Crowd at Secret Garden Party.

Secret Garden Party has announced the line-up for its 2024 edition, and revealed that it is scrapping big headliners in a bid to help support grassroots artists.

The announcement was made today (May 13), and confirms that over 350 artists will be performing at this year’s edition of the festival.

Set to run across July 25 and July 28, the UK’s leading independent festival has shaken things up for 2024, and has dropped the inclusion of big name headliners in a bid to help support the growth of emerging talent.

Unkle, Crystal Fighters, Chinchilla, Franky Wah, Carly Wilford, Adelphi Music Factory, Jakkob, Omega Nebula, Technobrass and TC & The Groove are among those lined up for this year’s instalment. Meanwhile, independent collectives Chai Wallahs, The Living Room, and Noiganica will be hosting dedicated venues for diverse, grassroots live music.

Elsewhere, collectives including Save Our Scene, Parable Music, Dubtendo and Truth Tribe have joined forces with the festival to provide exciting stage takeovers. Find the full poster for the 2024 event below.

Secret Garden Party 2024 poster
Secret Garden Party 2024 poster. CREDIT: Press

The shift for the 22nd instalment of the festival comes in line with the festival’s history, with organisers hosting both huge names – including Lily Allen, Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa and more – as well as supporting the development of newer acts.

In the past, it has played a monumental role in breaking the careers of now global superstars Florence & The Machine, The xx and Regina Spektor.

“We believe in being a breeding ground for talent to grow. Why allocate a massive budget to one or two headliners when it could fuel another 50 outstanding acts,” said founder Fred Fellowes, discussing the focus on new talent for 2024. “This year’s focus is on providing grassroots artists the ability to shine, whilst actively redefining festival experiences for the future.”

Si Chai, Chai Wallahs’ founder added: “Having been ardent supporters of the grassroots scene for over 20 years, we were chuffed as fuck when Secret Garden Party agreed to be the first independent festival to collaborate with us on the ‘Drop a Headliner’ campaign. There is so much more enjoyment to be had in the discovery of new music, and please trust me when I say that there is a massive world of undiscovered talent. For the grassroots scene to survive and thrive, this talent needs platforms and opportunities to be able to develop, so we must address the disparity.”

They continued: “This campaign highlights not only the opportunities for programmers to be more creative with their million pound budgets, but also presents a chance to support a whole ecosystem of artists. It provides greater enjoyment to open-minded music lovers, and a healthy alternative to playing the big name game, where programmers are held to ransom by unscrupulous booking agents.”

Tickets for Secret Garden Party 2024 are available here.

Crowd at Secret Garden Party
Crowd at Secret Garden Party. Credit: Eric Aydin Barberini

News that the festival will be turning its sights to supporting new talent more than ever comes just months after the Music Venue Trust delivered their full report into the state of the sector for 2023 earlier this year, showing the “disaster” facing live music with venues closing at a rate of around two per week.

Among the key findings into their “most challenging year” for venues and new talent, it was reported that last year saw 125 UK venues abandon live music and that over half of them had shut entirely – including the legendary Moles in Bath.

Some of the more pressing constraints were reported as soaring energy prices, landlords increasing rate amounts, supply costs, business rates, licensing issues, noise complaints and the continuing shockwaves of COVID-19, issues that would apply to a business regardless of how well it is run.

A year earlier, the Trust had warned that smaller gig spaces were “going off a cliff” unless urgent government action was taken and without investment from large arenas.

The pressure has also been applied to festivals too, with countless grassroots events in the UK breaking news to fans that they would no longer be going ahead.

In December, Herefordshire’s Nozstock Hidden Valley announced that 2024 would be their final incarnation after 26 years due to “soaring costs” and financial risk”, while the fan favourite Shepton Mallet skating and music festival NASS announced that they wouldn’t be putting on an event this summer either as it was “just not economically feasible to continue”.

Crowd at Secret Garden Party.
Crowd at Secret Garden Party. Credit: Eric Aydin Barberini

Elsewhere, rising costs also cancelled Dumfries’ Doonhame Festival for 2024, Bluedot announced a year off for the land to “desperately” recover after being struck by heavy rain and cancellations last summer, Nottingham’s Splendour has been canned for this year due to planning delays from a financially-struggling city council, and Barn On The Farm shared that it would be taking a fallow year due to financial constraints.

Barn On The Farm co-manager Oscar Matthews told NME about the struggle to support new talent with festivals back in January.

“It’s inevitable and it’s already started, but when you start to lose smaller festivals, events, gig spaces and venues, the opportunities disappear for new and emerging talent to get on stage and get their music heard. “They’ll suffer and that will inevitably have a knock-on effect further up the chain,” he explained.

“You’re very rarely going to have a new up-and-coming artist go straight to headlining Reading & Leeds. They’re going to start in the smaller grassroots venues and festivals. The talent is there, but festivals need to be given the support to survive or the talent won’t have the opportunities that they need.”

Asked about what the festival landscape could look like in years to come without urgent help and investment, Matthews replied: “It’s hard to say. Festivals like Reading & Leeds and Glastonbury that have big support behind them will get through times like this, and that’s great, but for the smaller festivals a lot will either postpone or disappear.”

The Libertines, Underworld and Fat Freddy’s Drop were the headliners for Secret Garden Party 2023.

The post Secret Garden Party 2024 announces line-up, drops headliner to “support grassroots artists”  appeared first on NME.


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