Glastonbury locals prepare for 'dismayed' festival-goers who mistakenly turn up in town

Glastonbury locals are gearing up for the annual mix-up that sees festival-goers mistakenly arrive in their town, as David MacGeoch, the vicar of Glastonbury, shares his amusement at the sight of confused music fans "laden with tents, boots and rucksacks" turning up each year.

Despite the world-renowned Glastonbury Festival attracting 210,000 attendees annually, a few invariably end up in the town of Glastonbury instead of the actual festival site in Pilton, which lies nine miles to the east.

Living in Glastonbury, Mr MacGeoch often finds himself redirecting these lost festival-goers. His comments came during a special BBC Radio 4 broadcast in 2023 from St John's Church in Glastonbury.

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Mr MacGeoch recounted: "This Wednesday will be no exception to what I see every year at the start of Glastonbury Festival. Out of my window I watch a number of parents in their cars, dropping off their youngsters laden with tents, boots and rucksacks, and as I walk down the roadside, an excitable young person will ask 'which way to the festival? '".

"I should say that at the same time, their family have now driven off. With a smile on my face, I say it's nine miles that way and it's on Worthy Farm in a little village called Pilton."

"You can see the dismay on their faces. But they do cheer up when I direct them to the nearest bus stop."

What's in a name?

A history of naming Glastonbury Festival.

The inaugural music festival at Worthy Farm, which took place in 1970, was originally dubbed the Pop, Folk and Blues festival. With a modest gathering of just 2,500 people, it was a far cry from the colossal event we know today.

The festival was born out of Michael Eavis's inspiration from the Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music.

It wasn't until the year after that the festival took on the iconic "Glastonbury" name, rebranding itself as Glastonbury Fair. That year marked the debut of the Pyramid Stage, strategically erected on a ley line connecting Glastonbury to Stonehenge, yet the festival remained intimate with only 12,000 attendees.

Following an eight-year hiatusduring which impromptu gatherings still occurred at Worthy Farmthe festival made its comeback in 1979 under the slightly altered name of Glastonbury Fayre. This iteration planted the seeds for the contemporary festival experience, albeit on a smaller scale, featuring fairground attractions, cinema tents, welfare services, and an on-site printed newsletter.

By 1981, the festival was staged once more, this time as the Glastonbury CND Festival, reflecting Michael Eavis's growing engagement with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. It maintained this moniker through to 1987, despite recurrent disputes with Mendip District Council over the burgeoning size of the festival and the swelling crowds, which reached 60,000.

In 1989, following a year's hiatus, the event made a comeback as the Glastonbury Festival, a name it still carries today. After several disagreements with the council, Mr Eavis decided to involve the police in the festival's organisation and planning for the first time.

The original reason behind naming the festival after a town located nine miles away remains unclear. It is speculated that this might have been a marketing strategy to capitalise on the historical mystique and folklore associated with the town of Glastonbury, known for its iconic Tor, Abbey ruins, and legends tying the town to Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea, and King Arthur.