In any normal year, this would be about the time that festival-goers around the world get very excited. The headliners for England’s world-famous Glastonbury Festival were announced months ago, but now the full line-up has been revealed, and it looks like it’s going to be one for the ages. More than two hundred thousand people are expected to arrive in the county of Somerset in June to take part in the festivities, but now everyone who has a ticket is asking themselves the same question – is it going to happen at all?
As we write this, there is no ban on public gatherings in the UK. The British Government issued its latest coronavirus advice yesterday and surprised the world by taking a light touch response. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it ‘the worst health crisis for a generation’ in a press conference, but stopped short of banning concerts, sports events, and large public gatherings. Many major sporting events have since taken the decision to cancel anyway, but for the time being, Glastonbury is still going ahead. Emily Eavis and her team of organizers are hoping that by the end of June, the worst of the scare will be over, and the festival will be able to go ahead without a hitch.
It would be a terrible shame if the event were to be canceled. Aside from disappointing all of the attendees and the performers – for whom playing the world’s largest festival is often a once-in-a-lifetime experience – there’s plenty of entertainment aside from the musicians lined up for this year. For the first time in years, the casino that once stood in the Lost Vagueness field is scheduled to make a comeback – perhaps encouraged by the country’s enthusiasm for online slots websites. Britain is a nation of gamblers and hosts perhaps more online slots sites than any other nation in Europe. Nobody was heading to Glastonbury just to gamble, of course, but if it all gets called off people may have to stick with their online slots rather than enjoying the surreal experience of playing Bonanza slot in a field in the baking hot sun (or pouring rain, as is perhaps more likely at Glastonbury).
Assuming for the moment that the festival will proceed, let’s take a look at the additional names who have been announced for the event. It’s a bumper line-up, and many huge international stars have been revealed as being on the bill, many of whom would be expected to headline events anywhere else in the world. We already knew that legendary Beatles musician Paul McCartney would be the final act to take the stage on Saturday night, and Kendrick Lamar is making his first-ever Glastonbury appearance by headlining the Friday night, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much great music lined up that for the people lucky enough to be going, it’s not a case of choosing who to go and see – it’s choosing who to miss out on by opting to go and watch somebody else’s set.
The festival’s ultimate headliner, given the honor of closing the festival on Sunday night, is world-beating country singer turned pop sensation, Taylor Swift. She’s a break from the usually rock-influenced headliners of the past, but Glastonbury has been diversifying its performers in recent years, and rock no longer rules the day. British rap star Stormzy commanded the Pyramid Stage as if he had been born to do it last year. Given Swift’s penchant for putting on a great show, there can be little doubt that she’ll be looking to take what Stormzy did and take it to the next level.
Before Swift takes the stage on Sunday, Diana Ross will have performed in the traditional ‘legends’ slot, which has been occupied by names like Lionel Richie and Johnny Cash in years gone by. There’s a strong showing from the musicians of Manchester across the weekend, too. Manchester is arguably the biggest music city in the country, and it will be represented by performances by the Happy Mondays, Elbow, Blossoms, and a set from former Oasis songwriter Noel Gallagher and his band the High Flying Birds. Keeping the rock tradition going, they’re joined by Primal Scream, Cage the Elephant, and Welsh legends the Manic Street Preachers.
If guitars and Manchester bands aren’t your things, you might be more interested in seeing Dua Lipa or Charli XCX. Glastonbury has worked hard to make sure that female artists are well-represented on this year’s bill, and so Lana Del Ray, Goldfrapp, La Roux, Mabel, Haim, FKA Twigs, and the always-controversial Sinead O’Connor have also been booked to perform. You can’t have a festival without a dance party to go to, though, and that’s why Groove Armada, Dizzee Rascal, and Fatboy Slim will all be entertaining crowds at various times over the course of the festival. As we said earlier, it’s an eclectic range of talents and performers of the kind that you won’t find on the same bill anywhere else in the world, and it’s not to be missed.
Just because you don’t have a ticket yet, you don’t need to miss out on the fun. With a festival this large, there are always cancellations – especially with tickets being sold so far in advance – and so there’s a re-sale of general admission tickets scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 19th, starting at 9 am UK time. You’ll have to be quick off the mark if you want to grab one for yourself, but there’s still a chance of getting involved in the party of the summer if you haven’t done so already.
Glastonbury has been a staple of the UK and world festival scene for decades now, and as it doesn’t happen every year, it still feels special every time it comes around. Three months is a long time, and so we hope that the world has emerged from the shadow of the coronavirus by the time the gates are due to open. After everything we’ll have been through together by then, it feels like the best way to mark the end of the crisis and let off steam while listening to some great music.