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Festival No.6 Review

Skiddle gets lost in the magic of Festival No.6 at the beautiful village of Portmeirion.

Jimmy Coultas

Last updated: 22nd Aug 2013

Having never come across Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner (in which he acts as a retired intelligence agent trapped in an Orwellian community guarded by a giant white bouncing ball named Rover) or the Welsh village of Portmeirion, I didn’t know what to expect from Festival No 6. All I was aware of was the beautifully designed website, the breathless build up on the radio and rumours of the picturesque village itself.

I must admit my initial impression of the festival was not good: the rugby pitch on which I parked my car, and the field in which I pitched my tent, were muddy, sloped and seemingly far too small for the 7,000 plus revellers descending on the village.

However, since I had already driven the six hours from London, and motivated by the prospect of one of Barnaby Sykes’ Pie Maker’s steak and ale pies, I soldiered on. After pitching my tent I walked the five minutes from the campsite to the village. What did I expect? A folly, maybe an old End of the Road’esque cottage, nothing more. What I found was the incredible Portmeirion village in all its glory. Bathed in early autumnal sunlight, and nestled in between the lush Gwylit woods and the sleepy River Dwyrd, it truly was as magical as the marketing had led us to believe. As I walked down to the water, through the piazza and past Portmeirion Castle, I understood why tourists flock to the mock Italian village and wondered why no-one had thought to do this sooner.

Headline acts for the weekend included New Order, Primal Scream, Death in Vegas, The Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir (no really – check out their version of Blue Monday above) . Suffice to say that the line-up was very well chosen, particularly the three acts who subsequently found themselves on the Mercury Awards short-list. But Festival No. 6  was about so much more than just the music.

Now that I’ve seen The Prisoner (the first episode at least) I appreciate mote fully some of the more eclectic elements of the weekend. Daily games of human chess in the piazza and nightly fire/ lantern parades led by glowing characters in Edwardian dress wearing lampshades as hats now make more sense. At the time I simply accepted them as part of the magical set up.

A trip to the estuary (to prod giant jellyfish stranded on the beach, pick samphire and marvel at the stupidity of lone swimmers) and a walk through the woods revealed more of the eccentric: hidden raves you have to follow the music along winding paths to find, a dog cemetery and numerous dug outs/huts/tents catered to the more adventurous who wanted their cards read or drinks filled.

A triumphant opening weekend and a perfect way to end the summer. Put it in your diaries now - a must-do for the 2013 UK festival itinerary…

With such a glowing review, the more paranoid of you might have decided that I work for the intelligence agency and am nothing but Rover’s minion, enticing you to your perpetual imprisonment in the Village. You decide. I’ll be seeing you.

Words: Milly Citarella

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