A supernatural smackdown...

It’s with an eager heart that Clash returns to The Secret Garden Party for the event’s 10th and biggest year. And it certainly does not disappoint.

‘Superstition’ is 2013’s theme, and as ever SGP goes at it with gusto. Brilliantly illustrated guidebooks presented as occult texts, a pirate ship overcome by a huge kraken, a flame-spitting amphibious minotaur car: all sights the average punter can absorb within five minutes of stepping on site.

But let’s not forget the tunes. Warming things up Thursday night is the eclectic combination of The Brass Funkeys, The Asbo Disco and Mystery Jets.

Like previous SGPs, there’s no feeling of obligation to head to the main stage the majority of the time – over 19 stages of music, performance and talks cover the tastes of all present. While Bastille prove a popular choice on Friday evening, as many happily get their groove on to Kb & Airayd at the Dance Off stage.

With dawn comes the opportunity to restore body and mind, with yoga lessons available in the middle of the lake and discussions on mindfulness presented by Now Festival. Later on, while Willy Mason delivers Americana to the main stage, a very British David Icke passionately challenges people to confront how they perceive their world and government… while also throwing in lizards and holographic versions of ourselves.

At six, Youth Lagoon bring the chill factor, followed by special guests Dreadzone, a sure-fire crowd winner only booked 48 hours before their stage time.

At 10 comes the weekend's highlight: Big Burn, a 20-minute firework show orchestrated by the team that handled the Olympics’ sky lighting display. Accompanied by the national anthem, classical and more contemporary tracks, the eye-singeing display ends with the lake's pirate ship bursting into flames before sinking beneath the water, kraken and all.

Barely a five-minute break is had before Faithless erupt into a headlining PA/DJ set, expertly adapting their material to fit the duo of Sister Bliss and Maxi Jazz. While Jazz remains as effortlessly cool as ever, it’s Bliss who truly shows the kids how it's done.

Sunday morning sees many disco casualties littering the ground. But the strong take part in naked trampolining, or get introspective with Jamie N Commons’ brilliant bluesy numbers. Headliner Regina Spektor throws a diva fit, forcing Clean Bandit to cancel their set in fear of too much “floating bass”. In retaliation, many flee into Goldie’s arms to kick it old skool.

Natty Congeroo & The Flames of Rhythm finish proceedings nicely with a high-octane mix of swing, jazz, mambo and Harlem stride. And then, midnight: the witching hour. It’s an appropriate theme-matching time to finish four days of colourful and, quite frankly, insane activity. The unwashed leave the campsites, grinning, tired and so very up for next year. 

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Words: Sam Walker-Smart

Photos: Matt Wash

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