10 Things you never knew about Glastonbury

The Pyramid Stage, Glastonbury
Source: By Paul Holloway from Birmingham, UK, via Wikimedia Commons
The Foo Fighters are out, but the Dalai Lama is confirmed, and the 2015 Glastonbury gets into full swing tomorrow, Friday 25th June 2015. It may be hard believe that the Dalai Lama will be appearing on the same bill as Motorhead, but then Glastonbury has been defying logic for a long time now. The first, hippy style, festival that Michael Eavis hosted at Worthy Farm in Pilton was in 1970 and was called the Pilton Pop, Blues & Folk Festival. Since then, the festival has grown and grown, and it is the largest and best known green-field music festival in the world. So, on the off chance that the Dalai Lama stumbles across this website, here are ten things that you can bet that the Dalai Lama didn’t know about Glastonbury.

1. Glastonbury wasn’t always a massive event
Glastonbury started off as a hippy / alternative lifestyle festival and, for a long time, big name bands were not at all welcome at the site. In 1978, after a period with no Glastonbury Festival at all, a group of travellers on their way home from Stonehenge turned up at the site, because they had heard there was a festival. Even with the arrival of the hippies, 1978 remains one of the smallest Glastonbury Festivals ever with an estimated audience of just 500.

2. The performers don’t get paid a lot for appearing at Glastonbury
If you ever wondered how on earth Glastonbury can afford all the top notch acts it has the bill, the answer is it can’t. Because the festival is involved with so many charitable causes, performers only get paid 10% of their usual fees. It was rumoured that that was the reason it took so long to persuade the Rollin Stones to appear at Glastonbury.

3. Tickets for the first Glastonbury festival cost just £1
Tickets for the first ever Glastonbury festival sold for just £1 and you got free milk included in the price too. The Kinks were due to headline the first festival, but they pulled out at the last minute to be replaced by T. Rex, who were at that time called Tyrannosaurus Rex. Tickets for Glastonbury 2015 went on sale for £220.

4. Not everyone slums it at Glastonbury
For most people, Glastonbury means a tent and praying it doesn’t rain, but for some, their Glastonbury camping experience is a little more sophisticated. For just under £9,000, you can book a four bedroom, three bathroom tent, which comes complete with its very own butler, in the exclusive hospitality area.

5. Glastonbury uses a heck of a lot of electricity
With all the fantastic stage light shows, mobile phone charging points and all the other electric lighting and equipment, Michael Eavis gets a whopping great big electricity bill after every festival. It has been estimated that the Glastonbury Festival uses as much electricity as would be used in a city the size of Bath. They do however now provide some of their power, courtesy of a wind turbine installed on the site.

6. There was a year when Glastonbury didn’t sell out straight away
Tickets for the Glastonbury festival usually sell out very quickly and this year was no exception with all the tickets having been sold within twenty five minutes of them going on sale. The only time that didn’t happen in recent years was in 2008, when rapper Jay-Z was controversially booked as the headlining act.

7. All the residents of Pilton get a free ticket
Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, to give it its full and proper name, is held near the usually very quiet village of Pilton, in Somerset. The villagers are all given a free ticket each year by the organisers of the festival.

8. Paul McCartney was fined at Glastonbury
In 2004, the local council fined Paul McCartney £1,000 for playing on beyond the curfew.  Mind you, McCartney is said to have earned £175,000 for appearing as the headline act, so it didn’t really ruin his day.

9. There was no Pyramid Stage in 1994
In 1994, disaster struck the Glastonbury Festival, when the famous Pyramid Stage, the main stage at the festival, caught fire and burned to the ground, just over a week before the festival was due to take place. A temporary main stage was hastily erected, just in time for the start of the music festival.

10. Glastonbury doesn’t happen every year
Glastonbury festival takes a year off, every five years, to give the ground at the site a chance to recover from the hundreds of thousands of feet walking all over it. The next year that will not be a Glastonbury has been confirmed by Michael Eavis as being 2017.

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