The best festival in the world, set on the coastal cliffs of North Wales.

For the last music festival of summer 2014, I was lucky enough to get a press pass to the obscure Festival No. 6 in North Wales. Magical, beautiful and awe-inspiring, it is set in Portmeirion, an Italianate coastal village set on a cliff over an estuary.

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Perhaps one of the most beautiful locations I have ever set eyes on, the festival is packed with food, music, arts and literature – as soon as I arrived, I started planning out an itinerary for a weekend full of talks, shows, gigs and eating.

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Portmeirion is surrounded by woodland – wandering through the Gwyllt Woods on the edge of Snowdonia, you stumble upon little outposts of the festival. Trekking along you will suddenly come across a Hole & Corner woodworking camp, or a stage, or a dance floor suspended above a lake.

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There were bookstores and films and literature talks – a Dylan Thomas tribute and a reading from Harry Leslie Smith, a moving social activist. There were yurts to hang out in, stages on overlooks above the estuary, contraptions and brass bands and light up drummers.

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There were nightly processions to follow from the village, through the woods to the main stage. There were Welsh rock bands, lanterns and dance parties in the Castle gardens.

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There was so much great music – Beck, the Pet Shop Boys, London Grammar, Tom Odell – but my favourites were the little bands – folk, indie, rock, bluegrass, gypsy jazz – that got everyone dancing. A single voice and acoustic guitar sang out to a crowd of 15 at the Lost at Sea stage – a truly intimate show with a magnificent backdrop. Every morning they drew something in the sand in the estuary – and you could book in for paddleboarding, or just jump in for a swim.

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Dylan Thomas quotes were scattered throughout the woods to mark his centenary year.

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East India Youth played with an orchestra in the town hall to a small crowd, and I got to interview the awesome chefs who had been shipped in for the festival to do a long table banquet each night. I interviewed Bryn Williams of London’s Odette, who raved about Welsh produce and told me the meat from his banquet was farmed just ‘over that hill’. Michelin-starred Aiden Byrne was equally chuffed with the event, designing a special menu for the evening that tied in with the location. There was a Welsh Produce Market, where you could buy pasties and pies and fruit tarts from locals.

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Beck said “this is the coolest, most surrealist, funkiest, freakiest, best festival in the world.” And I completely agree.

 

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1 thought on “The best festival in the world, set on the coastal cliffs of North Wales.”

  • I'm glad you liked North Wales. It's so underrated.Festival 6 is doing wonders to boost our tourism. Hope many more come back this year!

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