It’s summer (believe it or not) which means it’s festival season.
Every year I watch the big ones on TV… Glastonbury, Download, Reading and Leeds and I think “next year…definitely.”
Music festivals certainly aren’t a new thing but they do seem to have become more popular in recent years amongst people you wouldn’t imagine would be interested in going. Good PR, TV coverage and sponsorship have meant it’s now not just ‘all about the music’.
There was a time when the music festival was reserved for the earthy folk, the hippies and the free lovers but that’s all changed.
In 1969, one of the most famous music festivals took place 43 miles south of the town of Woodstock, NY. An estimated 400,000 people gathered for this “Aquarian Exposition: Three Days of Peace and Music” to see 32 acts perform over four days and it is now considered the benchmark for every festival since.
Festivals have continued to grow and evolve over the years. The most famous UK festival being Glastonbury, held in Somerset since 1970 and was indeed influenced but the hippy ethos and the free festival movement.
By the 1980s Glastonbury had become an annual event (barring periodic fallow years) and saw its fair share of drama including a main-stage fire, torrential rain, flooding and thousands of gatecrashers but it always remained a place exclusively for music fans and the weather-hardy/soap dodgers.
It wasn’t until the late 90s and early 00s that the festival really became “the place to be seen”. Major sponsorship from the BBC meant its TV coverage increased from a late night slot on channel 4 to practically having it’s own dedicated channel on the Beeb. Its line-up evolved too. From what was once a purely rock band festival we saw more dance music and comedy acts, and even weirder… DJs performing! It’s appeal now spanned every genre.
You were no longer forced to stay in a leaky tent and share a bathroom with 40,000 others. Now there was glamping, facilities for motorhomes, caravans and VIP areas with hot showers and ‘posh’ toilets. But one more thing . . . celebrities!
Social media went mad for the celebrity blogger, showing off their latest pair of Hunters or Barbour jacket. The festival-goer now apparently comes with a designer outfit and hair straighteners.
Glastonbury is now the largest greenfield festival in the world and is attended by around 175,000 people each year. The infrastructure of security, transport and electricity supply required to stage this event is immense and millions of pounds are raised each year for charities. Each year the line-up alone gets extensive newspaper, social media and TV coverage and each year the demand for tickets increases.
So will I be going next time… might be!
Louise Clarke is an office manager, designer and creative thinker at Happy Creative, a strategic marketing and branding agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire.