The final day of music rounded off the weekend in excellent fashion, with acts during the day including Beardyman, Hot 8 Brass Band, David Rodigan and a dub reggae set from Craig Richards.

The legendary French electronica duo Air pulled off a personal highlight of the festival for the closing headline set, with live extended performances of classics like ‘Sexy Boy’, ‘La Femme D’Argent’ and ‘Kelly Watch the Stars’. The pair kept their well-known tunes fresh and exciting for a euphoric, almost psychedelic show.

Sadly the music was turned off at most stages just before 12 on the Sunday, leaving many wandering around with little to do, however tunes could still be found belted out at Chai Wollahs for those with the juice left to party on.

“Attendees could test the purity of their drugs free from fear of being kicked out, arrested by the police, or even having them confiscated”

Throughout all of this there were numerous other stages also playing music to dip in and out of, the best of which were easily the Labyrinth, the Pagoda (from which one could watch an outstanding sunset across the lake) and the festival’s gay bar ‘Uranus’, which deserves a special mention with its non-stop party atmosphere and fantastic performers and dancers (many scantily clad, often strutting on a treadmill) attracting a constant crowd for a tight and sweaty boogie.

Aside from music, there was plenty going on throughout the weekend to entertain. One that sticks in the mind was the mud wrestling, held at the Colosillyum, which was exactly what it sounded like: two people head to head in the arena, in the pit, grappling in the brown to the rapturous cheer of the crowd. On the Sunday the Great Stage held a large scale paint fight. The Dance Off stage hosted many a dance-off. Talks and workshops could be attended at the Forum, including ‘Now Live Events: MC Angel’, which was a spoken word workshop in which a lady (I presume Ms Angel) gave a short talk about the heart and then handed out pens and paper to the audience, giving everyone 10 minutes or so to compose some fiery bars about the same topic. Luckily I was at the back somewhere so was merely a spectator when the mic was eventually passed round the tent in a display of greatly varying lyrical talent, as hilarious as it was sincere, which was followed by a quick freestyle by Angel and a few other MC’s she brought with her.

One thing in particular which stood out about the festival this year was the pioneering drug testing tent, in which attendees could enter and test the purity of their drugs free from fear of being kicked out, arrested by the police, or even having them confiscated. 

Logistically, the festival was a well-oiled machine, as one would expect from an event of such size and experience, although there were some issues that couldn’t really have been helped, most notably the toxic algae in the lake. This meant that, unlike most years, there would be no lake stage (which looked like it would have been a huge pyramid) with no ceremonial burning and definitely no getting in for a swim. 

When Monday finally came and it was time to go home, the traffic was eased by tuning into the smooth sounds of Secret FM, 87.93, with some truly bizarre chat and eclectic tunes. The festival serenaded us out of the countryside and back into the real world. Just as one awakes from a deep, nonsensical dream after a long night’s sesh and drags their weary limbs back into uni, so we left the green fields of Abbots Ripton and the carelessness of the Secret Garden.

Would recommend to a friend.

Thomas Ingram

Image courtesy of Angel Ganev via Flickr (CC Search)

Read Part 1 of Impact’s Secret Garden Party review here.

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