Founded in 1970 by dairy farmer Michael Eavis, Glastonbury Festival - then named Pilton Pop, Blues & Folk Festival – is one of the major events on the UK’s cultural calendar. Now catchily described as “the largest green-field music and performing arts festival in the world”, the event is still held at Eavis’s Worthy Farm in Somerset, south-west England, and draws around 200,000 people each day across its annual five-day run. Tickets starting at more than £250 typically sell out within the first 24 hours of going on sale.
Though it started fairly small with around 1,500 attendees, Glastonbury drew in some famous and cult names early on – the first iteration, in 1970, was headlined by an early version of Marc Bolan’s T Rex. The following year’s event featured a performance by David Bowie (who would return for a headline slot in 2000) and was filmed by Nicolas Roeg for a 1972 documentary titled Glastonbury Fayre.
Since then, Glastonbury Festival has gained a special reputation worldwide. Maybe it’s the sacred power of Glastonbury Tor, or maybe it’s simply because the event has featured some of music’s most iconic moments, a lineup of legendary artists and a diverse host of other performances and events. Artists including Pulp, Radiohead, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Dolly Parton, Underworld, Orbital, Billie Eilish, The xx, Lana Del Rey, FKA twigs and many more have braved the weather (and, specifically, the mud) over the years. In 2019, Stormzy made history as the first Black British solo headliner, taking to the iconic Pyramid Stage with a dazzling, political performance in a Banksy-designed stab vest.
Unfortunately, the 50th anniversary edition of Glastonbury Festival was cancelled in 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic, and replaced with a “celebratory broadcast” by the BBC. Despite the hopes of Eavis’s daughter (and co-organiser) Emily Eavis that it would return a year later, ongoing Covid-19 restrictions meant the festival was also cancelled in 2021.