Britain’s answer to Burning Man, the Secret Garden Party is the UK’s most playful, experimental and visually stunning music festival. Our birthplace and spiritual home, Guerilla Science have brought our trademark form of renegade research to the garden since 2008, from chemical explosions to beatbox performances and safari quests for subatomic particles. Music, cabaret, theatres and saunas are pervasive at UK festivals – so why not science?

In 2013 we packed our tent with three days devoted to the unholy trinity that unites all music festivals: sex, drugs and rock and roll. The ‘Neurological Canapés’, an intimate dining experience, featured famed drugs experts including David Nutt and Robin Carhart-Harris of Imperial College London, psychiatrist Adam Winstock of Kings College London, and Will Lawn and Ravi Das of University College London. In private and informal discussions, guests explored how drugs bend, inspire and damage the mind with cocktails, mushroom paté and panna cotta brains.

For those looking for love, a session of ‘Sensory Speed Dating’ matched potential mates with all our senses, including armpit sniffing and blind-folded conversation. Evolutionary psychologist Robert Burriss of the Univeristy of Northumbria described how we often think of finding “love at first sight” – but many invisible biological magnets, from the sound of our voice to the scent of our genes, are equally important.

And for the grand finale, we explored the science behind one of medicine’s most pleasurable prescriptions: music therapy. With kazoos, drums, horns and therapist Helen Mottram leading on the tuba, we created a jam session that brought science to life, exploring the cutting-edge research that’s demonstrating how music can treat everything from schizophrenia and Parkinson’s to Alzheimer’s and autism.

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