Festival No.6: a review

Every single person I know who had been to Festival No.6 had unwavering opinions of it being an incredible weekend. Based in the Italian-style tourist village of Portmeirion on the north Wales coast,  organisers promised it to be the best festival location on earth. I’d somehow neglected to visit in my 24 years of living fairly locally I and was very, very excited.

Anyway, back to the beginning. The shuttle service from Bangor was £10 EACH WAY. Y’what mate? We split a taxi with several other savvy party people, which at £70 still worked out cheaper, and the driver happily stopped off at Maccies. Belter.

On arrival at Portmeirion I was blown away. These photos really don’t do the view justice:

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‘I am not a number’ – Portmeirion served as the location of 1960s TV show The Prisoner.

It was all a bit downhill from there, really.

The rain!

By Welsh standards, the rain wasn’t that bad. “Adverse”, No.6 later called it. Usually I’m pretty well prepared for festivals. I had glitter, wings and fairy lights (why aren’t Pimp My Tent competitions a thing?) but I’d forgotten wellies and waterproofs. Big, BIG mistake.

There’s a general consensus among bloggers that you should only say nice things, because who will risk inviting you to review events or beauty products for free otherwise?! But basically I’m not a kiss arse, so there.

Festival organisers treated this wet thing falling from the sky as if they had never encountered it before. Every single festival I have ever been to has laid down hay, gravel, bark chippings or steel sheets to ease walking, but inexplicably, they failed to do this.

The campsite in particular became a swamp, as did the main arena. I fell down several times, and as har har lol as it was the first and fifth time, wading through mud that deep is exhausting and also dangerous.

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How it was supposed to look.

Word came that the park & ride had flooded, leaving vehicles submerged. Local farmers – apparently not “employed” as No.6 claimed, but voluntarily – used their tractors to drag cars out, many of which were later written off.

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Did I mention that organisers inexplicably chose a flood plain as the location of the park & ride? In a statement, they claimed that ‘although showers were forecast, there were no advance or flood warnings…’  Did you not just use your noggins?

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Unhappy campers even created a Facebook page to air their grievances.

By Saturday, I was cold, wet and on the verge of abandoning ship and swimming home. To make matters worse, Lucy made me watch the Kaiser Chiefs.

But then a guardian angel in the form of a family friend showed up with fancy woolly socks, wellies, AND waterproofs for me. But oh no, she did one better. She drove us to her mother’s house, where we showered and dried our clothes and I wore Nain’s dressing gown. I felt like a new woman!

Back at the festival I remembered that the world record for cracker-eating is two in one minute, and because we just happened to have access to crackers we attempted this record, and failed. Unfortunately there are no photos for your viewing pleasure, but here’s me blowing up Lucy’s mattress instead.

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Wandering between the late-night tents alone, I met who I came to think of as my “festival boyfriend” during a Craig Charles Funk & Soul set. I asked whether he fancied a snog, and the rest is history.

Unfortunately, another criticism is that there were too many damn people, with an additional 5000 tickets reportedly sold. We became lodged at a key entry point between the main arena and Portmeirion village for 20 minutes. How much would a metal barrier to separate those going in and out have cost?! Meanwhile, the village itself was so rammed, we didn’t actually go inside any of the venues because it was such a faff.

The best area of the festival for me was the woods, with its various folk and dance oriented stages such as Audio Farm and Gottwood. Popular with the younger crowd, it was unfortunately closed at 8pm each night supposedly to stop people drowning in the lake and whatnot.

The woods are the best part of festivals – there’s nothing better than sitting under a tree with your new mate and sharing a bottle of straight vodka to minimise the need for toilet breaks – and I reckon closing before dark is a right mistake. If organisers invested in staff to keep everybody safe and lights to make the place snazzy, it’d be spectacular.

Wander through the woods long enough and you’ll  access the cliffs. I’ve always thought Porthmadog was a bit of a dump but we spent a long time just taking in the views. In the forest we bumped into one of the London poshos from the taxi, high as a kite, who told the festival boyfriend that I was a wonderful woman who he should treasure forever.

The highlight of my weekend was watching Noel Gallagher with the boy, singing our hearts out to Half the World Away in the pouring rain. I’ve always been team Blur, but it was honestly a magical experience destined for the memory bank. Oh, and he was joined by Paul Weller.

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As a boutique festival, I had expected portaloos to be of a decent standard. They were pink, to be fair, but the decent standards stopped there. These were amongst the worst toilets I’ve ever experienced. Cleaners weren’t hired, as is custom at many festivals. Or maybe they were, but it was only the glamper wankers privileged to hand sanitizer?

I actually ended up missing a lot of the acts I’d planned to see – Blossoms, Bastille, Dr. John Cooper Clarke and so on – because there didn’t appear to be any programs on sale. Download the app, everybody told me. But my phone is the kind that lasts 20 years with the enviable features of a flashlight and Snake.

As a result everybody needed their smartphones recharged after two hours, and No.6 had conveniently supplied an extortionately priced phone charging stall. Sly.

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La Compagnie des Quidams and their herd of creepy luminous horses at the Central Piazza on Sunday eve.

In their greed, over-selling and corner cutting, No.6 have lost credibility with many fans. Instead of spending all that money on a legion of shiny No.6-emblazoned 4x4s, organisers should maybe invest in a bale of hay and other luxuries for 2017.

They seem so concerned with reaching their ideal demographic through the “glamping” bollocks, they’ve forgotten that the majority of people who go to festivals are young, skint and just want a boogie. We don’t care about the Michelin-starred 7-course Dinner At Clough’s, or the fact that our tent comes with a doormat/sauna/personal stylist and has only ironically been named the Titanic.

It’s unfortunate that the weather put such a damper on the weekend, but I still had an amazing time. The festival boyfriend is now my real-life boyfriend!

Because of the location, and the hope that organisers have well and truly learned their lesson, I would definitely recommend Festival Number 6. Let’s just hope that next year it falls on that one day a year when summer occurs in Wales, eh?

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