8 August 2016

Arts and Culture overload at Festival No. 6

All of a sudden I feel a pull towards culture and literary festivals. I think I'm getting a bit tired of music festivals (maybe I'm not going to the right ones). I feel compelled to write about UK literary festivals after I've finished this post about Festival No. 6 - an arts and culture festival set in the stunningly unique village of Portmeirion in Gwynedd, North Wales. I love the fact that it was designed and built in the style of an Italian village (it's rumoured to be modelled on Portofino). Since the festival first took place in 2012 it's been on my radar and I was over the moon when I managed to get a press pass this year.

You might be wondering, "why no.6?" It takes it name from the 60s TV series The Prisoner, which was filmed in Portmeirion (the main character is a secret agent called Number 6). No.6 also embodies a free thinking spirit, not unlike the thousands of people the festival welcomes each year. And it's not just art and culture, there's music too (obviously) - this year's headliners are Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Hot Chip and Bastille. I personally can't wait to see Roisin Murphy (I've loved her music and fashion for years), Cassius (a French dance act that I loved when I was 16 and still listen to their debut album 1999 all the time). Tim Burgess (of Charlatans fame) is taking up residency in the Portmeirion Dome and is also talking about his new book, Tim Book Two. 


Art and culture highlights include the Carnival No.6, with marching bands, a plethora of costumes, riotous headdresses and excited festival goers taking part as the parade weaves it way through the village on Saturday afternoon. The Torchlight Parade is sure to be spine-tinglingy spectacular as 100 flames are carried by chosen festival goers from the Village into the Main Arena. In keeping with my love of anything and everything French, I'll be excitedly anticipating the magic of the Compagnie des Quidams show, which combines theatre, dance, music and circus skills performed by science-fiction Venetians who metamorphosise into luminous horses (yes, you heard right).

Carnival No.6
The book geek in me is freaking out over the fact that Trainspotter writer and legend Irvine Welsh will be there, as well as The Happy Monday's Shaun Ryder who's talking about his unique approach to lyrics. Dr John Cooper Clarke is back performing his biting, satirical verse after he stormed the festival in 2013. We're in Wales so the festival wouldn't be complete without a choir, and the Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir is one the of the best (check out their performance of New Order's Blue Monday on Youtube and you'll see what I mean). Film lovers will marvel at Cinescora who flip cinematic scoring on its head; the band perform Ennio Morricone's cult scores in front of vignettes of Italian 'Giallo' films (it's pretty erotic). Sara Pascoe, Mark Watson and Johnny Vegas will be providing the comedy.

There's a wide range of experiences and activities to make it a real long weekend to remember - you can register in advance for a free Paddle Boarding session on the River Dwyryd Estuary, as well as taking a dip in the Portmeirion pool whilst listening to the Estuary Stage. Boutique customers can relax in the Swedish Spa complete with wood-fired hot tubs and a chill out area. Everyone can ease away the aches and pains of a night's camping coupled with a night of hard partying in the Mermaid Spa.

The pool near the Estuary stage
There are still some final tier tickets left for Thursday and Friday arrivals if you move fast - those of you that aren't keen on camping can also get day tickets. If you live locally you can get a discount (surely a good reason to move there)??? You can get general camping tickets and also camp in the Pitch Village, where tents are pre-erected (!), there are hot showers (!) and a pamper parlour complete with creature comforts. The festival is pitched as family friendly and children under 10 go free. All camper van tickets are now sold out but you can still get boutique festival tickets for the No.6 Boutique Retreat if you're into glamping it up! There are plenty of options to choose from such as bell tents (standard, deluxe and luxury), a Lotus Belle tent furnished with queen size beds, the VIP emperor tent with too many mod-cons to mention (Egyptian cotton sheets, LED lanterns to name a few), and a two-person luxury Tipi (it even comes with pillow treats). This is next level glamping, make no mistake! You can also slumber in ethnically furnished yurts and the piece de la resistance - a Deluxe Airstream trailer providing the ultimate in 70s retro chic, flat screen TV and a fully equipped kitchen. Find out more about accommodation here.

Swedish Spa sponsored by Volvo
Foodies will be in raptures about the culinary options available at the festival. Those wanting to experience Michelin star quality food (I told you this is no normal festival) can book into Dinner at Clough's, a bespoke long table banquet. James Knapett, Gizzi Erskine and Aiden Byrne will be cooking up a storm. Those of you with less expensive tastes can sample the delights of the Street Food Village and Welsh Produce Market. More upmarket food options include the Castell Deudreath offering the finest local seafood and meat. Hotel Portmeirion's dining room has two AA rosettes and serves modern Welsh food. 

It's still possible to register as a volunteer to get free entry in exchange for your time behind the scenes. Virgin Trains are offering 25% off train travel to the festival, and shuttle buses are available to pick you up at Bangor station and take you back on Monday. 

I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it...find out all the latest from the beautiful and stylish Festival No.6 website and let me know if you're going! 

Torchlight Parade
The Italian style backdrop is unique
Partying in the forest




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