The greatest show on Earth


Swaggering back from the Pyramid Stage at midnight on Sunday, humming a strange combination of my favourite songs from the weekend, and digging the dried mud out from under my fingernails, the true beauty of Glastonbury Festival suddenly rolled over me in a tremendous wave. The crowd around me swarmed in a multicolored hive of energy and joy.IMG_0548

It was then that I realised that the best thing about the festival is its overwhelming sense of acceptance and friendship. Undoubtedly, the music and performers are what brings everyone to Worthy Farm each year, but it is the atmosphere that holds everyone together, and compels crowds to return again and again.

It is not just low levels of personal hygiene that are accepted and completely unchallenged, but also extravagant costumes, alter egos, tie-dye dungarees, Indian headdresses, mismatched wellies… The extraordinary is cherished and adored in this valley for five glorious days each year.

Those who don’t attend the festival are quick to point out the less glamorous features of the drop-loos, sparse showers and throngs so compressed that they leave you breathless. But I doubt very much that those things will be top of any festival-goer’s list of things to describe when they get home. Instead, I gabbled about The Rolling Stones, Shangri La Heaven and Mumford & Sons’ breathtaking final song.

The whole place is like one of Lewis Carroll’s wildest dreams: you can venture down the Rabbit Hole to find psychedelic characters and mind-blowing rhythms; explore The Stone Circle and watch the rising sun paint the teepees gold and pink; dare to lose yourself in the otherworldly realms of Shangri La and The Unfair Ground.Ribbon Tower

Even if you attempted to go without sleep, you could never experience everything. Perhaps the person sharing my heat and sweat as I waited for The Arctic Monkeys had a completely different experience to mine, and our lines crossed but momentarily before spiraling off in different directions again. The enormous variety makes this possible. There are hundreds of different acts to see, dishes to try, shops to delve into and states of weather to leave you muddy and sunburnt.

Not only this, but the diversity of ages and cultures makes John Lennon’s “Imagine all the people…” echo in your ears, watching people from all walks of life laughing with strangers and sharing face paint.

Many of the charity stalls at the festival emphasise the evils of consumerism, as if the world outside of Worthy Farm is corrupt and callous; we can’t get no satisfaction. You may not agree with this viewpoint, but noticing the friendliness around me at the festival, it struck me how little I see examples of it in my daily life.

So although I can’t always wear a crown of fairy-lights or flower garlands, I can make an effort to maintain the Glastonbury spirit of human kindness. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.

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