It’s just two weeks until I head to Green Man Festival in the Brecon Beacons, Wales. It will be my first visit to this award winning independent music and arts festival, and I couldn’t be more excited. To make sure I don’t miss a thing, I’ve pulled together this festival preview with everything you need to know in case you’re planning a visit too…
Green Man Festival
Green Man is held annually in the breathtaking beauty of the Brecon Beacons in Wales. Now in its 14th year, it has grown to a 20,000 capacity event over four days in mid-August, featuring live music, literature, film, comedy, theatre and much more.
The festival is divided into 10 areas, each offering a unique festival experience:
- Mountain’s Foot is the festival’s largest field and home to the main stage framed by the stunning backdrop of the Black Mountains.
- Far Out is for 24-hour party people, featuring dark and delicious dance acts and a huge bonfire from dusk until dawn. It’s also home to a helter skelter, Ferris wheel and the Cinedrome.
- The Walled Garden is said to be like a festival within a festival, open late with live sets and featuring the Green Man Pub.
- Einstein’s Garden features music, comedy and spoken word; innovative presentations from scientists; walks, talks and interactive experiences, on three sustainably-powered stages.
- Babbling Tongues features poets, authors, musicians and journalists giving thought-provoking readings, debates and interviews.
- Nature Nurture is a quiet haven of health and well-being, featuring the healing gardens, with therapies, workshops, hot tubs and showers.
- The Courtyard is a gothic stable block made from locally quarried flint, located right at the heart of Green Man and featuring over 100 independently brewed beers and ciders as well as a mouth-watering selection of foods.
- Fortune Falls is a quiet hideaway where you can pause to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the festival, featuring interactive art installations and effervescent lighting, a wishing tree, and new music from the Green Man Rising stage.
- Little Folk is a safe children’s area featuring Jungle-themed activities for children aged up to 12.
- Somewhere is an action-packed area for 13-17 year olds, featuring circus skills, film-making, drama, football tournaments and indoor cricket.
Green Man is also known for its countless informal gatherings, all-night bonfires and secret gigs which add to the festival’s unique identity. It is the largest contemporary music and arts festival in Wales and has been given major event status by the Welsh Government thanks to its positive impact on the area.
Who is the Green Man?
A Green Man is a carving, drawing, painting or other representation of a head or face surrounded by, or made from, leaves.
There are many theories and interpretations about the meaning of the Green Man in folklore, but none of them are definitive.
For some the Green Man is a pagan nature spirit symbolising life force and nature. Many examples are also found in churches.
For others the Green Man represents fertility, rebirth, artistic inspiration or is even a demon. The only thing that is clear is that he (and sometimes she) means different things to different people in different cultures.
Music is the heart and soul of Green Man Festival, and at least 112 artists and bands will feature on this year’s line-up, with a particular focus on alternative, indie, rock, folk, and dance.
But Green Man is not just about the big names that you know already, it is also about introducing you to new sounds, with dozens of lesser-known and new bands on the line-up to discover and enjoy.
Check out the Green Man Festival 2016 spotify playlist for a taste of what to expect.
Literature, Film & Comedy
The Green Man Festival also features an impressive selection of authors, writers and reading groups, along with poetry, theatre, science and more.
From music industry writer Jon Savage and science writer Dr Kat Arney, to Travis Elborough who recently published a book about national parks and green spaces, there is something for everyone.
Green Man also features an interesting selection of films. I’m particularly looking forward to New Zealand adventure comedy-drama Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
It’s also sure to be a laugh a minute with an awesome comedy line-up of no less than 19 great acts, including Alex Horne with The Horne Section, BBC Radio 4’s John Shuttleworth, Steve Hall, and a personal favourite of mine Rhod Gilbert who will be recording a special episode of Jest A Minute for BBC Radio Wales.
Food & Drinks
One of my favourite things about any festival is the food, and Green Man has a mouth-watering selection of British and world street food lined up to get your taste buds watering, including Anna Mae’s Mac ’n’ Cheese, Flaming Cactus Mexican Cantina, Jol’s Food Co., Barnaby Sykes Pie Maker, Pieminister and The Hippy Chippy.
Cardiff-based burger company The Grazing Shed, the Welsh Venison Centre, Meat Cure, Roaming Rotisserie and Jamon Jamon will be on hand to keep the carnivores happy.
Or for flavours of the British coast check out Pembrokeshire’s beach shack Café Mor, famous for Welshman’s caviar and laverbread, Claw (British crab) and festival favourites The Goan Seafood Company. Classic British fish and chips will be available from Bennett’s, a proper Weymouth-based chippy serving sustainably caught fish from my home county of Dorset.
Veggies needn’t miss out on great food at Green Man Festival either with the Feral Food Store (renowned for delectable ‘dirty vegan’ dishes), Dosa Deli authentic South Indian vegetarian street food, Ghandi’s Flip-Flop for spicy food with a clean conscience, and Happy Maki with their yummy vegan nori wraps.
Green Man also claims to have the best selection of beer and cider at any festival including 22 independent Welsh breweries to keep thirsts quenched throughout the four-day event. I’m hoping there will be something for the gin lovers among us too!
Green Man Festival is well known for its non-corporate, ethical approach, and has won several awards including Best Medium Sized Festival 2010, Grass Roots Festival 2012, and Best Festival at the Live Music Business Awards in 2015.
Drinking water is provided throughout the festival site and festival-goers are encouraged to bring their own bottles to refill, or purchase one at the Green Man shop, to avoid plastic bottle waste. All food stalls use compostable food ware and offer fair trade produce.
Any leftover equipment or supplies can be left at the Keep Green Man Green stall or the Stewards point in Settlement to be up-cycled for local charities. Separate disposal facilities are available for recycling around the site, and festival-goers can take full bags of clean recycling to the Keep Green Man Green stall during the festival in return for a small prize.
The festival is a charitable partner of The Bevan Foundation and Oxfam Cymru, Cymdeithas yr laith Gymraeg (Welsh Language Society), RSPB Cymru and the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority all host stalls at the festival.
Around 40 stalls are allocated to Welsh Charities and Not-for-Profit Organisations each year and approximately £20,000 is raised annually for local arts and sports projects through the Cwmdu Friends.
Sound like an event you’d like to be part of? Green Man 2016 takes place on 18-21 August 2016. There is still some limited ticket availability, but better be quick as it is sure to sell out!
A standard adult 4-day weekend ticket costs £175 (plus booking fee), and includes camping.
Pictures by Caitlin Mogridge, Courtney Barnett and Daniel Alexander Harris, and courtesy of Green Man.