Taking place in the heart of rural Cambridgeshire, The Secret Garden Party 2014 promises once again to create a bohemian and carefree sub-setting in which over 20,000 ‘gardeners’ can kick back and enjoy the easy-going atmosphere. For those who are fed up of fame, fortune and commercialism, the theme this year is ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’, for anyone who wishes to escape the modern world “and its promise of (social/financial) redemption.” So with this clear vision of what the festival should be, there’s a whole set of weird and wonderful things going on across the four days. Here are just eight of those things that you certainly shouldn’t miss out on:
With any festival, music is kind of a given. The eclectic line-up features Ben Pearce, Clean Bandit, Foxes, Gorgon City, Jagwar Ma, MØ, Rae Morris, Public Enemy and so many more. With several stages spread across the site, including a stage in a pagoda on the side of a lake, there will always be some music nearby for you to enjoy.
Where The Wild Things Are Stage
The Where The Wild Things Are stage is as much about the music as it is serenity. Exquisitely crafted with woven branches, it provides a magnificent frame to the hotly-tipped artists that frequently appear there. In 2013, Dan Croll, Chlöe Howl and John Newman all performed on the stage, marking it out as the place to be to find some of the most gifted up-and-coming musicians.
Naked mud wrestling
This has been one of the stranger highlights of the festival for several years, with volunteers entering a mud pit in the centre of an amphitheatre and scrabbling around to strip each other of their clothes in several rounds. The finals usually then consist of competitors trying to pull ribbons from each other’s genitalia. It sounds grotesque but it proves to be compulsive (if repulsive) viewing.
A lot of festivals may brag about their impressive culinary set up but it seems like Secret Garden Party really does win. The various outlets do prove to be fairly pricey, as do most UK festivals, but the extent of quality food on offer means purchases still seem like excellent value. There is even a chandeliered tent called the Soulfire restaurant with pristine table cloths and waiter service if you want to add a touch of class to your festival experience. Say goodbye to bog standard burger vans and hello to beautifully crafted meals which will help keep you going all night long.
Saturday night’s Big Burn
The pinnacle of the Secret Garden Party experience comes on the Saturday night with the ‘Big Burn’. First-time gardeners may be unaware of this huge event, but it’s something to keep in mind throughout the weekend. Each year, a gigantic art installation (The Lake Stage) is created in the middle of the lake, and from Thursday until Saturday afternoon, festival-goers can row over to the installation and party on it, with live DJs performing sets there. Hints on the website suggest that the stage will have a wedding theme this year. However, make sure you head over there before Saturday afternoon, because it’s at this point that it gets strapped with explosives. In the evening, a mega medley of music is pumped out to crowds from the main stage, before fireworks are launched from the installation and it is set on fire. You can then carry on enjoying the music as it goes up in flames.
Suicide Sports is basically a live version of a crazy Total Wipeout/Takeshi’s Castle/Gladiators type show. Watch people in ridiculous outfits launch themselves off a slope and into one of the many on-site swimming lakes. Perfect for a mid-afternoon laugh in the hazy sunshine as you try and get rid of yesterday’s hangover.
You may have guessed from the theme that this isn’t the festival to go to if you want to stay immaculate in your ‘festival fashion’. In fact, organisers encourage festival-goers to be as extravagant and crazy as possible with their outfits. Be prepared for garish, clashing outfits with lots of face paint and glitter. Not only that but some of the costumes can be downright weird and incredible. You can never predict who will be around the corner, but the best way to witness some of these costumes will be in the parade which will take place at some point throughout the weekend.
By the time Sunday comes around, you’ll already be dirty and horrible, so what better way to let go than to get involved in the paint fight! Right by the main stage, packets of powder paint are handed out and when the signal sounds, everyone throws their paint. Get involved and get messy, or observe from the hill on the side; it’s a spectacle from either angle.
Secret Garden Party 2014 will take place from 24th-27th July, with tickets now sold out.