I’m in an approximation of “dog down” as the sun beats down on my neck and Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” rings from a loudspeaker. Along with the other 50 people surrounding me at Power Ballad Yoga, I move into the “fold forward”, my fingers don’t quite touch my toes.
After this new yoga class, I have an appointment to get my hair done, and then I’ll go get a meal prepared by a critically acclaimed Central London restaurateur, before getting a massage. All in all, it’s a busy morning, with all the trappings of a relaxing and refreshing break. It’s just not a cruise I’m on, or an all-inclusive vacation I’m on – I’m in Glastonbury.
Festival tickets, along with everything else, have increased in value over the past decade (a ticket to Glastonbury now costs £ 280 plus £ 5 booking fees, compared to a price of £ 185 12 years ago in 2010 and , incredibly, £ 1 in 1970), and given the cost, many now choose to take a trip to an event like Glastonbury instead of taking a holiday abroad. Rising prices, coupled with the rise in the experience economy, mean bettors now expect more for their money.
Once upon a time, a festival like Glastonbury felt like another world, and it still retains its mythical quality as you walk through the site at sunset, flags fluttering in the wind.
At the same time, however, it is now also part of the UK’s ever-expanding obsession with immersive “experiences” on physical possessions – from blockbusters like London’s Secret Cinema to the common sight of darts themed bars, ball pits or minigolf in urban centers in the UK, as social media has grown and the cost of things like buying a house and having a family is now out of reach for many who have come of age in the shadow of the 2008 recession .
Where they once might have been happy to dive headlong into a pop-up tent and get muddy simply by watching the bands, now a good chunk of the festival crowd – who want to make the most of their time away – opt for yoga classes in the area. of Greenpeace and on-site drying at Silver Hayes, and won’t settle for the overpriced limp food and seedy experiences of yesteryear.
There are those who would wonder if this is a good thing, considering Glastonbury’s roots in particular as a countercultural event and its raw and ready historical spirit. But when you look around, as the groups buzz past the giant spider of Arcadia or the Glastonbury sign, it’s clear the vibe is as fun as it always has been, even if the festival’s offering has undoubtedly grown to suit contemporary costumes.
This is in line with the growth of festivals in general, which, over the past decade, always coinciding with the impact of social media, have become more image-conscious than ever, since the Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire (essentially a posh Glastonbury) at the Latitude Festival in Suffolk.
To meet this demand, the services offered by traders have expanded throughout Glastonbury, from food stalls (this year you can find all the food you can conceive, to a vegan corn dog, somewhere in the festival), to sites popular glamping sites.
One such destination is Willow Meadows, a campground located just off the festival site, which is one of many that offers Glastonbury attendees a place to camp more comfortably than outside a toilet block with more influx than in the FA Cup final.
Run by local Adrian Ashford and his team (in keeping with the festival’s long-standing ethos of ensuring the local community benefits), Willow Meadows has its own bar and food stalls serving burgers and buns for the day. breakfast, showers and toilets with fresh water, telephone charging and other luxuries.
The site offers pitches for people who bring their own tents or RVs, as well as pre-assembled tents and private cabins. Prices for a pre-pitched tent start at £ 649 for two, with the option of adding more people for a fee. It certainly contributes to the expense of attending the festival, but depending on how lazy you are feeling and how big your party is, you can see how to get lightened by a tent, without having to worry about braving the elements to put one up, is worth more than the expense. , particularly if you are considering the festival as a holiday.
Again, there is an argument that wrestling with a tent in the mud and blazing sun is part of the Great British Festival. For many, however, a festival like Glastonbury is now one of the biggest holidays of the year, and there’s a growing sense that attending an event like this doesn’t have to be a test of endurance – quite the contrary, as At the festival (and at festivals in general) there are also treatments for personal care, in particular hairdressers, for a pampering experience.
Like Ashford, Rachel Bacon, who runs the on-site Blowfest salon, is a local trader. The owner of Letty B’s hairdresser in Taunton, 30 minutes from Glastonbury, which she has been running for 10 years, 2022 marks her first year in Glastonbury and hopes to “be able to give what I give to my loyal customers for a total of people a case in the middle of a field, ”he tells me.
Blowfest joins another on-site salon to meet demand, and will offer services to festival attendees from a place to wash and style their hair, work out hairstyles and even haircuts.
In March, Bacon created an online booking page for customers to schedule festival appointments online and says the response was immediately huge.
“Festivals have changed,” he tells me on the phone amid the preparations for the festival.
“Twenty years ago nobody cared. The whole spot was getting sticky, sweaty and smelly. But I think with social media culture as it is now, everyone wants to look good and feel good. ”
Elsewhere in Glastonbury, there are other opportunities to treat yourself. In addition to these beauty services, there are merchants in the festival’s beautiful and unique Healing Fields who are an intrinsic part of the festival’s history and have long been offering therapies such as reiki and massage (easily one of the best things I’ve ever done in Glastonbury after a long day spent carrying my backpack I was on my way to have a massage with one of the healers there, whose magical hands tore the knots in my back), plus the kiosks offering alternatives to the usual burgers and fries that characterized the festival to dine in the past.
Social media means it’s all a photo shoot now, and our expectations of festival food have skyrocketed as well.
Meriel Armitage – the director of the vegan food company Club Mexicana, which has a physical outpost in Soho, central London but also puts her show on the way to Glastonbury – knows this. Club Mexicana restaurant is often named as one of the best Mexican-inspired restaurants in London, with its fish taco (tofu wrapped in seaweed, fried in beer batter, served on a soft taco shell with topping), available in Glastonbury , often specifically singled out for praise.
The food is fresh and delicious, and a far cry from the sad noodles I tend to associate with festivals: I eat a vegan, hearty and tasty chicken burrito with rice, fresh vegetables and hot sauce, like a snake swallowing a whole mouse.
As such, it’s hugely popular (the stall always has a healthy line) and the food is worth the price too: a burrito (which Armitage jokes “might be the only thing anyone eats all day”) costs £ 9.50 , which is the same as what will take you back to the restaurant.
Cost, Armitage says, is of paramount importance to her, and Bacon agrees. Accessibility is something the famous Glastonbury organizers point out for merchants as well, they both say. As Bacon puts it, he hopes to offer “professional service and try to make it great without it costing a fortune”.
Armitage feels the same way. Club Mexicana will take part in Glastonbury’s Food for a Fiver initiative, where merchants agree to offer an affordable and healthy option to keep expenses low within the festival.
Their dish is “a bowl of rice with some protein, some rice and a salad. It was really hard to create food for five pounds this year, “says Armitage, citing the rising costs of even basic supplies like cooking oil,” but I think it’s really important. ”
With the cost of living (and festival ticket prices) rising, bettors want to make sure they’re getting the best for their money, and somehow, festivals need to step up on competitive offers.
Glastonbury manages to weave this into its ethics of prioritizing local merchants and ethical businesses (its only sponsors remain charities, including WaterAid and Greenpeace) quite easily, and while some more imaginative options are available these days, they don’t. has lost its spirit: after all, it’s not like you can join the festival without encountering the mudslides, the music and the morphsuit kids groups that make it one of the best weekends of the year.
I don’t see Glastonbury becoming a luxury spa retreat anytime soon, but it’s a fact of the way our society has evolved that there are more ways to organize the festival – it can be relaxing as well as rowdy if you want it to be. , with Power Ballad Yoga on the menu along with pints of cider.