The Welsh festival has grown up with its audience, creating a weekend that appeals to all
Whoever coined the expression ‘face like a wet weekend’ had clearly never been to Green Man in the Brecon Beacons. It might have been pouring, but smiles were ever-present as the festival celebrated its 15th birthday in style.
This is a festival that’s evolved with its punters. It’s always championed sustainability (clue’s in the name), from using reusable pint glasses and recyclable coffee cups to digging out eco-toilets. It was also one of the first to provide family-friendly campsites. If you’re looking to hand out festival passes to clients with kids, this is the place to send them.
During a restorative 9am Sunday soak in one of the Nature Nurture area’s hot tubs (complete with hot showers – a godsend) I get chatting to a pair who’ve attended every year since 2003. Now with teenagers and a campervan in tow, they explain that the festival’s progressive programme is what keeps them returning. As I glance round, I spy a yoga class taking place next to a vegan vendor, while those of us in the wood-fired hot tubs sip champagne. I can see their point.
This idea is bolstered by the grown-up lineup – Ryan Adams, Michael Kiwanuka, PJ Harvey, Lambchop and Conor Oberst all get top billing on the main Mountain’s Foot stage. Those after something a little heavier head to the Far Out stage for the likes of Thee Oh Sees, Shame and Julian Cope – who opts to play a PG-friendly show. Pity, I was looking forward to a rousing rendition of C**** Can F*** Off.
For a forward-looking festival, there are fewer hospitality options compared to the likes of Wilderness and Festival No. 6: there are no Michelin-starred feasts to be found here. The truth is, the team doesn’t want brand activations and corporate sponsorship – and it doesn’t need it either. There’s a Welsh beer and cider festival in The Courtyard, which is filled with groups taking over the beer hall-style benches. The food and drink offerings across the festival comprise independent local vendors (Milgi from Cardiff was a particular hit) plus big names such as The Cheese Truck and Anna Mae’s Mac N Cheese. For those booking a relaxed, but corporate-friendly experience, the Nature Nurture area welcomes groups, plus there’s a boutique camping site.
As the weekend draws to an end, I emerge from a late-night showing of Mindhorn in the cinema tent for the closing fireworks display, where the titular Green Man is set alight. Families, large groups clutching beers, and fancy dress-clad teens surround the bonfire. The team’s increasingly inclusive approach clearly works: this year’s festival sold out yet again.
Earlybird tickets for 2018 have already sold out, but more will be available in the new year here. Read more festival reviews here and here.