As Woodstock breaks up in disarray, a British summer of festivals rocks on
Tuesday 27 July 1999
Its grandchild - Woodstock 99 - ended in mayhem in upstate New York on Sunday night when police were needed to stop part of the 250,000-strong crowd torching the stage, looting merchandise stalls and fighting. The rowdy end to the festival followed similar violence on Saturday night when the rap metal group Bizkit began their song "Break Things" and were taken literally by many of their fans.
In contrast to such counter-culture behaviour, this summer has seen Britain's biggest-ever line up of festivals, giving so much variety that they have become almost a mainstream part of the leisure industry.
The venerable Cambridge Folk Festival takes place this weekend, celebrating its 35th anniversary with singers who could have been there at the beginning, such as James Taylor and Loudon Wainwright III. But where Cambridge and Glastonbury were once the only choice for those with a predilection towards tents, in the summer of 1999 some of Britain's 30-plus festivals no longer even have to involve real live musicians.
"The festival has splintered into a number of different types," said Darren Hughes, the organiser of this year's three Homelands dance-music festivals. "Once there was just the alternative rock scene, and they had the stranglehold on festivals. Now there is so much more."
Homelands grew out of Tribal Gathering, the first attempt to hold legal outdoor raves since the orbital parties of the late Eighties.
But this year, in addition to the traditional rock festival and the disc- jockey-based dance festivals there are even safe gigs like The City in the Park concerts in London and Nottingham. These have commercial sponsors and the most mainstream of acts such as The Corrs and Jimmy Nail to attract children and their mothers.
Commercialisation is one reason for the growth in festivals: the Virgin organisation has had its own festivals for five years and Tennent's lager has made T in the Park in Scotland one of the big four of the summer.
There are reggae, gay and heavy metal festivals. And, proving yet again that punk is not dead, there is Holidays in the Sun '99 - a get-together of the Damned and Sham '69.
James Barton, organiser of Creamfields - the eponymous Liverpool club's excursion into festivals - believes that the British like festivals because of our heritage: "Once the sun comes out people start thinking about heading for a field. It's because of all the years of Glastonbury, which frankly everyone of a certain age has been to at least once. And then there was the whole rave culture thing in the late Eighties.
"The difference is now that local councils are actively encouraging it. They know we can run them well and safely and they see it as a boost for the local area."
The dominance of the festival as a contemporary midsummer pastime is illustrated by the coming eclipse in Cornwall. It is unthinkable that 10 years ago the Cornish constabulary and county authorities would have allowed four festivals to become the main tourist attractions focused around the eclipse. But that is exactly what will happen with Sunshadow '99, Eclipse '99, Total Eclipse and The Lizard - the festivals competing for those who want the sun blocked out by more than just the moon.
In contrast, should the authorities in the township of Rome, New York, ever want to attract tourists again it is unlikely they will be giving the go-ahead to another Woodstock.
UK Music Fests
Cambridge Folk Festival 30 July-1 August
Despite the word `folk' the grandaddy festival of them all still offers great value.
After a lengthy exile in Jamaica this is the first Reggae Sunsplash in the UK since 1987.
Total Eclipse 6-11 August
A good taste line up of bands to make up for a clouded eclipse.
Lizard Eclipse Festival
Kula Shaker headlining means this is a festival for hippies who think an eclipse means something.
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 4 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
General Election 2015: Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind as he casts a line to the disaffected of Grimsby
The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
Oxygen-starved 'dead zones' with no marine life up to 100-miles long discovered in the Atlantic Ocean
Russian warships accused of 'chasing away' Swedish vessel to prevent Baltic States from achieving energy independence
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...
£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...