Glastonbury creates history, defines the present and shapes the future - the jewel in the crown of festivals
Day by Day Reviews:
Glastonbury's 40th anniversary was a festival that sealed its position as the world's greatest music and arts festival - forever. The 2010 event will be remembered as a very special ethereal event in amongst Glastonbury's other legendary festivals, festivals that have helped shape and define our social and cultural heritage.
Glastonbury provided hundreds of different festivals all under one great big
umbrella of love, each and every one was at the top of or even way ahead
of their game.
Glastonbury toyed with our emotions from the start, it made you laugh and cry in equal measure, it allowed you to be yourself and it gave a glimpse into what life could be like if only we could take a little of that Glastonbury spirit and keep hold of it in the 'real' world - the world that we all had to return to reluctantly and far too soon.
This was an event that was able to touch the hearts and minds not only of all those that were present but also those that were not there. The media coverage on the BBC, whilst not able to recreate the atmospheric masterpiece that so many of us were able to enjoy did capture the depth, breadth and wealth of the festival giving an endearing insight and tantalising taster of just what this festival is all about. This wealth of coverage meant that Glastonbury became ever more accessible and allowed those who couldn't be there to be part of an iconic cultural event.
The festival once again brought a humdinger of a show to those Somerset fields and allowed a very privileged audience to enter a world filled with wonder, the jaw dropping, awe inspiring range of events ensured that Glastonbury, once again, was not just one festival, it provided hundreds of different festivals all under one great big umbrella of love, each and every one was at the top of or even ahead of their game.
From the Stone Circle to the Healing Fields, the Dance Village through to the Glade, Arcadia, the Theatre and Circus and the Kidz Zone, from the Park Area and Leftfield to Williams Green and the wonderful Shangri-La there wasn't a corner of this 400 acre site that wasn't a full and contributing partner ready and willing to invite festival goers to share and participate in this ethereal voyage of discovery and escapism.
...at times the emotional impact of what was happening on Worthy Farm was
The musical side of the festival provided first-class entertainment all the way and everyone was catered for whatever their particular taste happened to be. The performances were awe inspiring, astonishing and world class, it became clear very quickly that the magic of Glastonbury had touched all the acts that appeared over the weekend wherever they played, there were many performances that drew early slots who could well have occupied those coveted headline slots, as much as we were reduced to tears and many of the performers also shed a tear, at times the emotional impact of what was happening on Worthy Farm was overwhelming.
Glastonbury as we know it now, grew from a little pop festival that began it's life as Glastonbury Fayre on a little farm in Somerset in 1970, the year that Marc Bolan pitched up to top a small bill that included Quintessence.
In 1971 "Glastonbury Fayre" was organised by Andrew Kerr and Arabella Churchill, being there at the time was to be part of something immense, we didn't know at the time what that something was, nor did we know what the future held, we did however know without doubt that this was the beginning of something big, and so it transpired. This was the event that paved the way and set the scene for the phenomenon that is the Glastonbury of today, I'd like to believe that in our own little way we had a little something to do with changing the world or at least the world of Glastonbury.
1971 was the event that paved the way and set the scene for the
phenomenon that is the Glastonbury of today...
It was a free festival in 1971 and even back then it was clear that whatever we were part of and whatever was happening this was about more than the music. The freedoms we were beginning to enjoy were new and still being fought for, society was very different but was experiencing a period of rapid change, rebellion was in the air and the youth of the sixties and seventies were discovering a new found freedom and sense of power, their contribution to a changing society keenly felt. The era was underpinned by a sense of change, not just on a local scale but there was a global movement where things were set to change, we really believed we could change the world. These changes in culture and attitude came together in a seminal moment in time, a moment that sealed the fate of Worthy Farm and set the scene for Glastonbury to grow into the culturally important event it is today.
Michael Eavis is no saint...what he is a visionary whose impact on the music scene has been
Something real and tangible was created and born in those fields in 1971, the year that the iconic Pyramid stage was constructed. The reason we have the event we have today is in part due to all of those who were there at that time, all of those who continued to bring the event to that Somerset farm and most importantly to Michael Eavis who, despite years fraught with difficulty has continued to work ceaselessly and tirelessly at making Glastonbury matter, a task that many lesser mortals would long since have given up. I have no doubt that Michael Eavis is no saint, no-one can create what he has by being saintly, what he is a visionary whose impact on the music scene has been remarkable.
Glastonbury is culturally important and has created something unique. To this day the organisation is different to any other festival with loyal workers who each year come together to put on the greatest show on earth. When Glastonbury was born it lit a beacon that has never been extinguished, it blazes its own trail, is way ahead of the game and continues to shine like the star it is.
Before arriving on site I had pondered over whether Glastonbury's 40th anniversary year could match up to the 1971 event that had touched, changed and shaped the lives of so many people. I certainly couldn't do it in the way I did all those years ago, times have changed and moved on and from a free festival where people were fed and watered and where we set our own path. It's now £185 per ticket, so to that extent a homeless hippy with nothing wouldn't even get into the event in the 21st century. But way back in the '70s there were just a few thousand festival goers, nowadays there is maximum capacity of 177,500, making it temporarily the third biggest "city" in the South West. If you are in any doubt about the value for money you get with your ticket take a look at just how much musical value you get, it works out at about 11p per band - and that's without even taking into account all the other entertainment provided on that 400 acre site. Read our article on why you'll never get to see everything at Glastonbury Festival
Glastonbury has gained a respectability and credibility it never had in the early days, 2010 even saw Prince Charles pitch up for a visit (hey Charlie - have you set the date for Michael Eavis to receive his knighthood yet?) yet despite this acceptance into the establishment Glastonbury has managed to maintain its unique style and sense of freedom. Although the addition of a poor security firm who are unable to grasp the Glastonbury ethos is the one worrying development, once you get past them and into the event Glastonbury remains the freest event we will ever have, we need to hold onto those freedoms.
Glastonbury blazes its own trail, is way ahead of the game and continues to shine
like the star it is.
Glastonbury is not all about the music although you do get world class, legendary artists, spell binding shows and unmissable (although often missed!) performances, Glastonbury itself is actually greater than the sum of its parts, it's about something far bigger, deeper and indefinable, it's totally unquantifiable yet that doesn't prevent us from attempting to define and describe it. The best we reviewers can do is tell you about the acts, the wealth of diverse areas offering all manner of entertainment, our own experiences and what we perceive to be the experiences of others - mostly we fail to capture the inexplicable essence of the Glastonbury experience because it's something you have to do for yourself, we can only offer a small insight.
Many reviewers will tell about the 'real' Glastonbury experience - if in some way you don't get to see, explore and be part of what they define as all those alternative aspects of the event you've not really 'done' Glastonbury. This is pretentious twaddle, don't ever let anyone tell you what the real Glastonbury is, the real Glastonbury is to be found everywhere, it permeates the very air you breath and the soil you walk on, it really doesn't matter what you do - what matters is that you do it and that you find your own Glastonbury which will be different every year. What you will uncover at Glastonbury is that it is a world of discovery just waiting for you to find, and find it you will, because Glastonbury itself decides what you will see, it has a knack of knowing what you need, what you give to Glastonbury you will get back ten fold. The spirit of Glastonbury's past are captured deep within the Glastonbury of the present.
Don't let anyone tell you what the "Real" Glastonbury is ... it really doesn't matter what you do - what matters is that you do it
Glastonbury can best be described as the giving festival, it gives out to all who touch it, and it's unique for it's generosity, it doesn't make a profit instead choosing to give back, millions of pounds are ploughed back into the local economy and millions more are given away to charity. Unlike so many of our top festivals Glastonbury isn't about organisers making themselves filthy rich, it's about giving out and making a real, tangible and positive difference to other peoples lives and it does this on so many different levels.
2010 saw Glastonbury outdo itself, it achieved the impossible by creating another defining and legendary festival, a tiny glimpse into something deeper where life has more colour, more depth and more meaning while having more fun than you ever thought possible, if we all took a little of that ethos away with us maybe we could still change the world. I have no hesitation in concluding that Glastonbury is the most important cultural event of our times, no review can do more than give a tiny glimpse of the world that is created at Worthy Farm each year. 2010 saw it achieve what I thought was impossible, it created an event that matched the remarkable experience of 1971 but this time it reached a lot more people and showed the world that the impossible becomes possible if the will is there.
Thank you to all those people who make Glastonbury possible, all those who work behind the scenes before the festival opens and long after it finishes. All the litter pickers, the production crews, the stage hands, the press office and all those who do the work quietly all year round just because…
Most of all, in what was an overwhelmingly emotional and seminal Glastonbury, an inadequate but heartfelt thank you to Michael and Emily Eavis for making it happen, an ethereal festival signed, sealed, delivered…
Some of our Glastonbury Photo Galleries