Becca Frankland spent a magical weekend in Wales, immersing herself in the final Festival No. 6 before the dreamy Portmeirion event takes a hiatus.
Last updated: 12th Sep 2018
Image: Festival No. 6 (Credit: Sam Milligan)
When Festival No.6 announced this summer that the 2018 edition would be their last for now, the plans and anticipation for this year's event felt all the more poignant. As the creator of Portmeirion Village, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, said, ‘Cherish the past, adorn the present and construct for the future'. And adorn we did for the sixth instalment, a more than suitable number to finish on.
The festival is the ultimate escape from reality, set in the Tuscan-style village and supported by an impressive group of stages including woodland area and vast main arena, Festival No.6 is all about exploring, from the tucked-away forests to climbing to the highest point to get a spectacular view of Portmeirion. With them always taking risks and pushing boundaries, you'll be sure to stumble onto something unique that definitely wasn't planned for in your Festival No.6 app (which is such a handy extra that all festivals should aim to have).
Setting No.6 apart from other UK festivals in the most basic and obvious way is the maturity of the crowd, reflected in the relaxed security. Wristband checks and the occasional binning of drinks is the only searches in place, but there's non-existent trouble inside. Respectful and varied in age, it's hard to top the crowd here.
Friendly Fires proved to be the perfect act for the festival main stage on Friday night, the indie-dance group who broke through in the 2000s came back fighting after a hiatus and ripped through older tracks like 'Jump In The Pool', 'Hawaiian Air' and 'Kiss Of Life', whilst dipping into new releases like 'Love Like Waves', brought to life with multi coloured confetti.
On the dance music tip, Roy Davis Jr was in control of the big top Late Night Pavilion, delivering grooves like 'Dr Love' by First Choice. Whilst the House Of Rum once again delivered, demonstrating why it's so much more than a bar. The Lowlife DJs had the low-ceiling tent packed out, working through chugging house and dreamy disco, dropping in a few classics like Whitney Housten's 'Love Will Save The Day'.
Some things didn't quite live up to previous years, which was slightly disappointing considering it was the last event. The once-transformed estuary was missing a stage, making the pool area near it seem bleak, the Castell Gardens stage which in past editions had been shaped by a swooping canvas roof, was just a clear greenhouse type structure. But there was still more than enough to get lost in. Saturday kicked off at Village Limits - a floating stage in the middle of the forest with a huge disco ball hanging above it. Its the ultimate day time party, soundtracked on this evening by Crazy P, bringing in one of the biggest crowds we saw all weekend.
The variety of genre on the line up and the sheer amount of stages leaves you pulled in different directions, but we settled with The Horrors back in the Pavillion, for a mesmerising set which climaxed with their dreamy 'Still Life'.
It was back to House Of Rum for the Homoelectric DJs. The Manchester-based clubnight is renowned for its residents, and they brought the northern energy with them, rip-roaring through the likes of Jasper James' remix of 'Bring U Up' by Romanthany and 'Once In A Lifetime' by Talking Heads.
After refuelling with pizza and prosecco on Sunday, we headed to the Village Limits stage for a feel-good set from No.6 favourite Greg Wilson. It was so feel-good in fact, that a man decided to strip down to his underpants and start wading through the shallow water around the stage, encouraged by howls from the crowd, before security eventually managed to lure him out.
This weekender completely changed the way we view boutique festivals, showing how even complex sites, with the right people behind it, can be turned can be turned into seamlessly organised events. We'll sorely miss the opportunity to party in Portmeirion, but whatever the Festival No.6 team decide to do next, we'll be seeing you.