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Glastonbury Festival

The Magic

Glastonbury. The very word sends shivers of excitement through my body. The thought of getting lost among the weird and wonderful sights. The 'child at Christmas' feeling of making sure you see everything. The anxiety of what the weather will do. What to pack? What not to pack? Where to camp? How to avoid hearing a single note from U2?

These are thoughts that have been dominating my mind since I had my ticket confirmation at 09:38, Sunday October 3rd 2010.

In its forty first year, the sheer enormity of the event is something even Mr Eavis couldn't have imagined. And that is who we must thank. Mr Michael Eavis; a dairy farmer from Pilton. He started the then called Pilton Festival in 1970 after being inspired by an open air Led Zeppelin gig at the Bath Blues Festival. The festival scene in those days was heavily influenced by the hippy movement and tales of Woodstock. The Isle of Wight Festival had just kicked off and quickly began to create it's own history with incredible performances from the likes of Dylan, Hendrix, The Doors and of course that performance from The Who. Isle of Wight however only lasted for three years, through 1968 to 1970. Though revived in 2002 on a different site, it has failed to recapture the imagination of those early years which saw attendances of 600,000; surpassing those of Woodstock.

Glastonbury however has remained a pilgrimage. Growing steadily from the 1,500 guests paying £1 each to see T-Rex in 1970 to 135,000 guests paying £195 to see over 700 acts perform on over 80 stages in 2011. The rise has been meteoric.

Today it's a far more commercial event of course, being organised by Michael and Emily's Glastonbury Festivals LTD company which is 40% owned by Live Nation. In 2010 alone it contributed £100 million to the UK economy.

Despite this, Glastonbury holds on to it's roots, it's history, it's beliefs. I've been to all of the UK festivals, I've seen how the corporate grip strangles the soul out of other festivals and how everything is geared towards making money. Events where the only imagination used is the various methods of forbidding you to take alcohol anywhere near the arena and how to pen you into the campsites. Glastonbury promotes a sense of freedom and discovery, a belief that was instilled into those fields back in 1970.

Of course it’s the bands that get the headlines, and to a point, rightly so. Over the years we've seen memorable performance from the likes of Bowie, The Smiths (widely regarded as the turning point for the festival; when they 'let pop music in'), Echo, The Cure, Oasis, Radiohead, REM, Sir Paul McCartney and thousands more. Though it’s the other attractions which Glastonbury offers that makes it truly unique; the creativity within the Green Fields, the pre-apocalyptic themed area that is Shangri-La, the mind boggling imagination that has gone into The Unfairground just to name a few. Then we have the Kidzfied, Theatre and Circus Field, Cubana Salsa Tent highlighting the sheer diversity of the place. From the moment you enter the site you are transported to another world and treated to sensory overload for five days out of the office.

It's a magical place where people from all walks of life come together to experience Glastonbury. That's what it is. It's nothing else. That feeling you get. Those people you meet. The performances you see. That pang of sadness you feel on the Monday afternoon when you’re clean and laying on your sofa watching the recorded BBC highlights. That's it. That's Glastonbury.

Steve C

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