Close Icon
A view of the Glastonbury sign at Glastonbury Festival on Worthy Farm in Somerset.

The festival’s 50th event is coming up on the 22nd June 2022 and we want to answer all of your burning Glastonbury questions!

Hi I’m Alice and I have been to Glastonbury 4 times (2015, 2016, 2017 & 2019).

Unfortunately, the Glastonbury gods were not on my side for this year’s event and I didn’t get tickets.

But instead of dwelling, I thought it would be nice to share a post on all things Glastonbury, one of Somerset’s pride and joys.

A woman posing for a picture on a hill with views of Glastonbury Festival in the background.

At Helpful Holidays, we have a lovely handful of properties in and around the Glastonbury and Shepton Mallet area.

Don’t save a trip to either town just for the festival though. This beautiful area of Somerset, near the Mendips and the cathedral city of Wells, is a beautiful holiday destination.

Read on to find out all there is to know about Glastonbury Festival…

Where is Glastonbury?

Okay, first things first, where is it? Glastonbury Festival takes place on Worthy Farm in Pilton, a village just outside the town of Glastonbury in Somerset.

A scattering of charming villages and hamlets surround Worthy Farm. The stunning Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) sits just over 6 miles north from the festival, as well as the tiny cathedral city of Wells.

Who started Glastonbury and when?

Glastonbury is arguably the UK’s most iconic music festival. It’s full name is Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts.

The creator of the iconic Glastonbury Festival is Micheal Eavis. Eavis was inspired to start his own festival after attending the Blues festival at the Bath & West Showground.

In 1970, the first Glastonbury Festival took place and was originally called “Pop Folk & Blues”.

A woman walking towards the camera with festival flags and crowds in the background.

The line up on the poster included Marc Bolan and The Kinks, among several other hot topics. Tickets were just £1 and 1,500 people attended! In the end The Kinks didn’t actually show up, but a pre-abbreviation performance from Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex) and Marc Bolan made a historic performance for those lucky enough to see it.

In 1971, the festival was free with an estimated 12,000 people attending. David Bowie was among the acts on the line up and the first pyramid stage was constructed that year. Below is a picture of the Bowie Aladdin Sane tribute on the pyramid stage in 2016 following the star’s death in January of that year.

The iconic pyramid stage with a tribute to David Bowie at Glastonbury Festival in 2016.

Over the years, Glastonbury evolved to become what we know it is today. The line ups got ever more epic, the attendance grew and the name Glastonbury Festival stuck!

What is Glastonbury known for?

Glastonbury is of course known for being an incredible music festival. But it’s also been a huge supporter of a wide range of charities and amazing causes.

Glitter wellies a festival essential.

Every year, Glastonbury is partnered with Water Aid, Oxfam, and Greenpeace, and supports more than 750 local charities too.

Since 2000, Glastonbury has contributed over £20 million to charities!

What is the biggest crowd ever at Glastonbury?

There’s no way to know the exact numbers, but it’s thought that The Levellers in 1994 drew the biggest crowd at Glastonbury.

Thanks to a fair amount of gatecrashers, their set managed to pull in an estimated 300,000 strong crowd!

The security in the earlier years wasn’t what it was today. Michael Eavis himself simply stated “the fence wasn’t good enough” and he was “hauled over the coals by the police”.

View of the Pyramid stage during Coldplay's headline set in 2016 at Glastonbury Festival in Somerset.

I’ve been among many large crowds at Glastonbury, but one of the most memorable has to be Coldplay headlining in 2016. Festival workers passed around light up bracelets throughout the day for the set later on.

A sea of blue lights in the crowd during Coldplay's headline set on the pyramid stage in 2016 at Glastonbury Festival in Somerset.

It resulted in a magical display of colours and light stretching out beyond the pyramid stage. My sister and I stood at the back to take in the full views; it was breath-taking!

Who turned down Glastonbury?

It’s hard to believe that an artist or band would turn down the chance to play Glastonbury, but there’s a fair few who have done just that!

The iconic Fleetwood Mac are among those heavily anticipated to play the pyramid stage. It seems it very nearly happened for the planned 50th anniversary, but ultimately the group refused due to the low fee on offer.

Emily Eavis, Michael Eavis’ daughter who now runs the festival, explained that artists get “probably less than 10% of what they’d get from playing any of the other major British festivals”.

There is still hope though. Mick Fleetwood himself was quoted in 2019 saying “I think the legend of Glastonbury and Fleetwood Mac will come true. I think I’ll burn in hell if we don’t do it one day.”

Taylor Swift was announced to play the 50th anniversary headline slot for 2020. But when the festival was delayed due to the covid-19 pandemic, she was unable to commit to the rescheduling this year in 2022.

Other bands and artists who turned down the chance to play Glasto include Led Zeppelin, The Libertines, and Depeche Mode.

Who is the oldest performer at Glastonbury?

The oldest person to headline Glastonbury is soon to be Sir Paul McCartney. In just over a week, Sir Paul will be playing the famous pyramid stage at the grand age of 80 years old.

The record for the oldest person to perform at Glastonbury, including all other stages, actually goes to the late Sir Bruce Forsyth.

Forsyth performed an hour long one man show on the Avalon stage for around 2,500 festival goers in 2013!

How much does a Glastonbury ticket cost?

Over the years Glastonbury tickets have increased in cost due to inflation as you would expect.

The price for a ticket has been £265 for the last several festivals, however 2022 has seen the price increase to £280 + £5 booking fee.

Glastonbury Festival’s website explains “every effort was made to keep this increase on the 2020 ticket price…as low as possible…”. They cite the reason for the increase as being due to “…inflation and the impact of two forced cancellations.”

It may seem a little steep, but it does include a lot! Entry to the festival, 5 nights of camping, programmes, and literally 100s of performances.

A view of the pyramid stage at sunset at Glastonbury Festival.

How big is Glastonbury Festival?

It’s the largest greenfield music festival in the world and people aren’t lying when they say it feels like going to another country.

Walking around the endless fields and areas feels like exploring new, vibrant and exciting cities.

The perimeter of the site spans over 8 miles and is more than 1.5 miles across.

Every year around 200,000 festivalgoers call this enormous site home for 5 or 6 nights. Requiring a huge amount of security and infrastructure, the festival runs like a well-oiled machine now that it’s in its 50th year.

One of the muddiest Glastonbury Festivals on record in 2016.

Does Glastonbury make a profit?

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, yes. In June 2019 the BBC reported that the festival’s accounts at the end of March 2018 showed a post-tax profit of £1.43 million, cash reserves of £10.6 million, and charitable donations of £2.1 million.

This year however, due to the two cancellations in 2020 and 2021, the festival has recorded losses of £3.1 million after tax, with a turnover of just less than £1 million.

Emily Eavis has previously stated that they “have to sell out to break even…” as the festival itself costs around £40 million to put on.

What is the best Glastonbury performance ever?

This is a tricky one! But I’ve narrowed it down to a top 6 (in no particular order):

  1. Arctic Monkeys, 2013 – I’m a little bit biased because I am a big fan, but for their second headlining opportunity, they came back better than ever. Beginning with a brand new song from their album AM, Alex Turner transformed into a seasoned showman.
  2. Beyoncé, 2011 – One of the first big headliners proving that Glastonbury is not just for hippies and indie kids, Beyoncé did what Beyoncé does. Opening with Crazy in Love, her set included a 6-song Destiny’s Child medley, and ended on the angelic Halo. It’s one for the ages.
  3. Metallica, 2014 – Having never fully embraced the heavy metal scene up until their headline set, many were skeptical about this choice. But minds were soon changed when the classics kept coming and the crowd were loving it.
  4. Bruce Springsteen, 2009 – The Boss just does it like no one else can. Playing for a whopping 3 hours straight without so much as a pause, Bruce had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Michael Eavis even had to pay a £3,000 fine after the Boss’ set broke the festival’s curfew!
  5. Stormzy, 2019 – One of the most recent performances but certainly no less legendary. Stormzy was the first British rapper to take the headline slot on the pyramid stage. I can confirm first hand this set was electric from start to finish! Stormzy was in fact devastated coming off stage though.
    Around 20 minutes into the set his earpiece stopped working so he couldn’t hear himself. Thinking he had bombed, he was soon reassured by Emily Eavis herself that it was a performance of a lifetime!
  6. Adele, 2016 – Another personal favourite, Adele’s headline slot was a long time coming. Having grown up going to Glastonbury almost every year, it was only right that Adele had her chance to wow the masses. I was lucky enough to be on the front row on the barrier, and when she came down to the crowd during “Someone Like You”, she held my hand for a good 12 seconds!

Adele during her headline set on the pyramid stage at Glastonbury Festival in 2016.

So there we have it, a whistle-stop tour of all things Glastonbury.

All that’s left to say is if you’re going this year, have a brilliant time!

And if you’re not going or have never been, get yourself registered for next year because everyone should experience the magic of Glasto!

Learn more about Somerset by reading our 12 Fascinating Facts About Somerset post and see why the West Country is well worth visiting.

Sources: BBC News; Business Live; The Guardian; Glastonbury Festival.