A genuinely unique site
The easiest thing to talk about if anybody asks me about Festival No.6 is the location itself. Nestled on an estuary in North Wales, just on the edge of Snowdonia National Park, Portmeirion is a tourist village of Italian-style villas and cottages. The surreal village sits in stark contrast to its surroundings and was used as the location for filming of cult classic The Prisoner.
The village and its beautiful woodlands lend an other-worldliness to Festival No. 6 that hasn’t been matched by any of the other festivals I’ve been to. The atmosphere while watching The Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir singing ‘Go West’ in the Central Piazza, with the sun setting and the illuminated villas dominating the skyline, was utterly magical!
Festival No.6 is a great example of a festival that couldn’t happen anywhere else. This is not some anonymous field in England. This is a Welsh festival with a very strong identity. It is a festival as unique as Portmeirion itself.
Festival No.6 feels like the perfect sized festival. There’s plenty to do on site, and enough stages that I don’t remember a single moment of not wanting to see something. They’ve carefully balanced this though with just the right crowd size that you actually bump into people again and again.
I went with my girlfriend and we ended up making plenty of friends on the Friday night that we were still seeing on Sunday, and this was happening all around us – creating a real sense of community. There’s also a fantastic feeling at a festival when you give a tip-off about a great, but maybe unknown, act and then manage to see those people you tipped-off stood next to you ready for the act.
Off the beaten path
Band performing at Festival No.6, Portmeirion, North WalesPersonally I’m not a massive main stage fan at Festivals, I prefer to wander around the fringe stages and discover people I’ve never heard of, try things I’ve never tried before. For those of you similarly minded Festival No.6 has you covered.
If you take a trip down to the Estuary you can try your hand at paddle-boarding, or perhaps you want to learn Welsh in the Town Hall, or maybe you’d rather rave in the woods on a dance floor built over a large pond? There’s something for everybody at this festival!
My personal favourite from the weekend was chancing upon a live action game of Hangman, complete with a hapless head, Velcro body parts and a mute but spectacularly dressed host. I was crying with laughter as the crowd shifted from trying to guess the phrase to realising that it was much funnier to hang the head.
Normally festival cuisine is pushing the boundaries of the word ‘cuisine’, but not at Festival No.6! The food stalls are all of the best ones you’ve seen on the circuit (my personal favourite being Strumpets with Crumpets) plus some more exotic offerings.
If the Prosecco and pate hampers don’t tempt you enough perhaps you’d rather be eating in the Hotel Portmeirion, where a Michelin Star chef is ready to cater for you? Even if you’re not hungry it’s always refreshing to find a bar at a festival that accepts card and gives you a bottle of wine and real glasses!
The bars at the festival are also top-drawer, with great cocktail stalls, a champagne bar and a real ale bar.
Late summer hedonism
Performers at Festival No.6 in Portmeirion, Snowdonia by Festival No.6Despite being a very family friendly festival, with great access for those with pushchairs and plenty of activities for kids, Festival No.6 also manages to cater for the party-goers.
At night the village closes down and the revelry really kicks off in the main arena. This not only ensures the campsites are very calm at night but also brings together all those who wish to party until sunrise! The acts also shift from bands to DJ’s, and from about 11pm it’s clear that everybody wants to make the most of their last festival of the summer.
While I may not have thought so when the heat of the sun chased me from my tent on Saturday morning, my Friday night of dancing to Laurent Garnier was definitely one of the highlights of my festival year.
Find out what other music festivals take place in Wales.