“Do Glastonbury and die!” yells Rose, a 61-year-old Glasto virgin from Doncaster and one of a pair of self-declared “grannies doing Glasto!” that NME runs into in the West Holts field. “You name it, we’ve done it. We’re just roaming around like we’ve got Alzheimer’s, but we haven’t. It’s like a magical walk, you go from one area into another area, see weird and wonderful people and things. We’re partying all night, they can’t keep up with us!”
There’s plenty of Roses about at Glasto 2016. With the average festival-goer’s age nestling nicely at 37, its pan-generational appeal has clearly never been stronger. It’s always been a family affair, but as entire generations of attendees have grown old with the festival it seems that every 93-year-old mum that isn’t sat at home proud to have finally escaped the clutches of the emus – pecky foreign bastards – is here, and decidedly ‘on one’*.
So while their kids are off inhaling noxious gasses along to Skepta, how do the wrinklies do Glastonbury? They do it properly. What emerges from roaming the site chatting with the more mature Glastonbury punter is how refreshingly on-the-ball and across-the-board their weekend activities are. “I’ve mostly been soaking up the atmosphere,” says Anita, 57, from Princes Risborough, a Glasto-goer since 1978 here with her family. “We were down at the Pyramid Stage and caught Foals and Muse, but I love all the craft stalls. I do willow myself so I’ve been checking out all the action. We’re going to make our way over to the John Peel stage later because I’m curious about what’s been going on.”
Yes, they love a good wander and, yes, they tend towards the Green Fields, Avalon and Greenpeace rather than Block 9 as you might expect but they’ve all been catching up on a vast and unconstrained array of music, new and old, too. They’re racing off to Squeeze, Tom Robinson, ZZ Top or Jess Glynne but still buzzing from Foals, Muse, Christine And The Queens and “Two Door Film Club, is it?”
Like a well-worn armchair, though, everyone has their favourite spot to rest their weary corns. Steve, 57, from Buckinghamshire recommends the Permaculture area. “It’s over along the rail track before you turn off to The Park, there’s a lovely little area with a great café, the cheapest mug of tea on the site, 50p a mug. If the noise is too much head down there, they’ll look after you.”
It’s also amazing how many over-50s we speak to for whom 2016 is their first Glastonbury. “We won our tickets from a well-known newspaper,” says Frank, 64, from Colchester. “We’ve been trying for years and gave up years ago trying to buy tickets.” “The Circus Field has been good,” says his 67-year-old accomplice Maureen, “good food, a good atmosphere, lots going on.” Rose is a first-timer too. “My son comes every year and this year he took pity on me because I’ve always wanted to come,” she says.
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View our video of Silver Glastonians above and from this, young groovers of Pilton, take solace. You’ve got a good 40 years of Glastonbury good times in you yet. Like they say, Glastonbury begins at forty. Or did they say ‘Glastonbury begins with a long lie down at 40?’
* A hypertension pill, mostly.