Festival No 6 vs Bestival

by Hope Wisechild


Festival No 6, the new arts and music festival held at the Italianate village best known as a location for cult ‘60s TV series, The Prisoner, has announced earlier dates of  4-7 September for 2014. The quirky two-year-old boutique event has had a huge impact already, winning multiple awards and plaudits despite a growing reputation for inclement weather.

The new weekend means festivalgoers now have to choose between Festival No 6, Best New Festival at the 2012 UK Festival Awards, and the longer-established Bestival, twice voted Best Major Festival.

Festival No 6 is also gaining an extra day, with the full programme now due to start on the Thursday.

Tickets for both four-day events are already on sale at similar prices. So, with no hints about the bill, how on earth do you choose? We take a look at their relative charms.


The site of Festival No 6, Portmeirion is a bizzare neo-classical-style village on a Welsh peninsula, with trompe l’oeiel architectural features creating a surreal setting for gigs and views of rugged coastline and tree-covered mountains. Bestival is held in a country park on the summer playground that is the Isle of Wight, and the visionary Rosie da Bank creates a magical festival wonderland on this perfect greenfield site.


Both offer standard camping plus boutique options including yurt and tipi hire. As the bigger festival, Bestival now manages to offer a bespoke alternative for almost any type of camper, while keeping all camping areas communal and friendly. If you prefer to pay to stay in bricks and mortar, however, Festival No 6 can offer the more unusual options, including on-site cottages and even rooms in a castle.


Both take pride in creating events featuring carefully curated music as a part of a broader programme. This year Festival No 6 offered the discriminating music lover My Blood Valentine and Manic Street Preachers as headliners, while crowd-pleasing Bestival welcomed Elton John and Fatboy Slim atop a joyfully eclectic party bill with something for everyone.

Festival culture

Bestival goes all out to create the ultimate festival experience, so a carnival parade, dressing up fun, and a firework spectacular are among the many enchanting delights on offer. The more intimate Festival No 6 features selected spoken word, film screenings and artist-curated walks, plus unusual treats like an illuminated drumming performance or a recreation of the human chess game from The Prisoner.

There’s no clear winner – whichever you choose, you’re almost guaranteed a fantastic experience. Peppermint bars will be at Bestival, but don’t let that sway you…


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