Book Now for Festival No.6: A weekend with a difference

Polly Checkland Harding
Photo of a trapeze artist hanging beneath a yellowy balloon

There are almost too many music festivals to choose from – here’s how Festival No.6 sets itself apart.

What is it that makes festival-goers choose one event over another? As the roster of summer offerings grows ever longer you start to realise that there are some things fairly inevitable about each musical spree. There will be wellies. There will be competitive tents, mud, sunburn, “festival-chic” (whatever that means), baby wipes, loo roll looped like bunting between guy ropes, and crowds of slightly grubby people who all feel like they know each other that little bit better by the weekend’s finish. Even the live acts in any given year tend to be fairly consistent across the various events. You have the emerging band on the bill of so many festivals they must have a time portal in the back of the van, and the golden oldies who surprise no one by returning for just one more go. So far, so predictable. But when it comes to festivals actually setting themselves apart, location and extras are what count.

The mind gets all excitable about how much better seeing bands in such eccentric scenery would be

In terms of setting, Festival No.6 at Portmeirion has something of a head start. Exhibit A is the coastal resort’s own dog cemetery. Exhibit B is Portmeirion itself: sitting pretty on the edge of an estuary, it was designed in the style of an Italian village. Pastel coloured and turreted buildings emerge from 145 acres of sub-tropical woodlands and trail their sandy skirts in the salty water below. Being able to gift punters with the feeling of ticking off a Destination (with a capital ‘D’) as part of their ticket has got to be a bonus. Plus, the mind gets all excitable about how much better seeing Beck, London Grammar (extra zealous newbies, tick), Jon Hopkins, East India Youth and the Pet Shop Boys in such eccentric scenery would be.

Another hoop that music festivals now have to jump through is what’s on alongside their melodic offerings. Music alone just won’t cut it, and this year Festival No.6 shows itself to be an impressive polymath, with pop-up woodland raves, appearances from the likes of Julian Cope and artist Gavin Turk, readings from Manchester’s Emma Jane Unsworth and Stuart Maconie, laughs from comics Sara Pascoe and Josh Widdicombe, a dedicated cinema, torch-lit processions, a special camp for kids, musings from songsmith and storyteller Sam Lee, real ale, organic food, rumoured Michelin-starred chefs and a champagne and oyster bar for those feeling flush. So although festivals these days may be common, the experience you’ll get at Festival No.6 promises to be anything but.

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