Glastonbury 2015: What's it like to live in the quiet village of Pilton when the world's most famous music festival comes calling?

For 360 days of the year, the village of Pilton slumbers. Then Glastonbury Festival arrives… So what's it like to live next door to one of the biggest parties in the world?
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The Independent Culture

Lying in the heart of the Somerset country-side, Pilton is a typical English village. On any given day, locals gossip at the post office, pop into the Crown for an ale, or hold a WI meeting. There are fewer than 1,000 residents – and almost everyone knows each other.

But for five days in June, Pilton's peaceful existence is turned upside-down by the arrival of Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, on the village's southern fringes. With it come 175,000 revellers, a tsunami of music and some of entertainment's biggest names (this year they'll even have to accommodate Kanye West's ego).

Since the festival's inception in 1970, the disruption turned many residents against it. But the situation calmed in 2002 with the erection of a "super-fence" around the site, preventing anyone without a ticket from entering, and deterring so-called undesirables in the process. In 2010, for the first time, Glastonbury's licence was granted without a single objection, and last year it was renewed for another decade.

So what do Pilton's residents – each of whom gets a free ticket – make of living in a village that holds the most famous festival in the world?

Glastonbury Festival begins on Wednesday

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Pilton is a typical English village (Abbie Trayler-Smith)

The devotee

Candace Bahouth, artist

"My husband and I moved to Pilton from New York in the early 1970s; we had no idea about the festival. I met [Worthy Farm owner and festival founder] Michael Eavis straight away, as he was one of the trustees of the chapel we were buying. We've been friends ever since.

"I've been to the festival every year. It was very sweet in the early days. I used to sell homemade cups of lemonade for 25p to the people in traffic. I still like to sell things to visitors. This year I'm doing badges.

"One of my fondest memories is of my son and [Eavis's daughter] Emily, who he's best friends with: when they were seven, they performed 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' on the main stage before Ian Dury played.

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Candace Bahouth, artist: 'I've never had any strife with the festival-goers. I enjoy the tattoos and the dreadlocks' (Abbie Trayler-Smith)

"This year I was really hoping for a diva like Madonna or Cher to play. But Michael didn't listen. I'm always telling him who he should have. I'm a big fan of Leonard Cohen; when Michael booked him a few years back, he called and said, "I got him for you, Candace."

"I also do a B&B in my cottage. Four years ago I had Arthur Brown and Ed Sheeran stay. Ed wasn't a big deal then; he was thrilled as he'd just had a number three [hit]. Arthur just said, 'Oh yeah? Well, I've had a number one.'

"I've never had any strife with the festival-goers. I enjoy the tattoos and the dreadlocks. You see the most extraordinary things."

The novice

James Barker, 41, PhD student

"I arrived in Pilton just after the 2013 festival. I'd walk my dogs on the site when it was just fields so it was very strange 10 months later to see what's basically a city appear. I had never considered going before but I received my free ticket last year and attended my first Glastonbury at the age of 40.

"Everyone I knew in the village wanted to walk with me into the festival for the first time. They were all saying, 'We want to see your face when you see the size of it!' I didn't understand till I got there. It's colossal.

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James Barker: 'Pilton becomes a magical suburb of this extraordinary city that is anything you want it to be' (Abbie Trayler-Smith)

"The village is really quiet – we don't even have street lighting – but just before the festival, the lanes glow with lights and there's a real buzz. Pilton becomes a magical suburb of this extraordinary city that is anything you want it to be. It has all these elements: futuristic, dystopian, spiritual and surreal. It brings many of us together in the village.

"I love that there are so many elements to the festival; there's a misconception that it's predominantly about music but, as far as I'm concerned, that's secondary. It's so fantastical, it doesn't feel like it's of this world.

"I'm definitely going again this year. It's like Hunter S Thompson said, 'Buy the ticket, take the ride,' and I think that's doubly true if the ticket has popped into your hand for free. And I can walk home and enjoy the luxury of a comfortable bed and a proper chair."

The refusenik

Allen Powell, 75, pub landlord

"I've owned the Crown Inn Pilton for four years and previously we were at another pub in the catchment area, so I have 20-plus years' experience of the festival. I've never been. I'm sure it's very good but it's not my taste. Jazz is my thing, old style. I know they have it there but you need a fair amount of stamina to get around, so I choose not to go. I delegate my ticket to someone in the family or one of my customers. They're not hard to lose.

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Allen Powell: 'I'm sure it's very good but it's not my taste' (Abbie Trayler-Smith)

"We used to open the pub during the festival. We don't now as there's not enough trade to warrant it. The locals are all down there and visitors don't need to leave the site.

"Before Glastonbury's wall of steel went up it was a different world. There were a lot of people you wouldn't want around. I used to make a tremendous amount of money out of it but it was extremely stressful. It was like the Wild West. Now it generally has a lot of support in the village. It's an incredible feat to set up a small city in four or five weeks."

The landlady

Miranda Ryder, 37, online marketing manager

"I started going to Glastonbury when I was 16 and I haven't missed one since. I've always lived nearby, but last year a house came up in Pilton and we were keen to buy it because it's a really nice village and we thought, 'Hey, we'll get the free festival tickets!'

"To be honest, when I used to come as a teenager you wouldn't have wanted to live in Pilton. Before the fence was put up, you could imagine some of the people who got in [to the festival] and were running around the village. One year, in my early twenties, I must have been the only one of my friends who didn't get mugged. Some were at knife point. These days it feels very safe. They do a really good job of shutting the village off to the general public and there's a lot of security around.

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Miranda Ryder: 'They do a really good job of shutting the village off to the general public and there's a lot of security around' (Abbie Trayler-Smith)

"This year we're renting out our house and we're going to be camping in the garden with our two young children, which will be interesting. But we're going to share the kitchen and bathroom, so at least we'll have facilities. It's definitely worth doing. We've just moved and want to do some stuff to the house, so it gives us an opportunity to do that. The people staying with us are from Sony – I think they're managers or execs or something. You probably wouldn't want the actual bands, would you?

"We're taking the children to the Kidz Field during the day, and then we'll drop them off with someone and go back and watch Groove Armada. That's quite old-school, isn't it?"

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