Rain fails to dampen the glitz and glamour of Secret Garden Party 2023, as Biig Piig, Underworld and Batu provide standout sets across the weekend.

In 2023, Secret Garden Party is the worst-kept secret on the British festival circuit. Before its hiatus between 2017-2022, it would consistently sell out, providing revellers with a weekend of utopian hedonism.


This year’s theme? ‘A New Hope’. At SGP, it’s easy to feel underdressed, and of course, this year’s theme brought a bucket load of Star Wars paraphernalia to Abbots Ripton. You’d be hard-pressed to find a stage where lightsaber battles or Storm Trooper raids weren’t happening amongst hardcore dance-offs and skanking. From the minute you walk through those gates, real life is suspended and a whole other universe is there to be enjoyed. 

  • Photo Matt Higgs

Friday was all about finding your feet and immersing yourself in the labyrinth of dance tents situated around the grounds. Early highlights come from Chloé Robinson and DJ ADHD in the Lost Woods, while Jamz Supernova shells down the HE.SHE.THEY stage. It all gets a little cosmic for south London polymath Lava La Rue too, who plays to a sun-soaked crowd in the evening. Ploy, Batu and Pangaea keep ravers put for a heady six hours of Delphic dance sounds back in the woods, and apparently, Louis Theroux even stopped by to get in on the action.  

  • Photo Andrew Whitton

Waking up to rain on Saturday morning felt like an inevitability; no one can have this much fun and get away with it, surely? The Met Office predictions weren’t so favourable beforehand, either. Capturing the thoughts of thousands, Biig Piig bellows “Fuck the rain”, before bounding across the stage to the jungle breaks of “Switch”. She pulls the first sizeable crowd of the day, as fans trudge through the mud and endure the drizzle for the Irish singer-songwriter. The evening’s scene is set for some of Britain’s finest electronic music veterans: Leftfield, Sister Bliss and Underworld don’t let the rain dampen their performances, and matched with an otherworldly firework display, Saturday night takes punters to another level of transcendental mayhem.  

  • Photo Andrew Whitton

There’s still so much to explore on Sunday. Pop-up club spaces like Venus Has a Penis and the Laundry Shop demand sensuality and some unhinged nakedness. No nudity? No entry. But people happily whip their kit off and rave freely to the DJs. More virtuosic music selections come from David Rodigan, who after rattling the Great Stage soundsystem with various dubplates, says he has to “Get back in time for Antiques Roadshow”. However, he sticks around for hip-hop pioneer and good friend Grandmaster Flash: a great decision, in our eyes anyway. 

  • Photo Matt Higgs

SGP claims to be the “serious party” that “actually gives a shit”. After four days of the weird, whacky and wonderful, it’s a statement that’s difficult to refute.  

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