Festival Preview: Green Man 2010

01 August 2010

Old hippies never die. They tune out, drop back in and occasionally try to offset their guilt by spending a weekend glamping in the Brecon Beacons listening to Joanna Newsom while Boutique Babysitting looks after their children. Green Man is one of most genuinely folky and independent of the summer festivals, in a way that acts as a firm reminder of how folk was always a solidly middle-class pursuit. Take advantage of all the perks on offer this weekend by all means, but do so firm in the knowledge that roughing it, like festival goers had to in the olden days, would save the equivalent of a week on a Greek beach.

In other words, is it really necessary to hire a trolley for 5 per 30 minutes to ferry belongings from the car park to the campsite, to offload the kids for nearly 50 for a four-hour session or to pay Tangerine Fields roughly four times the cost of a tent and accessories from Argos to put one up in advance? Some people obviously think so, and Green Man, like so many festivals these days, panders to them.

After all, there are 10,000 potential customers for such services – a far cry from the 300 who attended its humble beginnings in 2003. This exponential growth meant that Green Man took a while to find a permanent home – though always based in picturesque bits of Wales, it has travelled around the grounds of castles, hotels and literary luvvie land Hay-on-Wye before settling on its current home in Glanusk Estate, near Crickhowell, where it has been based since 2006.

Music is central to the proceedings, with folk acts and the folkier end of psychedelic pop making up a good portion of the bill, from Flaming Lips and Joanna Newsom to Mumford And Sons, Fionn Regan, The Unthanks and Johnny Flynn dotted about the three days. These New Puritans offer a welcome if somewhat incongruous antidote on Saturday, but dig around the bill a little further and you’ll unearth the likes of Fuck Buttons and Neon Indian too.

Beloved of quality newspapers more than music specialist rags, The Green Man can’t, at times, help itself from feeling like education masquerading as a music festival, however – the sort of thing a teacher might secretly think it’s a good idea to skip double maths to attend. There’s a literature tent, comedy tent and a film tent, which on Thursday evening will be showing the previously unseen director’s cut of Bird On Wire, a documentary shot across 20 concerts of Leonard Cohen‘s 1972 European Tour. Surely a reason to arrive the day before the main event gets under way?

Other non-musical highlights to expect, if previous years are anything to go by, are likely to include a science tent and ‘Einstein’s Garden’ (think Glasto’s Green Fields with added physics). Most festival goers will no doubt be hoping for a repeat of the festival’s defining finale, in which an eight-metre wicker man statue is set alight as the crowds embrace their inner Pagan.

With the campsite open from the Monday before the festival begins, there’s the option of making a proper holiday of the week for an extra 35. As Green Man is located in the middle of perfect walking country, with some of the loveliest pubs in the UK a mere crawl away, this is an offer well worth taking up.

The Green Man takes place from 20-22 August 2010 at the Glanusk Estate, Brecon Beacons. Tickets and further information are available from

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