“Beautifully compiled … the perfect festival experience.”


Glastonbury 50: The Official Story of Glastonbury Festival by Michael Eavis and Emily Eavis is a stunning coffee table book about Glastonbury Contemporary Arts Festival, one of the world’s most renowned festivals. The cover features artwork of the festival by Stanley Donwood, which many people will recognise from other Glastonbury merchandise and branding, while the gold foil title and pyramid stage make this book all the more beautiful.

Published in October 2019, the book spans from Michael Eavis’ first event on the farm in 1970 through to the most recent festival in 2019. The book was published in late 2019 ahead of what would have been the festival’s 50th anniversary, unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the festival was cancelled in 2020. Therefore, this book in some ways holds even more importance, especially to the festival’s more frequent visitors, because it allows readers to re-live the strange magic and amazing experiences of Glastonbury Festival despite the fact that the festival will not go ahead this year. 

The book opens with a passage from Michael Eavis, detailing his childhood in brief before moving on to his time on the farm and how the first music event he held on Worthy Farm, Pilton came to be. Then, throughout the book, Michael Eavis and later his daughter Emily Eavis too, continue to add further history and information as we move through the years, from the 70s, through the 80s into the 90s, then the early 2000s which were almost the last years of the festival, before finally moving onto the 2010s, right up to current day with the most recent 2019 Glastonbury Festival.

Michael and Emily’s history of the festival is also accompanied by photographs from the site and of their family, festival posters and advertising, and contributions for a variety of Glastonbury festival’s visitors. From people who have played the main stages and various tents across the festival such as Coldplay’s Chris Martin and the poet John Cooper Clarke to people who have frequented the event such as music journalist and author Caitlin Moran and DJ and presenter Lauren Laverne, there are a variety of voices featured in this book. While each person writes about their own experience, the one thing they also portray is how amazing and unique the festival is.

Through these various contributions, Glastonbury 50 is a book that not only tells readers about the history of the site but also stands as a reminder of what makes Glastonbury Festival so unique. From it’s charity work to it’s political background, from creating a week-long city of counter-culture to being a musical mecca where people’s usual tastes and preference vanish, Glastonbury festival is the only festival like it and this book goes some way in explaining what makes it so special, particularly in a year in which people can’t experience that for themselves.

As someone who used to live in the catchment for Sunday tickets and has therefore had the privilege to experience some of what Glastonbury Festival has to offer, I greatly enjoyed this book because it gave me a chance to re-live the years I attended and learn about how the festival came to be what I knew and loved about it. Glastonbury 50 is the perfect coffee table book for anyone who has fallen in love with the festival or is even thinking about attending in the future.


Reviewed by:

Catherine Muxworthy, Booksbirdblog

Added 28th August 2020

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Catherine Muxworthy