Alert the Pulitzer panel! When this column speaks, the powerful listen. Just three months ago, as Glastonbury 2021 was being cancelled, I called for the site itself to be opened to us pining weekend hippies as soon as possible, even if there wasn’t a festival on. Et voila! This week, Worthy Farm announced the opening of Worthy Pastures during the school holidays, a campsite of pre-erected bell and scout tents at the Glastonbury festival site that promises to be, if not a hedonistic bacchanal of good times and bad toilets, at least a spirit-fluffing haven of falafel-scented Arcadia.
At Worthy Pastures there’s zero chance of losing your eyebrows in a 3am giant spiderbreath accident, but the essence of Glastonbury will nonetheless roam free. Williams Green will act as the central village full of traders, with the Kidz Field’s pink castle and Cadmus Ship in place nearby for those inevitable moments when you revert to ‘shroom-conjured childhood. Further afield, you can trek up to the Stone Circle to dig up the stash you buried there in 2004 because those glitter-faced pixies were definitely undercover CID, and the Pyramid Stage will be open for picnics with no risk of your toddler being trampled by a whooping snake of Years & years fans weaving their way to the front behind a psychedelic space druid with a “SHALOM, JACKIE” flag.
It’s impossible to imagine a better summer staycation, for mind and spirit – if not for liver. There may be no live music and an 11pm noise curfew but simply sitting on the hill at King’s Field absorbing the thrum of the leylines (unless they’re fracking Avalon already), catching echoes of the ‘Hey Jude’ singalong which locals claim have been reverberating around the Tor since 2004 and getting a contact high from the ground itself (the topsoil on Worthy Farm is estimated to be around 76 per cent lost drugs) will be a magical experience for the regular Glastonite.
Having been shown around the site by Michael Eavis on several occasions before the festival has been built, I know how disorientating it can be on Worthy Farm without most of its familiar festival lanes and landmarks. It’s a bit like going back to your childhood home to find that someone’s knocked your old bedroom through to make a second upstairs sheep shed. But the patterns and routines of getting there, and the moments of recognition of a bridge you once slept under or the copse you were conceived in, are heart-warming reminders of the multitude of joys the place has stirred up throughout your life, and catalysts for reliving them anew, the faint waft of hashish and ostrich burger across dusty farm sparking your Proustian madeleine moment.
With lockdown relaxing but most major festivals rescheduling for late August or September this year, this is exactly the sort of inch back into familiarity and normality that the compulsive festival-goer needs. And while being at Glastonbury – even when Glastonbury isn’t – undeniably has more of a mythic appeal than the bare-arsed sites of all other festivals, better for easing us gently through the summer’s cultural wasteland and give us a chance to brush up on our rusty human pyramid skills, I’d welcome other events following suit.
Let’s have bus trips to the outskirts of Reading to get coated in a fine dust, have chip cartons pasted to our feet and consume cheap carvery fry-ups before dancing around a burning wicker Portaloo singing ‘Sex On Fire’. A boutique premium gin weekend on the site of Latitude, where we can swap anti-Brexit witticisms and discuss the latest Caitlin Moran to the soothing sounds of Paolo Nutini streamed on the stereo of an idling hybrid. Or a Wall Of Death weekend in the Download bus park, where hordes of metalheads just run screaming at each other for 48 hours solid, like a Midlands goth Braveheart.
It’s less about the experience itself, more about having the chance to convene with like-minded music fans once more, share memories of festivals past and build anticipation for the freedom festivities to come later in the year. And best of all, as smaller capacity outdoor shindigs, they’re unlikely to be cancelled at the last minute because the Government refuses to offer any insurance against another lockdown caused by a particularly virulent Lovebox variant sweeping the nation. This column has spoken; make it so.