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This blog post chronicles my first visit to Glastonbury Festival as an accredited press photographer. I have been to the festival as a punter a number of times of the years, but my memories of those trips are somewhat… hazy! I wanted to do a thorough job with my coverage of the festival start to finish, so arrived at my b&b in Glastonbury (hey, I’m working & need my sleep, ok?) on the tuesday afternoon.
My alarm went at 4am on wednesday, and boom! I was out of bed getting ready to get to site for 5.30am to begin my coverage with festival goers fresh off their overnight buses and queuing for the 8am sharp gates opening.
The festival goers streamed through the gates over the fresh virgin grass to find their favoured spots & pitch tents.
The weather, which is always a hot topic with any Glastonbury goer, was glorious with blue skies and sun. Wednesday is a great day to arrive, get yourself settled, chill and soak up the festival vibe. I spent the day photographing arrivals, watching as the tent communities bloomed throughout the campsites, chatting to festival goers and walking around trying to capture the feel of the festival as it readied itself for the craziness that was to surely come.
Below is an opening ceremony held at the Stone Circle by the Shatki Choir, held (I was told) to reenergise the Stone Circle and establish spirituality ahead of the festival. It turns out the festival want to gently discourage the use of laughing gas/Nitrous Oxide by festival goers, with the Stone Circle having become a popular place for revellers to indulge.
Thursday arrived, as did the characters!
With Lionel Richie lined up for a much anticipated Pyramid Stage performance on the Sunday, news spread by word-of-mouth of a flashmob “Do it like Lionel” Lionel Richie dance on the thursday afternoon at Glebeland…
Knowing I was likely to be shooting a lot of music on Friday, I made the most of thursday capturing general atmosphere as well as some of the areas of the festival that make Glastonbury unique.
Thursday’s weather was still cracking, with the Sacred Space and the area above the Tipi Village a great place to hang out.
As friday came, my attention (as well as that of my festival goers) turned to the main stages.
By mid afternoon a particularly aggressive looking bank of cloud had loomed over the festival, and yes the heavens opened in style…
I whipped my uber-protection of a raincoat with a poncho over that, and took advantage of the rain to go out and get some rain shots.
With the rain lashing down, some festival goers tolerated their suffering quietly…
…while others whooped it up and danced and sung their way around the festival laughing in the face of our country’s atmospheric adversity!
The weather cleared, and rumours were spreading throughout the press tent about who was to be the surprise Pyramid Stage that would occupy the evening slot previously taken by Florence + the Machine, now elevated to the headline status. It turned out to be The Libertines, I reckon someone had some inside knowledge…
Florence + the Machine headlining Glastonbury on the Friday night, who in my humble opinion totally nailed it.
Saturday saw the return of the summery weather, and a new wave of dapper & cute outfits for the day.
Having spent much of my time yesterday covering bands on the main stages, I chose to venture out into the festival on Saturday to explore and see what atmosphere and side-stage performances I could stumble upon.
Towards sunset on the saturday I found myself up at the Stone Circle once more. I heard someone cry out ‘look up there, what’s that…?’, I looked up in the sky where fingers were pointed and lo and behold a couple of hundred feet up we saw a man in a parachute with a propellor engine strapped to his back making a gradual descent towards the festival! A minute later he descended and touched down to cheers from the festival goers, at which point I jogged down to join him.
Though he had hastily folded up his parachute, the Glastonbury officials had gotten to him within seconds and I witnessed (and photographed) a comical tug-of-war between him & the officials over the flying machine. A few festival goers joined in the struggle to aid our hero airman but the officials managed to take possession, they were good enough to let him go to enjoy the festival. I asked our downed airman for comment, his response ‘I need a beer!’. I gave him a pat on the back and jogged down to the press tent to edit and file my exclusive pictures, which were used in a Mailonline story along with the majority of the captions I wrote!
Saturday night was my ‘late night atmosphere’ session, so I went out with the minimum of gear to explore. First stop, Arcadia….
Next stop, the subversive shenanigans of Shangri-La…
I got to bed at 6.30am after editing/filing my pics and grabbed a few hours sleep.
Sunday was a pretty special day, as the Dalai Lama joined Patti Smith on the Pyramid Stage early afternoon. After a poem reading by Patti for the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday, and a Happy Birthday singing by the entire Pyramid Stage audience, the great man came on stage and gave an inspiring speech.
The remainder of the Sunday for me consisted of main stage bands and atmosphere, which was cracking.
Lionel Richie received a great reception…
The Who, providing a great close to the last day of Glastonbury Festival 2015.
I stayed at the festival to the very end, documenting the cleanup operation, as well as heading up to the Stone Circle for more festival goer revelry and finally departures.
So nice of the childrens entertainer to turn up with his balloons! 😉