Festival Focus: Secret Garden Party 2012

With the doom and gloom of the winter months finally behind us, and the scent of freshly cut grass starting to linger in the air, it can only mean one thing: festival season is coming. And though the UK is always spoiled for choice with live music events, one festival guaranteed to be one for the books (and your Instagram album) this summer is The Secret Garden Party. 100% independent, SGP is known for fostering a unique atmosphere of creativity, expression and spectacle, as well as music that gets crowds throwing shapes for days on end – and with 2012 marking its tenth birthday, this year’s event promises to be its most memorable yet.

Shot at SGP 2010 for FAULT by Amelia Rose King

Taking place from the 19th to the 22nd of July at Mill Hill Field in Huntington, Cambridgeshire, the four-day celebration will see headlining performances by Orbital and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes. As you might expect from a festival crafted around a chilled-out garden party concept, as a rule the music leans towards indie, pop and folk (with supporting acts like KT Tunstall, FAULT Issue 10 stars the Duke Spirit and Tim Minchin taking the stage), so die-hard metalheads might want to leave their air guitars at home.

Though SGP promises a wealth of new attractions and events each year, there are two annual traditions that visitors can always count on to bring out their inner pagan. Firstly, there’s a huge paint fight, where organisers hand out bags of pigment powder and let the colours fly (trust us, India’s Holi festival has nothing on this); and then there’s the infamous ritual burning of a giant sculpture in the middle of the site’s lake – past years have seen a dragonfly, a pirate ship and the Tower of Babel all go up in flames. On top of all of that, there’ll be the usual assortment of art, crafts, theatre, performance and impromptu fun (mud wrestling, anyone?) to keep even the most hard-to-please festivalgoer amused for hours.

Of course, no self-respecting independent festival would go ahead without a suitably creative theme for attendees to get dressed up to, and SGP is no exception. This year’s theme is ‘Standing On Ceremony’, inspired by all of the ceremonies, rituals, anniversaries and initiations that join people together – and there’ll be parades for the costume-clad masses to gather together and collectively celebrate their own unique methods of expression, which will certainly be something to see.

Tickets are going fast, so clean off your wellies, stock up on body glitter and head over to www.secretgardenparty.com to secure your place at what promises to be the most exciting festival of the summer.

Text by Charlotte McManus