Have you ever been to a festival where the star of the show is the location rather than the headline act?
How about a festival where you can cultivate your second (or third) stomach and eat all the delicious food you want?
What about a festival that encounters one surprise after another? You’ll discover musicians hiding in the woods, dancers appearing on the beach, massive parades in the streets, and performers in the gardens.
This was the kind of experience I had this past weekend at Festival Number 6, a boutique arts and culture festival held in the enchanting Welsh village of Portmeirion. This is his fourth year running Festival Number 6, and it’s bigger and better than ever.
Portmeirion has to be the most difficult place to hold a festival, but these people knew what they were doing because everything ran without a hitch as even the weather behaved itself. Masu!
If I were to explain everything that happened at festival number 6, you would probably think that I was telling you bits and pieces of a crazy dream. It felt the same way too. One moment I was lost in the woods, the next I was surrounded by bubbles, and the next I was on a pontoon floating over a pond. And you’ll be surrounded by dancers, drummers, singers, and performers like you’ve never seen before. Then I bounce on the trampoline while listening to gospel karaoke, and then I listen to Grace Jones. Wow, that’s a little too accepted.
Ray Morris at City Hall
Festival highlights include legends Grace Jones, Mark Ronson, Years and Years, Catfish and the Bottleman, Belle and Sebastian, and Chatting in the Central Square, just to name a few. Includes Steve Coogan, Everything Everything, The Two Bears, Justin Robertson and more.
But my favorite moments were the moments between these big events. It was dancing in the sunlight on a floating stage in the middle of the forest, and someone nearby was blowing giant bubbles, which we all jumped on and popped. I was eating ice cream in a deck chair while listening to One Day Like This sung by Elbow’s Welsh Choir. It saw two performers create “the world’s most dangerous cup of tea.” I had two lunches and two dinners because I couldn’t decide what I wanted to eat. There were so many choices!
One of the things I loved most about Festival No. 6 was that everyone there seemed to have a different experience. We camped near the “yoga chicks” who were getting up early to do yoga and meditation in the sun and drink healthy smoothies. Her sister, on the other hand, would roll into her tent at 4 a.m and come out and start again at noon. Their father watched all the unknown up-and-coming bands while their mother went to poetry readings and professional lectures. When they get home and tell their friends about their experience, you honestly think they were at a different festival.
Festival Number 6 is also very family friendly. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many babies gathered in the same place. (We left George at home with his mother and I missed him so much that I may have become a little sensitive to the amount of babies around!) Special There is a family camping area, a toddler play area, and lots of activities for the kids. I will definitely be taking George next year!
Tips for Festival Number 6
Purchase the program as soon as it arrives. Unlike most festivals, there is no set schedule, but you will need to purchase a schedule for £10. At first he may resent paying £10 for the program, but it will be the best £10 he will spend all weekend. There’s a lot going on that you never know about, so research the program and make sure you’re in the right place at the right time.
You get out of it what you put into it. There’s so much going on that it can be overwhelming, but try to get involved as much as you can.
Camp on the hill. When you first arrive with all your belongings, it’s tempting to throw it away and set up camp, but walk to the top of the hill and you’ll find the perfect spot. It offers great views and is more likely to be a flat road.
Please do not bring your own food. There is so much amazing food on offer that you won’t be bothered to cook it yourself.
It will arrive on Thursday. Although the festival technically doesn’t start until Friday, you can arrive the day before. I loved getting there when it was less crowded and I could get my bearings before everything started.
Do not consume large amounts of alcohol. Alcohol is allowed in the camping area, but not in the main festival area. Unlike most festivals, we didn’t really do any “pre-drinks” at the campsite because there was just too much going on inside the festival to be stuck in a tent with a hot beer. (A beer at the festival cost £5.)
What to pack
- The warmest sleeping bag you can find – it was freezing.
- Air bed – worth the extra weight for extra warmth and comfort
- The coolest tent you can find. Field Candy’s sheep tent was a big hit and a conversation starter throughout the weekend.
- Comfortable shoes – you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Many of the festivals take place on suitable roads and surfaces, so boots are not required unless heavy rain is forecast.
- Stylish Clothes – You’re Along with the Cool Kids Now
Photo posted by The Travel Hack (@thetravelhack) on September 7, 2015 at 2:07am PDT
The first photo in this post is a media image courtesy of Festival No.6. The second set was taken by me (before the battery died) using a Lumix 4G CM1 camera phone.