Observations: Hedonism or herbal tea? Choose your festival tribe

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The Independent Culture

If you've ever been to a festival and had an inner battle between the hedonistic, 24-hour party animal in you and the calmer, sensible side that tells you when enough is enough, then this year's Secret Garden Party might be for you. Held on 23 to 26 July at Abbots Ripton Hall near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, the theme is the legends of Babylon and Eden, representing two sides of the human psyche.

City of Babylon will be a hothouse of decadence and wild parties from dusk till dawn: Bollywood dancers, live bands and a world-record limbo attempt in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon; the Pagoda, where the dance floor floats on the lake, and the Feast of Fools with Hammer and Tongue Poetry, jesting tattooists and flamenco round the fire. Across the lake, a sweeter Garden of Eden with dance meditation in the Artful Badger and acoustic sets in the Living Room awaits those keen to unwind.

When you buy a ticket, you automatically become either an Edenite or a Babylonian (you receive secret instructions in a tribe letter) and a player in bizarre events, such as sock wrestling and a dance-off. Each time you enter a competition you score points for your tribe. The founder of the festival, Freddie Fellowes, believes that it's about having a herbal tea in one hand and a martini in the other. "We thought of the different approaches to leisure that people take and the more we played with the idea we realised it had legs."

For once, you won't encounter the usual festival tribes; trendy parents with designer wellies and Cath Kidston tents; hardcore hippies getting stoned; teeny boppers jumping up and down or the arty set gathering around the literary stage. Instead, hopefully, you'll find your own ideal Babylon-Eden balance.