Glastonbury Festival, which takes place from June 22 to 26 this year, is one of the biggest, most prestigious performing art festivals in the world. Held every year at Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset, U.K., the multi-day festival features performances from leading music, dance, comedy, theater, and visual artists. Due to its consistency in providing quality entertainment and experiences, Glastonbury Festival has become a global cultural phenomenon that attracts hundreds and thousands of attendees regularly and has been held to critical acclaim, becoming a pop culture icon of its own right.
History of Glastonbury Festival
Inspired by hippie-themed music and arts festivals in the United Kingdom in the 1960s, dairy farmer and businessman Michael Eavis decided to organize his own. Since Eavis’ first Glastonbury Festival, then known as the Pilton Pop, Blues, and Folk Festival, in 1970, it has grown into the world’s largest multi-day outdoor arts festival. Hundreds of thousands of people flock to Worthy Farm’s muddy fields to witness the best of the art world because of its iconic position.
While it also showcases the best in theater, comedy, dance, and visual arts, it is mostly known for featuring the best music artists across a wide spectrum of genres. From rising artists to legends such as Stevie Wonder, Led Zeppelin, The Smiths, Paul McCartney, Radiohead, Beyonce, David Bowie, and many others, it has become a sought-after event in the annual music festival calendar.
For artists, playing in Glastonbury is considered a career highlight due to its prestige and the guarantee of an unforgettable experience. It has helped boost the careers of then-up-and-coming bands and has provided a stage for relevant subcultures of every era. Eavis’ curation has been praised for his keen eye on current trends, movements, and cultures, providing them with the proper stage to stamp their legacies in stone.
Glastonbury Festival is so popular and legendary that it has set a model for many other music festivals throughout the world. Regarded as a major touchstone event in British culture, the festival is inspired and run by the unrelenting hippie ethos of achieving peace and togetherness through the arts.
Glastonbury Festival timeline
Featuring the likes of T.Rex and Ian Anderson, Michael Eavis holds the Pilton Pop, Blues & Folk Festival, which would later become Glastonbury Festival.
Glastonbury Festival's fabled main stage, the Pyramid stage, debuts.
Suzanne Vega becomes the festival's first female headliner.
Glastonbury is televised for the first time by the BBC, helping expand the festival's reach to global audiences.
The famed Dance Tent is first opened, welcoming the dance and electronic music culture to the previously rock and band-dominated festival.
Glastonbury Festival FAQs
How old do you have to be to go to Glastonbury Festival?
Even though the event does not specifically prohibit people under the age of 18 from attending unaccompanied, they do encourage that they are accompanied by a parent or guardian over the age of 18. Children under the age of 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult who has purchased a ticket.
Which artist has played Glastonbury Festival the most?
Northern Irish singer Van Morrison holds the record for the most Glastonbury appearances, playing the festival seven times.
What is the largest recorded crowd for a Glastonbury Festival set?
Folk band the Levellers holds the record for Glastonbury’s largest crowd for an artist’s set, attracting roughly 300,000 people in 1994. However, this edition of the festival is also known for having an abundance of gatecrashers.
Glastonbury Festival Activities
Go to the festival
There's no better way to experience the Glastonbury Festival than to attend it. If you do, just remember to prepare accordingly, whether you will be camping or just there for the day. A trusty pair of Wellington Boots are recommended to handle the festival's famously rain-soaked, muddy ground.
Watch the best of Glastonbury from the comfort of your home
If you can't be at Glastonbury this year, why not take in some of the sets of previous years? The festival has birthed numerous iconic sets from various artists, many of which are available to see online. Queue one up and feel like you're there with them!
Hone your craft and dream of playing at Glastonbury
Have a band? Or an art project of your own? Any time is a good time to hone your craft to your maximum potential. Who knows, maybe the idea of playing at Glastonbury in the future won't be so far-fetched after all.
5 Facts About The Most Iconic Glastonbury Performances
Not ok, computer
Radiohead's legendary 1997 headlining set was marred by technical problems, with the band's onstage monitors not functioning correctly the entire time.
It's not just rock
British electronic unit Orbital's headlining performance in 1994 was so successful, it inspired Michael Eavis to open the Dance Tent the year after.
It was worth it
Paul McCartney was fined £1,000 by the local Pilton council for surpassing his performance curfew in 2004.
The boss takes notice
Before being asked to headline the Glastonbury Festival in 2009, Bruce Springsteen had never heard of it.
A tough act to follow
The Dalai Lama gave a speech at the festival in 2015, highlighting the values of peace and humanity's important role in curbing climate change.
Why We Love Glastonbury Festival
Glastonbury Festival is a melting pot of diversity
The festival attracts thousands of people of differing backgrounds, age groups, nationalities, faiths, and personalities every year it is held. It is the chance for anyone to mingle in and witness this huge melting pot of diversity and create lasting memories. Because the festival is run under the notions of peace, love, and harmony, it emanates a vibe that can make anyone feel welcome.
It consistently features an incredible number of arts under one banner
Glastonbury Festival is the largest outdoor arts festival in the world. All the best of the world's art, past to present, is available to see under one huge banner. Its diversity and great curation ensure that a visit to Worthy Farm is always one to remember.
It has given mythical status to many musical acts
Glastonbury Festival has hosted some of the most iconic performances in music history. Some of which elevated previously small bands to larger heights. From Radiohead's triumphant 1997 set to Arctic Monkeys' 2007 statement of intent, Glastonbury Festival has proven itself to be the birther of legends. The fact that these sets are still talked about today shows how significant the festival is in the minds of every music lover.
Glastonbury Festival dates