The organisers of Secret Garden Party have announced today that this year's festival will be the last.
The Cambridgeshire weekender has been running for 15 years now, growing from a party for 500 people to a full blown mad one. Known as much for its party vibes, fancy dress themes, community spirit and immersive fun as its line-ups, the event was one of the first of a new breed of independent, boutique festivals in the UK. It also had an excellent lake.
The news is the latest in a series of big changes happening to UK festivals over the coming years. Earlier this year it was announced that Bestival would be leaving the Isle of Wight for Devon. Plus, Glastonbury's leaving Worthy Farm in 2019 and Michael Eavis is planning a spin-off festival called the Variety Bazaar.
In a statement on their website, SGP's 'Head Gardener' explains: 'Much has changed since that first Garden Party, when there was nothing else like it in the UK: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter had yet to be invented and no one knew what a boutique festival was, let alone glamping. I have never compromised our principles and I never will. SGP has always been a beacon of what you can do within those terms and, as imitation (being the sincerest form of flattery) proves, it has set the bar for everyone else going forward.' Fans of the event have taken to Twitter to share their best memories of the festival.
Shocked & saddened to hear that it will be the last @SecretGardenHQ ever this year, but respect that they're quitting while they're ahead.— Tom Angell (@tomjangell) March 2, 2017
What am I supposed to do with my life now the #SecretGardenParty is ending... WHERE WILL I GO— Effy Godwin (@effygodwin_) March 2, 2017
While there's been no word as to why the event is ending, the Head Gardener's statement does seem to hint that while SGP is ending, there might be future party plans in the works. He describes this year's event as the 'last Secret Garden Party as we all know it' and says: 'This isn’t some principled self-immolation: this is opening it up for new forms in the future.'
You can read the full statement below:
My dearest Gardeners,
Whilst I have always known I was going to have to write this, it still feels strange. We have been on a long journey but I concede to the infamous phrase that ‘All good things must come to an end’, and so it is, I announce today that this summer will host the last Secret Garden Party as we all know it.
I know some of you will be questioning, why now? And more importantly, why tell us now? I hope you don’t find the timing Machiavellian, however there is never the perfect time to drop this bombshell, too early or too late and people are going to miss out and be disappointed. Hopefully we have struck the middle ground here. Secondly I’m sure you will have, by now, spotted that this is the punchline to this year’s theme as it is ultimately going to be a huge celebration of the people who make the garden party: you.
15 years ago I started out with a set of ideas as to what makes a good party and the most perfect venue for it. But with no set idea of what the destination was for this venture the ‘festival’ was, at that time, the perfect medium through which to explore these ideas.
Much has changed since that first Garden Party, when there was nothing else like it in the UK: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter had yet to be invented and no one knew what a boutique festival was, let alone Glamping. Since then, with you always at the heart of it, The Garden Party has defined and redefined outdoor events in the UK; we have all done this together as a collective of truly independent outsiders.
I have never compromised our principles and I never will. SGP has always been a beacon of what you can do within those terms and, as imitation (being the sincerest form of flattery) proves, it has set the bar for everyone else going forward.
But it is exactly because of those principles, and the love for all of you who have made The Garden Party what it is, that I am committing this senseless act of beauty. What better way to honour the love that has been given to this project and wholly demonstrate this principle, than going out with a bang.
This isn’t some principled self-immolation: this is opening it up for new forms in the future. So this summer will be the almighty send-off that The Garden Party deserves and whilst that is going to cause some tears to be shed, think of it more as ‘Dylan goes electric’ than our Altamont. So watch this space for the phoenix rising from the ashes...Because after all you can’t be avant-garde from within an institution and lest we forget: the frontier always moves.