If you haven't had the chance to rise to the beautiful Brecon Beacons, step your way through the Walled Garden and lead the way to the Mountain Stage; you're missing a pertinent patch of the Great British Festival Tapestry.

With the likes of John Cale, Matt Berry, Low, Fuck Buttons, Local Natives, Swans and thousands of other acts across a plethora of the arts, Green Man Festival is well established as one of the most exciting festivals of this season, continuing its remarkable rate of growth and success.

We had the opportunity to talk to the festival’s stalwart Director, Fiona Stewart about the nuances of this year’s event and the lineage of the Green Man.


Was Green Man something you had a strong concept about from the beginning?

Yes I wanted it to be a truly unique event located in an incredible setting. Where you could experience incredible music and be introduced to intriguing and different arts and ideas. A non-exclusive incredibly friendly event where everyone would be welcome, with no VIP areas - but the services and food would still be of a very high standard for everyone to enjoy. Enough content and areas for you to create whatever festival you wanted - be it relaxed, family or dancing your socks off till dawn. Complete freedom to book what we want and for those who attend not to have to deal with underhand insidious sales or promotions so no sponsors.

Have you got any standout memories from Green Man’s past? Something that you felt defined the festival for you.

There are loads - but its usually to do with defining moments when you see the audience connect with a previously unknown talented artist - this happened with Mumford and Sons, Joanna Newsom, Alt J, Ben Howard and many more. It's a magical spine tingling moment and a privilege to see. But it's also the random acts of kindness - there is something about the Green Man audience/artists/crew well everyone really. They are lovely, funny people. It could be the lost and found engagement ring, left in a loo story, the artists who help each other out backstage.. it's brilliant.

How important is the ethos of Green Man? And how would you surmise it?

Green Man is a family run event and that family ethos is in everything we do. We see everyone who comes to the event, the artists, crew, guests, suppliers in fact anyone associated as part of that. I came from a time when attending a festival was in itself an alternative statement. Seeing people get a kick out of what is created out of that is really inspiring. The favourite thing that is mentioned again and again is the Green Man festival vibe. I think it comes from this.

Do you feel that compromise out of your control has ever conflicted with your ambitions for the festival?

Yes there are many obstacles and challenges about running a festival. That is why so many go under. Most challenges have been financial and sometimes that has stopped us doing things at the festival such as booking particular acts or infrastructure. But you can get around that if you have good relationships and luckily there are many creatives, thinkers and dreamers who care more about playing to a music loving audience, or creating something wonderful than making massive amounts of money. In some ways not being loaded has its benefits – you only get to work with people who really care about what they do.

Have you seen festival crowds change?

Not really. There are more of them but, it's still like-minded rather than age which is the draw. They are clever, fun, inquisitive people - who care about what they experience.

John Cale, Local Natives, Low, Band of Horses: is this the best line-up you’ve had? If not, what has been your favourite year?

There have been brilliant years in the past and some wonderful artists have played, but I am really looking forward to this year the line-up, and other areas have really come together. It's very exciting.

Have you thought about how you would expand the festival or franchise?

Green Man is a wonderful but delicate brand. With something this unique you cannot franchise or expand it without damaging it. The festival has a life of its own and the content develops and changes every year, but those are the only changes I would consider. There is a place for very large festivals and those which are suitable for franchising, but Green Man is not that kind of festival.

Have you ever scaled the Beacon? It’s all I can ever think about when perusing around Far Out Field, but my hangovers stunt my ambitions, unfortunately…

Yes we all go up Sugar Loaf Mountain, and the Waterfall Walk - both are really lovely. The Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains are soul squeezingly beautiful and its great to see the festival site from a mountain. It really is a good hangover cure believe me I know.


Green Man Festival takes place this weekend (15-18th August 2013). For more information, head here.