Photographs c/o: Danny North, Olivia Williams, Richard Johnson & Nick Caro
Imagine a grown-up retreat filled with buckets full of booze, an endless list of musical talent and a lake filled with naked bodies and there you have Secret Garden Party.
As a young and naïve journalist I had no prior knowledge of the festival and left my car with a rucksack, sleeping bag and an open mind – but perhaps most importantly, open ears. Arriving at the festival was a breeze, clear signs signposted the track all the way up to the car park with humourous quotes along the way. There was then a short walk to the box office which was where my ticket was exchanged for a wristband – then the rest was history.
I’m kidding, but from then on I was fully captured by the buzzing atmosphere of the festival. Next stop was to set up camp. Fellow campers were friendly and rowdy in equal measure and the campsite was a two minute walk away from the arena – seriously convenient! There was also a luxury toilet facility in the campsite called ‘pootopia’ which was definitely a plus point as all regular festival goers will appreciate.
The arena was where the magic happened. Picture an Alice in Wonderland haven with hidden gems around every corner. These gems included the vast amount of stages on offer at the festival, everything from ‘The Small World’ stage which was a hippie-filled retreat serving up alcoholic hot chocolate, to ‘The Drop’ which was a natural sloping drop in the ground that entertained its audience until 6am with the latest house and techno DJs.
Nothing prepared me for the abundance of artists and DJs that were going to be playing across the duration of the weekend as well as the incredible range of genres. As a music lover that likes to have their fingers in a lot of pies this was ideal for me. I could listen to skar music from midday to about 3pm, reggae from 3-6pm and then dance the night away to house and techno – a truly eclectic experience!
Secret Garden Party isn’t just all about the music, it is focused on being environmentally friendly, and rightly so! Many festivals leave you knee-deep in litter but the creators of the garden party also created a litter scheme – collect one full bag of litter and one full bag of recycling and you will be given £10 in exchange; it certainly reduces the carbon footprint! This environmentally friendly ethos was also present in the catering. Caterers were made to use biodegradable cutlery so if there was any remaining litter it would be degradable.
Art in all its different forms was also a major influence at the festival. Wherever you looked your eyes were mesmerised by a sculpture, the construction of a stage and even a human hammock made of cling film. This year’s theme was childhood and the array of art installations represented this perfectly – transporting you back to a time of simplicity and happiness.
Gardeners also had the opportunity to take a step back from the madness of the festival. ‘The Sanctuary’ was a section of the arena dedicated to relaxing where visitors could take a dip in a luxury hot tub and bathe under the stars or take a quick nap on a kingsize water bed. Outdoor activities also included meditative yoga, human bowling and mermaid school – a workshop which fulfilled many childhood fantasies!
Musical highlights included the indie reggae band from Bristol, Regime who wowed the crowd with their political lyrics and chilled out beat. The Area Boys and Mango Park entertained until the early hours of the morning with popular house and techno tunes. Come Friday the weather was not on our side but Will and the People managed to lift the crowd’s spirits with their indie/ska vibe and the one man band Jack Garrat continued to blow the crowd away with his array of musical talent. Temples graced the stage on Saturday who lived up to their name of ‘the princes of the new gene pool of psychedelia’ which had the crowd raring to go on Sunday for the iconic paint fight.
Despite campers enduring a weekend full of rain, spirits remained high with the finale of the burning of the centre lake stage which was one hell of a spectacle. It fully captured the experience of the festival and it went out with a bang! To anyone debating whether to go to Secret Garden Party next year I would urge you to pack your bags, get your wellies on and leave your worries at home.
To find out more and see all the awesome photos that were taken at the festival visit: www.2016.secretgardenparty.com