Festival Number 6 was the destination for a long anticipated father and son adventure, to celebrate Harry’s A level results before his departure for University in London. We had visited the uniquely beautiful Portmeirion village as last year’s Festival Number 6 was setting up and we had been very keen to return during this year’s festival week. It only seems like yesterday that Harry was a toddling mini-traveller and I was particularly keen to see whether Festival Number 6 would be a suitable place to take Harry’s younger cousins next year as a special treat.
Festival aside, Portmeiron is a must see spectacular for anyone of any age. This surreal village with its storybook Italianate architecture, cut precariously into cliffs overlooking the River Dwyryd estuary at the heart of breath-taking Snowdonia, truly is a real life fairy tale location that I don’t believe could ever be replicated. I know from previous experience that the two hotels at Portmeirion are flawlessly beautiful, and I am reliably informed the various cottages and apartments throughout the village are excellent destinations for a short stay break. However, “general camping” was the accommodation type marked on our festival ticket; and we couldn’t wait!
We chose not to travel by train, but F#6 had gone to much trouble in partnership with Virgin Trains in making it as easy as possible for rail travellers. Virgin services from 30 key locations across the UK connected with a dedicated service from Crewe to Bangor, from where shuttle buses dropped you straight to the festival site. Those travelling by car parked at nearby Porthmadog football club, where access wristbands were issued in an orderly fashion before you jumped on one of numerous and regular shuttle buses. All very organised and smooth running apart from the fact that the GPS postcode given on the website either led car borne visitors blindly up a nearby dead end farm track or into the consequently gridlocked town centre of Porthmadog! It seems very few GPS navigation systems know about the reconfigured access routes to the football club since construction of the Porthmadog bypass in 2011. Traffic chaos ensued, as hundreds of technology dependent festival goers missed yellow road signs, while blindly concentrating on robotic directions recited by poorly informed phones and dashboards.
That leads us to hot tip number one. From this point forward, if your life now relies upon digital data communication in any way you may as well turn back now. As O2 users, we occasionally saw flickers of non-responsive GPRS signal, but we went four days without seeing so much as a sniff of 3G or 4G. There was however one saving grace; an extremely popular wifi hotspot at one of the Portmeirion village cafés. Sponsored by Volvo, this technological oasis saved Harry and many other social media junkies from total digital suffocation.
Be warned, getting to Festival Number 6 does come with an exercise warning. Do not forget you are “getting to a festival” and any inexperienced festival goer with young family in tow will need to be organised. The comparatively short 500 or so metre walk from your car to the shuttle bus and then the 500 metre or so walk from the shuttle bus stop at the festival to your camping pitch may sound of little consequence compared to treks at other larger festivals, but any unsuspecting unfit and slightly overweight parent with tribe of tired little ones in reluctant pursuit, may wish they were back in work after carrying four days’ worth of camping goods the length of that otherwise insignificant distance. I was only carrying for one and at 18 years of age, Harry didn’t lose the plot and throw a paddy in the middle of a mud puddle like some Boden attired lovelies we spotted, but I have to confess I was on the verge of needing a defibrillator by the time I got to throw my rucksack on the grass and collapse, gasping for air!
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