Mu­sic, what mu­sic? Glastonbury caters for all tastes


Glastonbury may be best known for its mu­sic, but many of the 175,000 peo­ple gath­ered at Wor­thy Farm come for the spir­i­tual, po­lit­i­cal and fam­ily events that this year in­clude Pussy Riot and the Dalai Lama among the per­form­ers.

Bri­tish band Florence and the Ma­chine kicked off three days of ma­jor acts with a head­line per­for­mance on the main Pyra­mid Stage on Fri­day, step­ping in for the Foo Fight­ers who can­celled af­ter front­man Dave Grohl broke his leg.

But many of those who have been camp­ing in this scenic cor­ner of Som­er­set, south­west Eng­land, since Wed­nes­day were by then al­ready set­tled into the five-day fes­ti­val that of­fers much more than sim­ply mu­sic.

Nathan Wason, a gui­tarist due to play on Satur­day with Bri­tish folk singer Ben Howard, brought along his wife, three-year-old daugh­ter Esme — al­ready a Glastonbury vet­eran — and 10-month-old son Bobby.

“It’s a good ex­pe­ri­ence for them,” he said of bring­ing his chil­dren, say­ing they “adapt very well” — as long as they get some sleep. “It’s a bit hard when they get tired.”

Started in 1970, when a 1 pound ticket in­cluded free milk from the farm, Glastonbury has be­come a huge busi­ness where tick­ets cost 225 pounds ( US$360) and where you can rent a posh tent for about 9,000 pounds for the five days.

But it has re­tained its orig­i­nal friendly vibe where ag­ing hip­pies, chil­dren and party an­i­mals rub along hap­pily to­gether, all wear­ing the now manda­tory wellies.

Rain seems al­most in­evitable at Glastonbury, with this year’s fes­ti­val-go­ers suf­fer­ing their first del­uge on Fri­day, which quickly turned parts of the four square kilo­me­ter site into a sea of mud.

Ma­gi­cians and Pussy Riot

Glastonbury re­sem­bles a quirky vil­lage, com­plete with stands selling food from all over the world, pop-up tat­too and hair sa­lons, and fire eaters.

In the Kidz Field, an area ded­i­cated to chil­dren, world-fa­mous as­tro­physi­cist Stephen Hawk­ing was due to speak on Fri­day but failed to ap­pear.

There were ru­mors he was ill, but fes­ti­val or­ga­niz­ers could not con­firm this, and pointed out that no date or time had been set for his ap­pear­ance.

“My kids are look­ing for­ward to see­ing Dy­namo,” a ma­gi­cian known for his in­cred­i­ble le­vi­ta­tion tricks, said Karen Chislett, walk­ing around with 10-year-old Freya and six-year-old Caian.

In another part of the site, Rus­sian punk protest band Pussy Riot tied up an ac­tor dressed up as a pro-Rus­sian sep­a­ratist fighter in Ukraine, cov­er­ing his head with a rain­bow mask to de­nounce the con­flict in that coun­try and the lack of re­spect for gay rights in Rus­sia.

Sit­ting on top of a Rus­sian mil­i­tary ve­hi­cle, mem­bers Nadezhda Tolokon­nikova and Maria Alyokhina laid out their rules on life to an as­sem­bled crowd, in­clud­ing “think dif­fer­ent, think fem­i­nist” and “ev­ery change starts with a riot.”

Kanye and the Dalai Lama

Down on the ground, 58-yearold Su­san Gre­gory was more con­cerned with keep­ing the re­cy­cling bins un­der con­trol. Like 25,000 other vol­un­teers here, she is work­ing through­out the fes­ti­val for her ticket and free meals.

“I don’t think I miss any­thing by work­ing, I think I would be bored if I was do­ing noth­ing,” she said.

She has been to Glastonbury six times be­fore and is here on her own. “We meet up with friends ev­ery year, we catch up of what we have been do­ing over the year. It’s part of the ex­pe­ri­ence, to get away from fam­ily,” she said.

Back on stage, in­die-pop band The Lib­ertines made a sur­prise ap­pear­ance on Fri­day night ahead of Florence and the Ma­chine, while rap­per Kanye West is booked for the prime Satur­day night head­line slot.

West has been a con­tro­ver­sial choice for a fes­ti­val known for its rock mu­sic, and al­most 135,000 peo­ple to sign a pe­ti­tion to can­cel him.

Vet­eran rock icons The Who are head­lin­ing on Sun­day, a day that will also see the Dalai Lama ad­dress revel­ers with what his of­fice said would be a mes­sage of “com­pas­sion, non-vi­o­lence and one­ness of hu­man­ity.”


(Above) Florence Welch, right, from Bri­tish band Florence + the Ma­chine per­forms on the Pyra­mid Stage on the first of­fi­cial date of the Glastonbury Fes­ti­val of Mu­sic and Per­form­ing Arts on Wor­thy Farm near Pil­ton, Som­er­set, Eng­land, Fri­day, June 26. (Across, top) Revel­ers wear­ing il­lu­mi­nat­ing out­lines make their way through the ‘Block 9’ area of the Glastonbury Fes­ti­val of Mu­sic and Per­form­ing Arts on Wor­thy Farm near the vil­lage of Pil­ton early on Thurs­day, June 25. (Across, bot­tom) Revel­ers watch the Arcadia py­rotech­nic show at the Glastonbury Fes­ti­val of Mu­sic and Per­form­ing Arts on Wor­thy Farm near Pil­ton on Wed­nes­day, June 24.

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