash of rough beats and cool dub reggae grooves. Their retro psychedelic rock will be truly enchanting in the tranquil setting of the lakeside. Although cake decorating may seem a little adventurous, many of our customers have come in for a book and some edible decorations and given it a go. For other moments, when you are looking for a child friendly project and perfection is less important, the book works equally well, with lots of ideas and simple decoration techniques.
This year’s party was a kaleidoscope of entertainment, with almost too much to choose from. Take the Orgasmatree for example, artist Thomas Sale provided us a place to reflect and find shelter from festival life (and the sweltering heat) during the day, but at night, the playful installation became a social spot for gardeners to congregate.
Public Enemy’s headline performance on Saturday night took us back to the 80’s and the spectacular fireworks display was the cherry on top of a retro-tastic night. Tucked away in the corner of the lake stood The Pagoda Stage – a place to dance to some of the finest DJ’s around while stomping your feet inches above the water. Only here would you find the musical delights of Maxxi Soundsystem, a photo-booth for those ultimate festival selfies and the best place to play hide and seek. The voguing, dance routines and of course the drag queens, all brought an intergalactic feeling to the term gay bar.


The Forum hosted talks and workshops such as The Misfits’ Create Your Own Pop-Up Cult, Charlie Morley’s How Lucid Dreaming Can Change The World and Danny Kushlick’s What Will The World Look Like When We Legalise Drugs. Many went to bathe under the sky, including a certain Prince Harry you might know, and spent two blissful hours relaxing in luxury hot tubs.
Now a firm festival favourite, it's no longer a secret, but there are many surprises to discover in the magical world that comes to life for four days each July. Respect for the environment is also at the heart of the festival’s philosophy, with initiatives including making everyone do their share of litter picking.
Even more powerful are Kate’s solo spoken word performances, which have audiences in the thousands spellbound. Emerging talent was presented at the Where The Wild Things Are, the stage that in years past gave us the likes of Florence & The Machine, The XX and Lykke Li, so if history is to repeat itself take note of acts such as Mausi, Kate Boy and Beech. For lovers of Science, the Guerila Science tent taught us that riotous rebellion is something to be championed. The affordable experience began with a glass of sparkling wine and ended with either a Finnish sauna or extra hot shower, and of course in true Secret Garden style, no swimwear or clothes were allowed. Mausi, an electronic pop group had the crowd moving and shaking in front of the wooden vine clad stage, so much so that everyone who walked by, us included, had to stop and join in the party. Williams, Richy Ahmed and Citizen dropped were pumping and had many a passer by head-bopping along.
The other wooded bash happened in the Artful Badger Woods, set in the darkest corner of the garden. Zoe Cormier’s Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll talk drew in the crowds, learning about the hedonism of science and the science of hedonism. For those who weren’t into some R&R in a hot tub, jumping into the lake was the other alternative.
Hosted by the Horned God of nature, Pan and his minion the Badger Shaman, we danced to electro disco funk, swing and psychedelic grooves.
It was here that we were shown proof that the vagina really is a force to be reckoned with.
Set in a natural hollow, DJ’s such as Waifs & Strays, Route 94, Ben Pearce and Skream set the beats and had us dancing till sunrise, stumbling back to camp just as the rest of the festivalgoers woke for breakfast. It was here, nestled between the trees, that we discovered the Green Fairy and her delicious Pernod Absinthe Bar.



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