About This Festival
Summer’s arrival is celebrated in small ways around the world, but at the Glastonbury festival, the solstice gets a grand welcome. This music festival has a lineup of some of the world’s most talented artists, from up-and-comers to mega stars, and the crowd is composed of everyone from hippies to hipsters. Pack your rain boots, pitch a tent, and get ready for one of the muddiest, most musical weekends of your life.
Glastonbury Festival - A Star is Born
What happens when you take a farmer, 14 of his closest friends, the magic of Led Zeppelin and throw them all together? You get the Pilton Festival, the original Glastonbury. Organized by Michael Eavis after he saw the aforementioned band at the Bath Music Festival, the Pilton couldn’t have kicked off on a more auspicious day—September 19, 1970, 2 days after the death of Jimi Hendrix. Modeled after the hippie idealism of festivals like Woodstock and Isle of Wight, the Pilton drew 1,500 attendees and a diverse array of acts including glam rock legend T. Rex. You could say the festival started organically; Eavis paid the bands in installments from his dairy farm’s milk sales.
Glastonbury festival has grown since then, and every year on the weekend closest to the summer solstice, as many as 150,000 people create something akin to a small town amidst undeveloped land and dairy farms. Think Coachella, only with more feel-good camaraderie. The festival might be volunteer-run, but it’s organized as strictly as any other major festival and raises millions of dollars for charity.
Caught in the Acts
At its core, Glastonbury is a music festival, and there’s quite a bit to check out. You’ll catch lineups with big-banner acts like Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, and Beyoncé, but don’t miss the chance to discover the next big thing (this is where The Smiths wowed the audience in 1984, catapulting them to fame). The Dance, Other, and Pyramid stages are the most popular; the festival says they’re “like London’s party-going West End on a Saturday night.”
Music might be the focus, but there’s a lot more going on in these 900 idyllic countryside acres than just concerts. Revelers can pray at sunrise around a stone circle in a verdant meadow at the Sacred Space, which might be something you’d never do back home, but here it can be a gloriously powerful experience. In Lost Vagueness, you can participate in a mass marriage inside the Chapel of Loathe, or don period clothing before setting off to the Slip Roller Disco or Lost Luck Casino. On the mellower side, check out Jazzworld and the Acoustic stage.
The level of production is also worth mentioning. Besides the huge stages with their immense sound and lighting, there are also areas such as Block 9 - specially built by talented teams of creatives to make the whole experience even more immersive and unforgettable. For instance, one of the stages is located inside the facade of a British tower block, which has a London tube train smashed into its front. Insane.
Pitch a Tent at Glastonbury
Glastonbury is a camping trip for most, and with England’s wet summers, things can get a little muddy. Look at the weather forecast and bring rain gear just in case. If you’re pitching a tent, arrive early so you have options. The best spots are on the uphill side (rain flows downhill, obviously). If you want to be in the middle of things, set up near the Pyramid stage. If you’re looking for a little more tranquility, head south toward the Green Fields. And, don’t forget to mark your camp somehow (lights or a flag work well); when you’ve had a couple drinks, danced all night and it’s dark out, it could mean the difference between sleeping in your tent or on a random patch of grass.
The good news about the festival is that it offers something for everyone. The bad news is that it sells out fast. Just try to make sure you're on the ball with this one as it really is not to be missed.