To say we were somewhat apprehensive arriving on site in the rain and mud with a panic that the car would get stuck is something of an understatement. Despite constant reassurance from those who had been to the festival in previous years my inner princess was desperate to jump back in the car and head for civilisation; I needn?t have worried. After pitching our tent and heading down towards the lake we hit the ferris wheel and began the weekend as we intended to continue; with reckless abandon.
The stunning setting of the festival allowed for hours, even days, of exploring, as there was constantly another nook or cranny to discover. From the swimming lake to the Artful Badger stage, set in the woods in the corner of the site, from the Drop stage, cleverly using a steep bank as a natural amphitheatre to the giant fox perched on a hill and the main stage itself, edged by the pituresque lake that the festival is centred around.
The beautiful location was matched only by the beautiful people. Oh the people! Ethereal beings covered in glitter and paint, dancing on the pagoda with the backdrop of the lake at sunset; for seconds it was possible to believe that this wasn?t a festival but heaven. I had been warned that the Saturday evening would bring a particular surprise, but nothing prepared me for the breathtaking display of fire and fireworks that culminated with the burning of the lake stage ? a true display of hedonism.
Drinks were fairly priced and there was none of the heavy handed security seen at other festivals. Police and security mingled with the crowd, encouraging Gardeners to enjoy their experience safely. The weekend was truly a feast for the senses, we saw toy soldiers dancing with bare breasted women, groups boating and swimming, dancing with scant care for what others thought and more mud than I have ever encountered before.
Despite a shaky start the weather eventually came through for us, and the sun truly did shine on the righteous, as the saying goes. For two glorious days we raved, laughed, watched and drank in glorious sunshine. Along the bridge across the lake were painted the words ?Everyone?s a winner baby, that?s the truth?, and for one weekend in a beautiful part of Cambridgeshire I truly felt that we were, quite simply, winning.
by Chloe Garth
The Secret Garden Party, Festival Address: Mill Hill Field,