When I tell people that I live in Glastonbury I usually get the same question…
How much do you love the festival?
It’s a question that I never tire of answering. The festival is one of the main reasons why I came to live here in Somerset. Although I’ve been to many music festivals all around the world, it’s true what they say: there’s nothing really quite like Glastonbury.
The festival has been running since 1971, when entry was just £1 a go. 1,500 people gathered at Pilton for the inaugural festival that year meanwhile, over the pond, I was just graduating from high school and setting out on my first travelling experience. Things have changed a bit since those heady days of free love (and cheaper festival tickets), a ticket to Glastonbury Festival now has to be booked nearly 9 months advance in a mad virtual rush and when the full price is paid the punter is left with around a fiver’s change from £230.
One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is head honcho Micheal Eavis’ approach to offering free tickets to the good people of Pilton and the surrounding areas of Central Somerset. If, like me, you’re lucky enough to live in Pilton itself, then you can benefit from free tickets, once you’ve jumped through the online hoops.
Those living in the other areas of Somerset can buy discounted tickets, including bus travel, for the Sunday of the festival at a reasonable £85. I’ve attended the festival every year that I can, although I’ve not always been completely enamoured by the music line up, the feeling of community spirit and camaraderie is truly unmatched anywhere else on this planet. This year’s festival was no exception.
Whilst many complain about the ever growing commercial aspects to the festival, I personally don’t have an issue with it. After all, it’s to be expected that wherever thousands of people congregate (135,000 attendees were recorded last year) there will always be a contingent of eager businessmen looking to make a quick buck.
Walking through the festival this year I was truly astonished by the variety of food and goods you can purchase here. Everything from designer bobble hats to ponchos made with alpaca fur were on sale this weekend. Should you wish, you could spend hundreds of pounds on shopping alone there – this year though, I was attending to spread my knowledge of meditation and self-healing.
I first brought by particular brand of mindfulness to Glastonbury back in 1998. That year Britain was very much in the grips of guitar-rock. Primal Scream, Blur and Pulp were headlining that year – three bands that would go on to become icons in their own right – and there was a huge amount of anticipation their sets. As much as people were eager to get out in the sun, drinking and dancing, there was also a sense of foreboding that was tough to get to grips with. It felt like the closer we were getting to the Millennium, the more people were worrying about the future and where it would take them.
I spent my weekend at Glastonbury this year in much the same way that I spent that first one, helping revellers find a way to wind down and relax from within the madness.