Tag Archives: cymru

Cardiff Contemporary Visual Arts Festival is here! 20 Oct – 19 Nov

Cardiff Contemporary, the Welsh capital’s biennial festival of international contemporary arts starts THIS WEEK! From Thursday 20 October – Saturday 19 November 2016.

The 2016 theme of communication, and title, Are You Ready? references Marconi’s breakthrough radio signal, made from Flat Holm Island to Lavernock Point in 1897.

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Ten new artist’s commissions include the activation of a permanent sculpture on Cardiff’s waterfront and the re-appropriation of two derelict city landmarks, where artists will communicate ideas globally and through space and time.

Thirty-one days of artistic challenge and discovery opens across the Welsh capital on Thursday 20 October 2016 as Cardiff Contemporary gets underway for its fourth edition. Drawing together international and Wales-based artists to charge the city streets, galleries, forgotten spaces and communities with the crackle of new and exciting ideas in multi-disciplinary visual, sonic and performance arts. The theme of ‘communication’ looms large, as artists and audiences are urged to look beyond earth, through time and to each other for clues, answers and inspiration.

Taking in historic sites from the city centre to Cardiff Bay, Cardiff Contemporary will find its focus in a temporary hub, ‘The Angel’ developed to include four new gallery spaces across a derelict, former motorcycle garage beneath the city’s Angel Hotel. From here brand new commissions will radiate across Cardiff, including impressive new public sculpture along one of Cardiff’s most public landmarks, a takeover of the imposing-yet-defunct Customs and Immigration Building at Cardiff Bay for an exhilarating, public reclamation and an un-missable light sculpture in the heart of the city centre.

Artists and groups confirmed include: Megan Broadmeadow, Laura Ford, Roman Štětina with curator Louise Hobson, Robert Montgomery, Heather and Ivan Morison, Anthony Shapland, Rob Smith and Charles Danby, tactileBOSCH, Spit & Sawdust with Edwin Burdis and a collaboration between Locus Collective (Richard James, Angharad Van Rjiswijk), comedian and writer, Stewart Lee and Andy Fung. Cardiff Contemporary is a Cardiff Council initiative, developed by Visual Arts Manager, Ruth Cayford.

The themes and overarching title for the festival, ‘Are You Ready?’ is a direct reference to the residency of Guglielmo Marconi in the city. As an exile from Italy where his pioneering vision was met with scepticism, he was supported by the British Post Office to develop his experiments into radio communications technology. Assisted by local engineer, George Kemp, Marconi succeeded in transmitting those three, immortal words in Morse code from Flat Holm Island in the Bristol Channel to Lavernock Point, Glamorgan on 13 May 1897. Just four years later, the pair succeeded in the first transatlantic radio transmission. Artists have been asked to consider this history and the modern age of instant and relentless communication in developing new work.

Creating a period of city-wide, creative celebration, Cardiff Contemporary coincides with Artes Mundi 7 art prize and exhibition (opening Friday 21 October at National Museum Cardiff and Chapter) and the city-wide Sŵn Music Festival (Friday 21 – Sunday 23 October, various venues).

Cardiff Contemporary Facebook page

MORE INFO:

Commissions, exhibitions and events announced as part of Cardiff Contemporary 2016 to date are as follows:

Megan Broadmeadow: Let The Stars Be Set Upon the Board

Reportedly discovered in 1901, the same year as Marconi’s transatlantic radio transmission, the Antikythera Mechanism is an ancient, bronze instrument of multiple, moving parts described as the earliest analogue computer. Bristol-based artist, Megan Broadmeadow will use this seismic archaeological discovery as the basis for a new sculptural work, simultaneously reflecting on the mechanism’s resting place at the bottom of the Mediterranean and the ancient Egyptian and Greek civilisations that it is related to.

Laura Ford: Keepers of The Wall

Laura Ford’s sculptures, combining tenderness, fantasy with frequent signs of menace to relay political or social comment, will bring something suddenly and mysteriously new to a Cardiff city centre landmark. This project will remain purposely under wraps, exercising the art of surprise.

Roman Štětina: Shave and a haircut – two bits

Czech artist Roman Štětina investigates the processes of creating film, television and radio; making visible the props, technologies and studios of ‘backstage’. At Cardiff Contemporary, Štětina presents a new site-specific installation curated by Louise Hobson. Exploring the narrative of call and response, images within images stretch back in time and space, reflecting in a present that has no more thickness than a mirror.

Robert Montgomery: Cardiff Poem 2016

Beautifully capturing the convergence of prose and visual art, Robert Montgomery’s work in neon, fire, billboards, painting and print has written deeply-affecting statements large across public spaces from Trafalgar Square, London to Tempelhof Field, Berlin. Montgomery will make his latest statement in central Cardiff, illuminating resident’s and visitor’s journeys with an intervention from on high that invites a moment of reflection.

Heather and Ivan Morison: Love Me or Leave Me Alone (LMOLMA)

Combining to deliver work that transcends the divisions between art, architecture and theatre, the duo of Heather and Ivan Morison will activate Cardiff’s waterfront with their first, permanent public building. Located at Cardiff Bay, the meticulously sculpted structure, inspired by stave churches of Norway – a country inextricably linked by historic trade to Cardiff – and ad hoc beach shacks of 1960s West Coast America will appear as a functional food and drink outlet. Love Me or Leave Me Alone will play host to a programme of special events curated by Chapter on Saturday evenings during the festival.

Anthony Shapland: The Hand That Makes The Sound

Signwriting is an art form that is dying out and one of the most common forms of communication spanning the birth of trade and commercialism as we know it. Cardiff-based artist, Anthony Shapland is exploring the art and one of the city’s oldest surviving practitioners of the trade, whose own, physical canon of works has been gradually eroded by the advancement of regeneration, knocking down the workshops and traditional retailers that once proudly bore the fruits of his labour.

Charles Danby and Rob Smith: Limelight

A project that arrives in Cardiff courtesy of PEAK – Contemporary Art in the Black Mountains – and the Canal & River Trust, Charles Danby and Rob Smith return to the rural heartlands above the city, encountering the canals, quarries, tramways, caves and kilns that fed the heavy industries that roared in South Wales. For Limelight, the artists will use digital means to bring reflections on this history to contemporary audiences by streaming a series of live illuminations to a city centre location and online. The material for their work will be limelight itself, an intense white light generated through heating quicklime used in the 19th century for land survey work and stage lighting. Each broadcast will last as long as it takes for the chemical reaction to be exhausted.

tactileBOSCH: Garden of Earthly Delights

Borrowing directly from a masterpiece by the artist collective’s namesake, Hieronymus Bosch, the Garden of Earthly Delights promises a vibrant, prodigious and inclusive multi-media exhibition in the old Customs and Immigration Building, a vast disused building in the historic area of Cardiff Bay, later reconfiguring their work to be presented again in Stadium Plaza in the city centre. Their invigoration of a long-abandoned landmark will be a ‘gesamtkunstwerk’, gathering collaborators together to include site-specific installation, video, painting, photography, sonic art, interdisciplinary collaborations and spontaneous interventions, starting with a wild launch night of live music, cabaret, spoken word and visceral performance art.

Locus Collective (Richard James and Angharad Van Rjiswijk) featuring Stewart Lee and Andy Fung: The Hill of Dreams

An audio-visual, immersive installation based on the psychogeography of childhood and the wider themes explored in Arthur Machen’s book, The Hill of Dreams, Richard and Angharad will travel to locations of their childhood in Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and the southern Netherlands to record the landscapes that defined their childhoods. The pair’s collaborative suite of footage, field recordings and archive material will be embellished by comedian and writer, Stewart Lee, recording an original, narrative piece for the audio installation and artist, Andy Fung who will paint an accompanying canvas that reflects on his Trinidadian upbringing.

Spit & Sawdust featuring Edwin Burdis

Occasionally a misunderstood and maligned fixture in city spaces, skateboarders and skate culture are set on a collaborative collision course with artists in a project that draws parallels between the two protagonists. As both visibly inhabit and frequently alter the city spaces that they use, the artist-led collaboration will look to the ‘internal’ language of skating, experimentation in using public space, the conventions by which skateboarders communicate and celebrate new skills and ideas and popular forms of documenting performances, primarily video, as part of this new work. The outcome is intended to be a timely discussion about how we exist in close proximity with others who may have different ideas or agendas.

Full information on each commission, dates, times and locations, plus further events including screenings, talks and workshops, will be published on Cardiff Contemporary’s website: www.cardiffcontemporary.co.uk

Connect with Cardiff Contemporary on social media:

Twitter: twitter.com/cardiffcontemp

Facebook: facebook.com/CardiffContemporary

Instagram: instagram.com/cardiff_contemporary

 

 

Cardiff Book Festival 2016 – our picks, full line up and ticket information

cardiff_book_festivalThe Cardiff Book Festival programme has been announced! A weekend of bookish delights and literary indulgence await, featuring literary heroes like Miranda Sawyer and Deborah Moggach. Whoop!

The festival takes place over the last weekend of October (from Friday 28 to Sunday 30 October) in various venues across Cardiff – more details at the bottom of this post.

Read on for our picks of the weekend and details about tickets!

We Are Cardiff’s festival picks!

Improve your Writing: Poetry, Short Story and Novel Writing workshops

28.10.16 – 9.30am to 12.30pm, Cardiff Central Library, Meeting Room 4

A unique opportunity to write with and learn from some of the most exciting names in Welsh fiction. Let our authors guide you through the finer points of fiction, poetry and short story writing, whether you’re just starting out or have been in the world of words for year. Poetry will be taught by prize-winning Jonathan Edwards, whose work has been widely published in magazines such as Poetry Review. Dan Tyte is an acclaimed novelist and writer- he will guide you through getting your novel into shape. The brilliant, award-winning Rachel Trezise burst onto the literary scene at the age of 22 becoming one of the most original writers of her generation. She’ll teach you the art of the short story. Join us for a one-off event that any aspiring author will not want to miss.

Workshops: Getting Published

28.10.16 – 1pm to 4pm, Cardiff Central Library, Meeting Room 4

Need help navigating the often complex process of publishing your work? The Getting Published masterclass covers everything you need to know to get into print. From exploring self-publishing options, how to find an agent and a publisher, building an author profile and platform, tips on how to get your book to sell and much more. With advice from industry experts including Hazel Cushion, the founder and managing director of Accent Press and Richard Davies, director of Parthian, this masterclass is a one stop shop for all your publishing needs.

Owen Sheers: On Life, In Words

28.10.16, 6pm. Yr Hen Lyfrgell

From Zimbabwe (The Dust Diaries), to the war torn fields of Pink Mist, or the rugby pitch in his non-fiction work, Calon, wherever his writing takes him, Owen Sheers\u2019 heart is still in Wales. His latest novel, I Saw a Man, is a gripping and stylish novel and he’s now renowned as one of the best contemporary writers. Owen’s novels, poetry and screenwriting are known all across the world. Chaired by Felicity Evans.

The Debuts, Laura Powell and Dan Tyte

29.10.16 – 10am–11am Cardiff Central Library, 5th Floor Creative Suite

They say everyone has one good book in them. Few ever get round to writing it, far less getting it published. Telegraph journalist, Laura Powell, traded fact for fiction with her debut novel, The Unforgotten, a thriller featuring forbidden love and a serial killer. Dan Tyte’s debut, Half Plus Seven, sees a jaded PR man in search of some sort of meaning in a book described as “a coming of age novel snorting with energy.

Roald Dahl Tour

29.10.16 – 11am, The City Cross at Cathedral Green, Llandaff

A hunt for what remains of one of the finest writers Wales has produced with author and poet Peter Finch. Dahl was born here in 1916 and left for boarding school when he was 10. In that time he managed to live in three different houses and to move around Cardiff enough for the city to seep into his creative consciousness. We visit his birthplace and take in other places of historical significance. This two-hour walk is aimed at adults but children are welcome.”

Miranda Sawyer – Mid-Life Moments

29.10.16 – 4.30pm, The Angel Hotel

What exactly is a mid-life crisis, and what happens when one arrives? The respected journalist and broadcaster Miranda Sawyer tackles this most challenging of times with humour and candid insight in her book Out of Time. For Sawyer, her mid-life crisis made its presence felt when she was 44. Here she discusses how our tastes and our bodies change as we get older; and the unexpected new pleasures the second half of life can offer.

Elliw Gwawr –  Living the Sweet Life (Welsh language event)

30.10.16 – 11.30am, Yr Hen Lyfrgell

BBC Cymru Wales’ Westminster Correspondent Elliw Gwawr swaps politics for puddings as she discusses her passion for baking. Gwawr has enjoyed cooking since she was a child, and following the success of ‘Paned a Chacen’ the first ever Welsh language baking blog, has gone on to publish two hugely popular books ‘Paned a Chacen’ and ‘Pobi.’ Filled with her favourite recipes for puddings, cakes and biscuits, Gwawr’s books are enough to satisfy any sweet tooth.

Jasmine Donahaye– Memoir and Memory

30.10.16 Yr Hen Lyfrgell

Poet and author Jasmine Donahaye discusses the life-changing events that became her award-winning memoir Losing Israel. In 2007, after a chance conversation with her mother, a kibbutznik, Donahaye stumbled upon the collusion of her family in the displacement of Palestinians in 1948. When she set out to learn the story of what happened, what she discovered challenged everything she thought she knew about the country and her family, and transformed her understanding of the place, and of herself. Winner of the 2016 Wales Book of the Year Creative Non-Fiction Award, Losing Israel is a moving and candid work, which spans travel writing, nature writing and memoir.

Deborah Moggach: The Best Exotic Writer in Wales – stories from the Marigold Hotel

30.10.16, Yr Hen Lyfrgell

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a smash when it hit the silver screen, cementing Deborah Moggach’s place at the top of the writing tree – it was her book, These Foolish Things, that the film was based on. Now living and writing in Wales, she is the author of sixteen other books – including best seller Tulip Fever – and several screenplays, such as the blockbuster Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley. She joins us to read from and discuss her new novel Something to Hide, which she’s adapting for the BBC. Spanning continents, it follows characters as they uncover secrets. “It turns out that no matter where you are in the world, everyone has something to hide.”

Neil Sinclair on Butetown: Tiger Bay Remembered

30.10.16, Yr Hen Lyfrgell

Afro-Celtic author and Cardiff historian Neil M. C. Sinclair is a native of Tiger Bay, the oldest multi-ethnic community in Wales. He has written extensively on the history of his unique hometown, providing an insider’s view of life in old Tiger Bay. Drawing on personal memories, family history and a lifetime’s worth of connections within the community, Sinclair’s humorous and thought-provoking journey through the old streets of Tiger Bay and Cardiff Docks in their heyday delves into the real heart of one of Cardiff’s most celebrated communities.”

 

Cardiff Book Festival: full programme

Friday

28.10,16 – 8am – Business breakfast debate- business leaders discuss what 2016 was like and what’s ahead in 2017.

28.10.16 – 9.30am to 12.30pm – Improve your Writing: Poetry, Short Story and Novel Writing workshops

28.10.16 – 1pm to 4pm – Workshops: Getting Published

28.10.16 – 10am Oodles of Doodles with Huw Aaron

28.10.16 – 6pm – Owen Sheers

28.10.16 – 7.30pm – After Euro 2016

Saturday

29.10.16 – 10am – The Debuts

29.10.16 – 11am – Roald Dahl Tour

29.10.16 – 11.15am – Caryl Lewis and Catrin Beard WELSH LANGUAGE EVENT

29.10.16 – 12.30 – Rachel Trezise and Thomas Morris

29.10.16 – 13.30 – Roald Dahl Tour

29.10.16 – 1.45pm –  Ifor ap Glyn and Clare Potter WELSH LANGUAGE EVENT

29.10.16 – 2pm – Patrick McGuinness and Holly Muller

29.10.16 – 3.15pm – Iolo Williams

29.10.16 – 4.30pm – Miranda Sawyer

29.10.16 -7pm – Martin Williams

29.10.16 – 8.30pm – Sophie Hannah

29.10.16 – late – Swn Festival at CBF

Sunday

30.10.16 – 10am – Poetry – Belonging: A Sense of Place. The immigration Handbook (Caroline Smith) and Jonathan Edwards.

30.10.16 – 11.00 – Elliw Gwawr –  Living the Sweet Life WELSH LANGUAGE

30.10.16 – noon – Jasmine Donahaye– Memoir and Memory

30.10.16 – 2pm – Deborah Moggach – stories from the Marigold Hotel

30.10.16 – 3.15pm – Cynan Jones and Tom Bullough

30.10.16 – 4.30pm – Neil Sinclair on Butetown

30.10.16 – 6pm – Debate – Feminism in 2016 with Felicity Evans

 

More information:

Cardiff Book Festival
Fri 28 Oct – Sun 30 Oct 2016, various venues across Cardiff

Cardiff Book Festival website

Cardiff Book Festival tickets

Cardiff Book Festival Twitter

 

Old Books - photo by Walt Jabsco

Old Books – photo by Walt Jabsco on Flickr

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Green Man 2016 festival in review – Saturday and Sunday

SATURDAY

Given the late Friday night, we woke up feeling extremely pleased we had booked ourselves two hours in a hot tub. Bathing Under the Sky do wood-fired hot tubs in wooden tubs (with some VIP tubs on the upper deck of a bus), and for the past few years have been situated on the edge of the Nature Nurture health and spirituality area in Green Man (it’s a lovely tranquil space where you go to do yoga or get pummelled by a masseuse).

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And while slowly boiling in hot water might not sound like a great way to spend a couple of hours at a festival, it was worth every penny. You get to have a nice hot shower before We lucked out by joining a lovely couple from London in the tub (I stupidly only wrote down her name and forgot his – so hello Jess, if you’re reading this!), and felt pretty smug about the intermittent downpours while we were happily sipping gin and tonics and listening to the Deep Throat Choir, who had just started on the main stage.

The afternoon was then mostly spent in Einstein’s Garden, where we learned the following: how viruses could spread with the Llama Control centre; how the weather works (they also provided a live weather update on a blackboard for festival goers to plan waterproof outfits); and how propulsion works.

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Speaking of the weather … you can’t avoid talking about it, can you? Especially not at a festival. For much of Saturday, there were announcements on all stages for people to make sure their tents were tied down, as gale force winds threatened to blow through the site. Dear god, we prayed, as we downed our fourth (or fifth? We stopped counting after the first) Growler (the Official Festival Beer) … please don’t let our tent be blown away before we’ve seen the man burn tomorrow night!

On Saturday night, we were excited for headliner Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, but they seemed to lack something without Jade in the band. Bored halfway through, we wandered up to Far Out to have our heads blown off by Jagwar Ma’s next level live show. I’m not really sure how to describe it, but think electronic techno strobe light vibes.

We then headed back to Chai Wallahs to see the crazy energetic They Say Jump, followed by Parker & Moneyshot’s fast-paced ADHD cut and paste hip-pop disco.

After this it was back to Round The Twist, where the Alfresco Disco were pumping out some current house bangers with the odd classic thrown in (we very much enjoyed Alan Braxxe, Layo & Bushwacka and Leftfield), and then down to the Walled Garden, where someone literally had to peel me off the floor when Pete Fowler played Prince’s Controversy. Awesome Tapes from Africa played a suitably tribal set that induced much rump shaking. We were left somewhere after midnight, many Growlers in, to stumble back down the hill and fall into our tent.

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The torrential rain and gale force winds never materialised, although there were (of course) occasional downpours. Sunday morning was surprisingly sunny, and so, in optimistic mood, we packed waterproofs in our rucksacks, grabbed some delicious coffee from the Table Top Coffee stall (which had expanded into a Green Man franchise this year, a second location appearing next to the Rough Trade shop), and then continued to watch the National Dance Company of Wales and their performance at the Back of Beyond, a new stage designed to showcase the best in performing arts. Unfortunately, the stage had no roof and so a couple of the performances over the weekend were rained off, but thankfully we managed to catch NDCW on Sunday with their beautiful dance piece – their first ever festival performance (we must also give mentions to Flossy and Boo, Citrus Arts & Circomedia and Kitsch n Sync – all of whom entertained greatly).

We also wandered over to Salon Mirela, where a long line of festival people were waiting patiently to be bejewelled and a-glittered. We managed to catch a couple of roaming performances from Kitsch N Sync (to Eddie Murphy’s Party All the Time) and Sparkles Hoop Troop (to Sarah Brightman’s I Lost My Heart to A Starship Trooper).

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I hadn’t intended on watching any music in the afternoon, but wandered into watch probably my most stand-out band of the festival: The Moonlandingz. We had no idea who they were when they started, and my companion commented “they look like they’re from about four different bands”. Consulting the programme quickly, we realised that they are: The Moonlandingz is a ‘fictional’ band led by Sean Lennon, and at Green Man featured members of Fat White Family, Electronic Research Council and Rebecca Taylor from Slow Club (who had to peg it off 15 minutes before the end as Slow Club were about to perform on the Mountain Stage).

The Moonlandingz may be a fictional band, but they’re absolutely amazing on stage. Sean hollered, strutted and pouted his way through the set, supported by some hardcore shrieking from Rebecca and also by a bottle of red wine he swigged from every so often. The music ranged from psych to glam rock to almost metal, with my highlights being the stompy Glory Hole and nuclear-powered Sweet Saturn Mine.

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I was a bit overwhelmed by how good they had been, so we recovered with a giant plate of nachos (get them in the Mexican place opposite the Mountain Stage people – you get a lot of nacho for your cash there) and then down to the Talking Shop, where I had made a note to see author Amy Liptrot talk about her book, The Outrun.

Do you ever get occasions where you’ll see something literally everywhere – like a book, or a film? I don’t even mean through advertising – just through seeing it in shops, or Around The Internet. Anyway, over the past couple of months, that thing for me has been Amy Liptrot’s book. And so it was very frustrating to get down there and see the timings of the day had been moved around – I had missed her!

She was the only literary type person I had pencilled in to see, so even though James Yorkston was talking probably very eloquently about his book Three Caws, I was bummed, so went to pick up a copy of The Outrun from Rough Trade and then went on a wander up to Chai Wallahs, where we collapsed on the floor, Growlers in hand, while uptempo Irish gypsy folk band The Eskies inspired the raucous crowd to do some energetic dancing (considering it was Sunday afternoon). Highest point of the set was Jesus Don’t Save Me, where lead singer Ian taught the crowd the call and response chorus parts, and then sang the song all the way through with a supporting choir of hundreds of stamping people.

We stayed in Chai Wallahs to watch The Gypsies of Bohema (and very much enjoyed how they started over with a cover gypsy-style cover of Backstreet’s Back by the Backstreet Boys), and then wandered back down to see comedian Alex Horne leading The Horne Section in some musical-based interactive comedy (some impressive, some incredibly impressive – and blindfolded!).

As it started getting dark, we put on our ponchos and headed for the Mountain Stage to bop around to Belle and Sebastian, who brought the perfect mixture of nostalgic pop and catchy tunes to round off the festival. We then headed up to the relocated man, for the symbolic burning. The new location, for the record, is much better than previous years – I was nowhere near the front and could still see way more than in the past!

To round things up, we wandered over to bop around to some of surprise guest DJ Yoda, before finally stumbling home.

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While the line up may have been less ‘late night bangers’ than the last couple of years, this Green Man was every part as lovely. It’s one of the best festival weekends you can spend in this country; with so much to do, it’s almost impossible to get round to doing and seeing everything. The small size of the site means you can get from bed to bopping within minutes, and also that you’re not exhausted from traipsing for miles and miles, day after day. Green Man continues to dominate amongst small-to-medium-sized UK festivals, and we can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store for next year – their 15th anniversary!

Earlybird tickets for Green Man 2017 – the 15th anniversary – go on sale September 29. Don’t miss out!

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Green Man 2016 festival in review – Thursday / Friday

This was the fourteenth Green Man Festival. Can you believe it?? Green Man’s growth has been gradual and organic – from humble beginnings to being one of the most family-friendly jewels in Britain’s summer festival crown.

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This year, the family-friendly aspect is next-level: the festival teeming with kids of all ages: from new borns (I met a three week old whose parents figured they might as well be at a festival and not sleep as be at home and not sleep) to waterproof-onesie-wearing toddlers to barefoot (and very muddy) teenagers. Green Man takes its reputation as a young-person-friendly site very seriously, with the sensory science paradise of Einstein’s Garden providing hands-on entertainment for kids of all ages. There’s also a completely separate kids’ area, and activities specifically for teenagers.

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THURSDAY

So onto the actual festival itself this year: we arrived early Thursday morning, and having treated ourselves to a ready-erected tent in the Tangerine Fields, found that we were unpacked and ready to party considerably earlier than in previous years, when we’d would typically spend two hours with two of us flailing around with an 18 man tent, ending up relying on the kindness of neighbouring campers to rescue us.

Cans at the ready, we headed straight to Chai Wallahs, where uptempo reggae/afrobeat favourites By The Rivers were getting the roof of the tent raised, warming up nicely for the weekend. Over in Far Out, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard moved into psychedelic surf rock territory, warming up for Wild Beasts, as they ran through a mixture of classics alongside brand spanking tunes from new album Boy King.

Afterwards it was back over to Chai Wallahs for some bubbling funk and soul disco numbers, before we decided to call it a night relatively early. It was only Thursday, after all.

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FRIDAY

Given the unsettled weather forecasts, on Friday we headed straight for the comfort of the undercover (and consistently quality) Chai Wallahs, to sit with a cup of brandy chai and enjoy the delicate folk of Kit Hawes and Aaron Catlow while looking at the Guardian crossword (yes, I am aware of how intensely middle class that sentence sounds, but you want the truth, right? That’s the truth). We stayed in Chai Wallahs to see the rabble rousing bluesy-jazz of the Gin Bowlers (who I had seen the week before at Boomtown, and who were every bit as good, if not better), then headed down to the Mountain Stage to watch Meilyr Jones, whose poppy, brass-led indie was a stand-out performance of the festival (despite the rain. But as my mother always says – there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unprepared campers).

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We stayed to watch some Jason Isbell (which was underwhelming, so I won’t dwell on it), and then headed off to see Kamazi Washington. Our excitement at seeing the jazz legend was somewhat tempered by the 30-minute soundcheck that seemed to be focused all around one microphone, although once that was over, the set was a stormer, with plenty of jazz noodling.

The act I was most excited about seeing all weekend was Austin pop-punkers, White Denim. I used to be Reviews Editor for a music magazine called Kruger (RIP) and we’d featured them in Kruger issue 22, back in 2009, and they’d been on my list of ‘bands I super want to see’ since then. I’m not sure the show was really one of their best – given it was late Friday night, the setlist was a more mellow afternoon set, with their best uptempo numbers spaced out in between, the songs sounding like they could have benefited from getting another guitarist up on stage with them.

The crowd started thinning out, and by halfway through headliner James Blake’s set it was only half full, though this could have been to do with the severe weather warnings everyone was checking obsessively on their phones every five minutes. Over in Far Out, Lush’s power-pop was extremely pleasing, although the crowd wasn’t much bigger there either. Nicely lubricated with Growlers aplenty, it was then to a change of pace, with some comedy, where Rob Deering was having issues with his guitar while being a human jukebox for people shouting out requests.

We only managed to catch the encore of Charlotte Church’s Pop Dungeon in the Walled Garden (never thought I’d hear R. Kelly’s Murder She Wrote sung live by an ex-child opera singer in the Brecon Beacons, it must be said), before rounding up the night with some uptempo house and electro with the Alfesco Disco in Round The Twist, before smashing it up with the Asbo Disco back in Chai Wallahs.

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In the run up this year, we were informed there would be changes to the site layout, which formed much conversation between our group: one Green Man veteran, then one with three under their belt, and one total newbie to the festival. As you can imagine, the constant ‘oo! that’s moved’, and ‘that wasn’t there before’ got a bit tiring for the newcomer, so we limited all the logistical commentary to the first.

For the record though, here were our thoughts: from the Orange entrance, changes were all positive: moving the box office up the hill made it much easier to get wristbands and then go back to your car to get your stuff (although long queues from the box office spilled across the path down to the festival, making it difficult to negotiate with a wheelbarrow full of camping paraphernalia). The general camping area was extended into this area (previously unused), and also included an extra entrance into the festival, that went straight up to Babbling Tongues and Round the Twist, meaning that you didn’t have to go all the way to the entrance by the Mountain Stage: big thumbs up for this change.

On the site generally, the big field edged by Far Out and Chai Wallahs also had some changes: the line of shops and food stalls that had previously divided this space in half had completely gone, moved to line the route from Far Out over to Round The Twist. The “Man” (as in, the green one) was now fairly central in this field, meaning a much better view for everyone when he was set alight on the Sunday. As a small person who has never managed to get to the front to watch the man burn, this change got another big thumbs up from me.

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Part Two of our review coming soon!

Check the Green Man Festival website. 

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