Top Ten Festival Facts You Didn’t Know
Did you know there's a music festival in the sea? Discover more festival facts. #ThinkProject
There’s a lot more to festivals than queues for the toilets, patterned wellies and nights with little to no sleep. In fact, festival-going is a tradition dating back thousands of years, with a (perhaps unsurprisingly) weird and wonderful history.
Our top ten facts are brought to you as part of the #ThinkProject, created to help you find your new passion. To take part, all you need to do is take a moment to stop, think about a skill, hobby or adventure you’ve never tried before – and give it a go!
Whether you’re about to head to your first festival or consider yourself quite the pro, get ready to learn something you didn’t know!
1. The first Glastonbury Festival launched in 1970, with tickets costing £1 – including free milk from the farm
The first festival was held the day after rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix died, with an attendance of just 1,500 people. Originally called the Pilton Festival, acts included Marc Bolan, Keith Christmas and Al Stewart. It was set up by dairy farmer Michael Eavis CBE, and continues to be held at his 150-acre farm in Somerset, England. 37 years later, Glastonbury Festival is one of the world’s best-known festivals and is attended by around 175,000 people each year.
2. Festivals are older than you might think, originating from the 10th Century BC and beyond (that’s around 3,000 years ago!)
In ancient Greece, music festivals were nearly as popular as they are today. Although they’ve changed a lot over the years, they would include competitions in music, poetry, drama and athletics. They formed an important part of worshipping the gods, and usually included a procession and a sacrifice.
3. The world’s most exclusive festival? You must be a member to attend Freerotation in Wales, UK, and in order to be a member you must be invited by an existing member.
Members can only invite people on one day each year in April, and as they receive such high volumes of applicants, this is decided by lottery. Tickets are then sold in small batches between December and May, with members who have previously attended four or more times getting priority. Fancy your chances this year? Good luck!
4. The 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair is often considered the first modern music festival.
More than 100,000 tickets were sold, but nearly half a million people descended upon the 600-acre farmland in New York. Organisers were running out of time, so they had to decide between completing the venue’s fencing or building the stage. They opted for the latter. Jimi Hendrix was one of the headline acts, and was paid $18,000 (the most out of all performers). Scheduled to last for three days, Woodstock ran for four days and is widely considered a pivotal moment in popular music history.
5. Want a festival on a different ‘scale?’ Try this US music festival held completely underwater.
The Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival is a unique annual concert in Florida, created more than 30 years ago for divers wanting to ‘sea’ something a little different… Intriguing-looking instruments like the ‘trombonefish,’ ‘sea-phan flute’ and ‘fluke-a-lele’ have also been created especially for the event, with all music streamed live from underwater speakers. As well as making sweet music, the festival has an important purpose in mind – to raise awareness and promote coral preservation.
6. The world’s largest music festival is Summerfest in the USA. It attracts between 800,000 and 1,000,000 people each year.
With more than 800 acts and 1,000 performances over 11 days, this really is a festival on a different level. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Summerfest was created to revitalise Milwaukee’s downtown and bring the community together. At first, the festival was held at 35 separate locations throughout the city, but it now has its own home at a permanent 75-acre festival site.
7. The world’s most remote festival (probably) is the Festival in the Desert in Essakane, Mali.
Music-lovers really looking to escape the beaten track can try this festival hidden deep in the Sahara desert. The site is half a day’s drive, or three days by camel, from the nearest town (which is well-known for being difficult to find…). The festival is currently suspended due to unrest in Mali.
8. The Three Choirs Festival is the oldest classical choral festival in the world, having run every year since 1719
The week-long festival rotates each summer between the English cathedral cities of Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester. Three Choirs celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2015, and concert programmes combine favourites from British classical choral tradition with international works.
9. The chilliest ever music festival is SnowGlobe Music Festival – an outdoor festival in the snow.
This one of a kind festival is held in South Lake Tahoe, USA, in the three days in the lead up to New Year’s Eve. Combining incredible artists with equally incredible snow conditions, this is the festival for skiers and snowboarders, but also music lovers with a taste for adventure.
10. Guns n’ Roses turned up over an hour late to the UK’s Download Festival in 2006, despite frontman Axl Rose having a private helicopter.
The set began with bottles and heckles being thrown at the band after their late arrival. Axl then slipped on a wet surface and a bottle hit bassist Tommy Stinson. Stinson then threw his bass, hitting one of the cameramen. He then left the stage.
Get the gear
Whether you fancy trying one of the more unusual festivals mentioned here, or have your own festival in mind, make sure you are prepared – whatever the weather.
Clothing engineered with GORE-TEX fabrics is versatile, water and windproof and comfortable – making it an ideal addition to this year’s festival wardrobe! For 360-degree climate comfort for your feet, our GORE-TEX SURROUND® footwear will ensure your festival fun will not come to an end thanks to damp feet.
Festival favourites include the Arc’teryx Codetta Coat and the Adidas Stan Smith Trainers, both look super stylish and are guaranteed to keep you dry. Designed to look and feel good, they’re sure to be the perfect party companion.
The #ThinkProject is inspired by the simple fact that we don’t want you to think about GORE-TEX products. The less you have to concentrate on your gear, the better it is. When wearing GORE-TEX products, you have the freedom to be fully in the moment and think about whatever it is you are feeling or doing.
Check out our Ten Tips to Nail Festival Camping for advice about how to ensure your first camping experience is fuss-free, and also check out our Top Festivals with a View for our pick of some super festivals with jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery.
Do you have any festival facts you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments below!