The Highs and Lows of Festival Number 6

Portmeirion is a colourful, quaint village in North Wales, home to Festival Number 6 since 2012.

Portmeirion Village

Portmeirion Village

With such a unique location, you can see why the festival has won awards including most recently, the UK Festival Award for Best Small Festival in 2015. Sadly due to the weather this year in 2016, parts of the festival were closed, grass became a rare commodity (aka muddy swamp) and the carpark is affectionately known as the ‘Park and Swim’.

But it wasn’t all bad! Here are our highs and lows of Festival Number 6 as first-time visitors and tips for next time:

Highs

  • The beautiful countryside views on the road trip from London
  • Discovering Oh Wonder, a London based alt-pop duo playing at the festival thanks to Harry’s car playlist
  • Watching sheep graze on the lush grass on the side of the road in the mountains as we drove past

sheep

  • Arriving at the festival in time on Friday to set up the tent in the last bit of sunlight
  • Dinner from Yakumama! Latin American food is always so good! Harry had pork belly and I had chicken thigh tacos and tiger fries which was a mix of potato and sweet potato chips covered in a topping with finely chopped chorizo – yum!
  • The mix of music, arts and experiences – lots to explore and get involved with! Ever imagined seeing people in space suits holding what appear to be giant swaying jellyfish umbrellas that you could have your photo taken with? Me either
  • Lots of cool bars to choose from like the Kiwi Camp (Old Mout Cider), Ketel One Vodka and the Villa Maria Wine Garden

kiwi camp

  • Trying a ‘Dark Side of the Purple Moose’ beer in the Real Ale tent
  • The welfare tent! Selling ponchos for £1 and renting out wellingtons for £5 – lifesavers!
  • The staff with megaphones making us smile with comments like ‘if you’re not happy, I’m not happy’ [re: weather]
  • Exploring the bright and wonderful Portmeirion village where we saw Bellatrix, a beatbox world champion and bass player

bellatrix

  • The delicious beef burgers from the Portmeirion Hotel pop-up across from the hotel itself
  • Seeing ‘that view’ from all the promotional material at the waterside

waterside

  • Feeling like we were no longer in the UK and instead in Italy as we watched the Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir perform during sunset on the beautifully crafted Central Piazza stage in Portmeirion village
  • More delicious food! Harry kindly shared his choice of a hot and crispy chorizo and red pepper scotch egg with sweet potato chips
  • Getting to see Oh Wonder perform after discovering them the day before

oh wonder

  • Escaping the carpark with a quick tow from a friendly man in a 4wd
  • A real plateful of Sunday roast at the White Lion in Bala on the way back to London

roast

Lows

  • Delays due to traffic and roadworks turning a 4 hour 15 minute drive into 6 hours
  • Erdington: if you have a choice, stop somewhere else
  • Seeing a dead sheep on the side of the road
  • Missing Aurora on Friday because of not proactively checking the festival timetable
  • Not getting there in time on Friday to explore the woods and waterside before closing – the only day with reasonable weather!
  • Our camping neighbours partying all night… or maybe the real low is that we’re too old for festival camping in the ‘general’ area! Or at all?!
  • One of those camping neighbours choosing to pee on the grass right outside our tent door!
  • Continuous rain and increasingly muddy walkways

muddy campsite

  • Closure of stages and cancelling of acts due to the wet and windy weather
  • Trudging through the mud to get anywhere including the toilet in the middle of the night
  • No shower for 3 days – I think they were hiding from us! Maybe under the mud?
  • Missing the last day of the festival to beat the rush and exchange the mud for sightseeing on the way home
  • Cleaning our muddy camping gear after a long drive home

Tips

  • Set off early on your road trip to get to the festival earlier and/or allow yourself time to explore the towns along the way
  • Download some tunes by the artists playing at the festival before your trip to get excited about!
  • Pack plenty of water, snacks and tunes for the trip in case of delays
  • Drive slower and be considerate of local animals and their habitat
  • Download the festival app or timetable before you arrive
  • Find a quieter area to camp like the family camping area or pay for a tent that’s already set up and well-spaced from its neighbours (also means less people around if you have to pay!)
  • Pack ponchos, wellingtons and waterproof jacket and pants (aka trousers) – it’s Wales!
  • Pack baby wipes – they are often the closest you will get to a shower when camping at festivals…
  • Pack toilet paper and hand sanitiser for those port-a-loo visits or pay £3 per visit at LooWatt for a clean and comfortable experience
  • Water and towels are handy to wash and wipe off any mud before entering the tent to keep the inside as clean as possible!

Well, looks like my glass is half full. I wondered how many highs and lows I would end up with when I started writing this post.

More highs than lows is also because Festival Number 6 has so much potential which is obvious from previous years. Here’s hoping for sunshine next year so the magic of Portmeirion and the music echoing through the village and surrounding woods and waterside can be experienced in full, and the year after that, and the year after that…

Our festival tickets were complimentary.

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