Festival Number 6’s location lends itself to constant reinvention, and this year is no different
Festival Number 6 (6–9 September) bills its location as ‘the most stunning festival setting in the world’, and they might have a point.
Portmerion, built between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village, is a genuine oddity, and home to the equally zany 1960s tv series The Prisoner.
Festival director Luke Huxham (pictured above), embraces Portmerion’s unique atmosphere. His organisation duties include everything from day-to-day management, marketing and curation, to budgeting.
He tells Access. ”Festival Number 6 is a unique beast, and for its size, it has high running costs. It is based in a very challenging part of the country that’s hard to get to. It’s a challenging landscape, and a big learning curve.
This tricky terrain requires a different approach to staffing. Security staff, Huxham says are also increasing year on year.
“This is not your typical greenfield festival site. It’s got a village, woodlands, and an estuary that makes building a fence around the site a challenge. We’ve increased the numbers of security on perimeter. We use a great company, FGH Security, who are an extension of our customer service team, down to their politeness and tone of voice.”
Security are just one element of the creative vision. “Curating the event is a balancing act. Every year the event places more strain on its infrastructure and budget. You have to balance what is necessary and consider the audience.”
This year’s content is bold and avant garde. Topping the bill alongside the already announced, The The, are indie-pop legends Franz Ferdinand and Friendly Fires. Also joining the event is singer-songwriter Jessie Ware, and The Charlatans. There will also be a special performance from Manchester Camerata Orchestra performing Motown and Northern Soul hits and more.
Headlining the arts and cultures bill is legendary lead singer of Madness, Suggs, performing his new one man show ‘What a King Cnut’ – A Life In The Realm of Madness. Will Self, acclaimed author of Umbrella and shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
Also appearing is Turner Prize-winning artists Jeremy Deller, the mighty Andrew Weatherall curating his own Psychedelic Faber Social, Edith Bowman music and films with Irvine Welsh.
“Festival No 6, creatively, requires a certain mentality,” Huxham continues. “We try and approach it differently. We try not to pay too much attention to what others are doing.
“It’s an unparalleled location, with a strong narrative that has to make sense. So everything must be carefully considered, with no filler. The arts bill is made up of completely new content, and our roaming street theatre elements are constantly evolving. It’s about surprise, and so much more.”
Huxham’s creative instinct can be all-consuming.
“The people, places, and the vibe of Portmerion is a massive inspiration, and we’re always racing with ideas. Sometimes I can’t sleep, but I have an idea, and I write it down. We’re really driven by doing things differently, and apply that to everything.
“We love element of surprise, and giving more than expected. We have a loyal following.”
Every Festival Number 6 is a new artistic creation in and of itself. Let the party begin.