V&A Hosts Seven Day Glastonbury Celebration Online

Glastonbury Festival should have been celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, but alas, COVID-19 had other ideas. It’s not game over, however, as the V&A has curated a seven-day digital celebration of the world’s greatest festival…

Lead image: Adele on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2016 (photo: Iwona Pinkowicz / courtesy V&A)

Glastonbury 2020 should have run from Thursday 25 to Monday 29 June, but Worthy Farm, home to Somerset’s most famous fields, will enjoy an unexpected fallow this year thanks to the coronavirus crisis.

As well as the BBC’s Glastonbury Experience, which will show classic Glasto performances in full, including David Bowie (2000), Amy Winehouse (2007), Blur (2009), The Rolling Stones (2013), Adele (2016) and Beyoncé (2011), the V&A, home to the nation’s Glastonbury Archive, will be delivering us content old and new.

The V&A will be launching a new collections page as it develops an online resource rich in historical posters, programmes, designs, interviews, film, photographs, backstage passes and other Glastonbury memorabilia.

Curators have also created new content providing an introduction to the Glastonbury Archive and the Festival’s History, as well as an examination of Glastonbury and Fashion, and Glastonbury and Stage Design.

The festival crowd is famous the world over, so the V&A has also launched a call-out for members of the public to send in their memories from the festival. Write them down, email them to glastonbury@vam.ac.uk and the museum will enter them into the archive as part of a 360-degree mapping of its 50-year history.

A specially commissioned soundscape by award-winning sound designer Gareth Fry will also launch on the V&A website. The seven-minute binaural piece includes recordings from across the festival to explore a day in the life of Glastonbury, capturing a side of the festival enjoyed by guests but not covered by TV channels.

Recorded during the 2015 festival, it conveys the atmosphere of festival life through snippets of conversations and familiar sounds from across the festival site including sunrise at the Stone Circle and sound checks at the Pyramid Stage.

After all, Glastonbury is so much more than just music. As Gareth Fry, Sound Designer at the V&A, points out: ‘The camping, the walking, the people you pass by and the people you meet. There’s something unexpected around every corner.’

Museum staff have also revisited their memories of attending the festival and each selected one song that reminds them of their visit. The collection of songs has now been compiled as a playlist on Spotify that the public can also update with their favourite songs heard at the festival.

The museum’s regular online programme of activities and challenges for children, #LetsMakeWednesdays, will also be celebrating the festival with a day of festival-themed flag making, fashion creation and music innovation.

‘Glastonbury Festival is a crucible for ideas and creativity,’ said Kate Bailey, V&A Curator of Theatre Design and Scenography. ‘The Glastonbury Festival archive is an extremely important growing collection for the V&A. This diverse archive reveals how the festival has developed exponentially over the past 50 years to become the global cultural phenomenon it is today.’

‘The festival is witness to decades of creative, social and political change, and your memories are an integral part of this story,’ said Emily Eavis, Glastonbury Festival Co-organiser. ‘Please do share your Glastonbury memories and join in the V&A’s seven days of festival fun.’