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PREVIEW: Secret Garden Party @ Mill Hill Field, 20-23/07/2017

The Verse’s Kate Horrobin previews the final Secret Garden Party, arriving from the 20th-23rd July 2017

For the last 15 years Secret Garden Party has been waving the flag as one of the most creative, independent festivals in Britain, and this summer it’ll be hosting its final party. The original boutique festival has delighted its audiences for years. All across social media loyal garden party-goers have shown their dismay at Head Gardener Freddie Fellowes’ heartfelt announcement.

Starting as a humble gathering of a few hundred friends, SGP has now hosted years of up to 30,000 attendees. The festival has retained its fierce independence throughout the years, with its initial core values of friendship at the centre of everything. “It is exactly because of those principles, and the love of those who have made the Garden Party what it is, that we are committing this senseless act of beauty,” says gardener Freddie. “What better way to honour the love that has been given to this project and wholly demonstrate this principle than by finishing now?”

Earning its status as the ultimate boutique festival, SGP has 8 alternative camping options for those of us who prefer our home comforts. “Much has changed since our first Garden Party, when there was nothing else like it in the UK. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter had yet to be invented and no one knew what a boutique festival was, let alone glamping,” says Freddie. However, revellers unwilling to get down and dirty in muddy fields, or traverse the precarious guy ropes for the early morning portaloo call, be assured by the alternatives SGP offers up. Tipis, suite huts, bell & lotus tents, vintage caravans, royal safari tents, sleep huts, yurts and, my favourite, the octopads. “The Garden Party has defined and redefined outdoor events in the UK. We have done so as a collective of truly independent outsiders.”

Previous years have seen legendary performances from the Gorillaz, Florence + the Machine and Blondie. Joining this final shindig will be headliners Crystal Fighters, Metronomy and Toots & The Maytals for the last SGP. Celebrating arts, music, friendship and a final farewell to its fun-loving loyal gardeners. Similarly to years previous, artists will also be joined by a whole plethora of different activities. In this festival for everyone, past years have offered swimming and opportunities to become a gladiator. Also, a naturist, fireworks, paint fighting or an afternoon of pampering.

Appropriately, Sweet Dreams. Are Made of These? is the party’s final theme. It is a bold, satirical look at the ‘New Religion’ the 21st century audience has for itself. The instant, online world of fame, celebrities and media. SGP promotes a broader message about the troublesome nature of these doctrines of access and excess. But in SGP style, they’re making it a party. “We’re donning our finest threads and polishing up like never before; for the biggest VIP LOL-off you’ve ever seen. Where everyone likes/follows/adores you, the bouncers all know your name and the Sweet Dreams are made by You.”

Secret Garden Party 2017 – 20th-23rd July. Mill Hill Field, Abbots Ripton. Tickets available on their website.



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