This week 175 000 people will descend onto a farm in Somerset for days of mud, music, and cider- its Glastonbury weekend.
Despite many critics claiming the festival bubble in Britain popped several years ago, the festivals that have survived have acquired near mythic cultural status. In the twenty-first century world of social media, being a status-symbol is the biggest thing festivals have going for them. Whether people admit it or not- you go to Glastonbury (or Coachella or Bonnaroo) to say you’ve gone. This popularity is reflected in ticket sales in the last few years- tickets for the 2014 festival sold out in a record 87 minutes, but tickets for 2015 destroyed that record, selling out in just 25 minutes.
So what makes music festivals so popular? As Brad Shoup, in this article, so aptly said, ‘People who can’t be convinced to drop $9.99 on an album will happily part with a few hundred to watch the Roots while sitting on a beach towel.’ What makes people want to spend hundreds of dollars to sleep on the ground with thousands of strangers?
There are several things going on with this phenomenon. First, as mentioned above, is the status symbol associated with attending each festival. Second, despite the upfront cost of festivals, it is still much cheaper than buying tickets for individual live shows of all the performers. Third, you never know who you will see at a festivals. We all know celebrities frequent as audience members, but there is a growing trend of surprise performances. In recent years, Glastonbury has purposefully left a spot open. This year the big question is who will fill the Foo Fighters empty headlinging spot? Odds-on favourites are the Foo Fighters themselves (in an acoustic set that allows Dave Grohl to sit down), Taylor Swift (who is in London for her own outdoor concert at BST Hyde Park), or Fleetwood Mac (also in town on the UK leg of their tour). Finally, the main thing that festivals have going for them, and what keeps everyone coming back, is ‘the feeling’ of being there.
For the vast majority of us not lucky enough to have scored tickets for this year, we will just have to watch enviously of our friends’ Facebook and Instagram accounts and wait for whatever surprises will undoubtedly occur!
Do you prefer festivals or traditional concerts? Comment below and let us know!