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The V&A is throwing a three-day Glastonbury Festival weekender

Drink in the sights, sounds and stories of Glasto with the museum’s interactive festival experiences

Written by
Katie McCabe

If you are one of the 200,000-odd people whose summer used to revolve around a Glastonbury blow-out, you’re probably feeling a little glum right now. First 2020 was cancelled, then it was announced that Glasto 2021 would not be going ahead. Even the Glastonbury live stream weekender was a bit of a bust, thanks to a technical glitch that left thousands of people locked out from pre-recorded shows by IDLES, Roisin Murphy and Wolf Alice. It’s  like there’s some celestial force trying to stop our wellies from squelching down on the mud of Worthy Farm. 

While we feel the sting of another fallow year, the V&A will be providing a soothing dock leaf in the form of a free interactive Glastonbury Weekender, both online and in-person at the museum. Last year, the V&A put a call out asking people to contribute memories and photographs of the festival for its Glastonbury @ 50 research project. The upcoming weekender has built on that research to create Mapping Glastonbury, an interactive online map that will chart the evolution of the festival through oral histories, sounds, objects and hundreds of photographs. It’s all part of a larger collaboration between the V&A and AHRC (that’s Arts and Humanities Research Council) which plans to create a searchable database of Glastonbury’s archive and performance history. 

Glastonbury 2005
Photograph: Glastonbury 2005, Barry Lewis

Kate Bailey, Senior Curator of Theatre and Performance at the V&A, said that, ‘Glastonbury Festival’s rich and diverse archive is an incredible resource and reflects over fifty years of performance history capturing social, cultural and political change. Festival organisers have paved the way for global festival culture and since its inception have driven awareness of environmental issues while enabling limitless creative expression.’ 

Glastonbury 1979
Photograph: Glastonbury 1979, Dave Walking

As part of the weekender, an immersive video in the museum’s Lecture Theatre will try to capture the Glasto experience using footage from V&A Glastonbury film archive that has been interwoven with real memories. And there’s a programme of classical and contemporary orchestral music planned to take place in the arches of the V&A Raphael Gallery, which will explore the ‘mythology’ of the Glastonbury site. There will also be a one-day virtual conference with talks from scholars in festival culture and festival organisers, like Arcadia’s creative director Pip Rush. But mostly, it’s a chance to look at vintage festival programmes and some great photographs of hippies going buckwild in the fields over five decades.

The Glastonbury One-Day Conference will take place on Jun 25 (virtual). The in-museum Glastonbury Weekender will take place Jun 26-Jun 27. And it’s all FREE. Find the full programme here. In the meantime, here’s a bunch of photographs from Glastos past: 

Glastonbury Festival 2008
Photograph: Barry Lewis, Glastonbury 2008
Royston Stone
Photograph: Glastonbury 1992, Royston Stone
Photograph: Glastonbury 1987, John Novis
Glastonbury 1979 photographer credit Dave Walkling (6)
Photograph: Glastonbury 1979, Dave Walkling

Still hoping to squelch in some mud for real? Here are bunch of London festivals going ahead this year. We hope.

... Plus a bunch more that are happening all around the UK. Again – we hope. 

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