Skip to main content
A photograph taken during the daytime at Glastonbury festival. The image is taken from a high vantage point looking out over the festival site. In the foreground are a series of colourful flags on tall flag poles. Beyond them is a cluster of white teepee tents. At the bottom of the hill in the distance tents and structures are visible with a large pyramid shaped structure in the middle. In the background is a large campsite with hundreds of tightly packed together tents.

Years

In 2020 Glastonbury celebrated 50 years. Explore the history of the world’s largest greenfield Festival from its inception in 1970 to today.
  1. 1970

    Held on the day after Jimi Hendrix died, 2,000 people came to hear Marc Bolan and T Rex, Al Stewart, Keith Christmas and Stackridge. Inspired by the Blues Festival held at the Bath and West Showground, dairy farmer Michael Eavis organised the event in the hope of paying off his mortgage, although £1,500 was lost on the first event.

    View Year

  2. 1971

    Now called Glastonbury Fayre, Andrew Kerr and Arabella Churchill helped plan a free event at Pilton encompassing Midsummer’s Day. 12,000 people saw David Bowie, Hawkwind and Traffic play on a pyramid-shaped stage made from scaffolding, expanded metal and plastic sheeting.

    View Year

  3. 1979

    Arabella Churchill, alongside Michael Eavis and Bill Harkin, organised the 1979 Glastonbury Fayre in aid of the United Nations Year of the Child. On the main stage music was provided by Peter Gabriel, Steve Hillage and Sky. The ticket price rose to £5 for the 12,000 strong crowd, but the Festival ended up £49,000 down.

    View Year

  4. 1981

    Now named the Glastonbury CND Festival, Michael Eavis took control of the event to raise money for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The second Pyramid Stage was built on the same spot as the 1971 structure, and served as a cowshed during the winter months. 18,000 people attended.

    View Year

  5. 1982

    1982 was Glastonbury’s first muddy year, with the highest rainfall in 45 years recorded on the Friday. The Festival became better established with a slew of market stalls selling everything from jewellery to scrumpy cider, and £25,000 was raised for CND and local charities.

    View Year

  6. 1983

    The Local Government Act became law, giving local authorities the power to regulate outdoor events. This set a crowd limit as well as a long list of requirements for access roads, water supply and hygiene which the Festival had to meet in order to go ahead. Glastonbury’s own radio station, Radio Avalon, broadcast for the first time.

    View Year

  7. 1984

    The Festival went ahead after Michael Eavis successfully defended himself at Shepton Mallet Magistrates Court against five charges of breaching the site licence in 1983. With a new licence approved, the site expanded to include the Green Fields – current organiser Liz Eliot attended as a volunteer – and, for the first time, a designated parking area.

    View Year

  8. 1985

    The Festival site grew by over 100 acres and now included neighbouring Cockmill Farm and the land at the end of the disused railway track. 1986 saw the arrival of dance music to Glastonbury when Malcome Haynes – the Organiser behind today’s Silver Hayes area – arrived with a van full of speakers and amplifiers.

    View Year

  9. 1986

    The Festival continued to grow in 1986. Many people arrived without tickets, making it hard to record the exact number of attendees. The Cure performed their first Glastonbury headline show, and £130,000 was raised for CND and local charities.

    View Year

  10. 1987

    Mendip District Council’s decision to refuse a licence was overturned in May, only weeks before the Festival. Joe Rush, founder of the Mutoid Waste Company, built the legendary ‘Carhenge’ from upturned wrecked vehicles. He then led a legendary night-long drumming session around it, establishing what would become one of the Festival’s late-night areas.

    View Year

  11. 1989

    Despite the tactical year off in 1988, Michael and Jean’s battles with the local council continued. The 1989 Festival went ahead after police were invited into the organisation and planning of the event. The international flavour continued with Fela Kuti, Bhundu Boys, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens, and Youssou N’Dour all appearing on the Pyramid Stage.

    View Year

  12. 1990

    For its 20th anniversary, the Festival changed its name to the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts. A World Music Stage was revealed, as well as a line-up of over a thousand acts across 12 stages.

    View Year

  13. 1992

    Greenpeace and Oxfam became the Festival’s main beneficiaries as Glastonbury’s focus on green issues and the environment continued to grow. Tony Cordy launched the Kidzfield in its now permanent location.

    View Year

  14. 1993

    Licensed attendance increased by 10,000 and advance tickets to Glastonbury sold out by mid-June. The Festival included the NME music stage, as well as circus, cabaret, jazz, cinema and 60 acres of green activities. With security increasingly becoming an issue, Michael Eavis decided a double fence would be required for the next Festival.

    View Year

  15. 1994

    Plans for the Festival were almost destroyed when a fire reduced the Pyramid Stage to ashes. A replacement stage was hastily erected, linked up to the Festival’s first wind turbine which supplied 150 kilowatts of power for the performances. Channel 4 broadcast the Festival live for the first time.

    View Year

  16. 1995

    For the 25th anniversary of the Festival, two artists from the first event were invited back to play. The line-up included Oasis, The Cure and Pulp, who replaced The Stone Roses after John Squire was involved in a cycling accident.

    View Year

  17. 1997

    Torrential rain in the week leading up to the Festival resulted in 1997 being the ‘year of the mud’. The first proper Greenpeace area included a reconstruction of their Rainbow Warrior Ship and solar-heated showers. The BBC filmed the Festival this year, beginning a longstanding relationship with Glastonbury.

    View Year

  18. 1998

    In 1998 the official attendance topped 100,000 for the first time and resilient campers enjoyed the evergreen mix of entertainment in spite of the rain. There were over 1,000 different performances on 17 stages, including a new stage for emerging talent called the New Stage.

    View Year

  19. 1999

    In a year of firsts, the Glastonbury Festival website was launched in 1999 and the Festival hosted an artist in residence for the first time - Kurt Jackson. The Festival was dedicated to to the memory of Michael’s late wife Jean Eavis

    View Year

  20. 2000

    The third Pyramid Stage debuted in 2000 – it was 35 metres high and four times larger than the previous Pyramid Stage. David Bowie delivered one of the all time great Glastonbury performances, his first appearance at the Festival since 1971.

    View Year

  21. 2002

    After a year off, Glastonbury returned in 2002 with a steel fence positioned around the entire site to deter gatecrashers. Coldplay played the first of many headline sets on the Pyramid Stage.

    View Year

  22. 2003

    Glastonbury 2003 raised over £1 million for Oxfam, Greenpeace, WaterAid and local charities. The late Joe Strummer was recognized with a memorial stone in what would become Strummerville.

    View Year

  23. 2004

    The 2004 site featured improved infastructure and drainage to help combat the unpredictable English weather. More than 1000 acts peformed across the site over the Festival’s five days, including a headline show by Paul McCartney, and performances in the new Left Field.

    View Year

  24. 2005

    Tickets to Glastonbury 2005 sold out in under three hours – a new record – although exceptionally rainy weather on the Friday halted some performances. The Dance Tent expanded to become the Dance Village, and the New Bands Tent was renamed the John Peel Stage.

    View Year

  25. 2007

    New area The Park was launched by Emily Eavis, while in the late-night area, newcomers Block9 launched their NYC Downlow venue. Michael Eavis was awarded the CBE for services to music.

    View Year

  26. 2008

    JAY-Z headlined on Saturday night, beginning his set with an acoustic rendition of Oasis' ‘Wonderwall’. Glastonbury’s late-night offer continued to grow with the arrival of Shangri-La and Arcadia.

    View Year

  27. 2009

    A ticket-deposit system was introduced before Glastonbury 2009, helping the Festival sell out two months in advance. On the Pyramid Stage, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Blur headlined.

    View Year

  28. 2010

    2010 marked Glastonbury’s 40th anniversary. From small beginnings, the Festival now hosted a tented city of over 177,000 people – larger than both Oxford and Bath. A second reservoir, holding two million litres of drinking water, was built to accommodate the crowd.

    View Year

  29. 2011

    The Pyramid Stage celebrated 40 years with performances by many of the pioneering artists who played in 1971. Newcomer Ed Sheeran played an early afternoon set in the Croissant Neuf stage; three years later he would make his Pyramid Stage debut. The Festival donated over £2 million to its charitable causes.

    View Year

  30. 2013

    The Rolling Stones made their first ever Glastonbury appearance, playing to a record crowd. The Stones' performance was accompanied by a fire-breathing phoenix sculpture – made by artist Joe Rush – that sat perched atop the Pyramid Stage

    View Year

  31. 2014

    Dolly Parton made headline news with her first ever Glastonbury appearance on Sunday afternoon. Other headline acts included Arcade Fire, Kasabian and Metallica – all making their debut on the Pyramid Stage in 2014.

    View Year

  32. 2015

    His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited Glastonbury for the first time in 2015. The Foo Fighters were scheduled to headline on Friday, but were forced to pull out two weeks before the show when Dave Grohl broke his leg. Florence + the Machine took their place on the bill.

    View Year

  33. 2016

    The 2016 Festival coincided with the historic EU referendum vote; a stall was set up in the catering area so site workers could register to vote. New area The Wood was created, and Block9 opened a new venue called Genosys.

    View Year

  34. 2017

    The 2017 Festival featured the newly created Cineramageddon, a drive-in movie space with over 200 vintage cars conceptualised by the Mutoid Waste Company. On the Pyramid Stage, Radiohead, Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran headlined.

    View Year

  35. 2019

    Glastonbury Festival 2019 saw headline acts by Stormzy and Kylie, as well an appearance by Sir David Attenborough. Single-use plastic drinks bottles were banned site-wide, and guests were asked to bring reusable water bottles.

    View Year

  36. 2020

    2020 was the 50th anniversary of Glastonbury Festival. A few days after the line-up was announced, the Festival had to be cancelled due to the developing COVID-19 pandemic.

    View Year

  37. 2021

    The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts was scheduled to take place from 23 to 27 June 2021. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Festival organisers announced the cancellation of the live event in January 2021. A concert featuring Coldplay, Damon Albarn, George Ezra, HAIM, IDLES, Jorja Smith, Kano, Michael Kiwanuka, Roisin Murphy, Wolf Alice, and DJ Honey Dijon was live-streamed from Worthy Farm on 22 and 23 May 2021.

    View Year