The 2013 Glastonbury Festival opens in the sunshine

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The 2013 Glastonbury Festival opened its gates yesterday to a flurry of tents, beer, spellbinding creativity, big name acts, performers of all stripes, and the distilled magic that unfolds in the Vale of Avalon every time Michael Eavis packs away his cows.

Glastonbury is in a league entirely of its own as UK festivals go. Yes, it has succumbed in some inevitable part to the creeping blandification of largely white, middle class festival goers, and in some parts there is an understated whiff of the corporate, but Eavis has performed an extraordinary balancing act between expansion and integrity over the years.

There is still a sense of folk mystery at Glastonbury and it still celebrates the supremely leftfield. The fence may have put paid to the casual traveller jumping the fence (although Eavis was wistfully quoted this year as saying he wished more people climbed it), but a heartening number of the pioneers that made UK free festival culture special are still working at Glastonbury – with budgets provided by Eavis to spin into distinctly uncorporate sets, stages, and pockets of glorious madness.

Glastonbury is also the only festival that doesn’t lock you behind a fence and sell you overpriced alcohol, allowing festival goers to bring their own supplies – often in wheelbarrows. Tents range from the cheap and cheerful, to the high end yurts festooned in vintage chandeliers and gilded mirrors that will house the likes of the Rolling Stones and er Mumford and Sons. And the music policy is wonderfully diverse on all stages, a true panoply of the sonic landscape. And let’s not forget the circus, the theatre, the debates, the arts, the crafts, the stone circles, and the intangible moments of chaos.

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Glastonbury is also famous – perhaps unfairly – for being an orgiastic mud bath, with even the Queen referring to it as ‘that place you get muddy’. It looks like the fates are behind the festival this year though, and as artist Joe Rush and Alex Wreckage Wright’s mutated phoenix rises from the top of the Pyramid Stage, so the festival will be reborn, after a year left fallow, into the gentle sunshine of indulgent eccentricity.

Written by Cyrus Bozorgmehr - Google+ Profile - More articles by Cyrus Bozorgmehr

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