Ticket price: £280
After a two year Covid break, Glastonbury Festival returned at full strength in ’22. ‘It’s great to be back!’, a quote from a delighted Emily Eavis during the build, became the headline for the first issue of the Glastonbury Free Press, the official site newspaper. And the world’s media were out in force as Michael and Emily officially opened the gates for the first time for three years at 8am on the Wednesday morning.
A run of big announcements, beginning with Little Simz to headline West Holts, followed by Bille Eilish (Friday), Diana Ross (tea time legend), Sir Paul McCartney (Saturday) and Kendrick Lamarr (Sunday) – interspersed with line up reveals from over 20 different Areas and stages – left no room for disappointment. The BBC’s most extensive year ever was launched with a major TV documentary ’50 years and Counting…’ in early June. Three years in the making Francis Whateley’s film is a social and musical history of Glastonbury, as told by its principal curators, Michael and Emily Eavis, and many of the key artists who have appeared at Worthy Farm since 1970.
With the eyes of the world on Glastonbury, it was an honour and a privilege that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine was able to send a video message to festival goers on the Friday morning, addressing the ongoing crisis in his country following the Russian invasion. Eurovision winners The Kalush Orchestra had played the Truth Stage in Shangri La only hours previously; over the weekend they were joined by other Ukranian artists playing Glastonbury for the first time, with Dhaka Brakha opening the Pyramid on Sunday morning in front of a wave of Ukranian flags.
By Saturday the spotlight was on another world crisis – climate change. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg made a powerful and impassioned mid afternoon speech on the Pyramid and worked tirelessly with the media throughout the weekend. Meanwhile the enduring partnerships with Glastonbury’s three main charities, Oxfam, Greenpeace and WaterAid, over three decades was highlighted by ‘The Spirit of Glastonbury’ exhibition behind the Pyramid Stage. The charities also worked together to activate and promote new green initiatives across the site – a switch to more clean electric vehicles (including Michael’s world famous red Land Rover), the launch of biodegradable crisp packets, a push towards record recycling and festival goers’ adoption of green pledges.
Other highlights included a dedicated space for the Atchin Tan (The Stopping Place) in the Theatre Fields, where a coalition of travelling people campaigned for the Right To roam, a Pride arch across the entrance to the Green Fields, a first ever visit of a full contingent from Noting Hill Carnival in London with processions and sound systems parading from Block9 across the site, an alternative Carnival procession in the Kidz Field (filmed for Blue Peter), the return of the Arcadia Spider, a new look Silver Hayes with two new stages, Lonely Hearts and Firmly Rooted, plus the welcome return of Glastonbury-on-Sea.
The returning Festival got its first two anthems on the Friday, Wet Leg with ‘Chaise Longue’ in the Park and Sam Fender with ‘Seventeen Going Under’ on the afternoon Pyramid slot (adopted by the BBC for their highlights). in between there was the all conquering Billie Eilish, the epic Paul McCartney (three hours of legend with appearances by Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen and even a virtual John Lennon), the flashmob dance to Diana Ross with ‘Upside Down’ and then the lyrical mastery of Kendrick Lamar.
Glastonbury 2022 was movingly brought to a close by Joe Rush’s Burning Lotus installation in the Park, silently paying tribute to the missing years, with Block9’s ICON and the Common’s Rum Shack providing a distant late night soundtrack.
A reproduction of this poster is available to buy from the Glastonbury Shop.