Festivals have never been more popular than nowadays. Wherever you go, there's always some sort of music festival going on that weekend. The range of festivals has expanded, it feels, exponentially in the past few years. It's hard to keep track. When I've heard of Secret Garden Party last year, I was told about this big crazy festival going on in July every year in north of London, but I didn't spend any further thoughts on it... until this summer.
This year's SGP took place from Thursday, July 23 until Sunday, July 26, and I was offered an Artist Liaison and Stage Management job for one of the stages there. I accepted under one condition: That I would get time off to see Jungle. They were probably the main reason I wanted to go to SGP as I have never seen them before and I was dying to finally experience them live. I was promised, so I accepted. And, boy, I had no idea. With more than 30,000 attendees this year, one may wonder how the heck did they start with 1,000 visitors and one stage 11 years ago and now became this? I did wonder, but then I was there, and I stopped wondering.
SGP is for any music lover. All kinds of genres are represented on more than 20 stages on site, with genres ranging from electronica and dance (house, techno, etc.), over psychedelia, rock and indie, to even beat boxing. I'm not really a fan of big festivals, but this one worked for me because the stages are all quite small - even the main stage - so you will never feel swallowed by an enormous crowd. I also hate dressed up people who look like they tried way too hard, but at SGP it's absolutely fine, because the people just blend in with the almost even crazier environment. The decorations of the stages and the site send you to another galaxy. You're in an entirely different world for that weekend.
I went to SGP pretty much alone. I knew a mate who was playing the Pagoda Stage on Friday, but his crew left the site on Saturday morning due to the heavy rain from the night before - no one can blame them, I understood their bitterness. I worked Thursday until Saturday, but Sunday was my day off (because my stage was burnt down - yes, I'm not kidding, it's like an SGP ritual), so I ended up wandering around alone. So not fun, most people would think, but no. The gigantic range of food stalls there will always keep you busy, if you're not busy queuing for a ride on the big wheel. There are Yoga tents, bars everywhere, workshops, gatherings, anything for anyone. The people I've met were all amazing, super open-minded and gorgeous, and, needless to say, I had the best time at a festival I have ever had. Trust me, that's a hardcore statement, since I've been to quite a few festivals already. I had an absolute blast.
For some reason, not many non-UK people know about this festival, albeit all my British friends have been going there for years. I feel like I was the only German attending, surrounded by British accents on the whole site. And I want to change that. Please check out SGP, you have to go there. It's amazingly fantastic, it's beyond your expectations, and I'm only counting the days until next year's edition now.