When we heard of the first Festival No.6, back in 2012, it seemed like a flicker of the imagination, a surreal dream, a far-off fantasy. It’s nestled on a peninsula at the foot of Wales’ Snowdonia, where at high tide, the waters reach right up to the coastal paths, creating a brief island escape. Things aren’t quite as they seem.
Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis designed Portmerion entirely in the style of an Italian village; classical colonnades tumble out of the rocks in to playfully picturesque coastal cottages. The Mediterranean makes itself at home and looks out at the lapping Irish Sea. Things aren’t quite as they seem.
Festival No.6 takes its name from prisoner number six of the 1960s television series, The Prisoner. Portmerion became The Village, a mysterious, isolated coastal resort, presided over by agents and spies. Prisoners and warders go only by numbers, rather than names: Number Six undergoes hallucinatory drug experiences, dream control and identity theft in his quest to escape, learn and subvert. Things really aren’t quite as they seem.
Now in its third year, Festival No.6 seems very much at home within the bizarre tale of Portmerion’s history. Having already won awards for Best New Festival and Best Small Festival, Festival No.6 might be the most fantastical escape you could need this summer. (Did we mention there’s a dog cemetery?)
We’re thrilled to hear that previous Circulation cover stars London Grammar will be headlining the festival this year, alongside the inimitable Beck. Around this time last year, London Grammar were echoing round our heads with the mysterious ‘Hey Now‘, and we finally got a chance to talk to them on the eve of their first headline show (online version of the interview here). Things have moved fast since then – a platinum selling album, a BRIT nomination, and now the perfectly delicate and slightly spooky band to fill Portmerion’s imposing Italian piazza.
With twelve studio albums, yet only two festival performances this season, Beck promises a beguiling show at Festival No.6. This year’s album, Morning Phase, has been called a five star work of art and we can’t wait to hear it live.
Though there’s still another headliner to be revealed, Festival No.6 has already curated a very exciting collection of artists. Bonobo promises a superlative display of live electronica, having spent a lot of last year enveloping entire crowds within the wonder of all the instruments, visuals and atmosphere of his show. Neneh Cherry will be accompanied by Rocketnumbernine and her first solo album in sixteen years. East India Youth (who featured in Circulation’s February magazine) will be making an appearance too, alongside Temples, Alexis Taylor, Arthur Beatrice, Childhood and many more. Full announcements so far here.
Director Bradley Thompson points out there’s a stronger DJ line-up than ever – catch Festival No.6 stalwart Andrew Weatherall amongst Julio Bashmore, Berlin’s Prosumer, Kompakt’s Michael Mayer and the fabulously good fun Awesome Tapes From Africa.
With more line-up announcements to come, and promise of Michelin star chefs, poets-in-residence and some very special guests, we suggest getting tickets quick.By Alice Lawrence