For the second year in succession I travelled to the picturesque Welsh village of Portmeirion for Festival No 6. After last year I wondered how it could possibly be topped. I soon found out.
This year I wanted to get a feel for the whole festival experience so I took the plunge and decided to stay in a tent, now those that know me will know that this is so unlike me. I will tell you immediately that I am going to write an alternative story called ‘The Tales of an OCD Camper‘, in this review I am going to steer clear of commenting as I don’t think I can give a fair assessment of the camping experience. I’m sure those who enjoy this type of accommodation then it is superb!
The festival itself has so much going on, from the serenity of the area around the beach to the stunning backdrop of the village itself to some of the bizarre goings on in the woods and to the main area around the main stage and smaller stages. There truly is something for everyone to enjoy, it’s impossible to get bored.
The first night for me was spent doing something I’ve not done for years, in the castle gardens there was a huge awning with a DJ banging out dance music. It was like transporting myself back to 1990 (yes, I was there at the height of the rave scene, I really am getting old!). Again, people who know me know that I can’t really dance, but as my friend said, “I’m gonna go into the middle and dance like a d#%khead”, so I just enjoyed myself like everyone else was. Perhaps the most telling thing about this ‘rave’ was the age range of people, from a mother dancing with her 8-year-old daughter, to a couple of pensioners enjoying the music they probably ridicule the rest of the year. It proves my point that this festival really is for everyone.
Martyn Green a guest from the Wirral described his experience by saying, “Festival No 6 is like no other. It has such a friendly feel, the people are great, the programme is packed with things to do all day and night, and the organisation is really slick, everything is on time and exactly where they say it will be.” I asked Martyn his highlights of the weekend, he told us, “James were definitely a highlight, but so were the irreverent Black Grape with their ‘up yours’ attitude to their set. The weather held up for me and made for an extremely memorable weekend.”
It’s hard to find anything to complain about, when writing reviews I always want to be objective and not make it sound like the organisers are paying me to be nice. There really wasn’t anything, well, actually there is one thing, simply how much it costs to buy food and drink, but I guess you get that at every festival. Oh, actually two things, the toilets, yak, but then I am a little OCD so it’s no wonder the portaloo’s were something I despised.
Vicky Tams was visiting the festival with her mum Diane Tams, so we spoke to them both to find out what they enjoyed about the weekend, Diane told us, “Portmeirion is a beautiful place to host the festival with so many small stages dotted throughout the village.” We also wanted to find out Diane’s highlights and she explained, “James and Everly Pregnant Brothers were the best for me and I love the stages dotted through the woods, the estuary stage and the piazza.” Her daughter Vicky was full of praise for Festival No 6, putting it above some pretty big names, “Festival No 6 is one of the best around! The location tops any other in the UK. Having been to many different festivals (including Glastonbury and V Festival) I do think that Festival No 6 tops them all.”
The festival was full of major highlights, but for me there was one that stood out over and above everything, that was James. A band I haven’t paid that much attention to over the years but will do from now on. What an amazing performance, full of energy, great music and they really gave the crowd so much more than they were expecting. Several times lead singer Tim Booth came off the stage to be closer to the crowd, at one point joining the crowd too. This is in stark contrast to the protection given to Grace Jones, Tim was at one with the fans and this immediately endeared him to them. I’m pretty confident that James have got themselves a whole new legion of fans following that.
Another great performance of the weekend was James Morrison, singing many of his popular songs and the crowd duly joined in.
Would I go again? Yes of course I would. Should you go next year? Again, of course you should. This country is full of festivals where a field is taken over for a weekend and bands play, but there is no festival anywhere quite like Festival No 6. Mark your calendars for this time next year now!
Images courtesy of Festival No. 6