Glastonbury Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts is held over 3 days at Worthy Farm, Somerset, England every year around June. The festival was first held in 1970, the idea of local dairy farmer Michael Eavis. T-Rex (the musician not the dinosaur - although by now he’s considered a dinosaur) headlined the show. Almost 40 years later and the festival is still running strong as one of, if not the premier music festival in the world. This years festival had over 175 000 people attend.
Glastonbury is almost as well known for the perennial mud baths that ensue as the music that’s played. It seems regardless of the weather leading up to the festival you can almost guarantee it will rain.
In 2000 the number of tickets sold were recorded at over 100 000 but unofficially it is believed there were as many as 250 000 revellers who attended. I actually witnessed some young entrepreneurs who had brought along their own ladder and were charging £10 per person to use it to climb the fence!
There are many stories of people being helped over the fence by security to avoid the entrance fee so as a consequence a “Super Fence” was erected in 2001 to prevent people gatecrashing.
In 2000 we went as a group of approximately 30 Antipodeans with a few French, Italians and a couple of token Poms thrown in to make up the numbers. We’re eternally grateful to a few mates who went on the Thursday to set up a number of tents for us all to recuperate in.
The first act we all went along to was The Wailers. Alas their beloved ex lead Bob Marley wasn’t playing although a number of people claimed to have seen him. I believe these same people witnessed Elvis a couple of days later up on Hippy Hill.
Throughout the weekend there were a number of acts playing at the same time on various stages around the 600 acre field. The music started around 8am and finished after midnight. There was a genre for every music taste. The only problem can be the possible conflicts that arise when there are preferred acts playing at the same time. We did our best to circumvent this issue by running between the acts, this was rather futile as 10’s of thousands of others had the same idea!
On the second night Trent, Kerry and I were running late for the techno act Leftfield so we improvised a plan where we kept calling out to our “fictitious” friend James who we could “see” in the crowd somewhere in front of us (obviously he was very close to the stage!) After spotting James we linked arms and charged through to where he supposedly was. After continuing this charade for 15 minutes or so we decided we were close enough so we settled in and enjoyed the show!
If by some remote chance you’re reading this and you happened to be at the same show and we pushed past you, I sincerely apologise. This was an aberration on my otherwise unblemished courteous nature!
The music is certainly not the only entertainment available. Amongst the revelry there’s the Magical Stone Circle (I’m unsure why it’s magical, the only thing I saw that had any connection to magic were the mushrooms that most people seemed to be on) and the Healing Fields, which include a wide array of alternative medical practitioners (no not drug dealers although there were plenty of those) This area is commonly known to the masses as “Hippy Hill” On our first visit there we were welcomed by a topless woman dancing who was soon joined by a completely naked woman. It didn’t take long before others accompanied them in their chemically induced, inebriated states! Hippy Hill has a really good vibe about it, is very relaxed and has an easygoing atmosphere. It’s great if you enjoy a good laugh and like to “people watch” For me it evoked images of what Woodstock was possibly like - certainly not to the same extent but as close as I’ll probably ever get!
Glastonbury also offers open air movie screenings, comedy acts, circus tents and all sorts of other regale. A lot of the food on offer is rather expensive although there are some very unique dishes. I would recommend taking your own food if practical unless you plan to have a primarily liquid diet over the 3 days. There was alcohol for sale but this was also pretty expensive.
With this many people there is always bound to be some trouble but most years it seems to be very minimal, the majority of arrests are drug related. I in no way condone or advocate the misuse of drugs but be aware that as is the case with many festivals they will be prevalent. Anytime there’s an association with drugs there will be a criminal element so be careful with your processions as there are many opportunists.
Over the entire 3 days the atmosphere was extremely positive and friendly - especially considering the amount of people and the toilet facilities being non flushing port-a-loos! Glastonbury was very well organised and a “must do” if you have the opportunity.
I’m really glad of the residual memories, photos and other people’s accounts of the weekend, all combined they made Glastonbury one of the greatest times I had during my time in London!