Glastonbury at 40: From hippyville to international music festival

Matilda Battersby@matildbattersby
Wednesday 07 October 2015 09:41

The Glastonbury Festival has come a long way since its humble beginnings as the Pilton Pop, Blues & Folk Festival. First held in September 1970, attended by 1,500 and featuring T. Rex as its headline act, founder Michael Eavis would have been hard pressed to predict that 40 years later it would be Europe’s biggest music festival.

Situated in Somerset, between the villages of Pilton and Pylle, six miles east of Glastonbury, and overlooked by Glastonbury Tor, the event is famous for having a large New Age following. The 1971 festival, called the Glastonbury Fayre, was held over the June summer solstice, attracting scores of hippies who danced naked and performed rites to welcome midsummer. The second ever Glastonbury saw the establishment of the now iconic Pyramid Stage, on which David Bowie headlined.

Despite growing exponentially over the past four decades, Glastonbury was initially organised as a free festival and its founders have been keen to maintain a not-for-profit approach since then. It has a long running relationship with Oxfam and other charities, and it is run primarily by volunteers who are paid with festival access, food and board.

Glastonbury expanded massively in the 1990s and attracts a much, much bigger crowd than it did in its nascent form - In 2009 more than 137,000 people bought tickets.The festival seems to have remained cool across several generations, by securing the best bands of the day and maintaining its ethical values. It has a huge celebrity following, has helped establish ‘festival chic,’ and despite many rainy washout years (and a freak sales blip in 2008), when tickets go on sale they are sold out within 24 hours.

With the doors of Glastonbury 2010 due to open on Wednesday, The Independent Online has been rummaging through the festival organisers’ photo albums to provide you with a nostalgic look at the last 40 years of the festival. From dancing hippies, to angry punks, dazed rockers and indie kids. See if you can spot yourself...or your parents!

Click here or on the image to launch Warning! Some images contain scenes of nudity

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