The 50 greatest Glastonbury moments… ever!

The 50 greatest Glastonbury moments… ever! BLOG Saturday 25th June 2022

Congratulations to our amazing nephew Steve Hodgkinson who finally, after all the lockdown delays, marries the wonderful Lucy Leach today who becomes our brand new neice-in-law. Welcome to the fanily Lucy. We love you both XXXXX





The 50 greatest Glastonbury moments… ever!

As the party returns, we look back at the best bits from the five decades since Michael Eavis first invited the world to Worthy Farm in 1970


Is Glastonbury the greatest place on Earth? Well, to paraphrase Brian Clough, it’s definitely in the top one.


This week marks the return of the iconic festival after two years away and a slightly belated celebration of 50 years since Michael Eavis first opened Worthy Farm to the world back in 1970. The big five-oh might have been celebrated somewhat online back in 2020, but in just a few days the real party will finally get underway.


We here at NME have decided to honour the great and glorious Glastonbury Festival by raising a toast to its half-century milestone and taking a fond look back across the festival’s rich and storied history. From landmark performances and career-defining sets to the introduction of its mind-bending Arcadia and Shangri-La areas, here, in chronological order, is NME‘s pick of the 50 greatest Glastonbury moments.


Words: Alex Flood, Andrew Trendell, El Hunt, Hannah Mylrea, Jordan Bassett, Nick Reilly, Rhys Buchanan, Sam Moore, Will Richards


1              T. Rex set a precedent with a last-minute headline set at the first-ever Glastonbury (1970)

2              David Bowie plays for the first time as Glasto is captured on film for Glastonbury Fayre (1971)

3              Emily Eavis is born! (1979) Michael and Emily Eavis’ daughter, Emily Eavis’ arrival on Worthy Farm. She came during the same summer that Glastonbury embraced the very apt theme of the “year of the child”.

4              The first ‘Glastonbury Festival’ (in name) sees the festival’s first big donation to charity (1981)

5              New Order play to a load of bikers (1981)

6              The Smiths’ chaotic Glastonbury debut ends in a stage invasion (1984)

7              The Cure headline as Glastonbury welcomes 60,000 people for the first time (1986)

8              Rave culture officially comes to Glastonbury (1989)

9              The creation of the Stone Circle (1992)

10           The Verve keep on jamming (1993)

11           Glasto gets on the telly (1994)

12           The NME Stage hosts Blur, Oasis, Radiohead, Pulp, Tool, Björk, Beastie Boys and many more (1994)

13           Johnny Cash’s unforgettable Pyramid Stage performance (1994)

14           Orbital bring the rave into people’s living rooms (1994)

15           Jarvis Cocker and Pulp save the day after The Stone Roses pull out (1995)

16           Massive Attack are among the first acts to play in the brand-new Dance Tent (1995)

17           ‘The Year of the Mud’ (1997)

What happened: If you’ve ever attended a biblically muddy Glastonbury, it’s likely that you wear your achievement like a badge of hardy honour: looking back on the swampy slop that constantly lapped at the brim of your wellies, it’s a wonder that nobody involved got trench foot. The toughest Glasto terrain of all time is constantly up for debate, and there are quite a few contenders: 1985 was a swamp of knee-high muck, while the original ‘Year of the Mud’ title-holder — 1997 — saw a slurry tanker being called in to try and hoover up the worst of it. Eight years later, some innovative punters memorably used canoes to paddle around the site. And, in more recent memory, 2016 set an impressively new soggy record, with Michael Eavis declaring it the muddiest Glasto of all time. What it meant for Glastonbury: 1997 still serves as a lasting reminder to Glasto-goers each year that they should always, always, always pack their wellies — no matter how sunny the forecast looks. EH


18           Radiohead overcome technical gremlins to make history (1997)

An evening of magic that almost didn’t happen. With Thom Yorke totally “burnt out” from their gruelling ‘OK Computer’ tour and not really wanting to be there, Radiohead then encountered countless technical problems on stage. The speakers were blowing, Yorke was threatening to walk off and it all amounted to what they later described as “a form of hell”. Not to the crowd, though. Radiohead’s blend of anxiety, euphoria and anthems was just what the rain-soaked fields of Pilton needed that year, and it went down as one of the best Glasto sets of all time.

What it meant for Glastonbury: An irate Yorke spitting, “Can you turn on the lights so we can see the people, because we haven’t seen them yet?”, before illuminating the hollering, delighted masses as far as the eye could see: the moment should now be listed among the dictionary definitions of “a Glastonbury moment”. AT

19           Fun Lovin’ Criminals get Glastonbury bouncing (1999)

20           Skunk Anansie become the first Black Britons to headline the Pyramid Stage (1999)

21           David Bowie’s iconic headline set takes place as the third and current Pyramid Stage design debuts (2000)

22           The Left Field is introduced (2000)

23           The site’s “Superfence” goes up (2002)

What happened: After years of notorious fence-hopping and ticket-dodging, Glastonbury erected a massive perimeter fence and made buying an actual ticket that little bit more important.

24           The Emerging Talent Competition starts (2004)

25           Paul McCartney headlines for the first time (2004)

26           The John Peel Stage becomes a haven for new music (2005)

What happened: Glastonbury got itself a dedicated new music tent in 2005 that was named after the legendary late BBC DJ.

27           The Park Stage debuts, as does the Ribbon Tower (2007)

28           Arcadia sparks into life (2007)

What happened: Worthy Farm got weirder and more wonderful in 2007 with the introduction of Arcadia, the awe-inspiring brainchild of creative engineers Bert Cole and Pip Rush. Its annual return to Glastonbury over the years has only got bigger and better, and has since led to the biggest party on the planet being crashed by a an enormous fire-breathing spider.

29           Jay-Z brings hip-hop to the Pyramid! (2008)

30           The arrival of Shangri-La (2008)

Nowadays this hedonistic festival-within-a-festival is as essential as the Pyramid Stage: no longer a cult favourite for those in the know, but a multiverse that’s part art installation — in 2019 the theme was ‘JUNKSTAPOSITION’, its junkyard aesthetic peppered with messages both reassuring (“Let there be good in every day”) and urgent (“WAKE UP CHANGE IS NEEDED”) – and part mega-mash central. Shangri-La replaced Lost Vagueness, a pastiche of the Las Vegas strip, and has become such a destination that, when Glasto absence has not been on, its creators have produced a really quite convincing virtual reality version to satiate punters.

31           Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ moment (2008)

32           Blur reunite on the Pyramid (2009)

33           Springsteen! (2009)

34           When Michael Eavis duetted with Stevie Wonder (2010)

35           Beyoncé brings pop to the Pyramid! (2011)

36           Radiohead play a secret set on The Park Stage (2011)

37           The Rolling Stones finally have their moment! (2013)

38           Arctic Monkeys play ‘Mardy Bum’ with an orchestra as they right the wrongs of 2007 (2013)

39           Dolly Parton owns her ‘Legends Slot’ (2014)

40           Metallica bring metal to Glasto! (2014)

41           The Dalai Lama turns up (2015)

42           Kanye West trolls and triumphs (2015)

43           When the Brexit referendum result couldn’t keep festival-goers and Christine down (2016)

44           Adele makes Glastonbury weep en masse (2016)

45           The Killers’ jaw-dropping secret set (2017)

46           Jeremy Corbyn takes over Glasto (2017)

47           Kylie’s momentous debut (2019)

48           Stormzy smashes it! (2019)

49           Dave introduces the world to ‘Alex From Glasto’ (2019)

What happened: “Who is sober enough to sing these lyrics along with me?” Dave asked during his blistering Sunday afternoon set on The Other Stage. Scanning the crowd to see who he should pluck out from the audience to join him in performing his AJ Tracey collaboration ‘Thiago Silva’, he set eyes on one Alex Mann, an unassuming teenager sitting on his pal’s shoulders. The rest is history: Alex got on stage and proceeded to rap every single word of the song (including Dave’s parts) like it was his own, with the moment subsequently going viral.

50           Emily Eavis is crowned as NME‘s Godlike Genius for 2020 (2020)

What happened: Emily Eavis watched her dad Michael pick up a Godlike Genius gong at the NME Awards when she was 16, and at the start of this year she was honoured with her very own hugely deserved award in the same category. Godlike indeed.


What it meant for Glastonbury: Since becoming Glastonbury’s co-organiser, Emily Eavis has overseen all kinds of huge changes and milestones: from booking the festival’s first hip-hop headliner in Jay-Z, to pushing for greater representation of women and non-binary artists on the line-up. In 2019, Emily banned the sale of all single-use plastic at the 2019 event, setting an important industry precedent in the process. What a ledge. Here’s to the next 50 years of Glastonbury!


REMEMBER: The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.

– Nicolas Chamfort



“I have found the very best way to advise your children is to find out what they want to do and advise them to do it.” – President Harry Truman.


Happiness is…Glastonbury.


What did the full glass say to the empty glass? You look drunk.


Love is…Glastonbury.


“Never test the depth of the water with both feet.”


A time for a hot, sunny Glastonbury…A time for a rainy muddy Glastonbury.





©2022 Phil M Robinson