Every summer, music lovers flock to Snowdonia to enjoy its many music festivals. But what other activities are available in the surrounding areas if you’re planning to stay a little longer?
Rock, blues, country, indie – whatever your age and your taste in music, there’s a great choice of music festivals in Snowdonia every summer.
If you’d like to extend your stay in Snowdonia for a few days either side of a music festival and you have a taste for adventure, you’re in for a real treat. As you’ll see, there’s a wealth of energetic activities available within easy reach of every festival site, as well as gentler activities if all the partying has left you exhausted!
Here are six of the most popular music festivals that take place in Snowdonia every summer – and a few suggestions for outdoor activities if you’re planning an extended visit.
The North Wales Bluegrass Festival takes place every year in Conwy, a walled medieval town with a castle at its centre and several other historic buildings that are worth exploring. Conwy is a great town for shopping, but don’t expect much in the way of big-name chain stores; Conwy’s shops are small, independent and much more interesting than big high street chains! If shopping doesn’t appeal to you, Conwy’s marina is the obvious place to visit if you fancy hiring a boat for a pleasure trip or fishing trip, and there’s plenty of good walking to be done in the surrounding countryside. Conwy is just a short distance from Betws-y-Coed, one of Snowdonia’s most activity-packed areas. Walking, climbing and cycling are the ‘obvious’ choices of activity so close to the mountains, but for something a little different pay a visit to Tree Top Adventure, where there are zip lines, parachute simulators, rope bridges, giant swings and much more.
The Barmouth Country and Western Festival is an annual, free festival which takes place in Barmouth, a traditional family seaside resort on the beautiful coastline of Cardigan Bay. The town sits on the Mawddach Estuary, which is backed by stunning hills and mountains – so walking and hiking are among the most popular activities here (the mighty Cadair Idris is nearby, if you’re up for the challenge). Barmouth’s beach is huge and sandy, so it’s popular with families. But it’s also a great watersports centre, so if you’ve ever wanted to try surfing, windsurfing, sailing or canoeing Barmouth is ideal. If you’d rather let someone else do all the work, pleasure trips are available out of Barmouth harbour. Barmouth is also within easy reach of Coed y Brenin Forest Park, so if mountain biking is your ‘thing’ you won’t be disappointed!
Wakestock, at popular seaside resort Abersoch, has grown in recent years to become the area’s biggest annual music festival. Combining music with wakeboarding, Wakestock is the largest event of its kind in Europe and attracts big name acts and big crowds every year. As you’d expect from a coastal resort like Abersoch, the beaches offer plenty of opportunity for watersports of all kinds. Surfing and windsurfing are especially popular here, and Abersoch is a great venue for sailing too. Abersoch is also a base for six circular walks ranging from under a mile to over nine miles – so if you’re more of a landlubber than a water baby, Abersoch also has that covered!
Gwyl Arall (‘Another Festival’) offers a packed, extended weekend of music and the arts at a variety of venues around Caernarfon, and has become especially popular with Welsh speaking visitors over the past couple of years due to the number of Welsh language acts performing each year. Does that mean that if you can’t speak Welsh you won’t enjoy the festival? Not a bit of it! Music is the perfect way to cross language barriers, and you’ll no doubt learn a bit of this beautiful language while you’re discovering great new music! For adventurous activities Caernarfon is an excellent base; within easy reach are Plas Menai, where you can enjoy a fantastic range of watersports; the village of Llanberis which is the starting point of one of the most popular routes up Snowdon and home to a huge array of other outdoor activities; and Zipworld, where you can ride a mile-long zip wire at speeds of 100mph, 500ft above a quarry. Not for the faint of heart, by any stretch of the imagination – but fast becoming one of the region’s most popular attractions!
Like Wakestock, Glass Butter Beach combines sports and music for an action-packed weekend in stunning surroundings – this time at Llanbedrog, close to Pwllheli on the Llyn Peninsula. Away from the festival grounds, there are plenty of options for adventure in the area. There’s paintballing, Segway riding and a Bear Grylls survival academy at Dragon Raiders, Llanystumdwy; all sorts of watersports on the excellent beach at Pwllheli; and wakeboarding, stand up paddle boarding (SUP), kayaking, quad biking, go karting and archery at Glasfryn Parc. And, of course, miles of mountainous countryside to explore if you’re in the mood for a hike!
Festival No.6 at Portmeirion Village, near Porthmadog, is relatively new but in the couple of years it’s been running it’s become a real hit with festival goers and reviewers alike. What’s not to love about a mixture of big name and local acts, comedy, drama and film, in arguably the most beautiful music festival venue imaginable? If you want to make a real holiday out of your visit to Festival No.6, stay a little longer and try out some of the adventure activities in the local area. You could spend a day or two at Blaenau Ffestiniog, where the hugely popular mountain biking centre has recently been further enhanced with the addition of Zipworld’s new ‘Titan’ ride and a series of giant underground trampolines. Or try walking and climbing in the nearby mountains – one of the best-known, Cnicht, AKA the Welsh Matterhorn, is a stone’s throw away. And if all that activity has tired you out, take it easy for a couple of days with a spot of fishing at Trawsfynydd Lake or a few rounds of golf at the famous Royal St David’s golf club in Harlech.