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

All you need is LOVE. Photo by Steve Andrews
All you need is LOVE. Photo by Steve Andrews
Arthur Brown is the God of Hellfire and he brings you Fire. Photo by Steve Andrews
Arthur Brown is the God of Hellfire and he brings you Fire. Photo by Steve Andrews
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare. Photo by Steve Andrews
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare. Photo by Steve Andrews
Looks like Pan. Photo by Steve Andrews
Looks like Pan. Photo by Steve Andrews
1998 was a very wet year. Photo by Steve Andrews
1998 was a very wet year. Photo by Steve Andrews
Magic mushroom sculpture. Photo: Steve Andrews
Magic mushroom sculpture. Photo: Steve Andrews
A rhino. Photo by Steve Andrews
A rhino. Photo by Steve Andrews
Wicker man and woman. Photo by Steve Andrews
Wicker man and woman. Photo by Steve Andrews

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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Comments 22 comments

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

I'm with you on this one. Glastonbury is the archetype of festivals to grow out of the Golden Years of 20th Century music. Good stuff.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for posting your comment, Paraglider! Glastonbury is one thing I miss having moved to Tenerife.


Violette DeSantis profile image

Violette DeSantis 8 years ago from Broomall, PA

Great photos again! I love stopping by.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you, Violette! They are all photos I took at the festival in 2003 except the one with a rainbow, which was in the very wet 1998.


Howze 8 years ago

Got my ticket.... methinks its going to be a good one this year.. very spiritual.

Rain... it can be trancended.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for posting, Howze!

Yes, I wish I could be there - I'd love to see Leonard again!

I transcended the rain in 1998! But getting home was a bit of a nightmare! lol


Rob 8 years ago

One thing I love about the festival is how people leave the 'real' world outside and become themselves without being judged. There's no place like it for sure and I always feel great sadness when it's over for another year. Peace


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks, Rob! I know what you mean!


craig lambadarios 8 years ago

Nice post Bard ,, are you going this year ..If so you can find me in the Glade Crew area, it's only small so if you ask for me someone will get me ..Hope to see you there anyway .. Take care ...

here's a word for you mate ... Wrongshness....... (meaning , when will they sort the toilet & shower facilities out properly)

OH the wrongshness of it all !

craig/pulse


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

I'd love to, Craig, but you can't have it all and I have my life here so never made any effort to sort out a gig or a ticket and it's too late now!

Have a fantastic festival! And I hope they attend to the "wrongshness!"


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Thanks for this hub and pics..I went to Glasonbury once" i managaed to get us all (11people) over the fence";) ..it was the 25th event and was brilliant...I was too out of my mind;) to remember any of the live acts;) and i wish i could go every year...The only downside apart from the possible horrendous weather was the foul smelling toilets which i never used as i always found a quiet bush as the smell was always their and very minging,, apart from that a great place for all the family to go for holiday..


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for posting, compu-smart! :)

I remember one year going with official passes for me as a performer and another for my driver and we had two friends who were going to knick in however they could. We arranged a meeting point inside and wished them luck. My driver and I took hours getting in after being stuck in the lenghty official queue for performers and stall-holders and the only way through it was onward! When we eventually got in and parked and went to find the other two girls they were laughing when we arrived. It had taken them 10 minutes to get in the unofficial way for free! lol


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Official passes! i have never herard of these! lol!! infact the security guard actually helped us in!! i think it was the group (gang) of us that made it so easy;)

Everyone always has good and bad memorys of glastonbury from not getting in to things being stolen, or the mud and rain and especially losing your stash lol which i try and think is all part n parcel of the fun!!


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Indeed, it has both the good and the bad points about it all!

As a perfomer who has had official passes on several occasions I also found that there are different levels of this - a compere or performer on a smaller stage gets pass for self and driver, crew camping field use of (and reasonably clean toilets), free meal vouchers and backstage access and payment on top, but a guest speaker, as I was in 2004 just gets a ticket! I was missing being spoiled with all the other stuff! lol


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Wow , sounds like VIP to me!

;)


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

But I wonder what the big stars get?


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Too much!! lol


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Hahaha! Thanks for posting! :)


Kim Garcia 7 years ago

Thanks for the visual tour Bard of Ely!! Even though I have never been to Glastonbury, or its festival, your post took me on a nice mental vaca. Interesting trivia about Leonard Cohen and Neil Diamond, both are two of my favs!!! Nice read, thanks! Peace ~ K


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

You're welcome, Kim! I am glad you enjoyed this hub!


shaktilove profile image

shaktilove 5 years ago from nearby You - just behind 2 screens

Thank You, Bard of Ely, for this :) I would like I was here, any time ~

I am thinking about mud... :) Visitors could bring a sandbags and leave here. After ten years a relief will be improved :))))))


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

I miss Glastonbury Festival! Thank you for your comments, Shaktilove!

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