Glastonbury 2019 - Review!
Ah Glastonbury. Where to begin. The crème de la crème of large music festivals, big daddy of beats, Mecca to hippies, fans of popular music and everything in between. Somehow, this festival has kept its charm as it has grown to be the biggest festival in the UK, boasting a whopping 200,000 people within a 900 acre site. Originally established in 1970 in the spirit of hippie counter-culture, it is amazing how this festival has managed to stay true to its roots over the course of time in what will this upcoming year be the 50th anniversary of its founding.
Glastonbury is the brainchild of Michael Eavis, and according to the official Glastonbury website, it was first held on September 19th of 1970 over two nights with an attendance of just 1,500 people. Eavis was inspired by the hippie and free festival movements of the 1960s and 70s, and decided to hold a festival on his farm in Somerset after seeing Led Zeppelin at the Bath festival of Blues. Tickets were only $1 ($15.20 in today’s money) and included free milk from his farm in Somerset, which is still served at the festival site today. At 83, Eavis still makes a point to make appearances around the festival, and still is the one to inaugurally open the festival gates on the first day. We know this to be true as we got to see him at the gates at t minus 0 as we helped opened the gates with the rest of the oxfam volunteers.
Although today Glastonbury is primarily known for its size and plethora of A-list headliners, its hippie ethos and values can still be seen all around, most notably in the Green Fields area. This is a space dedicated to healing, growth and renewed connection with the elements and the earth with an increasing focus on spreading awareness and combating climate change. In addition to a Speaker’s Forum (last year Extinction Rebellion was a major presence) and various stages, there is also a peace garden with workshops on sustainable living and permaculture, a stone circle (where you somehow, as if by magic, will always mysteriously end up at the end of the night), various craft workshops and healing treatments (many of which operate on a donation basis). Last year we found a free sauna (did put a well deserved tenner in the hat though, that place was AWESOME)! The fact that within the bustling festival a space has been specifically carved out featuring rolling fields, empty except for a stone circle and the famed Glastonbury sign, is a true testament to its commitment to the earth and a reminder that it is only by preserving the land can a festival such as Glastonbury exist. It has also kept its egalitarian values by continuously promoting emerging artists. Anyone is allowed to submit their works, whether that be musical, spoken word, comedy, etc. Who knows, you could be tomorrow’s next big star!
Now let’s get on to the main attraction: the music. Upon arrival, you are given a pocket program listing all the acts on all the stages for each day of the festival as well as a map. Needless to say you will be incredibly overwhelmed for choice. It’s true when they say that you shouldn’t focus too much on creating a strict schedule but rather take the time to wander around and take in a bit of everything. This is partly simply due to logistics. Remember this is a 900 acre site and if there are a string of acts you want to see that happen to be at separate ends of the site, you’ll find yourself spending more time walking miles through crowded paths than enjoying the actual performance. Of course everyone has acts they’ll absolutely want to see, but take some time to organically wander around the site and take in a bit of everything. Part of the joy of Glastonbury is discovering secret stages, marveling at the set designs and finding new favorite artists. I was definitely guilty of spending too much time by the Pyramid Stage whereas Antoine caught some amazing performances by Tankus the Henge (a breakout new rock band with a stage presence like no other) and Beans on Toast in the smaller and more intimate Avalon Stage area.
To make things easier for you, each stage does tend to have performances of artists of a similar musical genre or theme that will be apparent when looking at the lineup. Last year we saw Tame Impala at the Other stage (amazing light show), and Janelle Monae at West Holts (all around AMAZING performance, even Antoine loved it and he usually hates RnB so definitely check her out). The main stage where all the featured headliners perform is of course the Pyramid Stage (we saw The Killers and seeing so many people sing along to Mr. Brightside was a trip). For example, there is a dedicated acoustic stage, the Other stage tends to be more indie and alt rock whereas West Holts stage tends to be RnB and rap focused and so on. The main stage where all the featured headliners perform is of course the Pyramid Stage. The Southwest corner of the festival site provides late night tunes between midnight and 3am with stages such as the famed Arcadia’s Pangea, Bloc 9 and Shangri-La. Huge shout-out to Father Funk who’s end of the night set at Shangri-La saved us from what was very nearly a failed night out.
For me, Glastonbury absolutely lived up to the hype and I definitely think it’s something everyone should experience at least once even if you don’t think you’re that into the lineup. There’s so much to see and experience that the 4 days will fly right past. Last year’s performance highlights for me included: Janelle Monae, Tame Impala, The Killers, Father Funk and Tankus and the Henge.
We’ll release a guide on festival packing soon, but in the meantime, be sure to bring some comfortable shoes, be prepared for the ever-present possibility of a mud fest, don’t assume you can live off of biscuits and quiche for 4 days, and toilet paper is a must. The Glastonbory long-drop toilets have become an icon of the festival and probably not for the right reasons.
For Glastonbury, we volunteered with Oxfam (look to a forthcoming post about the many volunteer opportunities available for most festivals and the pros and cons of volunteering) and therefore were able to attend for free in exchange for completing 3 8-hour shifts randomly allocated within the duration of the festival.
General admission tickets for Glastonbury 2020 will go on sale at glastonbury.seetickets.com at 9am BST on Sunday, October 6th at $265 person person and a $5 booking fee. If only we could go back to 1970 am I right? For those who weren’t able to snag a ticket in October, main resale tickets will commence on April 19th. Here’s hoping to spotting you in the fields at Glasto 2020!