This weekend sees the arrival of the great British annual summertime stallwart the Glastonbury Festival, where thousands of revellers will brave any amount of mud or sunburn to enjoy a weekend of live music.
From the outset, if you were to pick anywhere in the world to hold a festival, Britian wouldn’t be many people’s first choice- our summertime climate is gloriously unpredictable.
But every year the number of festivals are rising- and rising in genre too, since it’s not just music but now literature, art, comedy and even cuisine.
If we go a long way back into the history of Britain we can see it was the original festival country- Pagans thousands of years ago celebrated the festivals of Yule and Midsummer. Festivals took place throughout the middle ages, and became more refined in the 19th and 20th century with many based on classical music.
It was only in the 1960s, with the start of electronic rock music, that festivals as we know it really began to take off.
So we have the culture of festivals in our DNA, but why do we still enjoy them so much now?
Warm, over priced beer, risk of sunstroke or flooding, camping out in the elements for four days, food-posioning inducing burger stands and toilets where unspeakable dangers are to be fought… you wouldn’t think anyone in their right minds would go!
And it’s not just 16 year-olds who don’t know what to expect- but people of all ages, all adding to the melting pot.
What you can’t deny is the fantastic community spirit of the occasion- sure you might meet a few dickheads, but in the most everyone talks to everyone, sings along with everyone and a great performance is that which quite literally will bring a huge crown of random people totally together for a few songs.
You’re joined together in your tipsiness, your smelliness, your sunburn or your kagools to find a perfect moment of cohesion in a massive, swaying, out of tune crowd.