The UK's Festival Number 6 is a Utopian WonderArticle by: Aspen Glen-Cross
Tue September 08, 2015 | 00:00 AM
Being at Festival Number 6 is like entering a town in an alternate reality of a parallel universe. The houses look like something that exploded from a Dr. Seuss book and the tranquil setting overlooks Cardigan Bay, surrounded by a tropical forest.
This is exactly how founder Sir Clough Williams-Ellis planned it. He wanted to prove that development does not mean destruction; he took inspiration from the Mediterranean, sourced recycled materials from all over the country, and built a new town.
The name Festival Number 6 itself comes from an eclectic adventurer’s paradise: The main character in the British TV series The Prisoner is imprisoned in the strange town and "Number 6" (as he is called) and the show's premise centers around how he can't ever leave the absurd place. But it's this eccentric ethos that means Number 6 caters for everybody's taste.
The forest is equal parts natural beauty and bubbling party scene. Reality and imagination merge via muddy tracks that lead to a techno dugout or a caravan further down that's booming drum n' bass. The woodland dance floors match the nearby woodland walks and rope swings on the beach. Upon exiting the jungle, The Village awaits, where Supergrass' Gaz Coobes held an intimate session with his small ensemble. Mosey further down to The Estuary Stage, and you'll find cocktails that paired perfectly with Greg Wilson's set. Head to The Gatehouse for a dose of poetry and culture.
Along the Main Piazza, a band looking like they've been time-warped from the Arabian Nights with their kooky takes on old-school classics (Nelly's "It's Getting Hot In Here" will never be the same!), prep the revelers for one of Number 6's evening parades.
The atmosphere surrounds you and slowly seeps into your every pore. You join the parade in a whirlwind of dancing, drumming and ethereal lights, dancing with your neighbors and frolicking beneath the stars.
As the residents of the village settle down, the after-dark parade swings into the main arena which is the mecca for the evening's music. We saw bands like Metronomy and their jazzy electric beats, Belle & Sebastian with their newfound uptempo stylings (such lovely performers, they brought gaggles of fans up on stage!) and Grace Jones' fabulously eccentric style.
After the main stage simmers down, the night time energy continues to ooze from the tents left open. Speakers hum with the sounds of disco and deep house. 808 State and their eclectic tunes play in the distance, with electronic beats mixed with delightfully unpredictable guitars and clarinets.
When morning hits, there's "Rise and Shine" yoga to rejuvenate. Stretching while the sun rises yields a morning bliss. Gentle chants buzz as the chilly wind refreshes everyone.
There's a staggeringly scrumptious collection of food to choose from and fuel the weekend partying and days of discovery, like Anna Mae's mouth-watering mac n' cheese or Voodoo Ray's gigantic pizza slices. There's even an abundance of vegetarian options, highlighted by Goodness Gracious' huge hummus, falafel and haloumi pitas and Gandhi Flip Flop's plates of steaming vegetarian curry.
Amid days filled with activity and nights filled with dancing, Festival Number 6 takes each festival-goer on their own adventure. But once immersed in The Village, you may never want to leave, or find that you just can't.