‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ could not have been a more appropriate theme for this year’s festival as its cool mix of games, art and music make for a magical cacophony, perfectly epitomising the Emerald City.
Set in the countryside of Cambridgeshire, the Secret Garden Party has earned its reputation as a secluded oasis of fun and foolishness with a marked separation from mundane reality. Quickly becoming the worst kept secret and earning a place among other major festivals, it preserves its obscurity by maintaining its philosophy of pure fun, relaxation and spontaneity that can seize anyone as they walk through the door.
The festival welcomes every kind of lady and gentleman through its threshold, guaranteeing an atmosphere of tolerance, freedom and above all comfort as young and old alike appreciated the immense skills of Ellie the Acrobat effortlessly moulding fantastic shapes with her body against the darkening sky.
The festival is a hub of activity that offers an array of different things to see and do and boasting an extensive range of musical acts. The Crossroads has become a distinguished stage throughout the years, housing such names such as Jake Bugg and Sam Smith. It has enticed many a festival-goer with its cool combination of jazz and authentic rock n’ roll that guarantees to get the crowd dancing. While down at the Rhumba Rum Bar, mellow Latin and reggae reigns to create the perfect atmosphere to settle with a cocktail. And all the while, one revels at the opportunity to experience the impressive choice of lesser known acts that the Garden Party prides itself on.
But music is only one of many things to do at this festival. Endless shenanigans dominate the Colo-silly-um thanks to the Bearded Kitten Games – makers of weird and wonderful dares and challenges. Indeed, one won’t soon forget the sight of messy mud-wrestling as two ladies are challenged to steal the boxers off a blindfolded guy, while he must steal their swimsuits… a strangely engrossing game that has become part of the random and liberating fun these festival-goers have come to expect. Or for something more chilled, one can take a load off at the Amphitheatre. This year, the budding stars of women’s poetry including Emma Jones and Amy Acre, performed works that were both funny and engaging in their ‘Poetry Period’, an ode to vaginas everywhere. And these exciting events are complimented by the Sanctuary, an embodiment of calm with its pond beautifully nestled into nature and a huge selection of hot tubs, giving people ample opportunity to truly mingle in the outside air, relaxing and swimming in the summer sun.
Over the course of the three days countless good times were to be had. Clean Bandit delivered a set of pure enjoyment, inspiring an excited atmosphere where one wanted nothing more than to dance. And this trend of excitement stayed strong for the entire duration of the festival. The following night saw the sky alive with fireworks while the lake centre-piece was ablaze. It was quite a sight. And to follow this scene was none other than Public Enemy, who seamlessly matched the crowd’s energy with their unique style of Hip-Hop. And for those more eager to dance, the ever diverse festival had DJ EZ take to the Temple of Boom, dropping garage classics that got the crowd dancing clean into the night and ending only as the sun rose.
The festival could not have had a more fitting conclusion. Happily surveying the charming hand-made crafts, jewellery and clothes, as well as having a good fill of tasty Thai curry that could satisfy the pickiest palate, it was already officially a good day. However, it is uniquely liberating to stand in a crowd of hundreds throwing powder paint collectively to raise a storm of colour, only to be left a painted portion of a massive rainbow. The day boasted an impressive 30 degrees and the people danced and sang to some laid-back reggae beats. It does not get much better.
The festival is a paradise of all that is creative, fun and a little hedonistic, making it a unique experience that will leave you smiling even after it spits you back into reality.