The Secret Garden Party is a place where pleasure seekers come together to celebrate music, arts and life in a beautiful location – and usually in fancy dress. We talk to ‘head gardener’ Freddie Fellowes about the festival, which is gearing up for its next edition in July.
You started Secret Garden Party back in 2004 – is your ethos for the festival the same as it was back then and how do you make sure this lives on each year at the event?
Our ethos when we started was to be fiercely independent of what everyone else was doing at the time – to make listening to music and gathering together in fields a primarily joyful and playful experience as opposed to merely a spectator event.
As the years have gone on, more and more events have started also grasping the second part of our ethos but I think we still achieve our uniqueness and gonzo individuality.
This year’s theme is ‘The Gardeners Guide to the Galaxy’ which sounds quite intriguing – can you elaborate a little on what this is all about?
In fourteen years we have never done anything remotely space themed so we thought why not give it our own spin.
We chose the Science Fiction theme (Philip K Dick, Douglas Adams et al) as it gave us much more creative scope than something more simply framed round ‘space’.
The Secret Garden Party is well known for embracing hedonism and throwing some pretty outrageous parties. What’s the strangest thing you think you’ve ever seen at the festival?
I’m not sure I can say this but I think the strangest (in context) was someone with a picnic chair in front of the main stage – I think they also had managed to put their programme on a lanyard.
The stage-invading chicken that got away with adding a trumpet lick to Echo and The Bunnymen’s ‘Killing Moon’ kind of fades in comparison.
Burning Man festival is often cited as something of an inspiration for The Secret Garden Party. Which elements of the festival were the most powerful to you and did you think they were missing from other UK festivals at the time?
It wasn’t so much that which inspired me, more how it was such strong testament to what could be achieved in terms of a playful and creative collective effort to have such outrageous and life affirming fun.
Where will you be spending most of your time at this year’s Secret Garden Party? (And will you be in fancy dress?)
Hopefully I will be running around seeing as much of all the content as possible over the four days (I’ve never even got close to seeing it all) – and yes I will be dressed as a space chicken.