Secret Garden Party is awesome

Jonjon went to Cambridgeshire’s Secret Garden Party and, safe to say, quite enjoyed it:

Secret Garden Party is how all festivals should be. SGP is festival nirvana. Relaxed and fun, I have never had a better weekend in my life. The organisation was brilliant, the acts and entertainment inspired and the setting beautiful. Why can’t all other festivals be like this? Security was present (but subtle), the rozzas were out in force (but friendly – no Public Order and Riot Squad here) and the crowd relaxed and friendly. The vibe was of pure joy. SGP was fun, an idea that at a festival seems to have almost disappeared. Playground Weekender sort of managed it (can anything that badly managed not be fun?), but how many other festivals can you attend and honestly not expect that at some point during the event you’ll have a run in with some guy whose sole reason for attendance was to drink his weight in the sponsors booze? Secret Garden Party had none of that. Were people there to be “cool”? I’m sure some were but they disappeared into the crowds. People were there to have fun. Elitist certainly but it was such (and I’m being sincere) a pleasant atmosphere.

A four day camping festival requires a great deal to keep you interested. Only the most determined can spend that amount of time without a break from the stages and SGP had distractions in spades. Want to attend a debate on the legality of squatting in between acts? That was available. Want to check out a couple of chameleons, snakes and a scorpion as big as your hand? Let’s do it (not recommended while high). There was no excuse to be bored. I spent my time falling in love with a girl (I think, undetermined but I’ll claim that) on stilts and a silver wig.

The two months of solid rain had made things muddy, but this is England and people expected it. It was a new experience dancing in gumboots. It’s possible… but shave your legs. A rash combined with a gumboot tan line is never an attractive thing. People made the best of it and the organisers were able to clear the mud away once the sun appeared. Food was wide-ranging and cheap. Booze was reasonable and interesting. You could bring your own alcohol. I’ll write that again – you can bring your own booze. How many other festivals can claim that?

My own lack of organisation had meant missing Kate Jackson (ex – The Long Blondes) on the Friday but I made up for this mistake by stumbling upon Utah Saints on the Sunday. Between the Friday and the Sunday evening you could have caught Tim Minchin, Kate Nash, Soko (who? Oh yeah…), Summer Camp, Jon Carter, Adam Freeland and few dozen more as well as the classes, talks and cabaret shows. There truly was no excuse to not fill every moment, but nor was there any pressure to do anything. Lazy and or high? Sorted.

Sunday night came with Will and the People on the Artful Badger stage. Tucked away under a low canopy of trees and fairy lights, their mixture of reggae, pop and early Beach Boysesque tunes provided the perfect vibe to the weekend’s end.

If you have the opportunity, go, go, go to Secret Garden Party – tickets for 2013 go on sale on August 13. I’ll be homeless in three weeks on the minimum wage in London and I’m still putting aside money for tickets. DO IT.


Words and pictures by Jonjon.