June 7, 2019

Glastonbury Festival to launch first official book


The Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival: back after a gap year. (Wikicommons, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts has grown from humble beginnings, as Michael Eavis’s Worthy Farm Pop Festival in 1970 headlined by T-Rex and attended by around 1,500 people, to an unstoppable cultural behemoth—one of the biggest festivals in the world, defined by its iconic Pyramid Stage.

Regularly drawing the very biggest acts over the years, it has seen performances from The Rolling Stones, Beyoncé, Radiohead, Neil Young, Björk, David Bowie, Coldplay, and Paul McCartney. Shall I go on? (Cool fact: 135,000 people are expected to attend this year’s jamboree, meaning that if the festival was a town, it would be the 54th biggest town in the UK*.)

After a fallow year in 2018 to allow the farmland to recover, the festival announced its return earlier this year with an extraordinary line-up of over 3,000 acts across over 100 stages, including headliners Stormzy, The Killers, The Cure, and Kylie Minogue, who has secured the hotly-contested Sunday afternoon “Legends’ Slot” (so-called because the influx of day-ticket holders means the festival is at full capacity by this time). It will be an especially emotional show for Minogue, who was forced to withdraw from a headline billing in 2005 after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Other eye-catching performances include The Wu-Tang Clan, Janelle Monae, veteran space-rockers Hawkwind, and a rare UK show from Rickie Lee Jones.

To mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of Glastonbury in 2020, Michael Eavis and daughter Emily (who has co-organised the festival since 2000) are releasing their first official book, Glastonbury 50. A statement from Emily on the festival website reads:

“It’s been a total joy to look back through piles of old photo albums and scrapbooks and to reflect upon what it meant at the time, and the incredible evolution of the event. I hope people who’ve been over the years will be able to reminisce and get a flavour of the rich history of Glastonbury through five amazing decades.”

The luxurious-looking hardback, published in October by Trapeze books, will also feature contributions from an impressive roster of previous performers including Adele, Jay-Z, Chris Martin, and Melville House favourite, Dolly Parton.

Glastonbury 50 looks to be a fitting tribute to one of the most enduring British cultural traditions of the last half-century—an institution that has moved with the times, works closely with charities, and aims to be as environmentally-conscious as possible, this year taking the step to ban single-use plastics from the site.

I will be enjoying Glastonbury from the comfort of my sofa this year, but will be there in spirit. Here’s to another 50.



*according to population data from The Geographist

Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.