Is Glastonbury losing its appeal?

April 14, 2008

glasto.jpgThe long-range forecast is for drier weather in June and the Glastonbury acts — according to organiser Michael Eavis — are fantastic but something seems to be wrong down in Somerset.

Ticket sales have been distinctly soggy this year, whereas rival festivals like those in Reading or Leeds are boasting sellouts.

Possible causes being bandied around are worries about the mud after last year’s persistent rain; the new registration process which some critics have claimed tends to put off younger fans and the naming of a rapper, Jay-Z, as the headline act.

Some are saying that with something like 177,500 people there last year, the whole event is just getting too big and losing touch with its roots. Why go and slop around in the mud when you can go to one of the growing number of “boutique” music festivals abroad?

Do you think Glastonbury is losing its appeal? 



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I’ve been to 8 or so Glastos. I have also been to the last 3 all of which were very wet and muddy but like so many that have experienced Glastonbury I agree that it’s the people and atmosphere that make it what it is/WAS. Over the years the price has risen extortionately which automatically prices out large areas of our communities killing the very soul that made Glastonbury what it is. What a shame. Try Connect or Greenman festival. ..Jay Z …at Glastonbury? I don’t think so.
‘McGlasto’ NO THANKS. I won’t be returning.

Posted by McGlastoburger | Report as abusive

Not yet, but it will lose its appeal if it insists on booking artists like Jay-Z.
What planet are they on?????

Posted by Clive East | Report as abusive

Although I have never been to Glasto, I regularly attend T in the Park. There is no doubt that even with the mud that seems to be more prevelaint in recent years, it’s the people and the atmosphere that make a festival.

I’m sure Jay Z hasn’t exactly made this a must see event, but from watching Glasto on the tele last year it is clear to see that many of the people were more worried about their wet feet than having a good time.

Posted by Grant | Report as abusive

Glasto lots touch with its roots along time ago. The eclectic mix of peope amnd acts which made it a counter culture power house have gradualy been replaced with much more mainstream acts and a more hermoginised ‘T4′(Channel 4’s glitzy but dumb programming aimed at the under 25s) type of festival goer.Its a bit harsh to blame j-Z, but hip-hop is a club based medium and does not work well a this type of event. I much preffer smaller independent festivals, better music, better food, nicer people and no big companies ripping you off!

Posted by daniel sait | Report as abusive

I just think because of the persistant awful weather last year alot of people are put off (but i suppose thats what you have to live with if you go to a festival in England ! ) and with the addition of many other festivals Glastonbury has its competition nowadays, for me personally there were too many people there last year with the increase of 27,500 and not enough facillities, and the decision for JAY-Z to headline this year is a really bad idea. I for one will be happy to sit this one out !

Posted by Clive Woodward | Report as abusive


Posted by mark | Report as abusive

I would be lying if I said that Glastonbury hasn’t sold out to some extent. However, it is by no means Macglasto yet. The fact remains that it is the only large festival in Britain that feels in any way organic and innovative. To the person who compared it to t in the park, you simply have to go to know what you are talking about. There may be some people there who simply want to see the years headliners and keep their feet dry, but for every one of them there is someone rolling in the mud at 6 in the morning or a crazy druid singing in the sun. If anything the problem this year is that the newer, trendier crowd have left in favour of t in the park or reading. In fact I think this is how glastonbury has sold out, it has tried so hard to appeal to the younger generation without being true to itself. Hopefully seeing how fickle they are this year will change their attitude in the future.

Posted by Ralph McDevitt | Report as abusive

I’ve been to Glastonbury about five times and always worked for Oxfam, which was great, this will be my first year as a paying customer.
I find it amusing when people bang on about the ‘Headline Act’ and how good or bad it will be. I personally could go to Glastonbury and not watch any bands and still enjoy myself, there is a million and one things to do and see as well as the music (unlike the other festivals).
And anyway the ‘Headline Acts’ are on for about an hour at the end of the night, Glastonbury is on the go for nearly 72 hours!!! Go figure!!

Posted by Stephen Beveridge | Report as abusive

Dont think initial line up has done them any favours…I’m still going though!! Perhaps its the fact that there is a moderately difficult registration system juxtoposed with the inability to pay with credit card! There are other alternatives which have not fallen foul of the floods to such an extent as Glasto, and also you can just whack it on the plastic and worry about it later…
Glasto has been debit-crunched!!

Posted by BigFatSpliffter | Report as abusive

I’m 18 now, and have been going to Glastonbury festival from the moment i was able to slip into some wellies.

Unfortunately, there will always be people who see Glastonbury simply as a ‘music festival’, and although this is the main selling point for the festival, there is so much more to see there.

I agree to a certain extent that Jay-Z was a poor choice as a headliner for Friday night, but what people have to understand is that Glastonbury has always and always will be a dynamic, unique and a spectacular event that always goes out of it’s way each year to bring new and exciting things which will appeal to an enormous amount of people.

I’m not a Jay-Z fan myself, but he is without question, an extra-ordinarily talented man, and is very good at what he does. And i agree with the organisers that booking Jay-Z is a perfect opportunity to introduce people to new kinds of music, and to hopefully open their eyes and allow them to try new things.

On a different note, we run the Theatre and Circus fields at Glastonbury. This area spans around 3 fields and is a perfect example of what Glastonbury has to offer besides music. You won’t see an acrobatic flying around the top of a marquee on the Pyramid stage!

But back to my point, if people judge Glastonbury on just the one thing, then they must truly be blind as to what is going on around them. The amount that there is to do at Glastonbury is astounding, whether it be watching your favourite bands performing on the Pyramid stage, or grooving in at the Jazz stage, sampling the thousands of different styles of food stalls scattered around or simply just chilling up at the Green Fields with your mates. There is no end to the excitement there.

So yeah, don’t judge a book by it’s cover, at least until you’ve discovered everything there is to know and do.

Posted by Sean | Report as abusive

I’m a fan of Jay-Z but I dont think he should be playing the Glastonbuy festival, which is the reason I’m going to the V-Fetival this year instead.

It’s got NOTHING To do with colour/race as to why people arn’t happy about him headlining, it’s the fact it’s Rap music being played at a traditionally indie/rock festival.

The organisers will realise when it’s a flop this year and we’ll see who’s laughing then!

Or maybe the fact that it was near imposible to get a ticket last year put people off registering and going for a ticket.

The line up for the V is spot on this year, check it out.

Glastonbury would have been the best yet if they’ve have got Arctic Monkey’s to play the main stage and put Jay-Z on another one.

Posted by Andy | Report as abusive

Its a wonderful idea to have JayZ play @the festival. But the organisers should state openly what their objectives(theme) are for the festival, which imo markets the context of the festival. I’m a black person, and we must agree that JayZ music would apply to considerable number of black people as well as other cultures, I dont know what research has been done by the organisers in determining the cultural profile of people who go to glastonbury. I would not put my money of a lot of black folks having fun wearing rainboots jumping around in mud listening to music. where this was a festival in a place like hyde park in summer we may be talking a diff story.
All the same i dont think the sales figure of tickets just has to do with this, i believe the present credit crunch is having the better impact. As a consumer i do have 2nd thots in paying 4stuff in advance esp where they may be more pressing needs

Posted by Obidike | Report as abusive

V??? crazy misguided fool. you cant compare v to glasto mate. once the official line up is released in all its glory im sure youll see how much better glasto will be. im not a fan of jay z at all but so what go and see some of the other things at Worthy Farm while he is on, live a little and make the most out of your experince. oh and cos i live near v i will be going again this year and in fact have been at everone from 96, so trust me on this. one is a corporate bossed, carling sponsored mcfestival for middle aged people who have only heard of pete dogherty and amy winehouse due to the sun and think they are entitled to scream at you if you get in their way for a sec and the other is glasto my friend!

Posted by tom | Report as abusive

Shocking that the daughter is now claiming people (including Noel Gallagher) are, in short, racist if they don’t want to see a rapper at Glasto. Really got her finger on the pulse, that one.

Of course, it’s nothing to do with the poor line-ups of recent years, the silly ticket system, etc. No one cares about the weather if the lineup is good – which might explain why in recent years, everyone’s complained about the weather.

It wasn’t so long ago that you had to choose which artist you wanted to see the most; now it’s just ‘is there anyone worth seeing, or shall we wander around the town?’ – and that was before they started raising prices.

Posted by Lawson Gold | Report as abusive

Emily Eavis is an idiot trying to blame poor ticket sales on a racist middle class Britain. Jay-Z is hugely popular in America (which we all can accept has many more issues with race than the UK) and hugely popular within the hiphop scene. Glasto is neither of these things. It is a traditionally guitar based festival and that is what appeals to its usual clientèle.

I, however shall not be returning to Glasto this year. As has been mentioned there are far better, smaller festivals to go to. Festivals that don´t rip you off and festivals that are not so huge so if you ever split up with your mates you may have some chance of finding them again.

Posted by Tom Morgan | Report as abusive

The main problem with glastonbury is that the rising cost of tickets has forced out the very people that gave it its identity in the first place. It’s not that its a bad festival now, but its just too much like everything else.

People aren’t anti Jay-Z because of race. There have always been a massive variety of hugely popular rappers at the festival, many of whom got their first big break there. It’s just that if you’re going to have a headlining rapper on a friday, make them a decent act that isn’t past its peak.

But don’t hate the festival for the headliners, i hardly saw anyone on the big stages last year, if you don’t like what’s on the pyramid stage, head up to the avalon feild or the stone circle, or the jazz world stage. If you only come to glastonbury for the big names, you’re there for the wrong reasons.

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive

I have to say, that I think Michael Eavis and Emily may have caused the quite remarkable drop in ticket sales by repeated comments about getting a ‘younger crowd’ in. I for one was deeply offended by their comments last year. The whole point of Glasto, is the absolute diversity of everything, from the babies to the teenagers to the middle aged and older – for me, it isn’t the music, it’s the experience. We go every year, my husband, myself, and our three children. We meet up with our family, and old friends,(some of who we only ever see at Glastonbury) and for every one of us over forty, we bring along an equivalent number of teenagers, and crikey are they keen to go!! My eldest is 22, and of all the festivals, this is the one she returns to year after year! My younger children (9 and 4) have known nothing else, and I am proud, that they too love Glastonbury for everything it has to offer – mud included!
So Mr Eavis, if you read this, if you alienate the people who have helped Glastonbury evolve into the very special place that it is for 5 days a year, you will lose what you and thousands of others love so much!
See you in June….yippeeee

Posted by jj | Report as abusive

I’ve been going to every Glasto since 2000 when so many got in free overor through the wall. It has changed or rather evolved over the years but still holds a remarkable feeling in the rain and mud aswell as the summer heat. I feel so much has been written about Jay-Z performing…like many, I like a good headliner and if it’s Jay-Z’s oppounity to shine then so be it…the festival has made and broke a few bands in it’s time because people can vote with their feet…if ya don’t like it watch something else…if ya do like it stay and tell ya friends…that’s what Glasto’s about. Personally I always see who I want to see whether or not they are on the main stage. The tickets will be sold cos it’s just too good to miss. If ya haven’t been before try it while you have the chance…no other festival of this size has everything including camping within the fence which means the parties do go on for 5 days or so…what value. It’s brilliant!!

Posted by Mikey | Report as abusive