Where do you even begin with Glastonbury? This year you’d probably have begun stuck outside for hours waiting to get in on Wednesday morning, or not as the organisers advised. Glastonbury 2016 was an experience. Hundreds of thousands of dedicated music fans flocked, through the rain, wind and mud, to Worthy Farm on a musical pilgrimage to see some of the greatest music the world has to offer- as they continue to do year on year without hesitation. This year’s event ran from the 23rd to the 26th June 2016, although many arrived early (on the 22nd or 21st). It was headlined by Muse, Adele and Coldplay- a crowd pleasing, high profile selection (which was not to be scorned upon).
You can’t describe what makes Glastonbury special. There’s some sort of addictive magnetic pull which drags you in. Whether you’ve a fascination in music, art or… well… food and drink, there’s something for everyone. The age range is staggered to say the least. There’s babies (of literally 6 months) and so-called “grannies” of 86 onwards- and everything else in between! You can escape the “real world” for a bit and be whatever you so desire and there’s something extremely empowering and liberating in that. There’s a Glasto for everyone and I urge everyone to try it at least once in their life.
No, the toilets weren’t that bad, the camping is actually quite fun (many don’t sleep and those who do are too shattered to care about the less that admirable sleeping conditions) and no one really cares what you look- or smell for that matter- like. As for the rain, I’d advise an actually waterproof coat (sometimes practicality has to prevail and the yellow mac won’t suffice). You can’t stop the weather and it doesn’t seem to stop anyone.
This year the women seemed to rule Glastonbury. We always complain about the lack of female artists on the line up, or rather the proportion of male to female acts on the line up, but I genuinely believe that this year’s line up was dominated by some of the strongest, and most influential, women in the music industry. The fact it was headlined by Adele supports that, but there were many other brilliant female fronted groups or artists who were utterly fabulous too (Wolf Alice, Jess Glynne, Grimes, Izzy Bizu etc). There’ll be more on this later though.
We started the weekend by watching the highly emotional tribute to the late MP Jo Cox, who was brutally murdered recently in her constituency, on the Park Stage. Plenty of colleagues shared their experiences of her and were joined by a crowd of women on the stage wearing what I believe to be the votes for women (women’s suffrage) sash. She was an inspirational woman who had achieved so many great things over her lifetime, and I’m sure she’d have gone on to do a lot more. She worked closely with charities like Oxfam and would actively go out of her way to help others. This was inspiring and I hope I can channel a bit of this in my own life. There was a minute of silence before we were lead into song by Billy Bragg.
We explored the whole site this time. There’s so much to do it’s unbelievable. On the Thursday we climbed up to the top of the hill and took an obligatory photo with the Glastonbury sign. The view from this point is indescribable. Words can’t really do it justice; it’s simply breathtaking. From here we found the famous Stone Circle and the Green Fields and Craft Fields. There was so much to make and do that it was almost overwhelming. If that’s not your thing there’s so much going on in the theatre and circus field, like in the cabaret tent where we came across various comedians discussing the newspapers on Sunday morning (very welcomed as we’d not seen the news for days), or in the Kidz Field (Dynamo, THE Basil Brush and that). What I love about Glastonbury is that you could do the festival over and over and get a completely different experience each time.
The night areas proved popular after the music had finished (if you could face the long walks in the mud). Arcadia continued to put on stunning displays with guest DJs and was packed out every night. There was also The Common, Block 9 and Shangri-La (or Shanghai, as someone referred to it on the BBC television highlights). Whilst we didn’t necessarily get to see these areas in full swing, I am assured they were just as mad and brilliantly crazy as ever. There was also the festival’s first ever female only venue- The Sisterhood, or something- which we were encouraged to march to after the Jo Cox memorial service. On the Saturday night there was also a tribute to the late David Bowie on the Park Stage with a symphony and a stunning light display.
As for the whole “Brexit” (a terrible, terrible phrase, which I fear we’ll only hear more of) thing… It’s hard not to get too political, but it’s difficult to keep in touch with what’s happening outside of Glastonbury at Glastonbury. It seemed the UK was in tatters, but Glastonbury was doing just fine. Plenty of bands had their say about it, from The 1975 to Coldplay to Bastille to David Albarn and the National Syrian Orchestra. Years and Year’s Olly Alexander (lead singer) chose to highlight the fact it was gay pride weekend by wearing a rainbow outfit and encouraging the audience to “shove a rainbow” in fear’s face.
There’s so much to say about the actual acts though that I’m going to split it up between three blog posts over the next few days and then it’ll all be back to normal! I hope you enjoy.