2023 History

2023 saw Glastonbury return, firing on all cylinders. Joining the Green Fields, which have always been powered by renewable energy, this year every generator across the Festival site was run entirely on palm-oil free, sustainable HVO renewable fuel. This, along with the new temporary wind turbine powering the food stalls at Carhenge, added to the Festival’s existing green energy arsenal – the solar array on the cowshed roof and the anaerobic digester, turning slurry waste into renewable energy – helping to make Glastonbury a greener and even more sustainable Festival.

Emily Eavis ushered the first Festival-goers in shortly after 8am, before embarking on a whistle-stop tour of all 22 Areas with the guardians of the famous Hiroshima Peace Flame. Next, was the grand opening of Woodsies – amalgamating the former John Peel Stage and The Wood – with processions, fires and a performance led by Michael Eavis himself. Then it was on to the grand opening of Joe Rush’s Carhenge at sunset, followed by the ceremonial lighting of the giant Wicker Man in the King’s Meadow and a triple firework display.

Excitement had been building since the high speed ticket sell-out in November and the pre-Christmas announcement that Elton John would be playing his last ever UK gig at Worthy Farm. Licence amendments were passed unanimously on the very last day of March, guaranteeing the Festival’s long term future, swiftly followed by line-up reveals during April and May that left no room for disappointment. Only one slot on the Pyramid remained to be filled, who, wondered Glastonbury’s worldwide audience, were the ChurnUps?

Speculation continued as the Festival kicked into life. Thursday saw a brilliantly co-ordinated Peace Procession from The Park to the Stone Circle, culminating in the formation of a multi-human CND sign in the King’s Meadow. Next up was the grand arrival of the famed Notting Hill Carnival floats, dancers and sound systems, taking up residence in Block9 for the weekend. And as a striking visual statement, a giant painted mural of the NHS logo appeared on the Pyramid Field, celebrating the 75th anniversary of another national institution.

Leading Glastonbury’s strongest ever musical lineup – as seen live on the BBC – headliners, the Arctic Monkeys (Friday), Guns ’n’ Roses (Saturday) and finally the awesome Elton (Sunday), exceeded all expectations (and viewing figures!). But there were stand outs on every stage and in every Area: from the Chemical Brothers playing the Arcadia Spider to Eliza Rose headlining The Levels in Silver Hayes; from Rick Astley rocking the Pyramid for the first time (and joining Blossoms), to Central Cee and War On Drugs at the Other. Barrington Levy killed the sunset vibes and Young Fathers immortalised ‘I Saw’ in West Holts. The long absent Sparks rocked the Park, with special guest Cate Blanchett. And yes, The ChurnUps were the Foo Fighters, a secret revealed just seconds before they took the stage.

Other highlights included installations both new and established: the mighty Carhenge, a new-look Silver Hayes, a constantly buzzing late night area in the South East Corner, a colourful and creative Green Fields and a world-leading line-up (as always) in Theatre & Circus and Cabaret. Special mentions for double shows to Fred Again (the Other Stage and a memorable B2B with The Blessed Madonna at The Temple in The Common), Raye (BBC Introducing and the Pyramid) and Rina Sawayama (Woodsies and a guest appearance with Sir Elton). A handy Glastonbury tea towel went to fitness guru Joe Wicks for leading a giant outdoor exercise workout in Theatre & Circus, and another to the flag-bearing Glastonbury Free Press – the Festival’s own independent official newspaper – for celebrating its 10th anniversary.

The spirit of Glastonbury 2023 continued through the summer with Sharleen Spiteri leading Texas in a barnstorming set at the sold-out Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza in August. Come September, it was a revitalised Mike Skinner bringing The Streets back to Worthy Farm for the Pilton Party. And with all the figures finally in, November saw the announcement of a record charitable contribution of an amazing £3.7 million. Fittingly, the final shout of the year was for a knighthood for Michael Eavis in the New Year’s Honours List. Arise, Sir Michael of Avalon, ready for another record breaking year.


A reproduction of this poster is available to buy from the Glastonbury Shop.

Back to top