We fell head over heels in love with the Green Man magic. It’s easy to see why this gorgeous gathering sells out so quickly and many families return year after year.
Green Man is held each August on the stunning Glanusk Estate nestled within the majestic Brecon Beacons in Wales. Just a few miles from the picturesque town of Crickhowell the area is a popular tourist destination for extended holidays around the festival.
Arriving early on Thursday we were all really excited to explore this new family festival. We’d booked into a campsite in the Brecon Beacons for a few nights before the festival due to the distance from our home on the South Coast. Having last been to Wales as a child I wanted to take some time to show the kids the beauty of this part of the country and we were not disappointed.
We were staying in the campervan field and immediately felt relaxed in the tranquil setting of the festival estate. On several occasions, we remarked ‘how do they get away with holding a festival here?’
The answer, we discovered, was down to the Green Man community of respectful guests. Everyone we met was friendly and welcoming and the crew couldn’t do enough to make our stay special.
All set up we headed down to the festival taking in the far-reaching views of the Black Mountains and crossing the river Usk.
Doors open for festival guests on Thursday at 10am but those that are lucky enough to book really early can extend their stay at Green Man with a Settlers Pass.
This offers guests a full week camping at this natural playground and a real chance to make friends or reunite with those you’ve met in previous years. These passes are very popular but limited to keep the experience intimate. It’s the perfect spot for a family holiday and highly recommended to outdoor lovers.
After 17 years Green Man is well established so it was lovely to see so many young children as well as plenty to do for teens. The ‘Little Folk’ area is extensive with plenty to keep kids entertained from dusk to dawn but the whole festival never felt crowded so children were equally happy at the music venues and in the extensive grounds. There was so much to explore at Green Man that we limited our 9-year-old to a couple of hours in the Little Folk field as we also had a teenager, but she loved every minute of it.
It’s worth noting here that we had a reasonable amount of rain during our visit so the photos really don’t do the festival justice. We accepted that in Wales it rains and got stuck into the festival all weekend come rain or shine.
Friday was wet. Very wet. But this did not dampen spirits and the kids’ area was a hive of activity with more creative craft to take part in than you could possibly imagine. Activities throughout the festival were tailored to the 2019 space theme and we even discovered a secret Doctor Who rave later in the weekend with a terrifying DJ! By Saturday the sun was shining and the site dried out pretty quick with just a few spots of mud to play.
All activities in the children’s area were free and although Green Man does have trader stalls we didn’t find any selling plastic tat or the kind of rubbish parents get pestered for at some events.
Other than ice cream and a go on the 1 funfair ride (Big Wheel) we really didn’t get asked for much. Our daughters enjoyed browsing the stalls independently in a safe environment while we watched music close by.
‘Somewhere’ was a dedicated part of the festival for 13-17th year old and by far the most impressive teen area we’ve come across. Offering everything from DJ skills to T-shirt printing spread across several welcoming tents sited around the ‘Blomby Busking Stage’. We hadn’t initially realised this area was just for teens and the crew were very welcoming to our 9-year-old who was able to join in with some of the fantastic craft on offer.
Special mention and thanks to the lovely ‘Bobby Dazzler’ Dolls ladies who made my daughter’s weekend by letting her make one of their wonderful dolls even though she wasn’t really old enough for the workshop.
Both kids enjoyed the workshops on offer here immensely and we found it hard to tear them away.
The brilliant Mayflower Project ran the chill out tent which was exclusively for teens with loads going on all weekend for those that wanted it, or just a place to hang and charge you phone (if you were a teen of course!).
One of the things that impressed us most was the breadth of educational but fun activities on offer for families. The beautiful Einstein’s Garden in the walled parts of the estate crossed science with performance, art, music and more. The best form of learning is when you think you are just at playing!
We hunted zombies, moved molecules, identified nature and even got our own realistic wounds learning all about blood.
Food and Drink
£4.50! Yes, that’s right. £4.50 for one of over 60 pints of real ales or countless ciders. My husband was pretty impressed by this after we’d come from a festival with nothing more than two poor lager choices the weekend before.
Green Man hosts it’s very own annual Welsh beer and cider festival within the festival situated in the buzzing spot of The Courtyard. Like all bars on site it used a cup deposit scheme meaning the place was kept pretty spotless and single-use plastic to a minimum.
We found an excellent selection of food including local produce on sale with pretty much anything you could desire at standard festival prices. If we had to pick out one negative from Green Man (which was really hard), we were served halloumi fries in a plastic tray rather than a more sustainable option.
Music and More
To be totally honest we found ourselves far too busy exploring all that Green Man has to offer to watch a huge amount of their great line-up. If only we’d had longer!
Four Tet, Yo La Tengo and Father John Misty headlined the main stage which I’m embarrassed to say we missed all of opting for our favourite music venue Chai Wallahs. We did catch the brilliant Stereo Lab on the main stage whose album I literally wore thin in my youth, and a new hit in our house Aldous Harding.
If you wanted to keep up with the Green Man news you could tune into their very own radio station broadcast from the site. Sadly, the radio in our camper van is broken and phone signal wasn’t great so we didn’t get the chance.
Beyond the music was an extensive programme of literature, visual art and performance. The talks on offer were another area we didn’t get the chance to explore due to the kids. But we managed to see some great circus performances and even ended up starring in one and saving the world!
We had such a fantastic time at Green Man festival and would go back tomorrow. If you haven’t made it before and are looking for a mid-sized family festival with a big heart then check it out.
Early bird Green Man 2020 tickets on sale 26th September. Read our factsheet for more info.