IT’S WORTH THE TRIP TO FESTIVAL NO 6
Festivals in the UK can go one of two ways, soggy and a washout or hotter than a holiday in Hawaii.
Fortuitously I was banking on the former when I confirmed I was going to Festival No 6 in North Wales. Anything in the vicinity of Wales, whatever time of year has the promise of rain. So even though, the friends who convinced me to make the six-and-a-half-hour drive told me it had been eternal sunshine last year, I was skeptical. And rightly so.
Thankfully I kind of packed for the extremes, as rain it did. In bucket loads, down the beautiful rolling Welsh valleys, to create a soggy mud fest. It was almost as if the organisers had never seen rain in Wales before, as there was a serious lack of wood chippings and boardwalks, but the show must go on.
To be honest, the rain was the least of my worries- after I had ruined my favourite white Converse (like come on who brings white Converse, never mind their favourites to a festival?) I joined the hard core crew and dressed in my head to toe waterproofs. Festie fashion thrown out the window, I did manage some waterproof face paint, and lots of deodorant, as the pesky weather was still flipping warm!
But moving on from my arm pits, the location of Festival No 6 is undeniably spectacular. Set in the charming Toy Town of Portmeirion, the site is just begging for bunting, live music and tree top delights in all its nooks and crannies. Imagine a fantastical Mediterranean village bizarrely located on the north Wales coast, and imagine it painted in pastels, and filled with a cross section of pop culture’s mavericks, eccentrics and outsiders.
In its fifth year, it is earning a reputation as the organic ‘Muesli Mountain’ festival, for a good reason; It is full of well do, and lots to spend, guests. If you don’t do camping, or glamping you can stay at the Hotel on site, if you want to shell out £800 per night (and they were fully booked!).
But that’s not a bad thing, as you rub shoulders with some happy clappy high spenders. I joined in and nobody batted an eyelid. With dancing on the beach, the Welsh male voice choir in the Piazza, Charlotte Church in the Town Hall, Johnny Vegas in The Gatehouse, Craig Charles in the House of Rum, Roots Manuva at the Grand Pavilion and Bastille, Hot Chip and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (with special guest Paul Weller) on the Main Stage, I got my groove on with the best of them. The lily pond stage, complete with glitter balls and disco pants was a day time delight, and the Lost in the Woods Stage was perfectly situated acoustic sets (but alas after Saturday’s 12-hour solid rain sesh had to be shut down for health and safety reasons).
With a line up so varied, it is no wonder that the audience were too. With everyone from locals to the smug black band ‘boutiquers’ who in their ready erected tepees probably didn’t get as wet as the rest of us. And it is equally tough to choose a highlight- Crazy P being extra frantic? Greg Wilson working it, or DJ Yoda mash ups.. all were worth their weight in gold!
If you are a grown up festival go-er who can still party until 3am, but wants to get a super strong Lavazza coffee and organic croissant for breakfast, this might very well be the festival for you.
It’s not all about the dancing though- The Gatehouse was the hot house for Ricky Tomlinson to discuss his new film Ragged, which is based on his true experiences as a political prisoner on hunger strike in the 70s. This was also the home of comedians Johnny Vegas, John Kearns, Mark Watson and Tony Law.. It was also a marquee which made it super popular in the downpour!
Portmeirion is undeniably magical, and would be the most perfect place for a summer festival- so perhaps the dates for future might have to be considered to avoid the inevitable quagmire after persistent rain. Any outdoor cultural festival in the UK is bound to have its ups and downs, but the choice of food- provided by a spectrum of stalls, restaurants and nationalities was second to none, and champagne was pretty much available on tap!
Join the queue, and make some new friends. One thing is for certain- you probably won’t recognise them when they are not a soggy mess!
For more info and to get in line for next year, check out the No6 website here
By Sara Darling
Reporting on cultural and creative events along with a broad view of social issues.
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