At the other end of the M4, Green Man is a folksy refuge from the fast lane of London life.
Words: Tobias Gourlay Photos: Jenna Foxton, Samantha Milligan, Giles Smith
On a luscious, green site that’s exhilaratingly free from the hipsterism and brand activations that can now dog bigger events closer to town, Green Man is an independent festival that’s been dancing to its own tune since 2003.
This year, convoy of London’s street-food scenesters crossed the Severn Bridge and made it to the Brecon Beacons: Anna Mae’s Mac ’n’ Cheese, Dosa Deli, Brixton’s own French & Grace, and crustacea-peddling Claw are among the trucks we end up calling on. There’s also a cinema tent, a craft beer and cider festival, and gently educational activities in the walled Einstein’s Garden, but music remains the big focus here.
Nineties stalwarts like Belle & Sebastian, Grandaddy and Lush share top billing with 30-something outfits like Warpaint and White Denim, who combine hipster creds with stadium appeal. As the main stage goes dark, the dance tents and woodland discos come to life. Just like they always did, the small hours belong to Charlotte Church, whose set of late-night pop karaoke takes the tabloid out of sensation.
As she belts out her last, we head back to the Tangerine Fields
campsite. Seasoned festivallers – they’ve been a presence at 25 or so this summer alone – they’ll pre-pitch you and your group anything from snug two-manners up to capacious canvases for eight (with chill-out rooms). They’re in a prime spot too: close to the action on the main stage; far away from any late-night noise. And our joy at not having to pack anything up on a Monday morning remains undimmed.
Back to Sunday and, in a glade surrounded by Welsh oaks, Nature Nurture smooths the path from yesterday’s hangover to today’s entertainment. It matches the folksiness of the rest of the festival with a chance to bathe in a bit of luxury for a couple of hours. Think wood-fired outdoor hot tubs, a sauna in a gypsy caravan and a spa within an old double-decker – with champagne to hand throughout. Nearby yoga classes are a chance to cleanse mind as well as body, but spiritual rejuvenation is also the raison d'être of the festival at large, and so we return to the fray for a final night of restorative revelry.