Glanusk Park, Brecon
Thurs 16-Sun 19 Aug
words: LIZ DAY
Green Man Festival is full of surprises. Whether it’s a giant inflatable elephant, a tree full of multicoloured butterflies or a troupe of dancing robots, you never know what lies around the corner.
And it’s this magic which really sets Green Man apart. The lineup was impressive, with more than 400 acts across nine stages offering a mouth-watering diversity of music, but the festival goes that little bit further.
Perhaps it’s the breathtaking scenery of Glanusk Park which helps to create the magic. Pen Cerrig-Calch provided a dazzling backdrop for the Mountain Stage, with the moon shining over legendary acts including Mogwai, Van Morrison and Feist.
Friday night headliners Mogwai set the tone for the whole weekend with a thrillingly loud set. The Scottish post-rock band delivered a suitably epic performance and left fans, both new and old, cheering for more.
Saturday headliner Van Morrison knew exactly what the audience wanted and kept the hits coming thick and fast. The seasoned performer opened with Brown-Eyed Girl and kept the crowd dancing with classic tunes Gloria and Here Comes the Night.
The Walled Garden Stage provided a more mellow experience. The performance area was beautifully decorated with foliage and butterflies and the audience was able to sit on the grass under a brightly coloured maypole. American singer-songwriter Willy Mason’s heartfelt performance on Saturday night proved especially popular.
Meanwhile, the Far Out Tent offered a heady mixture of dance, electro and psychedelia, with DJs including Mr Scruff entertaining the crowd late into the night. Three Trapped Tigers were a particular highlight on Sunday evening, with their instrumental “noise rock” provoking some serious head banging.
The Chai Wallah stage offered something different again, with an eclectic mixture of jazz, blues, folk, world and reggae. During an exceptionally energetic set, Urban Folk Quartet joked “this is where the audience usually erupts into a spontaneous mixture of ceilidh dancing and rave culture,” which summed up the huge variety of the stage.
Yet there was so much to see beyond the music stages. There was also a Nature and Nurture area, which offered therapies and treatments, as well as a cinema, literature tent and comedy stage, where comedian Tom Bell’s thoughts on folded foods had the audience in hysterics.
In the centre of the festival site was a fascinating science area called Einstein’s Garden. Although we may have been a bit too old for the Astronaut Training, we couldn’t stop laughing at Jonny Berliner’s brilliantly entertaining science songs, which explained everything from dark matter to albatrosses.
Green Man is also a very family friendly festival. Wherever we walked, we were never far away from a colony of overexcited children, rolling down muddy hills and playing with giant bubble-makers. There was also a dedicated family campsite and Future Generations area offering a wide variety of games and workshops for young people.
All in all, in its tenth anniversary year, Green Man showed it was bigger and better than ever. But although it can attract the big-name headliners, the festival has retained its relaxed and friendly atmosphere, making it the perfect all-round summer festival.