The winding journey to Craigsanquhar Hotel and Country Estate was nearly as thrilling as discovering the venue itself. Departing from coaches outside of Madras College, regular St Andrews event-goers may have experienced some déjà vu; however, the beautiful country estate venue for the Lumsden Club’s first Secret Garden Party was actually a welcome departure from the monotony of Lower College Lawn and Kinkell.
The capacity of the event was limited, but this suited the SGP perfectly. The intimate atmosphere meant that the area never really felt empty or under-filled. A stately courtyard played host to a good two-thirds of the guests for most of the afternoon, as it was the first port of call. After stepping off the buses, guests were promptly handed complimentary glasses of Bulmers cider, establishing what would become a theme of free and plentiful goodies. I have never seen so many sponsor-provided goods; Pipers Crisps, juice from the Berry Company, and Janettas ice-cream were scattered generously throughout the garden.
Overall, the attire of guests was very interesting and mostly mismatched. Instead of the expected garden party/colonial tea party chic, the fashion was a fusion of Welly Ball and Starfields – two colliding worlds, indeed. As for the secret behind the SGP, the first thing I thought about was a potential copyright issue. Other theories could reasonably include the large population of wasps that occupy the Craigsanquhar estate or the ridiculous amounts of free and delicious crisps. However, the party lived up to – and actually exceeded – my expectations of an “…intimate, smaller event with a more laid-back feel – and a music scene very different to any other event organized this year”. There’s no other event where it’s possible to stroll leisurely about a garden and mingle with friends while sitting on surprisingly comfy bales of hay, but – within a few steps – suddenly be under a canvas tent listening to Kalliope and Joe Jones. The level of planning and attention to detail shown by the committee was impressive and didn’t disappoint those looking for something alternative and downright fun.
Butler’s Wraps and The Buffalo Food Truck – St Andrews event classics – were on call to feed hungry guests. And as afternoon transitioned into evening, they were kept consistently busy by those wandering around the estate. Guests who are not quite yet over the Lumsden Club’s PIMM’s party will be pleased to know that pitchers of the classic garden party drink were both available and popular. Lawn games were sadly limited to badminton doubles and the unorthodox frat-favourite beer pong; however, croquet definitely would not have been out of place here. As for the performances, student musicians were cleverly interweaved with bands from outside of St Andrews. Earlier in the day, The Belles preformed an opening a cappella feature that was perfectly in harmony with the laid-back atmosphere in the afternoon. And, as the tent gradually filled, The Carnabys brought everyone to their feet, swaying the SGP over into a more festival vibe. By the time that Sünta Und Die Klauses, an über cool band from Germany, appeared, it was clear that the Lumsden Club had succeeded in establishing a diversely fun music scene.
Ultimately, SGP has been one of the few events in St Andrews so far this year that has really sold itself. It did not exaggerate, mislead, or claim anything which it did not deliver – and it delivered well; this is a rarity, for certain, among advertised events. Given that all profits raised from the SGP go straight to the two chosen charities – Parkinson’s UK Fife Branch and Malawi Underprivileged Mothers – this annual party has great potential to solidify the club’s charitable goals. As for now, I am – and we all should be – already looking forward to what is in store at the second annual Secret Garden Party.
Photo credits: Anoushka Shah, editing by Liz Nicholls
Check out our full gallery of photos from the Secret Garden Party here!