Glastonbury Festival

Glastonbury Festival 2023 performers include some of the biggest names in international music, fitting for one of the five top world music festivals. The others include the Sziget Festival in Budapest, Rock Werchter in Belgium, the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, and Oxegen in Ireland.

It is officially called the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts England and its stages have welcomed such luminaries as David Bowie, Joan Baez, Peter Gabriel, Richie Havens, Van Morrison, Johnny Cash, and Bob Dylan. In addition to the headline musical performances, dance, comedy, circus, theater, and many other arts are featured. Close to 200,000 people attend this open-air event over five days near the end of June.

Glastonbury Festival History and Facts

The Glastonbury Festival began as the Pilton Pop Festival in 1970 with only 1,500 in attendance. Admission was one British pound and included free milk. In 1971, it was called the Glastonbury Fayre. By 1980, it was known as the Glastonbury Festivals, and has been held ever since, with a few breaks. There was no festival in 1991 because of fights between security guards and a group of festival goers. There was no festival in 1996 to allow the festival grounds to recover. In 2001, the festival was cancelled to review safety and security measures after the 2001 accident at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark saw nine attendees crushed and suffocated to death in a surge towards the stage. There was another break in 2006; instead a feature-length film was released marking the festival's 30th anniversary.

Getting to the Glastonbury Festival

The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts England takes place in the southwest part of the country at Worthy Farm (a working dairy farm for most of the year) about six miles east of the town of Glastonbury, which is about a three-hour drive west of London. If not driving, you can reach the venue by train to Castle Cary (extra trains are laid on during the festival), and then catch a free shuttle bus. You must have a festival ticket to use the bus. There are also extra fee-based public buses scheduled from various cities. The farm belongs to Michael Eavis who has organized the festival from the beginning and donates a portion of the proceeds to charitable causes.

Glastonbury Festival Tickets

Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts England tickets sell out many months in advance, often by October. Because they are in such high demand, there is a fairly liberal refund policy if you find you cannot attend. You cannot transfer your ticket to someone else. You must apply for a refund, and then your ticket will be included in the resale that occurs closer to the event. Be very careful about where you obtain your tickets. Each ticket is registered, and they are only valid if you've purchased it from an authorized source.

Glastonbury Festival Lodging

The primary Glastonbury Festival 2023 accommodation for most festival goers is camping. There are only a handful of bed and breakfast inns and very small hotels in the area, and they are not within walking distance. There are several different camping areas, each with their own character. There is one site for attendees with disabilities, a "party" site, a "quiet" site, and a family site. Camping is included in the ticket cost. You can bring your own tent or hire one of the pre-set tipis that sleep six people. You can also bring a camper or motor home. Off the festival grounds, but close enough for walking, you will find more upscale camping areas run by independent operators. Here you can sleep in podpads, gypsy caravans, geodomes, and temporary prefab cottages. They come with the basic amenities like bed linens and some even have furniture.

Image: Jason Bryant
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