What we think

What we did last weekend – ‘Glastonbury’

Last weekend Ferdie went to Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts:

Glastonbury, Glastonbury, Glastonbury, Glastonbury. The media is all over it and you are – no doubt – sick of it. Or sick from it. Nonetheless, forgive me a few thoughts on the legendary festival’s 2017 iteration, its last until 2019.

First up: it was mega-political. Glastonbury is always achingly politicised. But this year was different. From amped-up satirical sculpture and performance to Jeremy Corbyn’s multiple ‘gigs’ across various stages, there was a palpable hunger for change in the air. Even former shadow chancellor and walking meme Ed Balls was getting in on the action.

Secondly: security was understandably tight. Some people waited six or seven hours to get on-site on Wednesday as temperatures got into the mid-thirties. But the mood was largely buoyant and mindful of the need for new measures in current times.

Thirdly: it’s still about more than just the main stages. Watching the festival on TV can give the false impression that it’s all big-name headliners, BBC journos hanging out backstage and sunburnt types reading the Guardian in-between sets. Really, it’s a festering hive of culture in all shapes and forms. Hundreds of stages, thousands of performers, installations, artworks, screenings, happenings and talks to suit every taste (it must be said that Radiohead were incredible too, though).

And finally: what does the future hold? There is a unique excitement to Glastonbury. A lawless thrill and limitless sense of play to proceedings. The festival is due a ‘fallow’ year in 2018 and there were rumours of it happening under the rather underwhelming name, ‘The Variety Bazaar’, at Longleat in Wiltshire, but these seem to have gone quiet. With founder Michael Eavis getting no younger, the question seems to hang in the air as to whether the festival can remain true to itself in the future.

It is true bastion of creativity – so we in the cultural sector can only wish them the best and hope it does.