50 Years of Glastonbury


Glastonbury has earned the legendary title of the best festival in the world. We are slowly approaching its 50th birthday and in celebration we will be taking a look at the history of the festival, from the tiny festival that only cost £1 in 1970 to the full-blown super scale event it is today. 1970 marked the year for the foundations of many festivals across the UK, including Isle of Wight, but Glastonbury holds a special place in our hearts. It resembles the 1969 Woodstock festival portraying the same message of ‘peace and love’ even during a time of political discontent, people wanted to be apart of a community and Glastonbury provided this. It was a place for all music lovers and in 1979 it turned into the three-day festival which we know it today.

Glastonbury has transformed immensely throughout its 50 years, the biggest change came in 1984, marking the year Glastonbury moved away from basing itself around the hippie movement to instead veering towards mainstream culture. The Smith’s headline performance verified this, when fans began jumping onstage to embrace the lead singer Morrissey. Another pinnacle moment of the festival was the 1994 performance by Orbital introducing dance music to the predominately rock festival, there is now a whole section dedicated to showcasing the UK rave scene. In recent years Glastonbury has begun introducing various different genres into its festival, this did not come without controversy. In 2008, Jay-Z was announced as a headliner and this was the only Glastonbury that did not sell out within minutes as many, including Noel Gallagher, felt rap did not belong at a festival. And oh, how they couldn’t be more wrong, as Jay-Z silenced his critics immediately with his stand-out performance. Not only was the performance fantastic, but he enraged Oasis fans by covering Oasis’s song ‘Wonderwall’, this moment is something that is worth watching, giving the middle finger to Noel Gallagher and all rock fans who couldn’t understand how hip-hop could perform at a festival.

In 2011 Beyoncé became the first woman in 20 years to headline Glastonbury, her set like many others, will go down in history, she combined modern pop with the festival’s past, singing hippie chants and producing a dynamic intense performance. History was also made when grime artist Stormzy headlined the Pyramid Stage last year marking the first time a grime artist had ever headlined the festival. Stormzy who is often cited as the “godfather of grime” put on an amazing set featuring a political and iconic performance, which  will go down in our country’s history and only goes to show that Glastonbury is keeping up with the times. It’s constantly evolving and bringing communities together; this evolution goes to show Glastonbury’s cultural impact, and all hail another 50 years of this iconic festival. Be sure to catch Glastonbury this year as Taylor Swift, Diana Ross and Paul McCartney are to headline. If you can’t attend the festival, then be sure to catch the event on telly.


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Editor 2020/21 and a History student with a Britney Spears addiction.

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