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‘It’s a fever dream’: Glastonbury revelers celebrate return to Worthy Farm

I finally understand what people mean by Glastonbury,” says Hannah Wright, who is attending the festival for the first time. As she stood in front of the Pyramid Stage with her twin sister and two best friends, waiting for Billie Eilish with thousands of other fans, the 21-year-old says there was a time when she never thought they would come here.

Her friend Dani Murden from Manchester agrees. “I feel like that made it special because this is the first return, it’s so nice to be able to connect with people again. The emotions are very, very high because there are so many moments when you look around and realize where we are. Everyone is happy – a fever dream!”

Highlights for the group, who met at school, include: “Arlo Parks joins Phoebe Bridgers, Wolf Alice, Confidence Man and Girl in Red’s Gayness on stage.”

“Pack light because this walk to the campsite will destroy you emotionally and physically!” they have learned.

We are interrupted by deafening screams announcing Billie Eilish’s arrival on the Pyramid Stage. On the fringes of the crowd, corpses collide as they walk the paths between stages, food stalls, and campsites.

Taking a break from all the walking is David, 29, from Liverpool, sitting on the dusty grass. He’s been to the festival six times but believes this Glastonbury is the best yet.

“I want to say thank you [Glastonbury organisers] Michael and Emily Eavis for just doing such a great job of making it so comprehensive and amazing,” he says. Wearing a spiked neon jacket (inspired by Billie Eilish), he says the festival feels like “home, family and love.”

It’s a sentiment shared by many participants, such as Mansel Davies, 62, from Monmouth, who works here as an independent observer in Glastonbury. “It just seems like everyone is so relaxed here,” he says. “I’m sure there are people here who kill everyone’s time, but I don’t think I’ve experienced any negative feelings among people. Even when I was doing the shift we chased people away trying to get in for free and even they were good natured!” Davies, a musician, even got a last minute chance to play at the festival when he was on the social Media saw a post with a backstage slot. “I thought I’ve got my guitar, I might as well make it and dine on this one – it’s all over Facebook today!”

As a first-time visitor, he’s dying to return to Worthy Farm. “It’s not my last time… it’s my first time see you next year! It’s a huge thing and I’m glad I came on that basis and not as a player. It’s almost like a huge family at the campsite and I think the facilities are probably better too!”

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David, 29, from Liverpool

(Megan Graye / The Independent)

Late Saturday night, somewhere near the realms of Shangri-La, Dublin band Sprints can be found amongst the softly glowing lanterns. They arrived in Belfast earlier in the day after a show where they opened for Liam Gallagher before catching the night ferry just in time for their Worthy Farm set. We don’t mention Liam’s rival – older brother Noel – who played on the Pyramid Stage earlier in the evening.

As Glastonbury newcomers, the band are amazed at the size of the crowd. “Sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming because I’m not used to so many people. That’s the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen in one place in my entire life,” says guitarist Colm. The band’s drummer, Jack, agrees: “It’s freakin’ crazy going to this one from nothing, no people, no gigs, it’s a buzz.”

Kate, 60, from Wales, has volunteered as a camp manager at the festival and has returned to Glastonbury after a long hiatus: “I was here 40 years ago when I was 20 and it was just a couple of fields!” she despairs of the many stages that dot the terrain: “If you look at the list, you run out of patience!”

She’s still surprised crowds of this size are being allowed, despite new Covid variants emerging and hospital admissions skyrocketing. “But it’s also great. It’s liberating to be back and have the freedom to move around the festival and take it all in…it’s awesome.”



It’s less surreal, more… the way it should be,

Seb Lowe

Unlike other contestants, Manchester artist Seb Lowe has a different perspective. “It’s less surreal, more… that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” he says. “It’s Covid, it’s surreal. That’s normal – it’s a sign that things are back to the way they should be.” As a first-time visitor, both playing and visiting, Lowe was most struck by the spirit of Glastonbury. “To me it feels like a festival that has a purpose that goes beyond just music, it has meaning. There’s this real kind of hope and energy that’s looking out for change and one another – a lot of festivals don’t have that kind of community.”

He continues: “In the midst of the crisis that the country is going through, it’s just amazing to have this spirit and alignment from all these diverse people from across the country. People come from far away and we all come to this place – there is a unity in that. Everyone agrees on the music and the message it sends.”

I find Rachel, 21, from Nottingham enjoying some rays on a Sunday morning. She didn’t know what to expect when she first came to Glastonbury. “I think it’s nice that everyone looks out for each other. We’re just coming out of a very stressful time in everyone’s lives, so we’re all a little bit ‘agh’, but it feels like such a safe place,” she says. As for her advice to those considering visiting next year, she offers: “Don’t worry. I was so excited – but you’re going to have the time of your life!”

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/glastonbury-recap-interviews-highlights-b2109819.html ‘It’s a fever dream’: Glastonbury revelers celebrate return to Worthy Farm

JOE HERNANDEZ

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