Glastonbury History

Follow 'glastoearth' on Twitter to hear about the latest updates.
Updated, erm, not as often we hoped. We'll catch up, eventually.

1970 1971 1978

1979 1981 1982

1983 1984 1985

1986 1987

Over the last forty years, Glastonbury Festival has forged a remarkable trajectory. From one pound tickets, free milk, and a few thousand people, to a tented city of 180,000, thousands of performances and a media spotlight bringing an audience of tens of millions.

It was founded on a mix of whim, idealism and naivity. With its precarious finances it should have failed in its early years, and indeed it nearly did. When it came back to life in the late 70s, the enduring tenacity of a farmer with a 'get things done' mentality prevailed.

In the following decades it bedded in, at first becoming a beacon for activism and counter culture in Britain, before eventually transforming into an event with global recognition and mainstream appeal.

Underpinning most of the festival's history has been a laissez faire philosophy. The event has grown organically, with independently run areas given a long leash, bringing a diversity of attractions and music that few if any festivals could offer back then, or indeed now.

It would be easy to assume then, in plotting a simple line from 1970 to the present day, that it has been a continuous incremental success. It has not. The same hands-off anything-goes mentality that has been the DNA of the festival, is also the one that has, on occasion, brought it to crisis.

In spite of the challenges and the growth, there are elements of the festival's ethos that have prevailed. Activism, support for good causes and 24 hour hedonism live on. The emphasis may have changed, but the essence remains.

As it heads towards this anniversary, the festival is back on an even keel and has the wind is in its sails. In '40 Years of Glastonbury', we'll be taking you through the years and decades that have lead up to one of the biggest milestones in the festival's history.

Some of this is taken from our own memories - all of the GlastoEarth team have worked at the festival, and most still do. Much of the rest is taken from some excellent and respected sources.


Thanks to wiskey and Geoff, who have raided their formidable memorabilia collections to bring this history to life, as well as providing behind the scenes insights into the festivals of the eighties and nineties.

Of all the published sources we've used, two stand out:

Glastonbury Festival Tales by John Shearlaw and the late Crispin Aubrey remains the 'document of record'. It tells the story with a compelling selection of recollections from organisers, festival-goers and performers.

UK Rock Festivals web site, curated by The Great White Shark, provides an invaluable 'from the ground' viewpoint of the early decades of Glastonbury and many other British festivals.

Memorabilia (c) respective publisher. Scans courtesy of wiskey & Geoff. For more information about GlastoEarth copyright policy see the 'About Us' page.