Festival Number 6 gives guests the chance to temporarily forget reality. It’s situated in Portmerion in Wales, a place that’s as beautiful as it is mysterious. Cult TV series The Prisoner was filmed there, but Festival Number 6 is about escape rather than incarceration. In amongst the town’s vibrant buildings and lush vegetation exists an eccentric boutique festival offering much more than the outstanding bill of rock and electronic music its line-up promises.
Only in its third year, Festival No 6 has already cemented a reputation as an event that defies description. If you ask someone who’s been to describe their experience, you’re just as likely to hear about the mystical location as the music. For the 2014 edition, which takes place between 5th-7th September, Beck, London Grammar and The Pet Shops Boys will headline. Bonobo, Steve Mason and Neneh Cherry will also play live, while Laurent Garnier, Andrew Weatherall, Julio Bashmore, Danny Krivit and Michael Mayer head up the selection of DJs set to appear. Click here to view the full lineup.
Number 6 was the name of The Prisoner’s protagonist and was chosen for the festival once the decision to base it in Portmerion had been made. The festival takes place both in the town itself and in fields next to its brightly coloured architecture, which is inspired by Italian coastal towns. Festival No 6 launched in 2012 and was attended by 6,500 people. New Order, Primal Scream, Spiritualized and Gruff Rhys featured on an impressive debut line-up. New Order’s special headline slot was voted Best Headline Performance at the UK Festival Awards. Festival No 6 books an extensive line-up of comedians, writers, poets and artists too. Caitlin Moran, Phil Jupitus and Marcus Brigstocke appeared in 2012. The following year, James Blake, My Bloody Valentine, Manic Street Preachers, Johnny Marr, Jagwar Ma and Mount Kimbie were among the musical highlights. Punk poet John Cooper Clarke and legendary rock journalist and writer Paul Morley were among the speakers on the bill. In both years, Festival Number 6 mixed heroic figures in indie, rock and pop with original new talent. It was quickly clear that Festival Number 6 was a place for discerning music fans to unearth new artists as well as celebrate old favourites. The combination of LA singer Beck and Nottingham newcomers London Grammar continues this tradition in 2014.
Bands, DJs and musicians aren’t confined to the main Castell Park stages at Festival Number 6. Charming and unusual locations in Portmerion, including the town hall, the Colonnade gardens, sandy riverside bays, an Italian-style central piazza, a large stone boat and the estuary all play host to the acts. The town’s nooks and crannies are the place to find Festival No 6’s arts and culture attractions too. Festival partners Caught By The River, Faber Social, Don’t Tell Stories and Finders Keepers are involved in creating unique shows and performances. Festival-goers will have the chance to watch and participate in Talks, readings, film screenings set to live scores, stand-up comedy, woodland storytelling and art installations and workshops. Should you want to explore Portmerion further, the 30-minute Land Train ride offers whistle-stop tour of its idyllic scenery.
Food and drink is treated with the same meticulous detail as Festival No 6’s main attractions. A Welsh Produce Market can be found in the town centre, selling artisan goods and adding to the atmospheric hubbub for the duration of the event. Closer to the outdoor stages, a fine selection of street food vendor housed in wooden chalets, offers a diverse range of cuisine. Portmerion’s two main restaurants at The Hotel Portmerion and Castell Deudraeth Brasserie are also available.
With its rich selection of music and entertainment and luxurious setting, 2014’s edition of Festival Number 6 stands to be the best yet. Beck, who returned with his 12th album ‘Morning Phase’ this year, will cap the weekend with a headline set. Midlands psych dandies Temples play too, as do Welsh indie kids Los Campesinos! and widely-tipped guitar-toting newcomers Childhood and Temples. London Grammar’s powerful dance-pop, James Holden’s psychedelic electronics and classic Motown from Martha Reeves & The Vandellas offer further highlights. Whether you’re ensnared by the music, the arts or by Portmerion itself, Festival Number 6 will take you prisoner eventually.
Click here to view the full Festival Number 6 lineup and buy tickets.
Words by Ben Homewood
Images courtesy of Andrew Whitton and Festival Number 6
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