Saying goodbye to Secret Garden with festival director Clare Downes

Saying goodbye to Secret Garden with festival director Clare Downes

For an entire decade Secret Garden has been showing attendees the time of their lives, a bush doof turned Aussie music mainstay brimming with funky souls, unbelievable costumes, and no shortage of amazing live acts along the way.

But not long ago and to the dismay of thousands of fans, the festival’s organisers announced that 2019 was to be the last-ever incarnation of Secret Garden. So ahead of the final showing for this iconic event, we caught up with festival director Clare Downes to find out what’s in store.

secret garden 2019 director clare downes

Ahead of the last-ever Secret Garden, we sit down with Festival Director Clare Downes to find out why it’s all coming to an end.

HAPPY: Hey there, how are things? What are you up to right now?

CLARE: Things are excellent. Announcing this is the last ever Secret Garden has given us the extra energy to make it our best.

HAPPY: We’re sad to hear the festival will be saying goodbye in 2019. How long have you been sitting on that decision?

CLARE: Close to a year.

HAPPY: Are you happy to let the festival go, in a way?

CLARE: I told a friend and their response was, ‘good to always leave a party when you’re having fun’. So yes it’s sad to leave but it’s a very good decision.

HAPPY: What are some aspects of Secret Garden that you’ll always remember fondly?

CLARE: The fun, imagination and community of not only the team of 150 creatives that produce Secret Garden, but also the punters.

HAPPY: And not so fondly?

CLARE: It’s a big operation and with it comes a lot of stress. I don’t think I have properly switched off for 11 years.

HAPPY: You were always the good guys in my eyes, promoting charity, sustainability, and inclusion. Do you think those values have rubbed off on the Australian festival community during your 11 years?

CLARE: That would be a nice legacy if that were the case.

HAPPY: The festival team seemed like a real family. Will you continue working together or is it on to bigger and better things?

CLARE: 100 percent yes. They already work together on other projects and yes, I’m positive we will come together again

HAPPY: Will the full team be in attendance this year?

CLARE: Most definitely. The team are the lifeblood of the festival. The goodness and sense of fun that runs through the whole event starts with the Secret Garden team.

HAPPY: I’m guessing this announcement means you’ll be going out with a bang. How are the official preparations going?

CLARE: The greatest privilege of running Secret Garden is facilitating lifelong memories for people. We want this year to be a year that everyone remembers always. So preparations are going well. But there is this added pressure to make it our best.


Secret Garden Festival takes place on February 22 and 23, 2019 at the Downes Family Farm, 90 minutes from Sydney. Limited tickets are still on sale – get them while they’re hot!

If you’ve already grabbed your tickets, check out our 5 Secret Garden costume ideas.