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Somerset, England

The Glastonbury FestivalThe Glastonbury Festival

The Glastonbury Festival was first held in the summer of 1970, the day after the death of Jimi Hendrix. The donation for entrance that day was one pound and that included free milk to drink! The festival is held about 6 miles from the village, still on the working dairy farm, Worthy Farm. Today the festival covers over 800 acres of farm pastures, the entrance price is over 200 dollars, and I don't think that includes milk anymore. Tickets go on sale 6-8 months ahead of time and are sold out within hours. For those unlucky wanna be attendees who miss that window, tickets are often resold on Ebay for whatever the market will bear, and it can bear a lot. As a result the "I had to hitchhike to get here" hippies that first attended the festival have been replaced by yuppies and retired well to do members of society reminiscing their lost teen years.

The Glastonbury FestivalThe Glastonbury Festival is the largest outdoor festival for music and the performing arts in the world. Well over 130,00 tickets go on sale these days, and headliners such as The Who, Paul McCarthy, Coldplay, Rod Stewart, and Bruce Springsteen ensure that the demand for tickets far exceeds that number. Accommodations for the event include the few lucky ones who get rooms booked far in advance in B&B's and local inns; for the rest it's 'communing with nature'... tenting. Often, too often, tenting in massive downpours of rain and flooding from the two nearby streams that seem to overflow their banks with grim regularity.

Crime at the festival is a major concern. Drugs are readily available and everywhere, with friendly 'salesmen' popping their heads into your tent to see if they might have what you need. Theft is common and serious, with whole tents, and the belongings left in them, disappearing in seconds. Tighter and tighter security measures and more arrests all the time are helping to alleviate some of this issue, but you'll want to take some extra care while attending.

The mountains of litter and destruction of the fields is being tackled by intense 'green' campaigns. Things are improving nicely.

The Glastonbury FestivalI've made the festival sound, so far, like an exercise in stupidity. And to be sure, it has it's issues. But it is also a wonderfully friendly, vastly entertaining few days of amazing music, acting, and 'getting to know your neighbor' at an intense level most of us never get to experience in our day to day lives. If you don't mind quickly disgusting toilets (do bring your own paper!), almost certainly being wet and smelly yourself at some point, if you can sleep through 24 hour a day noise, and don't mind dancing anytime, anywhere, meeting people who are ready to help, chat, hang out, and open their lives to you at the drop of a hat, the festival will be one of those 'moments' in your life that you never forget. Love it or hate it, sunshine or torrential downpour, you *will* leave with a stock of stories and laughter to make you the star of dinner parties for many years.

The Glastonbury Festival



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