Glastonbury

Glastonbury

This weekend sees the Glastonbury 2013 take place down in deepest Somerset, one of the most iconic music festivals in the world, let alone Britain.

I’ve been struck by how many different music festivals there are on the English summer calendar, catering for just about every life stage and musical taste, but ‘Glasto’ remains the jewel in the crown.

Since it first arrived on the scene in 1970 (when, incidentally, festival goers were given free milk from the  farm), the event has grown unbelievably in scale and stature.

Back then, the first Glastonbury attracted a crowd of just 1,500 and featured draw cards such as Marc Bolan (RIP) and Al Stewart (‘Year of the cat’ anyone?)

By contrast, this year’s event is expecting a sold-out paying audience of over 155,000 with a further 20,000 involved in putting the whole thing together – organisers and performers.

It has become big business nowadays. Potential sponsors clamber over each other in the corporate mosh pit in an effort to make their products appear cool to their captive audience of well-heeled Glastonites.

But if you missed out on tickets, never fear. The BBC is devoting three channels to covering the event this year so you can effortlessly stumble away from one dud set to another more promising one without even leaving your couch.

Facilities have also been significantly upgraded since the early days, with various ‘glamping’ options available for those seeking the authentic under-canvas experience, but without all the tiresome bits (like pitching a tent for instance, or not having a bed).

From a music point of view, the festival line-up is spectacular both in terms of profile and diversity,  with a bewildering number of performers spread across multiple stages.

The big news this year is that The Rolling Stones are headlining on Saturday night in what must surely be one of their farewell festival gigs. Or maybe not, considering their age-defying abilities to date.

But they are in good company this year, sharing headlining duties with Arctic Monkeys (Friday) and Mumford and Sons (Sunday) and backed up by a supporting cast that reads like a who’s who of current music, not to mention some notable names plucked from my old record collection including Public Image Ltd, Chic, Elvis Costello  and Portishead.

Hey, Sir Bruce Forsyth even gets a gig (yes, really).

With a line-up this choc full of surprises, fans will probably have their work cut out deciding just where to look next, but with it being summertime in England, there is at least one thing that can be predicted with reasonable certainty.

Yes, with rain showers kicking off the first day, it is a fair bet that mud-caked wellie’s will once again be the festival’s footwear of choice.

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