The Secret Garden Party, or SGP if you’re in the know, is one of the most unique arts and music festivals around. Located on part of the grounds of a Georgian farm house, it boasts its own lake, river, and landscaped gardens, and was launched as an alternative to established mainstream events. Truth be told, it’s getting a little more mainstream itself, at least in terms of numbers. From 1,000 visitors in 2004 it has grown to play host to 35,000 revellers during 2016.
Fans shouldn’t worry though – SGP has certainly retained its own kooky appeal. This was the first time in years that the event didn’t sell out, but a fusion of fantastic weather, great acts, and a perfect theme all ensured that the 2016 event hit the ground running and never let up.
The theme this year was ‘Gardeners Guide to the Galaxy’. As you might expect, the event was crowded with plenty of aliens, spacemen, astronauts, and a dazzling array of other intergalactic wonders given human form. Other concerts might encourage a little make believe, but SGP stands out thanks to the enthusiasm of its attendees; those costumes were really something.
Thursday started this year’s SGP off with unexpected energy, with Hot Since 82 and The Martinez Brothers delivering some lively house and techno. Friday saw The Skints taking to The Great Stage and utterly charming the crowds with ska and punk overtones; the Little Comets and the Future Disco takeover were also standout hits of the 2016 SGP. The By the Rivers were highlights of Saturday, and Hot 8 Brass Band provided a welcome set on Sunday, even bringing their extended version of Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing.
Even without the musical acts delivering so magnificently, SGP would have been one to remember. True to form, there were plenty of eye-catching additions to the grounds, including a red-eyed, robot-tailed fox, a plane wreck next to the Next Stage, claws digging out from the ground near the Great Stage, and, towering above all of them, an immense tricoloured pyramid that shot lasers up into the sky. Finally, The Paint Fight – an SGP signature – saw the whole venue infused with colour.
All this bodes well for The Secret Garden Party 2017. The dates have just been confirmed as Thursday 20th– Sunday 23rd July, and early-bird tickets are now on sale. Expect it to be just as immensely entertaining as 2016’s phenomenal event.