Cityvisitor blog

From tiny gig to tented city – Glastonbury

I’m showing my age now, but I remember the days when you could wake up on the Friday morning of Glastonbury Festival, decide with some friends that you fancied going (especially if the weather was good!) pop down to your local record store (remember records?), grab a ticket and head off!

Nowadays of course the event has become a huge, worldwide phenomenon, unrivalled by any other music festival in terms of its scale and notoriety. But how did it get to that point?

It’s hard to imagine that this gargantuan celebration of music and culture (as well as a celebration of mud some years) was just £1 to attend in its first year in 1970 – and that included free milk from the farm! Festivalgoers were promised pop, folk, blues, diorama, films, freaks and funny things.

Nowadays of course, you have to register for your ticket in advance and then do your best to buy them before they sell out (and this happens within just over an hour of them going on sale).

Dairy farmer Michael Eavis organised that first gig to make some extra money: he has since become a global legend with a CBE.

In 1981 a “permanent” Pyramid Stage was built and this doubled up as a cowshed and animal food store for the rest of the year. Today’s festival takes months to construct and visitors need signs and maps to find their way around. In fact, the Glastonbury website says: “It’s like going to another country, a hip and thrilling Brigadoon that appears every year or so.”

It is “a huge tented city, a mini state under canvas. British law still applies, but the rules of society are a bit different, a little bit freer.”

These days I tend to enjoy watching the coverage from the comfort of my own sofa, but have a good time all those who are going!


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