Taking place between the 23rd and 26th July 2015 at Abbots Ripton in Cambridgeshire, Secret Garden Party is unlike any other festival in the UK. With its stunning setting around a beautiful lake, the arts heavy festival deems itself as a serious party and having been there a few times we can confirm that this is true! This year was no different and with its Childish Things theme it was time to go back to basics in the most literal sense.
EF arrived on Thursday, which turned out to be a great decision as this was the driest day of the festival and it gave us the opportunity to see the garden before the downpour. The Childish Things theme became apparent as we entered the main arena where the Lake Stage turned out to be a boat made out of Lego, the Great Stage was adorned with a locomotive and looking carefully we discovered other gems such as the giant paper aeroplanes, an adult-sized bouncy castle aka the Colosillyum and a fort in the woods amongst many surprises.
Friday was the best day in terms of music with exciting acts playing all day on the main stage. We started off by checking out Jack Garratt, who started off playing to a modest crowd due to the heavy rain but his set soon attracted a huge wave of people who came to hear his famous tracks including Chemical and Worry. The one man show was well worth the treck and made us forget the weather. We stayed by the main stage where we caught the songstress Lianne La Havas dazzle an ever growing crowd which seemed to be completely oblivious to the apocalyptic weather. The artist’s hit single Forget was one of our favourite moments at the festival. Before seeing the even bigger acts on the Great Stage we explored other areas including this year’s Lost Woods live stage which was hosted by legendary Chai Wallahs. There we managed to catch Gypsies of Bohemia, who played an extremely entertaining set of covers in their own folky twist. We danced to Boom Boom Boom, Smells Like Teen Spirit mash up and other famous tracks. We ended the night like many others back on the Great Stage where favourite rapper and poet Kate Tempest delighted us with another strong set which featured most of her latest album, Happy End tracks. Public Service Broadcasting also didn’t disappoint with their different style but it was Jungle that attracted the biggest crowd of the festival and their performance truly got the night started for anyone that carried on in the dance arena.
The next day we were happy to welcome sunshine back and with that another day filled with music. Saturday we spent a lot of time beyond the music stages in the family area, which proved to be very enjoyable with no mud and a lot of smily faces. We loved seeing families make the best of their festival and the kids were in their element. Music wise we caught some of Honne’s mellow set which felt appropriate as an afternoon slot. Other band’s we wanted to see included Temples, which dazzled us with their sixties inspired music. Saturday to us though was all about the late night DJ sets, which included a Hospital Records hosted evening at the Colosillyum, a set from Maya Jane Coles at the Little Horrors tent, which was hosted by the DJ and a disappointing no show from Fake Blood in the Lost Woods Disco. We found ourselves hopping from dance tent to dance tent and discover hidden gems such as The Dog House, which was only accessible through, well a dog house. We ended our night at the infamous Drop.
Sunday was showery but nothing could dampen our mood after such a great Saturday night! We spent more time in the family area and main arena where The Correspondents treated us to one of their energetic performance. Their set was followed by Roots Manuva and of course we danced to Witness The Fitness. We then decided to check out some of the acoustic sets on Where The Wild Things Are mainly Marika Hackman’s, which we absolutely loved. The young singer and songwriter attracted a generous crowd and impressed us with another captivating performance. Elsewhere at The Crossroads we missed a set from blues band Kill It Kid but instead caught a vibrant performance from Big Boy Bloater. As our time in the garden was coming to its end we decided to explore the rest of the festival, dancing in the Lost Woods, The Labyrinth and checking out Jackmaster, Ben UFO & Joy Orbison in action behind the decks.
Like many others we headed to Chai Wallahs in the Lost Woods where festivities continued until the early hours and for the first time in years Secret Garden Party didn’t shut down at 1am but instead gave festival-goers a last send off!
It may have been one of the wetter years at Secret Garden Party but it in no way did it dampen our mood. It is also not surprising that early bird tickets already sold out for the Secret Garden Party 2016! Till next year fellow gardeners.