i Editor's Letter: Music festivals



Music festivals gravitate to extremes: rock on someone's shoulders to Kings of Leon and you'll overlook some braying twerp relieving himself into your tent porch at four in the morning. If you're camped downwind of the pit latrines and stuck behind the sound scaffold during the headline act, before flash-flooding washes away the emergency loo roll, then it is trickier to apply a gloss to the weekend. One of my friends stopped going to Denmark's Roskilde festival after they started setting fire to everyone's tents on the first night. (Pass the Princess tissues.)

Anyway, this weekend we are off to one of the UK's smaller festivals, Secret Garden Party, a four-day fancy-dress blow-out set around a lake near Huntingdon – think Burning Man meets freshers' disco.

We're certainly not going for the big-name music acts, because there aren't any. Instead, Secret Garden Party distinguishes itself from other bands-in-fields weekends by giving half the programming money straight to the party-goers to organise activities – everything from learning how to draw, fire breathing, mud wrestling, "guerrilla science" classes and Britain's biggest paint fight (everyone wears white). If you're going, I'll see you on the trampoline.

No multinational sponsors hold the reins, so you don't have to relax beneath a 50ft-high logo for carbonated drinks. And it will be refreshing to break free of some of the homogeneity and regimentation that inevitably creep into daily routine, to celebrate spontaneity and innovation and feed the soul.

You can remind me of all this on Monday morning, after three nights sleeping on a deflating airbed.


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