Festival Number 6, preview: A bespoke beauty

Emma Nuttall

We preview Festival No.6 – an award-winning, bespoke festival, with a stunning line-up in a beautiful setting.

Step into Portmeirion’s sleepy cobbled streets, Italianate piazza, sandy shorelines and pastel-coloured buildings as it makes its annual transformation to play host from 1-4 September to the 10,000 strong boutique Festival No.6. Now in it’s fifth year, Festival No.6 was a risky upstart in the already saturated boutique festival market; it’s done well to not just only afloat but to gain a reputation as one of the most imaginative summer season events – it’s even won some awards along the way.

As you’d expect from any self-respecting boutique festival, a truly eclectic line-up graces the festival posters. Heading up the bill are Bastille, set to kick off the show on Thursday night with their upbeat blend of indie-beats. Hot Chip bring their electro-pop party vibe for a Saturday night dance-off and on Sunday night Noel Gallagher’s new band High Flying Birds play some of the most iconic tunes of the last thirty years as the sun goes down, guaranteeing a nostalgic sway as the festival draws to a close.

A truly eclectic line-up graces the festival posters

A special mention also goes to the newly commissioned composer-in-residence Joe Duddell who, alongside Manchester Camerata Chamber Orchestra, will perform David Bowie Reimagined: a set of newly arranged songs from David Bowies iconic career, with a special guest vocalist on each track. The festival has also announced the line-up for its Lost in the Woods stage; this beautiful platform (you guessed it) up in the woods behind Portmeirion is sponsored by PRS for Music, which has also slotted talent including avant-garde jazz experimentalists Melt Yourself Down, dreamy Brighton popsters Fickle Friends, and dance-rock fusionists Pumarosa (all of whom have been supported by the PRS for Music Foundation) into the programme between noon and 3pm daily.

There’s loads more lined up here, but we also had to give a nod to our friends at Hey! Manchester, who step to the plate on the Saturday with alt-rockers Wave Pictures heading the bill supported by garage veterans The Lovely Eggs, the folk-rock Trembling Bells, singer-songwriter Laura J. Martin and the feted Mother.

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However, music is only part of the Festival No.6 package. The organisers have thrown some more left field entertainment into the mix, from Q&As to film screenings, classes, walks, dinners, parades and craft sessions. poetry, literary readings, political debates, brass bands and all kinds of arts and crafts, and created a celebration of everything artistic and expressive.

You can forget your standard, watered down, warm festival lager and soggy chips too; everything has a touch of luxury here. The most downmarket meal you’re likely to find will be a pint of proper craft ale and a pulled pork ciabatta. Diners are spoiled for choice at The Portmeirion Hotel and Castell Brasserie, or alternatively you can join the foodie showstopper: a long table banquet at Dinner At Clough’s, devised and cooked especially for you this year by chef and food writer Gizzi Erskine, Michelin star Head Chef of Bubbledogs and Kitchen Table James Knappett and Michelin star Aiden Byrne of Manchester House. Just be sure to pack your wellies – and check out the full daily line-ups here.

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Poet Andrew McMillan. Photo Ursula Soltys.

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