While Festival No. 6‘s current chapter comes to a close and the future at Portmeirion uncertain, Rebecca Worthington heads up to No. 6‘s wonderful world for one last time.
For the seventh and final year, the peculiar, pastel-coloured village of Portmeirion, home of the 1967 TV Series The Prisoner, transformed into the bijou beauty that is Festival No.6.
This idyllic, Italianate village sits on the southern shores of Snowdonia, providing an undulating backdrop of exquisite hillside and sandy coastlines. But, at the tail end of the festival season, this peninsula inevitably gambles on the British weather. We confronted the elements once again and it was totally worth it.
Merseyside’s Peach Fuzz, Marvin Powell and Edgar Jones graced the Tim Peaks/Real Ale House, a stage which always has strong Skeleton Key Records representation, and Everything Everything started the Friday evening off with a bang, followed by headliner Friendly Fires with tracks such as “Paris” and “Hawaiian Air“.
Despite the drizzly start to Saturday, many lapped up the stunning views down at the Estuary. In true British spirit, the Central Plazza was filled with festival-goers chilling in deck chairs, beers in hand, enjoying a spot of spoken word poetry. Even the outside swimming pool was overflowing with activity. But for those who wanted a drier experience, there were intimate Town Hall sessions with the composer Joe Duddell and the No.6 Ensemble, dinner banquets and Hip Hop Karaoke in the Castell gardens. VIP ticket holders could even cosy-up by the roaring fire and grand piano in Hotel Portmeirion and Castell Deudraeth, a far cry from the standard take on a music festival.
A drier afternoon saw Stealing Sheep steal the show (sorry!) down at the Central Piazza with their beautifully powerful performance inspired by the Suffragette movement, and The Horrors and Django Django delivered explosive sets in the Grand Pavillion.
Luckily, for the Brythoniad Welsh Male Voice Choir, who had predicted a name change to Wet Wet Wet, the rain continued to hold off into the night. Over the years they have become a No. 6 institution, introduced as Festival No 6’s ‘very own boyband’, the men with a combined age of over 4000 walked out onto the packed out Central Piazza to a recording of their legendary performance of New Order‘s “Blue Monday“. They bid an emotional farewell to Portmeirion with their ethereal harmonies, which echoed through the dimly lit, cobbled streets and a rendition of “Design for Life” by The Manic Street Preachers.
On route back to Castell Gardens, The Egg People emerged from the Town Hall.
The buzzing colony of playful bumblebee performers, alongside Human log flumes and numerous comedy shows kept the laughter flowing, even during the heaviest of downpours. The music continued into the early hours with Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip, who delivered a genre-spanning DJ set in the Grand Pavillion, and Manchester-based club night Homoelectric DJs in the House of Rum.
Sunday saw Baxter Dury throwing shapes in the Grand Pavillion and Gaz Coombes performing gleaming folk tunes like “The Girl Who Fell to Earth” and a solo acoustic take on Supergrass’ “Moving“. But it was The Charlatans who had the crowd in their hands. Tim Burgess, dressed in dungarees with his bleached mop top, took us on a journey through three decades of Britpop bangers, such as “The Only One I Know“, “One to Another” and “North Country Boy“.
Despite a few sound problems, they were a definite festival highlight. Franz Ferdinand mixed indie classics such as “Do You Want To?” and “Take Me Out” with tracks from new album “Always Ascending” bringing the festival to a magical end. Be it a cliff-hanger. We’ll ‘be seeing you soon, No.6, wherever you may be.
Words by Rebecca Worthington, photography courtesy of Festival No. 6.