About This Festival
A Young Party
Festival Number 6 potentially carries the magic of the globe's oldest celebrations. Its location, on the windswept coast of Wales, is as timeless as granite. This is a young festival with an old soul, yet the event's overriding dedication to whimsy and the absurd has the decided imprint of youth.If this all sounds like the sort of quasi-fantasy space to stage one of the great sci-fi/spy cult hits of the 20th century, hey, Portmeirion is way ahead of you. In the 1960s, this village was The Village, the trippy madhouse-meets-retirement-resort that was the primary setting of the British series The Prisoner.
Festival Number 6 started in September, 2012 in the resort village of Portmeirion, in Gwynedd, North Wales. Portmeirion, with its pastiche of construction styles, has an ageless feel to it, however it was created relatively recently by the architect Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis between the years of 1925-1975. Williams-Ellis wanted to create a community inspired by what he considered beautiful building movements, and there is glut of Mediterranean style properties, along with baroque homes, Victorian mansions and candy colored cottages.
What's in a Name and a Number?
If this all sounds like the sort of quasi-fantasy space to stage one of the great sci-fi/spy cult hits of the 20th century, Portmeirion is way ahead of you. In the 1960s, this village was The Village, the trippy madhouse-meets-retirement-resort that was the primary setting of the British series The Prisoner. In that TV show, star Patrick McGoohan plays a prisoner dubbed "Number 6" — hence the name of the festival.
So why all this attention to a venue? Because in this case, the venue is more than a location. It's integral to the festival itself. The main stage is the village of Portmeirion: The Irish Sea, Cardigan Bay, the River Dwyryd and the mountains of Snowdonia National Park, which include the Moelwynion Range and the Rhinogydd Range form festival boundaries. The inspiration of the Portmeirion aesthetic filters into the crowd, performers and activities, and thus the village and surrounding 70 acres of forest become part of the show.
The relatively small size of the crowds speaks to the youth of this event as well. Festival Number 6 is doing its best to stand out in the midst of an oversaturated British summer festival season.
While Festival Number 6 is classified as a music event, in many ways it goes deeper than a gathering of bands and a smattering of stages. It stays relevant by trucking out an oddball music roster. Consider the inaugural festival's decision to bring out the Brythonaid Male Voice Choir performing, among other things, a cover of New Order, an inspired, "locally sourced" bit of line-up stacking – and mixing it up with acres of public art, a unique setting that once served as the set of a sci-fi show, TED-style lectures and discussion groups and a general commitment to idiosyncrasy.
What to Expect Amidst the Unexpected
The general consensus is that artists tend to bring it, in no uncertain terms, to Festival Number 6. We mentioned New Order previously; their set here was voted Headline Performance of the Year at the UK Festival Awards. Manic Street Preachers have previously stated “Festival Number 6 is the only thing that could break our self-enforced two-year British gig ban," regarding their performance in 2013. Despite its short life, Festival Number 6 seems to attract a lot of passion from its participating musicians.
Art installations and the like abound, and as is often the case at British festivals, there's a strong comedy presence. This is augmented by literary salons – each Festival Number 6 makes a point of inviting lots of authors who hold readings throughout the weekend, a nod to the Welsh love of storytelling in its many forms. Food offerings range from the festival fried to hot shot gourmet restaurants, which speaks to the eclectic crowd that gets drawn to this wet corner of the countryside. By the way—this is Wales, so expect rain.