Since its inauguration in 2004, the Secret Garden has been offering an escape from reality for everyone with an inner child who remembers what it’s like to have fun. The festival’s capacity has more than tripled since that first year, (although the organisers promise that this is the biggest they’ll let it grow) and so has its offering. With an additional stage this year, plus two more live areas and two DJ areas, the festival offers a range of music for all music fans.
The line-up this year includes some big names like Lily Allen, with her recent chart topping performance, and Graham Coxon, who alone are enough to guarantee a good show, and some lesser-known acts, some of which are on my personal list of “must-sees”, such as the Backstage Sluts.
The Puppini Sisters are on the main stage on Sunday, and Milburn (who we interviewed recently as well) are playing before Lily Allen on Friday. They have recently performed at T in the Park alongside a few other acts who will be at the Secret Garden, including The Automatic, another Friday showing. This line-up makes Friday well worth the trip, there’s no excuse for arriving late for this festival!
That doesn’t mean they’re going to let Sunday afternoon suffer, however. Besides the Puppini Sisters, the likes of Holly Golightly of Thee Headcoatees (who features on the White Stripes’ Elephant album) and The Deadbeats (who played at Glastonbury last year) mean that the musical offering of this festival should keep you going for the full three days.
The other stages are not to be ignored either, with Martin Carr of the Boo Radleys (now playing under the moniker Brave Captain) being one of my personal highlights of Friday on the remix stage. The Freelance Hellraiser and GoHome Productions, amongst others, keep us entertained on Saturday, and once again, not to let the weekend end on a quiet note, amillionsons (as well as at least one side project) play on Sunday.
However, the focus of Secret Garden is less on the music, and more about finding a place away from normal life, and escape to fantasy. Set in an idyllic setting in Cambridgeshire, if this festival is not enough to remind you how much fun it is to roll down grassy banks (or have a go at their Human Curling), and all the other enjoyment of letting go and reverting to childhood, there’s little hope left for you. The bands themselves never want to leave once their set is finished…from Hard-Fi to The Noisettes all acts last year were infected by the madness that is the Secret Garden Party.
1. Lily Allen
2. Larrikin Love
3. The Backstage Sluts
4. Graham Coxon
5. Howling Bells
The nights of the Secret Garden weekend are by no means a break in the action. The sun merely takes a break for a few hours, to let everyone enjoy the starlight, and the performances of the fire-dancers. Then it comes back and lights the beautiful people yet again, for another day of dance, merriment, and general child-like debauchery.
Imagine: cocktail bars in limos, confession boxes and pulpits, The “Fuck Yeah” Bar, cheerleaders, love potions, The Festival of Fools, Frat House Olympics, Afghan Polo, human curling, tipi saunas, blonde vs brunette room service to your tent, fire-light theatre performances and if our luck holds – boating on the beautiful lake as the sun sets and the band plays on.
The Secret Garden Party combines music with an assorted array of activities. From dressing-up stalls to making glitter pictures, there’s entertainment for kids of all ages. Everyone is free to indulge their fantasies in this weird and wonderful atmosphere. The bars are designed and decorated to impress, from the baby grand piano, pinball machines & pool tables to the propeller and tail-fins of an old aeroplane, these are appreciated by all comers.
Food stalls hit the right note too. Organic, veggie, fat chips and wood-oven pizza – food to invigorate and feed the soul. And, from Suicide Olympics to hoola hoops and weddings, you can take part or just sit and observe the fun.
On a more practical note, camping so near to the site is an absolute godsend, especially for those with small children. New improved washing and toilet facilities will also be present this year.