Festival Number 6, 2015 preview: A music festival made unusual

Polly Checkland Harding

Featuring Grace Jones, Belle & Sebastian, torchlight processions, banquets and one of the UK’s most unusual villages, Festival Number 6 can’t help being extraordinary.

Portmeirion, from the expanse of Castell Park to its central piazza, estuary, dog cemetery and woodland surrounds, is not your typical North Wales village. Styled after an Italian town, its buildings sit like confectionary on hilly streets – and are transformed each September by the sensory spectacular that is Festival Number 6. For this, the festival’s fourth outing, the likes of Grace Jones, Kate Tempest, British Sea Power, Ghostpoet, King Creosote and Belle & Sebastian will be leading the way musically (and figurative, in the case of Grace Jones – there’s a Mirror Ball Parade through the streets in her honour, before she takes to the stage). But, as with many of today’s summer music festivals, Festival Number 6 promises to be much more than an ear pleaser.

Grace Jones leads a mirror ball parade through the streets

Take, for instance, banquet tables manned by Michelin starred chefs and overlooking the estuary, or swing dance showcases and martial arts workshops where you can learn the Victorian fighting technique of Bartitsu, immortalised by that there Sherlock Holmes. There will be a theatrical performance of Under Milk Wood, comedians such as Josie Long, Katherine Ryan and the excellent Geins Family Giftshop, as well as a torchlight version of Stealing Sheep’s Mythopoeia procession, featuring an illuminated Chinese dragon, fantastical costumes and puppets.

Unsurprisingly, Festival Number 6 has been much garlanded, including winning the Evening Standard’s Festival of the Year Award in 2012, and Line Up of the Year at the UK Festival Awards in 2014. Tickets are still at the Early Bird stage, with an adult weekend coming to £185 for a Thursday arrival (Friday arrival £170). Best of all, we’ll have some tickets to give away next week – so keep your eyes peeled. After all, who wouldn’t want to spend a weekend stuffed with music, food and spectacular happenings at one of the most unusual coastal villages in the country?

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