All About Glastonbury

January 03, 2023
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glastonbury-festival-flags
The world’s oldest live music festival | © @glastonburyofficial / Facebook

Pilton, UK

Open-air

XL – 20k-50k

Pop

$$$$

International, Live Music

+3 Days

Glastonbury has been around for over five decades, being one of the oldest, largest and most famous live music festivals in the world. 

It was created in 1970 by Michael Eavis, a dairy farmer, on whose farm the festival actually took place. The festival continues to be held on Worthy Farm, in Somerset, southwest of England.

From its early start as a makeshift stage in a milk farmer’s field, to spanning across hundreds of acres, Glastonbury has made its mark on the music world in a number of ways.

But how much do you actually know about Glastonbury?

Here’s everything you need to know about Glastonbury festival.

Glastonbury festival Live at Worthy Farm | © BBC Music / Youtube

The first show took place in 1970, one day after Jimi Hendrix died

The very first festival was held on September 19th 1970, one day after the death of Jimi Hendrix (coincidentally).

Michael Eavis founded the festival in the hopes that it would revive the magic of Woodstock which took place the year prior (and clear his overdraft). The event ran for two days, and tickets were charged at a reasonable rate of £1.

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© marietta peros / Shutterstock

The first band that was supposed to headline at Glastonbury Festival pulled out

High on the list of the most influential bands of the British Invasion, The Kinks were supposed to be Glastonbury’s very first headliner.

Although the rock band was primed for the top slot, they pulled out because they heard that Glastonbury’s co-creator Michael Eavis didn’t know what he was doing. Alas, the English quad feared that the festival was going to be a disaster. But it wasn’t all lost.

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The Kinks influenced British music for decades onwards | © Stefano Chiacchiarini / Shutterstock

Eavis heard that iconic folk-rock duo T. Rex was touring through, so he booked them instead. 

“They almost didn’t play the show either as they didn’t want to drive down the dirt road, but then they did and it was meant to be one hell of a set,” Raymond Williams, director of the Jungle Love Festival told Soundclub Mag.

Glastonbury Festival was originally called ‘The Pilton Pop, Blues and Folk festival at Worthy Farm’

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Real festival flyer from 1970 | © Glastonbury Festivals / glastonburyfestivals.co.uk

Only earning its Glastonbury title the following year, the first festival was initially called ‘The Pilton Pop, Folk & Blues at Worthy Farm’. 

The name comes from the grounds where the show took place, on Eavis’ own farm. 

He even gave out free milk to the attendees, and his wife, Jean, was reportedly in the kitchen making tea and toast as the event took place. The festival still takes place on Worthy Farm grounds today.

Van Morrison has taken to the stage more times than any other artist 

Van Morrison is the festival’s most frequently returning solo artist | © ArtSiegel / Wikimedia Commons

Over the span of three decades, Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison was the most frequent solo act to return to Glastonbury’s stage. 

He performed in 1982, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1997 and 2005. Talk about being a Glasto buff. 

Other performers, such as Elvis Costello and Paul Weller, are slowly but surely inching closer to Morrison’s tail. 

The Glasto field is the size of 500 football pitches

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The Glastonbury field is on a whole new level compared to most festivals | © marietta peros / Shutterstock

As Glastonbury grew to become the iconic music festival we know and love today, its parameters also expanded over the years.

As of today, the Glasto field ranges between an estimated 900-1,100 acres – which is equivalent to 500 football pitches. 

The Pyramid Stage once burnt to the ground

The famous Pyramid Stage was built in 1971 and is considered one of the most recognizable festival stages in the world. 

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The Pyramid Stage in 1993, one year before it burnt down | © Manfred Werne / Wikimedia Commons

It has experienced three incarnations in its lifetime, initially starting as a structure which resembled a diamond, and then expanding to become a cowshed and animal food store during winter months.

Its final form is inspired by designs taken from the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt

What many don’t know is that in 1994, this symbol of Glastonbury magic burnt to the ground a week before the festival was due to open. A makeshift replacement had to be quickly built in time for the show.

The biggest ever Glastonbury headliner crowd reached an estimated 300,000 people

The Levellers’ performance in 1994 is considered the festival’s largest ever crowd, reaching up to 300,000 people. Quite a change from the 1,500 attendees that graced Glasto’s grounds on their very first show in 1970. 

The festival’s usual number of attendees is estimated at around 200,000 people. 

Glastonbury is in the Guinness Book of World Records, but not for the reasons you think

Glastonbury has left its mark on the world in a number of ways, even landing several spots in the Guinness Book of World Records. But it’s not just for the reasons you might think. 

In predictable Glasto fashion, the festival achieved the world record for the largest human peace sign in 2017, which was made up of 15,000 people. But there are a few less commonly known achievements in the festival’s records.

Glasto found itself recognized by the book in 1997 for the largest mass juggle in the world. Around 826 people were juggling at least three objects at the same time. 

In 2007, another record was achieved, this time for the highest number of couples kissing simultaneously. 6,837 lovebirds paired up and pecked in the attempt organized by Match.com. 

Another interesting spot was the most people tagged in one online photo. The photo in question was taken of the crowd at the festival’s Pyramid Stage in 2010, and saw 7,063 online tags of the partygoers.

Suzanne Vega once played a Glasto set while wearing a bulletproof vest

Folk singer-songwriter headlined Glastonbury in 1989, and famously had to wear a bulletproof vest due to a death threat. 

The singer told The Guardian that although the police advised her to not attend Glasto, she needed to because she was a headlining act.

Although it was unlikely for Vega to be assassinated on the stage, she described the experience as very stressful.

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Suzanne Vega is a famous folk music singer-songwriter who emerged in the early 80s | © Glynnis Jones / Shutterstock

Luckily for Vega, the bulletproof vest never had to be put to use, and she managed to carry through her headliner act without being put in danger.

There’s a hidden Underground Piano Bar on Glasto’s grounds

Few people know about the Glastonbury myths – locations which are hidden from the public eye (and the partygoer map).

The Underground Piano Bar is a hidden, makeshift speakeasy built by Irish creatives. It has been named Michael Eavis’ favourite part of Glastonbury. The trick is: the place reportedly moves around, so actually locating it is quite a feat.

However, once inside this secret spot, expect to be immersed in folk, jazz and Balkan Polka. Some revellers claim to have found it to the east of the Sacred Space. 

Now that you have all the insider scoop, you’re finally ready to step into the world of Glastonbury and discover what the magic is all about.

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