WHAT'S IT LIKE AT FESTIVAL NO.6?
Festival No 6 at Portmeirion is possibly Britain's most magical festival. Veteran of the festival, Steven Gill, tells us what it's like...
1. HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU BEEN TO FESTIVAL NUMBER 6?
I've been to Festival No 6 three times, and so have a 100% attendance record so far!
2. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GO TO THE FIRST ONE?
When I saw the location and the line-up, it was an easy decision to make, as it looked an incredible place to hold a Festival. My friend Paul told me about it sounded so great and I first thought he'd just ‘curated’ it in his imagination...
3. WAS IT AN EASY DECISION TO GO FOR THE SECOND YEAR?
Totally. I’ve never known so many people say so quickly that they would be returning.
4. WHERE DID YOU STAY?
I camped the first year and then, in the second year, I got a B & B as my travelling companion had found himself a lady camper to erect his tent with....
5. DID YOU GO ON YOUR OWN OR WITH FRIENDS?
I went with a friend but it is quite literally Manchester-on-Sea for the weekend, so I could quite easily have gone solo and never been short of company.
6. WHERE DID YOU TRAVEL FROM?
I travelled from Manchester by car. It only took a couple of hours and was extraordinarily scenic. It was way easier than a 7 hour slog to Glastonbury.
7. HAD YOU BEEN TO PORTMEIRION BEFORE?
I hadn’t been to Portmeirion before and remonstrated with my parents as to why I hadn’t taken as a child, given we spent so many family holidays in North Wales...
"On a Sunny Day, it’s up there with my favourite places in the world..."
8. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE PORTMEIRION?
I'd describe the village as almost other–wordly. It shouldn’t really work, but it does. On a Sunny Day, it’s up there with my favourite places in the world...
9. WHAT TIME DID THE EVENTS START EACH DAY..?
I think that events start around mid-day but the food vendors seem to open pretty early, so you could just wander around without actually going to a specific event. It's very relaxed, and a bit of a treasure hunt really.
10. WHAT WERE THE HIGHLIGHTS FOR YOU?
I’d say the first year was the best – that ‘virginity popping moment’ – sitting in the sunshine in the main plaza, with a cold beer watching poets and authors doing readings and knowing that there was Rock’n’Roll and shenanigans to be had in the evening.
11. IS PORTMEIRION A GOOD PLACE TO HOLD THE FESTIVAL?
Absolutely it is. The village is utilised brilliantly and adds massively to the whole spectacle. It's a magical and spectacular setting for a festival.
12. ANY MEMORABLE MOMENTS?
There have been loads of memorable moments for me. The bands aside. John Cooper Clarke performing in the Plaza as the sun set over the Estuary was just brilliant. As was the Brythoniaid Welsh Male Voice Choir singing ‘Blue Monday’ – an extraordinary experience. A real Festival moment, and one that will stay with me for years.
13. WHEN DOES THE PARTY START?
The Friday night tends to see people drink like Prohibition has just been lifted, but it's all good though. A favourite drunk moment for me was pulling double denim ‘catalogue poses’ stood on a hay bale. You probably had to be there, and there are no pictures...
14. DID YOU GET MUCH SLEEP?
I slept just about enough to keep going, but I didn't go to No6 to sleep. The return to work was suitably emotional, shall we say...
"The Woodlands stage has some treasures..."
15. DID IT RAIN MUCH?
It really tipped it down in the second year. It doesn’t help but, because a lot of the events are undercover, you can still have a great festival experience. And anyway, I'm from Manchester so I'm not going to let a bit of rain get in the way of having a good time, am I?
16. WHICH MUSIC DID YOU WATCH?
There has been a stand-out headline act each year. New Order – who completely embraced the whole ‘Prisoner’ theme - The Manics, and last year Beck was brilliant. Spiritalized, Richard Hawley, Steve Mason & I am Kloot also deserve mentions. I loved Chic too, despite having been a little cynical initially. And there are loads of other stages. The Woodlands stage has some treasures if you make the effort to venture off the beaten path.
17. WHO WAS THE BEST LIVE?
I’d have to say Beck. Great back - catalogue and a real showman. He genuinely loved being at Portmeirion and had an incognito walk around in the afternoon prior to his set.
19. DID YOU MAKE ANY NEW FRIENDS?
Yes definitely, I made loads of new friends. I've stayed in touch with quite a few people and we go to gigs together in Manchester now. There really are no degrees of separation in Manchester!
20. DID YOU DO STUFF THAT WAS JUST ABOUT THE VILLAGE ( IE WALKS ON THE ESTUARY ), AND NOT NO6.
I had a walk through the Woodlands and down to the Estuary. It can be jaw droppingly beautiful..And it's a good remedy for clearing the cobwebs...
21. ANYTHING ELSE YOU"D LIKE TO TELL US?
The food is very good. A few notches above the usual festival food on offer, and the Gin bar was very hospitable indeed. There is a very relaxed vibe to the whole place, and it’s quite commonplace to see ‘celebs/bands’ just wandering around but we’re all way too cool, of course, to mither them. Having said that, I did chat to Stuart Maconie and regaled him at length about the ‘game’ me and my mate Paul play along to his 6 Music radio show on long car journeys. He seemed extremely enthralled....