One of Hong Kong’s most unforgettable experiences, Secret Island Party, is back for its fourth edition and it’s bigger than ever.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ll have heard of the worst kept secret in Hong Kong, the Secret Island Party. The weekend-long festival is back this October for its fourth edition and it’s bigger than ever. Set on a secret (of course) island in the Hong Kong archipelago, revellers are told to turn up at a certain time at a pier where a boat will whisk them off to a two-day music and art-filled frolic far away from the madding crowds of Central.
We had a chat with Rachel Frost, the creative spark behind the whole thing. “Secret Island Party was a bit of an accident,” she admits. “I used to work in events in Manchester and I had my own festival there. But I came to Hong Kong to take a break from events and just chill out for a year. One holiday weekend, I got a bunch of friends together and we decided to go on an adventure. So I typed in yoga, camping, retreat etc and out came this page that was all in Chinese, but I could see some English words saying yoga, paddle-boarding and stuff. So that’s where we ended up going!”
They were met at a pier in Cheung Chau where a small boat then took them onto the tiny island where she now organises Secret Island. “There was nothing and no-one there. It was like a ghost town.” But the beauty and the isolation convinced the seasoned events planner that it was the perfect place to hold a party.
If you went to the first Secret Island Party, you might have seen her hawking tickets around Central. “I was selling these little treasure map style tickets outside Marks & Spencer and H&M. We sold 500 tickets that first time, and we were dumbstruck. So we did it again 6 months later and we sold 900 tickets. Then the last one we did, well I really stepped it up and turned it into a proper festival, with proper sound equipment, staging and food. And that’s where we are today.”
This Secret Island Party is even bigger, with a huge line-up of acts, both DJs and live musicians. But quite aside from that, the real treat is in all the entertainment she’s lined up. There’ll be actors dotted around the island, interacting with you, hauling you off to jail (don’t worry, the jail’s a club with a DJ). There’ll be secret gigs hidden in the jungle (courtesy of the Bunker Crew). There’ll be artwork and art workshops throughout the weekend – even a washing line where you can hang up art you’ve created and swap it for other people’s art, if it takes your fancy.
The theme this year is ‘Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves’, which is pretty glorious for those who like to dress up. According to Rachel, “You should sort out your fancy dress, because if you’re there wearing jeans and a t-shirt, you’re actually going to stick out!” There will, of course, be prizes for the best dressed. She stresses, though, that it’s no rave. Families and children are more than welcome, and Sunday in particular has been programmed to be a chilled day out. If you’re unsure what to bring, check out our handy guide overleaf.
Secret Island Party is only a boat-ride away, but for one special weekend in the concrete jungle, you’ll feel like you’re in paradise.
Tickets available at www.hushup.hk