The largest music and performing arts festival on Earth is Glastonbury Festival, often referred to as Glastonbury or Glasto. The festival actually takes place outside of Glastonbury. The venue has been the Worthy Farm since its beginning. The originator of the activity has been local farmer Michael Eavis since it takes place on his farm, located between the towns of Pylle and Pilton.
|Date||Wednesday 23rd June 2010 to Sunday 27th June 2010|
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In 1970 Eavis and his wife organized the festival. Since 2002, a group called Festival Republic has managed the logistics and security during the event. Since the festival has been at the confluence of two streams which eventually make up the Whitelake River, there have been some of years of flooding during the activities. After the flooding in 1998, some drainage improvements have eliminated most of the flooding. Nowadays, during flooding times, the water drains within a few hours.
During the Glastonbury Festival, the farm has some restricted areas for members of the performing groups. The festival stages are a pyramid stage on the north of the compound and another stage on the south. An acoustic tent, a circus and a comedy tent are located on the east side. Some green fields on the southern area display crafts of traditional and environmentally friendly nature. To the far south is the King's Meadow is a Stonehenge-type stone circle. There are some charity functions and auctions also represented in the festival.
The festival is largely run by volunteers although a few groups have paid workers. Oxfam and Greenpeace are among well-known groups represented at the festival. Hare Krishna and other groups usually have stalls while other private personnel sell camping gear or other small items.
The first festival in 1970 was known as the Pilton Festival and had around 1500 attendees. The next year, the free festival attracted more national attention and was called the Glastonbury Fayre. This is when the first pyramid appeared at the festival. This first pyramid was composed of sheet metal and scaffolding. This paved the way for other artwork and sculptures to be displayed. This 1971 version of the festival, with its emphasis on spontaneous entertainment, dance, theatre, lights, poetry and music, was filmed as Glastonbury Fayre.
It was in the 1980s that the festival became an annual event. In 1981, Michael Eavis took control of the festival for the first time. It was organised that year in conjunction with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). A new pyramid was constructed for that year's festival from Ministry of Defence materials. This was the first year that the festival saw profits, which were donated to the CND. In later years, recipients of the profits have included Greenpeace, WaterAid and Oxfam.
In 1983, licensing restrictions were implemented, limiting crowd sizes and the times of operating the stages. Crowds were initially limited to 30,000 but soon grew to over 100,000. The Worthy Farm became too crowded so a neighbouring farm was bought to augment the space at Worthy Farm.
In 1990 the Battle of Yeoman's Bridge, a clash between security guards and new age travellers, forced the organisers to take a year off for planning. When the expanded festival reopened in 1992, new age travellers were not allowed to enter for free as before.
The 1994 festival introduced a wind turbine of 150 kw to provide some of the power for the activities. This was the first year that the festival was televised on channel 4 and the year that 826 people set a new juggling record of 2478 objects in the air.
Another year off in 1996 gave the land a chance to recover from all of the foot traffic. This began a new pattern for the festival, taking one year off every five years. The Guardian and BBC sponsored the festival in 1997, kicking off the biggest year to that date. This was also the muddy year at the Glastonbury Festival. Heavy rains caused a lot of mud, causing many people to leave the festival early and keeping others from coming at all.
The late 1990s saw well-known celebrities attending and entertaining at the festival. Among those famous people were Robbie Williams, Pulp, Blur and R.E.M. Tremendous numbers of gate-jumpers swelled the attendance to over 250,000 at times.
In 2000 gate-jumpers caused so much of a problem that no new licenses were forthcoming until the problem was solved. Although only 100,000 tickets were sold, over 250,000 people were inside. This caused the 2001 festival to be cancelled so organisers could work on the problems.
A new company, the Mean Fiddler, was hired to handle logistics and security from 2002. They put up a super fence, bringing the number of attendees to a more comfortable level. From this date, ticket sales have been completed within a day. Many people want to attend, and the limit on the number of tickets on sale has increased the immediate demand.
2006 was the next year that the festival was to take a year off. The ticket sales for 2007 were sold out within less than two hours at 145 pounds per ticket. To avoid touts, those buying tickets had to provide photos which were printed on the tickets. The organizers also had to demand that a portion of the tickets were to include coach travel to avoid so many cars needing to park at Worthy Farm.
2008 was the first festival in 15 years to not sell out before the festival began. Michael Eavis still had 3000 tickets to sell when the festival began.