To contemplate what Glastonbury encompasses is a dizzying prospect for both commentator and festival-goer, as Europe’s largest music and performing arts event. It has been described as a mini state under canvas, tented city, the Big Ben of music and the granddaddy of summer festivals.
Yet despite sheer scale, with 365 hectares of rolling pasture occupied, today’s Glastonbury somehow manages to retain both its standard of quality and hippy charm. Unsurprisingly though, the event is far removed from its humble roots. Dairy farmer Michael Eavis had Led Zeppelin perform at the original Glastonbury, Pilton Festival, in 1970. 1500 attended and tickets cost one pound, which included free milk from the farm.
Committing to Glasto involves a decent amount of travel, however the reward lies in five days of creativity, good vibrations, and the chance to see live performances from some of the best musicians and bands alive today.
No one person’s experience here is the same as another, and there are areas to cater to all types, preferences and moods. The iconic Pyramid stage, in all of its crowd-pulling, headline act appeal, is widely considered the festival’s pulse. West Holts is Pyramid’s laid-back sister, celebrating cosmic world beats, pop, rock, afro grooves and disco. Past acts here have included Major Laser, MIA, Jurassic 5 and Bobby Womack.
The Green Fields remains a popular place to relax and take a breath from the madness. Enjoy organic tucker, listen to intimate performances on a solar-powered bandstand, take a laughing workshop in the Healing Field. For a festival-within-a-festival experience, head to The Park, located by its illuminated 17-metre Ribbon Tower, or get sucked into the electronic dance scene at Silver Hayes.
There really is no other festival quite like Glastonbury as an experience which involves camping survival, transformational experiences for those looking, the chance to witness music history and the sensation of departing from normal society for something extraordinary.
WORDS OF WISDOM
- Don’t enforce a gig schedule. The world of Glastonbury doesn’t like to be controlled, and a full agenda will be both difficult to carry out and will stand in the way of any serendipitous encounters. The less preconceptions and plans, the better.
- Use the composting toilets. They don’t smell, create compost for the dairy farm and are infinitely better than long drops or port-a-loos. Natural Event supplies over one thousand each year. Look for their colourful facades and illustrated doors.
- Refuel and relax in the permaculture corner within The Green Fields. It’s filled with herb gardens, seating areas and delicious organic food stalls. The best place to go for anyone feeling strung out. Also worth visiting is the Green Futures farmers’ market.
- Enjoy a session inside a wood-fired yurt sauna, located within the Lost Horizon Nomadic Spa
PRE-FESTIVAL WATCH: Julien Temple’s Glastonbury film