Festival Number 6 – a festival like no other

Festival Number 6, Portmeirion - setting of the cult TV series, The Prisoner. On stage in the ampitheatre is performance poet, Luke Wright
Festival Number 6, Portmeirion - setting of the cult TV series, The Prisoner. On stage in the ampitheatre is performance poet, Luke Wright

I thought I’d seen everything the music festival scene could offer – until last week.

Festival Number6 took me to Portmerion in Wales, and the fantasy village which was used to film cult 1960s, TV show, The Prisoner. What an amazing place!

Festival Number 6, Portmeirion - setting of the cult TV series, The Prisoner. On stage are Mike Joyce and Stephen Moore, drummers with The Smiths and New Order

Festival Number 6, Portmeirion - setting of the cult TV series, The Prisoner. On stage are Mike Joyce and Stephen Moore, drummers with The Smiths and New Order

While the headliners performed in the adjacent field, the real thrill was just sitting in the main square watching live acts perform in the ampitheatre.

Around you were all the buildings which formed the backdrop of The Prisoner series – you could stay in them too if you had a spare three grand.

Imagine opening your front door to watch Suggs perform his one man show just feet away.

Or, you could do what we did, pull up a deckchair to listen to Tim Burgess of The Charlatans sing with the festival’s own ensemble, and then savour the wonderful Mancunian humour of Mike Joyce and Stephen Moore, drummers from The Smiths and New Order as they gave the most entertaining of masterclasses.

Festival Number 6, Portmeirion - setting of the cult TV series, The Prisoner.

Festival Number 6, Portmeirion - setting of the cult TV series, The Prisoner.

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Only at Festival Number6 could you see a Welsh male voice choir cover songs by the event headliners, or a ukuele band parody their most famous songs - and in between them you turned your chair round to watch a game of human chess led by fans of Patrick McGoogan’s show dressed in Prisoner garb who greeted you with a hearty “morning villagers!’’

Down on the waterfront, a DJ had everyone dancing, while in the woods, there were pop-up bars and ambient music, the river hosted a floating dance floor, the hotel had Michelin chefs serving up amazing food, while authors, comedians and a performance poet held court around the site.

Sunday morning saw us on a walking tour of the village to find out about its Beatles’ connections, Brian Epstein stayed there and hosted many lavish parties for the cool people in the 60s, while George Harrison was a regular visitor.

Much of the narrative was drowned out, literally, by the torrential downpour, but it still brought the remakrable history of this village to life; a place where The Prisoner is shown in every room on an endless loop and which hosts daily coach parties of visitors keen to explore its streets and incredible, multi-coloured buildings.

Surreal, relaxed, intriguing – this was how to curate something unique and wrap it beautifully around the venue.

The main stage, which sat in the next field, almost felt like a separate event – so much so we barely ventured through the gloopy mud to catch some of the live acts.

It can’t be often you do a near 800-mile round trip to go to a festival, come back having missed some of the headliners, and still be singing its praises to the skies.

There again, there isn’t a festival anywhere that you can go paddling in your wellies in the Town Square while wearing a bowler hat and no-one yells at you to get out the water.

Festival Number6 has been going for seven years and, in that time, has hosted some huge acts , but is taking a break for 2019.

I hope it returns in 2020. I’ll be there. Heck, I’ll even organise a bus ...