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Glastonbury the Great – In celebration of music!

From Skepta to Squeeze, Baaba Maal to Jake Bugg and New Order to Newton Faulkner, this year’s Glastonbury promises to entertain as it has done since the first festival in September 1970. 170,000 people will be making their way down to Somerset as the Festival 2016 starts on Wednesday 22nd June closing with Coldplay on the Pyramid Stage on Sunday 26th June. Tickets are always a hot commodity but if you aren’t able to get there in person there are plenty of opportunities to catch the main bands on BBC TV and Radio.

The History of Glastonbury

The first ‘Glastonbury Fayre’, as it was called initially, was held in 1970 (starting the day after Jimi Hendrix died) with tickets costing £1 and including a free glass of milk. The idea to start the festival stemmed from the brains of Michael Eavis, who owns Worthy Farm where the festival is held. Rumour has it that he was inspired by a festival he attended in Bath in 1969 where he watched Led Zeppelin perform. 1971 saw the inception of the Pyramid Stage, with Andrew Kerr and Arabella Churchill, granddaughter of Prime Minister Winston, renting the farm from Eavis to host a free festival. After the 1971 festival, Eavis decided to abandon the festival until 1978, when an impromptu festival of 500 people sprung up on Worthy Farm. Following the impromptu entertainment of ‘78, Glastonbury was up and running again – but not without its hiccups. Financial difficulties, police interventions, debates over whether a rock or pop act should headline and the burning down of the Pyramid Stage followed the festival until its current incarnation in 2016, which is set to host 135,000 people with tickets costing approximately £200 (not containing a free glass of milk either!)

Since that first festival in 1970, Glastonbury has hosted some of the biggest names in the music industry, including: 

  • T-Rex
  • David Bowie
  • The Smiths
  • Lenny Kravitz
  • Johnny Cash
  • Oasis
  • Blur
  • Robbie Williams
  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Kanye West
  • U2 

    Glastonbury supports major charities

    Glastonbury works with Oxfam, Greenpeace and WaterAid to try and achieve their goal of a ‘cleaner, greener, fairer festival.’ At this year’s festival, WaterAid will be selling limited edition Glastonbury water bottles, whilst Greenpeace have set up a mini gym near the Pyramid stage in which people power creates the energy for the sound system and screens. The Glastonbury Health Charity of the Year for 2016 attending the festival is the Stroke Association, who want to change how people think about the disease. They will be petitioning for better support for stroke survivors and offering festival goers the chance to leave a purple handprint on their wall of pledges. On a local scale, the festival has paid over £1m to charities and local good causes with projects supported by the festival including; rebuilding the Pilton Playing Fields Pavilion, repairing the Pilton Parish Church heating system and improving the fabric and facilities of Glastonbury library.

    This year, the following musicians will be playing at the Glastonbury Festival amongst others:
    • Muse
    • Adele
    • Coldplay
    • Ellie Goulding
    • Fatboy Slim
    • Example
    • Will Young
    • Madness
    • Tom Odell

    Whilst the acts are playing there are multiple opportunities to volunteer at Glastonbury, with charities such as Oxfam providing stewarding at key locations such as the entry gates. Those with medical or first aid experience can also join a team of volunteers providing support across the festival.

    You never need to go hungry or thirsty during the Festival. It’s not just the usual run of the mill fare, you can choose from cuisines across the world. And for visitors looking for a memento of their visit, loads of traders selling clothing, jewelry, art and design – there’s even an online shop

    10 great Glastonbury stats

    1. 2.8m total official attendance since the first festival (equivalent in size to the entire population of Mongolia)
    2. 433 tents per hectare
    3. 5,487 toilets on site
    4. 15,000 hand painted-signs used for festivals so far
    5. 5 days – the length of time you could power Bath for with the amount of electricity Glastonbury uses
    6. 1200 acres equivalent to more than 500 football pitches
    7. 100 stages
    8. £2million is given to charity
    9. The festival costs £22 million
    10. All residents of Pilton get a free ticket

    Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset hosts Glastonbury but there are similar types of festivals held all over the world. For example, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (Coachella) is an annual music and arts festival held at the Empire Polo Club in California, featuring a wide range of music, art installations and sculptures. Elsewhere in Europe, Benicassim is a four day music festival taking place on the east coast of Spain between Valencia and Barcelona in July 2016.

    If you can’t go abroad to get your festival fix, other festivals in the UK include Parklife, Reading and The Secret Garden Party. Parklife 2016 was held at Heaton Park in Manchester and has a focus on electronic and dance music. This year, DJ’s such as Annie Mac and Wilkinson played live sets to 140,000 festival goers. In recent years, Reading Festival has been home to the post-GCSE-results-day-party-goers as its timing comes just after the release of those dreaded paper envelopes are collected from school! This year’s Reading line-up features Indie Rock artists such as Foals, Disclosure and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

    The Secret Garden Party, in Cambridgeshire, is one of an assorted musical mix and is described by some as ‘a garden-party-gone-crazy.’ The Secret Garden Party isn’t just music; it contains other activities suitable for adults and children, such as theatre workshops, big wheel rides and open mic stages, plus the ever-present participatory games of all descriptions.

    So what it is about festivals that makes people go to Glastonbury, revel at Reading or party at Parklife? Surely in the muddiest, boggiest and most cramped of environments, it is impossible to enjoy yourself? Well, people seem to have the time of lives at festivals so it can’t put them off that much!

    Seeing your favourite band live and witnessing it amongst thousands of other fans creates an electric atmosphere like no other, a completely different experience to listening to music in the car, through earphones or speakers. Be it seeing Adele serenade the audience or Fatboy Slim play a dance mix, there is quite simply ‘just something about it’ that makes witnessing live music a bit special.

    The camaraderie forged between festival-goers helps to create this experience and develop the almost tangible atmosphere. Specifically, the range of ages attending Glastonbury creates a more family-oriented feel, maximising the enjoyment of those in attendance. Plus, the history and reputation of Glastonbury, combined with the artist’s honour of performing on the famous Pyramid Stage, only adds further to the whole aura surrounding the great Glastonbury Festival.

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