Secret Garden Party is probably the weirdest festival I have ever been to. Rather than, like most festivals, place emphasis on the music, SGP offers every kind of artistic experience you could ever think of. In terms of genre, the best way I could describe the kind of music SGP puts out is probably a cross between dance and alt/indie.
I was definitely more interested in the host of weird and wonderful things it had to offer instead of music. There were mask-making workshops, plays and poetry readings, a huge spa called ‘The Sanctuary’ offering everything from foot rubs to yoga lessons; fairground rides; human football matches (basically people in massive inflatable balls throwing themselves at each other); vintage clothes shops, dance tutorials and much more besides. SGP truly offers something for everyone.
While I wasn’t too fussed about the musicians on the lineup I popped in to the Sons & Sons Ampitheatre to watch a couple of dance workshops (b-boy and something that looked like a mix between salsa and absolute filth) and some of the comedy shows. The actual setup of the festival was beautiful, with every tent and stall a vibrant colour, making you feel like you’d stepped into a travelling circus. The main stage audience space was dotted with giant, fifteen foot daisies. A highlight was the Emerald City, a massive structure constructed in the middle of a lake which could only be reached by boat. The air was constantly a heavy mixture of glitter and smoke, and the whole vibe was one of love and acceptance. There were no fights or laddish behaviour. Everyone seemed to be the epitome of chilled.
The best part of the whole festival for me was the eponymous Secret Garden. In order to find it you had to go into the right portaloo out of one of the many rows. Rather than stepping into a manky toilet you find yourself instead in a vast field of beautiful sunflowers, spotted with handmade scarecrows. It was a strange and tranquil experience, and there were other weird hidden treasures like this dotted throughout the festival. While the emphasis on art and expression was something which I thoroughly enjoyed at Secret Garden Party, I couldn’t help but get the strong impression that to really enjoy this festival I had to be on ketamine or something, which many of the people I met through the weekend were. Unfortunately this kind of ruined the experience a little bit for me. Everyone I met was perfectly lovely and friendly, but it was a little bit like being the only not-drunk person at a party.
I still took time to enjoy the huge variety of things SGP had to offer – and I did enjoy it – but if you’re thinking of going to Secret Garden Party and you’re not big on taking drugs I would suggest going with some like-minded friends, or risk drowning in dilated pupils.