Secret Garden Party to welcome revellers for the last time
Secret Garden Party will take its final bow as a festival this weekend with a swansong showcasing a trademark blend of music and eccentricity.
The award-winning Cambridgeshire weekender, which formally launched in 2004, will welcome thousands of revellers for a bill topped by Metronomy and Crystal Fighters.
The independent arts event is famed as an annual riot of colourful clothing and creativity and has been credited for helping transform boutique festivals into a staple of British summertime.
It will be laid to rest by organisers following its final run between July 20 and July 23 in a move described by founder Freddie Fellowes as a “senseless act of beauty”.
Sitting on the banks of a tree-fringed lake at a Georgian estate near Huntingdon, the site is peppered with quirky installations, including dance-off stages, science labs and naked yoga sessions.
Music fans have this year been asked to honour a Sweet Dreams Are Made of These? fancy dress theme, inviting them to come garnished with all the trappings of celebrity culture.
Mr Fellowes said when he announced the festival’s end: “Fifteen years ago I started out with a set of ideas as to what makes a good party and the most perfect venue for it.”
He added they had begun when “no-one knew what a boutique festival was, let alone glamping”.
“Since then the Garden Party has defined and redefined outdoor events in the UK,” he continued.
“We have done so as a collective of truly independent outsiders.”
He added: “This summer will be the almighty send-off that the Garden Party deserves.
“Whilst that is going to cause some tears to be shed, think of it more as ‘Dylan goes electric’ than our Altamont. So watch this space for the phoenix rising from the ashes.”
Alongside the music, a facility for punters to test their drugs before taking them will make a comeback in a bid to head off potentially deadly batches of street substances.
The scheme was run for the first time at a UK festival during 2016’s Secret Garden Party, during which a team tested the illicit wares of some 200 revellers.
It will be run by The Loop, an independent organisation which usually conducts forensic testing of drugs seized by authorities, which is carrying out its work with the knowledge of Cambridgeshire Police.
Prince Harry is among the high-profile guests drawn to the event since its inception, while stars such as Ed Sheeran and Florence And The Machine have featured in the line-up before they gained global recognition.