Hunts Secret Garden Party set for expansion

ABBOTS Ripton looks set to have the biggest population in Huntingdonshire over a weekend in July when one of the country s most successful smaller music festivals returns. The (not so) Secret garden Party, which takes place in the grounds of Lord de Ramse

ABBOTS Ripton looks set to have the biggest population in Huntingdonshire over a weekend in July when one of the country's most successful smaller music festivals returns.

The (not so) Secret garden Party, which takes place in the grounds of Lord de Ramsey's Abbots Ripton Hall, is expected to attract up to 26,000 people on each of its four days.

Together they will make up a population greater than the (roughly) 25,000 who live in St Neots, the largest town in Cambridgeshire.

Organisers Backwoodsman was last year granted a permanent licence for what has become an annually-growing award-winning event that attracted up to 17,000 people to Abbots Ripton in July 2009. Roughly 12,500 were visitors and the rest performers and workers.

Based on the same percentages, 2010 could see about 18,000 visitors flock to the festival which last year was a sell-out.

Some of the proceeds from the event are donated to Abbots Ripton Primary School.

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"We hope to be able to give the school a couple of thousand pounds from last year, from donations on the door and local ticket sales, but we haven't got round to writing the cheque yet," the Hon Freddie Fellowes, one of the organisers, told The Hunts Post.

Mr Fellowes, son of Lord and Lady de Ramsey, said Backwoodsman hoped to announce details of the three main headline acts for the event towards the end of January.

The organisers had last year managed to eliminate 'third tambourines' - hangers-on who arrive with performers but offer no useful contribution - he added. That enabled the organisers to offer more tickets to the public while keeping within the overall permitted numbers.

Huntingdonshire District Council, which licenses the event, said it was well managed, had relatively little impact on the local community, considering its size, and made a significant contribution to the local economy over each of its four days.

INFORMATION: The Secret Garden Party will take place from noon on Thursday July 22 until 6am on Monday July 26. Live music will stop at 1am on the Friday, 6am on the Saturday and Sunday and midnight on the Sunday.

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