Elisa Bray: Caught in the Net

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The Independent Culture

If you're not braving the tradition of rain and mud at Glastonbury this weekend, you can follow the festival excitement online from the comfort of your own home computer. Since 1997 the BBC has held the exclusive deal with the festival for live broadcasting, which means you won't be finding other sites offering coverage of live performances (though no doubt there will be thousands of clips on YouTube by the end of the weekend).

Like the BBC's television coverage, the website features acts across the festival. In the week leading up to the festival, interviews with the festival's key players were posted at www.bbc.co.uk/glastonbury/2008/. You can hear Michael Eavis on the decision to change the tradition of having a "white rock'n'roll band" headlining, replacing the Saturday night headline slot typically reserved for anthemic guitar bands with hip-hop star Jay Z, while Radio 1 rap presenter Tim Westwood interviews the most talked about headliner in the festival's history. Westwood will again interview the star just before his appearance on the Pyramid Stage. to which you will be able to listen from the Saturday night.

Jo Whiley's acoustic sessions for Radio 1, with chat and live performances by Kate Nash, The Fratellis, The Hoosiers and Vampire Weekend, will be recording at the festival. But there will also be content exclusive to the website. The BBC Introducing... Stage had a hit with The Ting Tings when they made their Glastonbury debut on the stage last year and they have since rocketed to the top of the charts. This year the stage will again be the place to spot hot new bands, and up-and-coming acts to look out for include thecocknbullkid – Hackney-born Ghanaian Anita Blay – whose Saturday headline set will be broadcast exclusively via the BBC's Glastonbury website.

Other acts filmed from the Introducing... stage that you can catch exclusively on the website include Bryn Christopher, Fight Like Apes and Sky Larkin. Another inventive addition to the website is the Steve Lamacq Tracker: a map with a flashing light pointing out the DJ as he roams the site's acres to find new and established bands to interview – all of which will be posted online.

On the Sunday the website will feature more Westwood chats with artists. But, with the ever unpredictable nature of festivals, the weather and hectic environment, the artists who will be featured by Westwood remain unconfirmed, so delving into the website over the weekend should present some surprises. DJ Annie Mac will be joined by Hercules and Love Affair and Utah Saints for her show. Last year the BBC's online coverage saw one million users access the site during the weekend and in the week following.

For more grassroots coverage, try the festival's onsite radio station, which can be listened to via the official Glastonbury website www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk, where you can also find interviews and other information. Each year the festival's official radio station Worthy FM broadcasts live locally on 87.7FM, but you can hear it all hours online. Worthy FM began as the tiny independent station Avalon FM, taking on its current name three years ago when Michael Eavis offered support and funding. Its coverage started on Monday this week, aiming to ease festival-goers into the mood, keeping people informed on any last-minute changes, and helping people prepare, with travel tips.

The weekend's coverage sees the station's broadcasters explore the festival site to discover the smaller events taking place, like the Tiny Tea Tent, featuring small bands and those who want to rock up with a didgeridoo and try their own hand at impromptu performing – all to be covered by the station. There will also be extra exclusive sessions with the Levellers, Will Young, and Martha Wainwright, broadcast over the weekend for those at home to listen online. As Joanna Schofield, broadcasting on the station, says: "It's the official voice of Glastonbury. It's a facility for people who haven't been able to make it to the festival to get the vibe of it."

If the sun does put its hat on and you start to regret not donning your wellington boots, seizing your tent, loo roll, and joining the other 134,000 plus people (or 137,000, should remaining tickets sell) making their way to Worthy Farm, you can always embed the BBC's live webcam of the festival site on your computer. Or you can simply watch and snigger, should there be a repeat of last year's mudbath.

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