Five years I’ve been going to Secret Garden and ever since, I’ve been asked what it’s like. So as a guide to the lost and confused, this is my festival review from the future Secret Garden 2019.
Anticipation for Secret Garden begins to build from the moment you buy a ticket. Once you’re in… the costume brainstorming starts. Now for all the newbies out there, think of an over the top costume, times it by 100, add some extra sparkly bits and then you’re halfway to fitting in at Secret Garden.
The festival is the biggest fancy dress party in this hemisphere. Opposite to any other life circumstance, you will look silly if your costume isn’t over the top. Handmade is always the best and they are very strict about any cultural appropriation, so don’t go there.
Secret Garden doesn’t announce the line-up until it sells out. They do this to ensure everyone comes for the same reason, which creates a primo party atmosphere. Once you get your hands on the line-up though, you will see how much care and passion has gone into the curation.
My adventure begins in the forest where I see a tonne of live music; some soulful jazz, an incredible ten-piece brass act, a sex clown cabaret show and a deluxe pop act on the main stage. Later, I disappear into a techno vortex until I see the sun begin to rise.
This place is a choose-your-own adventure paradise. It’s a forest bursting with epic installations and surprise moments. I kick off day two at something called dial-a-joke; two phone booths next to each other with the Seinfeld theme music playing in the background (my guess to encourage the inner Jerry). I call the next door booth and a girl's voice answers; she tells me a shark related joke and it is a cracker. I go around to say, 'Thanks for the laugh,' and she starts to tell me about the wild adventures she's been on and suggests I get to Disney Karaoke ASAP. We high-five and I disappear into the never-ending forest maze in search.
I hear Disney Karaoke before I see it. Hundreds of voices are belting out “I just cant wait to be king”. Inside the theatre is the karaoke contestant belting out every single word and never dropping a beat. He is supported by a big audience of grown adults all singing at the top of their lungs. Never have I been part of a more joyous festival moment. And the unfathomable thing is, this is just a short five-minute glimpse from my favourite festival in the world, which is made up of hundreds of these situations.
Over the course of the weekend, Secret Garden orchestrates so many of these life affirming, stranger moments; doing something you would never expect, with someone you have never met. And these moments just keep on happening over and over again, always surprising and always with new legends.
The vibe at Secret Garden is perfection. The forest is full of sensational people, romping around in the most epic costumes, all there making friends, adventuring, celebrating and partying. And you know what the clincher is? They give the profits to charity! I mean, come on!
So if you’re a good person, who is into excellent music, games and adventures - and want to go to a proper… proper party - Secret Garden is the answer to your disco dreams.
Secret Garden Festival goes down on the 22 & 23 February 2019 at Brownlow Hill, NSW.