Glastonbury Festival for an unforgettable experience
There's nowhere else like Glastonbury Festival aka Glasto or Glasters
Glastonbury Festival makes the news each year and this is not surprising for what has been described as the biggest performing arts festival in the world. But it's not just the latest gossip on what big stars are headlining, it's when and where the tickets go on sale and, of course, what the weather forecasts say.
Not that dire predictions of a downpour are going to put off the countless festivalgoers who don't mind what the cost is, or how far they will have to travel, or what the weather reports say. Glastonbury Festival, or "Glasto" as it is affectionately known, is simply the festival not to be missed for thousands of people. In 2007, there were 177,000 who attended, and in 2005 all the tickets sold in just over three hours.
Glastonbury Festival always has an enormous variety of famous acts from all genres of music as well as very many unsigned singers and bands who have been lucky enough to get a spot on the smaller stages of which there are many. There are rock bands, blues players, reggae groups, acoustic folk, jazz, soul and R&B performers, world music outfits, dance and electronics-based acts.
It's also possible to see legends of rock ´n´ roll and country stars on the Glastonbury stage too - e.g. the late Johnny Cash and James Brown both graced Glastonbury Festival with their performances. Deciding whom to watch can be a very difficult choice to make especially when your favourite singer is on one stage whilst your favourite band is on another.
Glastonbury Festival assorted images
Big attractions and legendary stars of Glastonbury Festival
Glastonbury always proves to be a big attraction for many because of the chances it offers to see legendary stars, who may not tour very often. This year, 73-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter, poet and novelist Leonard Cohen is one such act. Cohen, who made his name with songs like Suzanne and Bird on a Wire, hasn't toured for over 14 years so this is a great chance for his fans to see him live.
Neil Diamond is also on the Glastonbury bill, and as a complete contrast the rapper Jay-Z will be headlining one of the main stages. Kings of Leon and the Verve are other big name rock attractions this year.
Often acts that you really wouldn't expect a crowd of indie rock fans would appreciate go down just as well at Glastonbury. Rolf Harris, famous for his wobble-board and didgeridoo playing and a series of top ten hits, has proved so popular he has performed at Glastonbury Festival four times, and for many people he has been a "must-see" act.
Many people enjoy Glastonbury Festival without bothering much with the music stages. A lot of seasoned festivalgoers make for their favourite part of the site such as the Green Futures or Healing fields and find enough to delight them there with all the range of alternative therapies on offer, meditation groups and all manner of workshops. Other people may prefer having a laugh at the acts performing at the Circus stage or go and enjoy a film or cabaret.
Glastonbury Festival is a bit of a misnomer really because the event is held in the village of Pilton, which is nearer to Shepton Mallett than the Somerset town of legend and myth. But the name has stuck and adds to the attraction - Pilton Festival just doesn't have the same sort of appeal, now does it?
It all takes place on Michael Eavis' Worthy Farm, where for the rest of the year he is a dairy farmer, but for a week in midsummer the place transforms into a mini-city of tents and tipis and caravans, where all the residents are campers and where daily entertainment and weird and wonderful sights are to be expected and the norm.
Glastonbury Festival is always the last weekend in June and many people continue their summer solstice celebrations there. It even has its own stone circle.
But Glastonbury Festival has had its problems over the years too - it has been flooded very badly and the fields have been turned into lakes of mud and water, and it has suffered from overcrowding due to thousands of people who didn't buy tickets but got in some other way like climbing over or digging under the main fences. 1998 was one of the worst wet years and rubber boots and waterproof clothes were a must. Because of the trouble all this has caused Glastonbury Festival has had years in which its future was uncertain but a huge security fence and flood defences have done a lot to resolve these issues.
For me personally, one of the things I love to do is simply wandering around, taking in the feast for the eye and ear that Glastonbury Festival is. There are multicoloured flags fluttering on high poles, bizarre sculptures of metal and wood made to look like robots and dragons and mystical pagan deities, there is always a huge sign spelling LOVE, there all manner of stalls and markets, and all sorts of perfumes and aromas, of joss sticks, of wood smoke and fresh food. There are people dressed as fairies and pixies and there are others in tuxedos and ball-gowns that they rented from the Lost Vagueness area, there are Hare Krishnas, witches and druids, clowns, environmental campaigners, punks and Rastafarians, goths and hippies, teenagers and pensioners, festival newbies and festival veterans - all sorts of people doing their thing!
For more info on Glastonbury Festival please see: http://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/
Arthur Brown talks about Glastonbury Festival 2003
© 2008 Steve Andrews
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