Hard to believe but the Green Man Festival in Wales had to turn 15 before finally someone from our crew gets to visit the beautiful landscape of Brecon Beacons from August 17th to 20th this year. On the other hand: It feels like a fitting occasion to give you a closer look at the festival we already called one of Europe’s hidden treasures.
One of the festival founders, on board since 2005 and today’s owner and organiser of the Green Man is Fiona Stewart. Asked in advance about how to boil down the event in three words she replies: inquisitive, mischievous and innocent. A good description of how the crew behind this event maintained a very distinct handwriting over the years. Which is an even greater achievement if you look at the festival landscape as a whole. Generic, somehow good-looking and awkwardly-similar-sounding festivals still pop up everywhere, trying to squeeze money out of an apparently still not saturated market. Yes, that’s a very personal impression and please correct me if I’m wrong. The non-corporate ethos of Green Man though is not a marketing trick, as Stewart points out:
‘The non-corporate ethos shows itself in the festival by not being present. Imagine a world where nothing has been corporately manipulated to make you think, purchase or act, which celebrates the amazing, tastes great and look really interesting just because it is. It’s odd but if you really think about it there are very few places where that happens any more, and to be in a place devoid of that is a sweet and very real experience.’
Apart from that, there are some more reasons why I expect the Green Man to still stick out and why it’s always worth the travel to meet the infamous Green Man:
1. The real visual distinction
For festivals it is essential these days to come up with a ‘really nice’ new corporate design every year. Which is good, as graphic artists have to pay their bills too. The real art is though, to implement those design ideas into the actual festival in a way that it’ll make it a nicer, wholesome environment. In the case of the Green Man: The naturalistic yet playful outlook is exactly the idea of how the festival should come across in ‘real life’. Including the infamous gigantic Green Man. Let’s see if it’s as fairytale-like as the images suggest.
2. The very fondly curated line-up
In times like these it’s hard and probably even pointless to compete with the biggest names in the festival landscape. What a festival can offer, apart from the hot acts of the year that you’ll probably see everywhere, is providing some local talent and maybe also some names that fit the festival’s vibe but are not that common to book. Green Man once more did a great job in gathering artists of both worlds: Headliners like PJ HARVEY, RYAN ADAMS or FUTURE ISLANDS are obviously the attention grabber and yes, I love that highly esteemed artists from KATE TEMPEST over SLEAFORD MODS to MICHAEL KIWANUKA and ANGEL OLSEN are part of the game, too. But other than that I really look forward to the unknown territory. Will ALDOUS HARDING be as mesmerizing and PUMAROSA as uplifting as expected? Let’s find out.
3. A heartfelt theme park
I often struggled with uninspired excitement-kits festivals tend to feel obliged to offer their audiences today. A Ferris wheel here, bungee jumping there: who needs that on a music festival? It’s just an easily exchangeable slice of adventure, trying to gather as many people as possible under the lowest common detominator.
The Green Man on the other hand restores my believe in creating a world of its own – a place that offers distraction and escapism. An aspect that’s been central to the festival culture all along and goes even way further back in time, how Fiona Stewart rightfully stresses:
‘The concept of an iconic figure that celebrates the natural world and parties in a field is something that is part of many cultures since time began. I have just tried to remind people that this is present in their lives and maybe something they would enjoy and get something out of.’
The variety of the different areas on Green Man promises to really enhance the festival experience for all kinds of different people. Be it the ‘Little Folks’ area for parents and kids or the exploratory Einstein’s Garden. And where other festivals stick to some chill out areas, a literature stage and some occasional art exhibition, the Green Man comes up with something like the Nature Nurture area with its hot tubs, yoga classes and spiritual vibes. Don’t get me wrong: That’s not necessarily a pull-factor for me. But it is proof that the Green Man is willing to push things a little further and, more importantly, take the ‘alternative factor’ seriously.
To conclude: Excitement for the Green Man grows, even more so because of the celebrational circumstances. Anything special planned for Green Man’s anniversary that Fiona Stewart can give away already?
‘Yes loads but my lips are sealed..it would spoil the surprises for the audience and we cant have that can we?
Of course we can’t. Alright then, Green Man, take me by surprise.
Green Man Festival is taking place from August 17th to 20th in Brecon Beacons, Wales. Stay tuned for Social Media live coverage from the areas as well as a lengthy review of the event on yours truly NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION, including the whole interview with Fiona Stewart.