Shall I let you into the worst kept secret of Cambridgeshire? Every July on the outskirts of Huntingdon, there's a four day party like no other... That party is of course The Secret Garden Party.
If you're a long time reader you'll know this isn't my first year in the garden, in fact this year marked my 8th consecutive year of attending which just goes to show how marvellous this place is. You can never get bored of this festival with its ever changing themes and frolicking.
The theme for 2016 was The Gardeners Guide to the Galaxy, bringing Sci Fi art and expression to the festival which a lot of gardeners embraced wholeheartedly with silver costumes, psychedelic head dresses and much much more. The festival is a spectacle of gloriously adorned human beings who have come to the garden to escape the realities of the rat race and everyday life.
If you're new to the garden or haven't had time to get some glad rags, fear not as the festival has many a garment you can purchase to bring out you inner gardener. A particular favourite of mine is Rosa Bloom. The sequins entice my inner magpie.
You can also have festival face paint and make-up done whilst you're here by the talented artists like It's In Your Dreams and the like or you adorn your own face with glitter. The choice is yours.
The music at SGP is an eclectic mix ranging from Drum n Bass, Soul, Dance, Indie, Acoustic, Cheese and much much more. Acts such as Air, Temper Trap, Maribou State, Stanton Warriors and Caribou were just some of the artists to grace the various stages of the garden. I was particularly stoked to see Box of Light performing at the Where the Wild Things Are stage on the Friday with Helen looking dreamy as ever and belting out some awesome tunes with the band.
There's not just bands at this festival, oh no. There's beautiful dancers, mobile discos and sing a longs for everyone to get involved with and remember - you're not here as a spectator, you're here to get involved no matter how weird and wonderful it may be... As well as music there are craft areas, mazes, races, paint fights, yoga, spa sanctuaries, talks.... I could go on but every year it changes. There's lots of hidden places around the festival so keep your eyes peeled for the mysteries and enchanted areas.
Where else will you find a field of people on space hoppers jumping around to House of Pain? Expect the unexpected in the garden and be prepared to unleash your inner child. This is one of the main reasons I love the garden. It takes you away for the rig-moral of normal life and reminds you not to stress so much. It's a place to unwind and let off some well earnt steam.
Everyone is super friendly and ready to party. Having bumped into fellow gardeners from previous years, it's like greeting and old friend that you'll inevitably have a dance and a warm beer with. You'll easily make friends with your dancing neighbour or next to the couple in the crowd at the front. Don't be afraid to say hello to strangers. We don't bite!
Another aspect of the festival I love is the food. I think about food at the best of times but when you're surrounded by tents, campers and stalls selling such delicious grub, you can't help but be mesmerised - there is just SO MUCH CHOICE! From afternoon tea to Mac n Cheese, burgers to desserts there are so many taste sensations. This year I indulged with ostrich burger, pulled pork and of course pie and mash. All the carbs! The cocktails are pretty sweet too, as well as highly alcoholic. A couple of them blew my socks off and that's saying a lot coming from a seasoned drinker.
The atmosphere in the garden is something really special. Having attended a variety of festivals in my time from Glastonbury to V Festival, there's none quite like the Secret Garden Party. The vibe is a friendly and welcoming one with plenty of silliness to make you laugh. Sitting in amongst the crowd watching acts on the main stage, you can easily get lost in watching other gardeners with their bizarre attire, amusing props and daft dancing.
I love this festival and I've not even touched the tip of the iceberg with what you can do here. I for one have partaken in naked knitting, mud wrestling, sonic yoga and much more over the years but that is another story... To experience SGP you need to go for yourself and even then your experience won't be the same as anyone else's which I think is pretty special. What I can guarantee you though is a sense of euphoria over the four days and the feeling of freedom - something that nowadays as adults I don't think we get to experience as much as we should. You will come away from this magical place feeling revived and mentally cleansed. Exhausted? Yes - but worth it? F*ck yeah!
Have you been to the garden?