The three-day event begins June 24.
Rain, hail or mud: nothing is likely to dampen the spirits of those visiting England's annual Glastonbury Festival. The three-day event, which begins Friday (June 24), is widely recognized as one of the biggest and most colorful music programs on the summer calendar. "It's going to be the best year ever," declares the festival's founder and organizer Michael Eavis, who has played a vital role in booking hundreds of acts to perform at about 30 separate venues across Glastonbury's duration.
Most music tastes have been catered to. Headliners at the main Pyramid Stage include Coldplay, White Stripes and Basement Jaxx, who stepped up after Kylie Minogue pulled out due to ill health. Veteran artists Brian Wilson, Van Morrison and Elvis Costello are also on the bill, alongside newcomers such as Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party and Kasabian.
Accounting for staff and artists, organizers anticipate roughly 150,000 people to visit the grounds at Worthy Farm in Somerset, southeast England over the coming days. Glastonbury's temporary, tented population is comparable in size to that of English city Bath and bigger than either of the famous university towns Oxford and Cambridge.
Preliminary weather reports suggest rain will again play a part, and with it comes a ubiquitous mudbath. "The last time I visited Glastonbury was 'the mud year' . Horrible, but still everyone was smiling," recalls Client's Kate Holmes, who will perform on the final day of the program. "I always used to hear these amazing Glastonbury stories as a child. When I formed my first band I hoped I would get to play there -- finally this has come true."
Filmmakers are attempting to fill the breach for those who failed to get tickets to this year's sold-out event. EMI this year released the first-ever DVD collection of Glastonbury highlights, while a separate Julien Temple-directed "Glastonbury" documentary is currently in production for a 2006 release.
Respondents to a poll on the official Glastonbury Web site decided the track list for the "Glastonbury Anthems -- the Best of 1994 to 2004" DVD project. "We got 30,000 responses through the Web site, and that kind of response obviously indicated that there was a significant interest," says London-based EMI head Of DVD Stefan Demetriou. "We hope it will build and build through the summer."
The DVD features performances from Radiohead, Moby, Robbie Williams and Glastonbury stalwarts the Levellers. "The first time we played was in 1990 in the 'travellers field' on the back of a lorry," Levellers bassist Jeremy Cunningham tells Billboard.com. "They had to block the entrances because there were too many people trying to get into the field." The British folk/rock band is booked to perform this year on the World Stage.
Ticket holders for Glastonbury 2005 will be particularly mindful to soak up the experience. An unusual prospect for any live music event, Eavis has declared 2006 a "fallow" year -- a farmer's decision that sees Glastonbury skip a year to allow the ground time to regenerate. The pause continues a cycle that skips every fourth or fifth chapter. Glastonbury missed 2001, and in 1996 before that.
"Next year we're taking a usual fifth year off," he confirms. "The media always start off so surprised when they hear the news, but we're all very happy about doing it. Its not as though we're on a treadmill. We've all got other jobs."
Indeed, when he's not helming Britain's most famous music festival, Eavis is a dairy farmer. And when the grounds aren't hosting the biggest bands on the planet, they are grazing fields for cattle. "The cows are okay with the music," jokes Eavis. "I think we've got the most fertile cows in Somerset."