by John Moffat
With average summer temperatures in the low teens, torrential downpours the norm, hail snow and sleet not unheard of in August, you would think the Brecon Becons would only be for die hard hikers and over enthusiastic caravaners but you would be mistaken. In the heart of deepest darkest Wales you’ll find one of the best locations for any festival anywhere in the UK.
Nestled in a picture perfect valley, Green Man festival is a strangely intimate, vibrant chill-out of a festival where you’ll find a brilliant family friendly mix of folk and dance music, comedy and food, young and old and everything in between. Maybe it’s the extreme of the climate that keeps hardcore festival crazies away (and also the fact that its on at the same time as V fest) But with Green Man you can have the best of both worlds family fun with an edge.
This year’s line up was what you come to expect and love of Green Man: Animal Collective, Jarvis Cocker and Wilco pulled in the massive crowd at the main stage while Four Tet, Wooden Ships and Andrew Bird complimented the headliners brilliantly at the Far Out stage. Four Tet played one of the best sets I’ve seen all year- the man is in a league unto himself.
But this festival really isn’t just about music… the food is amazing as well. Lining every path and spare track you find some of the best festival food on offer. From tradition homemade pies, wood fire pizzas, hearty soups, huge portions of Mexican to one stall selling hole roast chickens. You can happily, and some people do, spend the entire time there just eating… not a bad way to spend a weekend.
After dark, when (most of) the kids have gone to bed, is when the festival really comes to life. When the last band has been cheered off the main stage a whole different side of the festival comes to life. If you want to chill out you can sit by the huge Geen Man camp fire where people bring along whatever instrument they have for some genuine impromptu campfire singing. If you fancy something a bit livelier, the mighty Green Man has the UK’s only 24-hour festival licence and a selection of beverages to do it justice. The Far Out tent becomes a huge thronging club playing funky house until the sun comes up. The comedy tent has some filthy but hilarious acts like Liverpudlian genius Slicky taking depravity to a whole new level and Howards Marks’ invaluable advice on what to do with lion shit. For the Uber Cool Chai Wallahs tent is a “Space suffused with an array of creative talent, energising music, soul-warming vibes and happy smiling hosts”. It lives up to what it’s build to do but you do get the feel that its just trying a bit to hard to recreate a London club in the middle of the Welsh wilderness. Better off getting down and dirty in the dance tent.
With the risk of sounding a bit twee, Green Man is definitely one of the coolest, most intimate little festivals you will get the chance to go to in the UK. If you’re finding Glastonbury just too big, or Reading too ruckus, then give this one a go. But don’t tell everyone else – they might just spoil it.