Late-night downpour dashes all hope of a mud-free Glastonbury

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The Independent Culture

They said this was the year it wouldn't happen, but Glastonbury wouldn't be the same without a downpour. And so, for the third year running, its name became mud, as revellers at Britain's largest music festival again found themselves drenched and wading through the sludge in their wellingtons.

Forecasters had predicted it would stay dry and both Wednesday and most of Thursday passed without a drop of rain. But anyone with even a passing interest in the festival knew it couldn't last. The first downpour came on Thursday night, relentless rain that seemed to last for hours. Although the weather was not as bad as last year, when festival-goers were literally washed from their tents, the late-night storm ensured that by the time the first bands took to the stage on Friday morning they would be playing to a very traditional Glastonbury crowd.

Conditions underfoot were not the only problem to hit the festival on its opening day. Police received 200 reports of crimes committed on the site by mid-afternoon yesterday – slightly up from last year. Nearly 70 arrests had been made, mostly for drugs offences. A 29-year-old man from Bristol was arrested after a group of campers caught him stealing from their tent. Nearly 500 people had been treated for injuries, the majority being minor.

By the time the first act, Kate Nash, appeared on the Pyramid Stage to open the festival just before 11am, it seemed like the entire crowd of 146,000 had come to greet her. Just 200 tickets remained unsold.

The weather was kind to the 20-year-old singer, but the grey clouds hovered ominously over Worthy Farm. Almost as soon as she stepped off stage, the rain started again. And it continued that way throughout the day: each new shower soaking the crowd just as they were drying off from the last one.

Those who had come from far and wide to Somerset didn't seem to mind, though. In fact, they were prepared. Those trailing through the muddy fields knew from experience that the chances of the rain subsiding for the whole weekend were slim and as every time the rain came out, so did the waterproofs: stalls selling cagoules were doing almost as good a trade as the beer tents.

In one, university friends Cameron Clarke and Alex Jackson were waiting for a shower to pass. Cameron, 22, said: "It's my first time at Glastonbury, but I knew it would rain at some point – it always does. The weather won't ruin the weekend for me; I suppose it is part of the experience."

Alex, 21, added: "It is a little bit frustrating that it's so muddy, but it could be worse; at least it isn't as bad as it was last year."