Guest Author - Asha Sahni
Summer is festival season. England has a wide range of festivals, featuring different types of music. This article features a few of the highly popular music festivals that take place in England – from Glastonbury to the Glyndebourne Opera Festival.
Glastonbury Festival. Started by Pilton farmer Michael Eavis, the first Glastonbury Festival - in 1970 - had 1,500 attendees. Glastonbury 2010 was celebrated by 135,000 festival goers. This English institution has over the years offered a galaxy of headline acts including David Bowie, Coldplay, Peter Gabriel, Oasis, R.E.M, Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Stevie Wonder. Located at Worthy Farm near the mystical Glastonbury Tor, this is a festival people go back to year after year.
Glyndebourne Festival. Glyndebourne Festival was the brainchild of John Christie, who owned the estate after which the festival is named. Christie’s passion for opera, and his belief that England was not on the world stage with this form of music, led him to open his first opera festival in 1934. Glyndebourne is a different class of event to others mentioned here – formal evening dress is encouraged for spectators, this being a tradition established by the Festival’s founder. Glyndebourne is in East Sussex and attracts huge crowds from London.
Priddy Folk Festival. July 2012 sees Priddy Folk Festival’s twenty-first birthday. Priddy, a Somerset village near Wells, uses the Festival to help raise money for the local community. The festival has a reputation for being relaxed and family friendly, with camping space available. Dance is also a core part of Priddy – whether it be dancing to acts or watching performances of Morris Dancing, maypole dancing etc.
Reading Festival. The Reading Festival grew out of a jazz festival which started in the 1960s. The first festival to be held in Reading took place in 1971. Over the decades Reading Festival has focused on heavy metal, indie and rock bands. In the late nineties a satellite/sister festival, featuring most of the same bands, started in Leeds. Acts that have performed at Reading include Black Sabbath, Eminem, Franz Ferdinand, Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden and Status Quo.
WOMAD. To give it the full title – World of Music, Arts and Dance – WOMAD brings together the best of world music. Peter Gabriel, founding father of WOMAD, did far more than bring a festival to life. Gabriel worked at promoting world artists through his enterprise Real World Studios. In keeping with the ethos of the organisation WOMAD events have taken place at countries outside the UK including America, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and Turkey. WOMAD has a wonderful community feeling and is committed to helping festival goers learn more about the performers they see on stage through events such as workshops with artists. Children seem to really enjoy the festival – there are always plenty of child-focused activities, from art to dance, and children are the focus of an artistic, colourful procession at the end of the festival.