Review: Green Man Festival

“A festival that offers much more in the sphere of art, literature and wonderfully weird practices”  Natalia Bus reviews Green Man Festival.

This festival season I decided to branch out and discover something different to the average all-out weekend binge. Green Man Festival, located in the stunning valley of the Welsh Brecon Beacons, was my answer to this desire for change. A festival that offers much more in the sphere of art, literature and wonderfully weird practices, Green Man is renowned for its non-corporate and ethical approach. This didn’t quite sink in until I was led by my somewhat more experienced companions to a group of druids chanting and raising their eyes towards the heavens in an attempt to appease the rain God and ask for a sunny next couple of days.

The festival itself looked something like this: tents upon tents of multi-sensory pleasures nestled at the peak of a mountain, all overlooked by the dominating figure of the Green Man. With a smile on his face and a cup raised in joyous toast to the weekend ahead, he was truly a sight to see, somehow making me believe that the wishes written and hung by festival goers on his branches would come true. The setting was magical. Everyone seemed relaxed, content, and everything was green as far as the eye could see.

The feeling I had suddenly found myself in some far-off land where fairies roamed and rain gods could make or break your weekend was certainly magnified by the throngs of families everywhere. Green Man, being a truly generation-spanning festival, could only make things better in my eyes. The selection of ninety-nine different brews on offer at the bar was certainly targeted at the taste buds of many a die-hard and experienced festival goer, but it also meant I could happily spend an entire night having only to buy one reusable pint cup worth of tangy-tasting seven percent cider.

Described as a “hippie” or “hipster” festival in terms of what usually tops the bill, the array of up and coming, as well as, already established artists (such as Belle and Sebastian) was nothing less than impressive. Saturday moved from Gengahr seductively plucking at your heartstrings in the afternoon, to the headline set of James Blake sending out good vibrations on the evening. What was most interesting, if not as noticeable this year, was the assemble of female talent throughout the festival. Research by the Guardian last year showed that at twelve festivals in the UK, eighty six per cent of the performers were men. In this idyllic land of hills and greenery such was not the case, with the likes of Warpaint putting in their usual ethereal performance on the main stage, Lush (lady)killing it in the Far Out tent and the less well-known sisters of The Unthanks managing to get the crowd to harmonise (quite literally) and finishing off with a tap dance to beat all tap dances.

The burning of the now familiar Green Man, followed by a breath-taking firework display on Sunday night was an appropriately ceremonious and poignant way to end the weekend. Merely thinking about it now sends a warm glow of nostalgia coursing through my body, as well as a certainty, that the decision to brave the dangerously narrow roads of Wales leading to this this sanctuary of calm and content in an attempt to see something different this festival season, was a good one.

Green Man will take place on the 17th-20th August 2020. Tickets on sale now. 

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