Tomorrow, thousands of revellers are going to descend on what’s widely regarded as the best festival in the world: Glastonbury. Thanks to the pandemic, the festival has been delayed for two years (with the cancellation of last year’s event, bizarrely, called by Mel B first). The Pyramid Stage is set - and Billie Eilish, Kendrick Lamar, Diana Ross and Paul McCartney will be descending on Worthy Farm, along with a huge line-up filled with countless other gems.
Here, Grazia speaks to the main woman behind the scenes, co-organiser Emily Eavis, to find out what it takes to put on the greatest show on earth - and what other festivals can learn from Glastonbury when it comes to making their line-ups more gender balanced.
How far in advance do you start planning Glastonbury acts?
'In the olden days, we started to sort [the line-up] around springtime - but now we start doing things from straight after the festival. Due to two years of Covid, we’re mostly booked up now for 2023.'
When booking acts, what do you consider?
'We always try to make it different every year - each year has its own identity. We just try to make it as good as possible. And we try to keep it diverse, and try to keep it gender-balanced - and we try to keep all of those things in mind. And with that in mind, we’ve then booked the best bands we could possibly book to make it the most fun musical journey for a whole weekend.'
Are there any surprises set for this year?
'I can't say too much, to be honest. I don’t think there are many big surprises... Honestly, I don’t like saying anything about surprises, I’m not just playing it down! A lot of people go: ‘Where’s the surprise?!’ And I’m like, ‘This is the surprise!’ After two years, it's just momentous when you pull it all together and all your crews work day and night putting it all in place and creating this magical Wonderland. It's just extraordinary. Yes, there will be surprises - but we have to keep them that way.'
Who would be your dream headliners? (Or have you had them already?)
'We've actually got some of our dream headliners within this year and next year. I think we’re doing pretty well, we’ve got the most incredibly artists from Neil Young to Dolly Parton and Paul McCartney. And even Diana Ross this year, which was a massive coo. I feel like we’re doing well getting these incredible artists. We've been so lucky. We just don't take it for granted at all. If Led Zeppelin reformed then obviously we'd love them, but I don't think there's any chance of that happening!'
You recently appeared in Overheated, a documentary about climate change - what does Glastonbury do to tackle the issue?
'The banning of plastic bottles in 2019 was huge, because it I think it was 1.7 million plastic bottles that went into landfill from the festival in previous years. And to be able to knock plastic elements on the head is an example of what you can do it - it takes work and it takes commitment from everybody across the board: from us, all of the soft drinks companies, all of the water companies, all of the festival goers and all of the artists - but everybody really, really stuck to it and it shows that you can make those kinds of changes. It was very reassuring to see that.
We’re using a lot of solar this year, we’ve got stages which are being powered by solar. We’ve got all types of wind power and cycle power all over site. And the production area for the Pyramid Stage is being powered by the anaerobic digester which was put on in the farm, so the cows will be basically powering the Pyramid’s production area through methane.
We’ve got little projects all over, we are doing out best. We’re building a city, and we’re never going to be in denial about the fact that it's not going to be neutral - but we do what we can.'
Do you think there are any challenges still facing women in music?
'I think there are so many incredible female artists - obviously, there are loads of incredible female artists - but it's really important to get these women in the same space at the top of the bill. And that's something we’ve tried to do here, that's why I got behind the campaign that was launched by the PRS foundation about [gender equality on line-ups].
I didn't sign any pledges or anything: I wasn't like, ‘Oh, we're gonna be [50/50] by then’ because I don't think it’s necessarily totally realistic. And sometimes there'll be more [women] than that. But I think it's an aim that we are trying our best to address.'
How can festival goers organise their time at Glastonbury?
'The EE app is a great way to literally programme all the things that you want to see at Glastonbury. You can have a little schedule, you can work out where you are, you can find things that are happening at the last minute. It’s also a really good way for us to communicate things that are happening, like when David Attenbrough appeared at the last festival. To be honest, it’s an invaluable part of the experience.'
Glastonbury Festival has teamed up with longstanding technology partner EE, to connect Festival goers at Worthy Farm with EE’s award-winning network, as well as create the official Glastonbury app for guests to plan their line ups. The app is available to download now on iOS and Android.
Photographer: Emma Hardy