8 Festival Facts You Probably Didn't Know

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Festivals are back! And this year, they're going to be better than ever. For a while, they felt so far away - we honestly thought we would no longer be queuing for dodgy portaloos in a field and that the days of mud, wellies and shorts were long gone. That losing your friends (and finding new ones) in a field full of 100,000 people was a thing of the past. But no - like a phoenix rising from the ashes, after two years of cancellations and delays, music lovers can once again look forward to an array of festivals and gigs this summer.Music festivals are back, and this time they’ve got bells on baby. Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and The Weeknd have already headlined Coachella, and Paul McCartney will triumphantly return to Glastonbury in June. “Summer 2022 marks the beginning of the next era of the musical summer season,” said Emily Eavis, co-organiser of the Glastonbury festival, which is returning in June for the first time since 2019.But where did this summer tradition of gathering together to listen to music stem from? Here’s our guide to a few fun festival facts you (probably) didn’t know.

The first Glastonbury Festival was held in 1970, with tickets costing £1 (which included free milk from the farm). Glasto 1970 was held the day after Jimi Hendrix died, to a turnout of just 1,500 people. Originally called the Pilton Festival (the farm where the festival is held is called Pilton Farm), headlining acts included Marc Bolan and T-Rex (who played in place of the Kinks), Keith Christmas and Al Stewart. It was set up by dairy farmer Michael Eavis CBE, and is today one of the world’s most popular and sought after festival dates. Tickets for the 2022 event sold out in 20 minutes. 

Held in 1969, the Woodstock Festival is considered as one of the most pivotal moments of 20th-century music history. Although the venue - a 600-acre farm in upstate New York - sold 100,000 tickets, over half a million people turned up. The acts were legendary - 32 bands played and included Joan Baez; Janis Joplin and The Big Brother Holding Company, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and of course Jimi Hendrix, who closed out the festival with a two-plus-hour set starting at 9 a.m.

Festivals didn’t begin with Woodstock and the Summer of Love. In fact, the Green Man Festival held in Wales can trace its roots back to the cultural tournament for poets and musicians held by Lord Rhys at Cardigan Castle, in 1176. If you want to go back even further, then the Ancient Greeks would gather for recitals of music and poetry in Athens throughout the year, to honour the Gods, such as Dionysus, Apollo, Hermes and, of course, Athena, in or before 5th century BC. 

Although it was only launched in 1999, Coachella is today America’s most popular music festival. It has over 1.3 million followers on Instagram, and there are over 850k searches per month for the festival on Google. Most searched things (according to Google’s search suggestions) are: “Why is Coachella so expensive” tied with “Is alcohol allowed at Coachella”. 

It’s not all fun in the sun. The Snow Globe Music Festival in South Lake Tahoe is held every year on the three days before New Year's Eve. The outdoor festival has a rad, gnarly vibe, and combines artists such as Snoop Dogg and Childish Gambino with incredible snow conditions and 24-hour snow park demos and snowboarding. You don’t have to be a ski bunny to enjoy it, but it helps. 

Festival Fashion is a thing. Who can forget when style queen Kate Moss basically created the benchmark look by wearing wellies with shorts. Kylie and Kendall come a close second with their twinning 2014 looks, but fell a little short on originality. But in our minds, when it comes to best dressed at a festival, the award should go to none other than Badgirl RiRi. She wore a crystal embellished all-in-one and customised Gucci T-shirt to Coachella in 2017, captioning her Instagram photo with, "I can't go home yet, cuz enough people ain't seen my outfit." We can definitely relate.

Music lovers who want to escape the crowds might want to make their way to the Festival in the Desert in Essakane, Mali. The festival originally started in Essakane, in the very north of Mali, half a day’s drive, or three days by camel, from the nearest town. But you’ll have to be patient. The festival, which celebrates song, dance, poetry and more, has been suspended due to political unrest in the country.

Biggest hissy fit to have taken place live? Probably Guns n’ Roses at the UK’s Download Festival in 2006. Frontman Axl Rose turned up over an hour late despite having a private helicopter. Bottles were thrown at the band on stage to protest this late arrival, which caused Rose to slip and injure himself. A flying bottle then hit bassist Tommy Stinson, who threw his bass across the stage, hitting a cameraman, before leaving the stage himself. The set did last three and a half hours though.