Glastonbury - A Tale of Two Festivals

Last weekend saw Glastonbury, the UK's biggest music festival, close out with headliners Mumford and Sons performing The Beatles' Get By With A Little Help From My Friends along with Vampire Weekend, The Vaccines and The Staves.  They did the Joe Cocker version of the song which entered the public consciousness through the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival in 1969, in Bethel in up state New York.  

Woodstock was a moment in time when over half a million people came together in peace, openness and cultural expression.  It was chaos for the organisers and for those who came camped out in the open on the farm belonging to Max Yasgur.  It was a weekend of music with many bands and performers flying into to perform on the one and only stage, through rain and sunshine. The event was free and captured by a documentary done by Michael Wadleigh and edited by an up and coming film maker at the time, Martin Scorsese, and Thelma Schoonmaker.    It was the time of free love and music.  It made no money.  


Over 50 years later and it is Glastonbury 2013.  It was also held over a weekend, but it had 50 stages and thousands of bands playing. 180,000 people descended on a farm in Glastonbury in the UK.  Tickets cost at least £205 and the list of facilities available on site are food and shopping, toilets, money, property lock-ups, spiritual support, showers, telephones, a water supply and weddings.  The festival had three major charities of choice and also supported some local charities.  It also had four media sponsors, The Guardian, The BBC, Orange and Q The Music, merchandise, over 2000 employees and volunteers to help run the festival and at least 2.5 million people watched the festival on the BBC in the UK.  That is not counting overseas viewing figures and social media.  What a difference over 50 years makes in the running of music festivals.  Glastonbury aims to be green and it supports charities, but it is a far cry from peace, openness and cultural expression.