Secret Garden Party success in the Hunts countryside

THEY turned out in their thousands - the majority in fancy dress - to enjoy four days of music and entertainment at a festival that has become one of the highlights of the British music calendar.

The Secret Garden Party at Abbotts Ripton passed almost without incident - a few arrests and an accidental straw fire - and, according to the people who represent the villages that surround the festival site, nothing to really complain about in the way of noise from their temporary neighbours.

The four-day festival started on Thursday as Lord de Ramsey’s land was again transformed by his son Freddie Fellowes (along with a huge number of helpers) into a site where music has a head-on collision with art.

Fifteen stages provided the music while acres of land provided the rest of the entertainment - funfair, children’s zone, relaxation and treatment areas, space hopper races, rowing boats, golf, 80s arcade games, theatre, cinema a giant dragon fly in the middle of the De Ramsey’s lake - the list goes on and on.

The mixture attracted about 17,000 paying guests - including plenty of families with young children who found plenty on offer - even nappy changing facilities and a bottle steriliser could be found tucked away in a large domed tent - just next door to another domed tent that house a ‘children’s cinema’.

The main attraction was again the music and while the Great Stage played host to the more familiar acts - Blondie, Leftfieldm Guillemotts, Mystery Jets and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas - while the smaller stages (covering all types of music from folk and blues to dance music and hip hop), scattered across the site, gave upcoming acts - including plenty of local talent - the chance to shine.

The Secret Garden Party expects to be back again next year - and there is likely to be much in the way - if any - opposition.

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John Leaver, chairman of Abbots Ripton Parish Council, whose area includes Wennington, site of serial complaints about noise from the festival in previous years, told The Hunts Post: “There have been no issues at all that I’ve been made aware of.

“It all seems to have gone off very smoothly. I have had literally nothing, which is a good sign.”

And Michael Toates, chairman of neighbouring Kings Ripton Parish Council, where noise caused problems in previous years when the wind has been unfavourable, said no one had complained to him either.

According to Cambridgeshire police’s initial crime figures, the number crimes allegedly committed at the festival was down this year in comparison with the 2010 event.

While last year there were 246 incidents recorded by police, including 166 drug and alcohol-related offences, there were 38 offences recorded in the police system by yesterday (Tuesday) morning and 31 people had been arrested, mainly for drug-related issues.

Police said the offences also included one count of ABH, another of robbery and one of fraud and added that further people were dealt with out of custody and cautioned.

Superintendent Laura Hunt said: “We’re still assessing drug seizures and numbers of arrests from the weekend, however on the whole partner agencies worked well together with the event organisers to ensure it was a friendly, safe event.”

The fire service also had to deal with one incident, a hay fire, at the Secret Garden Party on Monday - after the event had finished. The cause of the fire was believed to be accidental.