This is a new version of an archive piece that was last updated in 2019
Glastonbury Festival is set to return with a bang this week. To mark the occasion, we thought we’d take you on a trip down memory lane with a look back at every Glastonbury line-up poster to have emerged since the festival debuted on Worthy Farm in September 1970.
Tickets to the first-ever festival – which was billed as a ‘Pop, Folk & Blues’ event – could be nabbed for just £1 and granted punters access to free milk from Michael Eavis’ farm. The Kinks, Marc Bolan and Keith Christmas were among the acts to perform at the inaugural Glasto.
While you’ll be hard-pressed to find a poster for the 1971 edition of the festival (which was called ‘Glastonbury Fair’), you may already know that David Bowie was among the acts who performed that year. This was also the year that the first pyramid-shaped stage was used.
There wasn’t a poster for 1978 as that year’s event later became known as the “impromptu” Festival. After travellers who’d been washed out at Stonehenge began arriving on site in the belief that a music festival would be taking place, a free mini festival was put on – with the main stage powered by an electricity meter in a caravan.
The theme for this year’s festival, named Glastonbury Fayre, was “the year of the child”. With acts such as Peter Gabriel and Alex Harvey Band on the bill – as well as special children’s entertainment – the event was attended by 12,000 punters. Despite the big turnout, the organisers suffered a huge financial loss and therefore decided there wouldn’t be an event the following year. Additional fact: this was also the year that Emily Eavis was born.
After a year away, the festival returned with a permanent Pyramid Stage (which doubled as an animal shed and food store during the winter). New Order and Hawkwind were among the acts playing to around 18,000 attendees.
Top of the bill in ’82 were Van Morrison and Jackson Browne – while a fledgling U2 were billed to play (as you can see on the line-up poster), but didn’t actually perform in the end.
1983 saw the first ever use of the festival’s own radio station, Radio Avalon. The attendance this year reached 30,000 and saw the likes of UB40, Curtis Mayfield and Marillion perform.
The continuous growth of the festival saw the need for designated festival parking, as well as announcements telling people not to turn up unless they had bought a ticket in advance. The acts got even bigger, too: 1984 hosted the likes of The Smiths, Elvis Costello and Ian Dury.
Worthy Farm was deemed too small to host the festival on its own, so the neighbouring Cockmill Farm was bought to help accommodate the 40,000 people who attended in 1985. Echo and the Bunnymen, The Style Council and The Boomtown Rats all made it onto the bill.
The Cure, Madness and The Pogues appeared on the ever growing line-up for the 1986 festival: looks like an impressive year.
60,000 people attended this year, with the introduction of the Womad Stage helping accommodate even more acts. Elvis Costello, New Order and Van Morrison were among those to play.
After a year off in ’88, the 1989 festival festival welcomed 65,000 punters – who no doubt jumped at the £28 ticket price – and introduced the police into the planning and organisation of Glasto for the very first time.
This edition marked the 20th anniversary of Glastonbury, but the 1990 festival is largely remembered for a confrontation between the security teams and travellers, who were accused of looting the emptying festival site. 235 arrests were made, with £50,000 worth of damage to the property being caused.
After another fallow year in 1991, the 1992 line-up was one to remember: we’re talking the likes of Lou Reed, Morrissey, special guest Tom Jones, The Fall, Blur, Primal Scream…
If you were lucky enough to nab a ticket for the 1993 event, you may have had the pleasure of seeing any or all of Robert Plant, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Suede and The Velvet Underground. 80,000 tickets -priced at £58 – were snapped up.
1994 was a landmark year for Glastonbury, with the first use of wind turbines (which provided power for the main stage area) and Channel 4 providing the first live television coverage of the festival. It nearly didn’t go ahead, though: 11 days before it kicked off, the Pyramid Stage burned down. Luckily, a replacement was quickly sourced by the same local company who also provided the NME and Jazz stages.
The 25th anniversary of the first festival saw return performances from Keith Christmas and Al Stewart, who both performed at the first ever Glastonbury in 1970. The Stone Roses were meant to headline, but were forced to pull out the week before and were replaced by Pulp.
A daily newspaper, BBC coverage and the expansion of the site to cover 800 acres were the noteworthy improvements to this year’s Glastonbury. The bill was decent, too: The Prodigy, Radiohead and Massive Attack all played.
Capacity reached over 100,000 in 1998 with performances from Blur, Robbie Williams and Bob Dylan. The festival featured over 1,000 performances across 17 stages, including the introduction of a new marquee for up-and-coming bands.
Following the sad news of the death of Michael Eavis’ wife Jean, a winged wicker sculpture was ceremonially burned in her honour and fireworks were let off. Musically, this year’s festival saw sets from REM, Manic Street Preachers, Fatboy Slim and Blondie.
In an eventful year which saw us enter into the new millennium, Glastonbury continued to pull out all the stops with performances from David Bowie, Pet Shop Boys, Nine Inch Nails, future headliners Coldplay and – who could forget? – Bloodhound Gang.
After another year off, Glastonbury returned with bolstered security measures: a ring of steel fence was erected to keep out those without tickets. Stereophonics and Coldplay returned, along with appearances from The White Stripes and, er, Mis-teeq.
Moby, Radiohead, Flaming Lips and Suede all performed in 2003, which at the time was the fastest-selling Glastonbury to date: tickets were all snapped up in 24 hours.
2004 was huge in terms of the line-up it provided: Paul McCartney, Muse, Oasis, James Brown, Franz Ferdinand, and many, many more all stepped foot on Worthy Farm that year.
2005 was the year it rained: a lot. Two months worth of rain came down in several hours as the festival got under way, but that didn’t dampen spirits too much. Basement Jaxx, White Stripes, Brian Wilson, Babyshambles and many more all performed.
Every fifth year of the festival since 1987 has been the “fallow year”, allowing staff, local residents and the festival site itself a chance to rest. So, after a break in 2006, the festival returned in 2007 with big names such as The Killers, The Who, Arcade Fire, Bjork and Kasabian are playing. Headlining the festival only a year after the release of their debut album were Arctic Monkeys – whatever happened to them?
Jay-Z faced a barrage of unfair criticism when his headline slot was announced in 2008 – but he proved them all (including a certain Noel Gallagher) wrong with his triumphant set. “That bloke from Oasis said I couldn’t play guitar,” Jay later rapped on ‘Jockin’ Jay-Z (Dopeboy Fresh)’. “Somebody should have told him I’m a fuckin’ rock star.”
This year saw the introduction of the ticket deposit scheme, while live performances came from the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Nick Cave, Blur, The Specials, Lady Gaga and Bon Iver. Michael Eavis labelled this as “the best Glastonbury ever,” although he says that a lot.
Glasto’s 40th anniversary celebrations were one big party, with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Gorillaz, Dizzee Rascal and Snoop Dogg all gracing the Pyramid Stage.
Memorably closing the 2011 festival was Beyoncé, who joined a select group of female Glasto headliners by delivering a sensational performance on the Pyramid Stage.
The festival took a year off in 2012 due to a lack of portaloos and police officers – something that was largely blamed on the London Olympics. Glastonbury was back and bigger than ever in 2013, though, with show-stopping headline sets from Arctic Monkeys, The Rolling Stones and Mumford and Sons.
Worthy Farm history was made yet again in 2014 as, for the first time, metal took over the Pyramid Stage. Metallica faced a lot of criticism when they were announced as headliners, but their set went down a treat.
The mighty Foo Fighters were set to headline the festival in 2015, but after poor old Dave broke his leg, Florence and the Machine had to step in at the last minute. The weekend also saw a momentous secret set from the recently-reunited Libertines on the Pyramid Stage. Oh, and Kanye headlined – what a show that was…
The 2016 festival drew headline performances from Coldplay, Adele and Muse. Elsewhere, the likes of Foals, Tame Impala, James Blake, LCD Soundsystem and PJ Harvey all delivered memorable sets.
2017’s edition saw the Foo Fighters take their rightful place as Saturday night headliners after they were forced to drop out of the 2015 festival. Ed Sheeran and Radiohead completed the set of Pyramid Stage headliners, while the likes of The XX, The National, Katy Perry and Biffy Clyro also performed.
Following a fallow year in 2018, Glasto will return in 2019 with another exciting and intriguing line-up. Stormzy will make his debut headline performance at June’s festival, with The Cure and The Killers also set to top the bill on the Pyramid. The likes of Kylie, Janet Jackson and Tame Impala have also been confirmed, with more acts set to be announced in the coming weeks and months.
Just days before the UK went into a coronavirus-enforced lockdown and the festival was cancelled, Glastonbury organisers announced the line-up for what would have been the 2020 edition – and its 50th-anniversary bash. It featured three megastar headliners in Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney and Kendrick Lamar, while it also marked the first time that the line-up had achieved a 50/50 male-female gender split.
After two years away, Glastonbury is finally back and bringing with it a stacked bill of icons and rising stars, cult heroes and household names. Diana Ross will be rightfully crowned a legend on the Sunday afternoon, while Billie Eilish will close out the first day of the festival and become the youngest ever solo headliner in the process.