IT’S difficult to walk more than 10 paces at the Secret Garden Party without seeing something that makes you smile.

Maxi Jazz on stage for during the Faithless set on Saturday night - picture by Rachael WrightMaxi Jazz on stage for during the Faithless set on Saturday night - picture by Rachael Wright

Whether you are one of those who left all their inhibitions at the gate or just went along to people watch, this bizarre and magical festival that pops up in Abbots Ripton for a long weekend each year is the perfect place to forget about the world outside.

Where else can you see pig racing, mud wrestling and naked trampolining all in one day? Where else can you have a paint fight with thousands of other festival goers before jumping in the lake to remove the evidence?

This year’s fancy dress theme, superstition, brought those dressed as magpies, black cats, and even a few Stevie Wonders to the festival.

Even the lost property tent was a cheerful place, with every successfully returned item signalled by a cry of “we have a winner” swiftly followed by a chorus of hoorays.

The Big Burn, The pirate ship in the middle of the lake is set alight as part of Saturday night's firework display - picture by Marc SethiThe Big Burn, The pirate ship in the middle of the lake is set alight as part of Saturday night's firework display - picture by Marc Sethi

It’s surely the reason this four-day party is so popular, despite a lack of ‘big names’ in its varied and eclectic mixture of musical acts – which is the bread and butter of most UK festivals of a similar size.

That’s not to say that Faithless, Bastille and Regina Spektor are not capable of drawing the crowds. Thousands danced through a torrential downpour on Saturday night to 2ManyDJs and Faithless sets followed by fireworks and the ceremonial burning of the half-sunken pirate ship in the middle of the festival lake, where many had danced during the day.

And there was a seemingly endless mass who sat singing their hearts out as the light faded on Sunday and left Regina Spektor glowing in gold on stage.

But with hot tubs, croquet, dance-offs and giant games of Guess Who, there is so much more to enjoy at the Secret Garden Party than the names that top the bill.

With its 10th anniversary next year, the festival set up by Fred Fellowes (in his dad’s garden), will hope for a sell out – this year the attendance was 29,000 and tickets were still available on the gate.

Some people missed out.