It’s the best time of year again! No, not Christmas, but that one week in June when a small village in the South West becomes the most populated place in Somerset; it’s Glastonbury time.Tomorrow (or tonight, if you’re like me and would rather beat the queues by making the trek in the middle of the night!) thousands will descend on the tiny Pilton village to spend a week enjoying great music, a few drinks, and hopefully some sun too!
As 177,000 people gear up for this legendary festival, it’s incredible to think how far Glastonbury has come; from a small folk festival in 1970, to the staple of British summertime now nearly 45 years later. But one thing’s for sure, no one could ever accuse Glastonbury of not keeping up with the times.
Glastonbury has embraced digital in many ways, from social, to apps, to the round-the-clock coverage. Whether you attend Glastonbury or not, you can keep up-to-date with all that’s going on throughout the weekend.
Glastonbury and the BBC
Glastonbury and the BBC have enjoyed a partnership that goes from strength to strength, with last year’s festival seeing BBC’s coverage turn Glastonbury into a truly digital festival.
In 2013, a record 1.5 million unique browsers accessed the BBC’s digital Glastonbury coverage – with over 6.2 million viewers on the BBC’s Red Button over the weekend (up by 77% from the previous Glasto in 2011).
Even more impressive is that 2013 saw 42% of total traffic across the weekend come from mobiles and tablets.
BBC Glastonbury traffic 2013:
This year, BBC has announced plans to broadcast over 250 hours of Glastonbury on Radio, TV, Red Button and online. This may seem excessive to some (you’ll always hear those complaining about ‘too much Glastonbury coverage’), but there is so much to the festival that even those 250 hours won’t begin to scratch the surface of all Glastonbury has to offer.
With 80 stages, and a site that would take you an hour to walk end-to-end, there’s so much of Glastonbury to capture that it’s amazing to have so much caught on film… Meaning those who missed out on tickets/didn’t want to attend can still watch plenty of the action, and those of us who are there can re-live some of the highlights when we get home (and maybe cry a little bit because it’s over).
Glastonbury and social
You may think that a festival is the perfect place to get away from social media and the Internet – but there are some benefits to staying connected while at Glastonbury…
Keeping an eye on Twitter while at Glastonbury could let you know about any last-minute set changes, which is always handy. But even better, you could find out about any secret sets being played across the festival…
In 2011, Twitter helped Radiohead and Pulp’s secret sets on The Park Stage become the festival’s worst kept secrets. Knowing when and where any secret sets are happening, means you can get in there early before the area gets closed off and you’ll truly witness something special (watching headline-calibre acts perform on small stages is always a memorable experience).
Though, of course, you’ll have to be careful with those secret set rumours, as they won’t always turn out to be true. Each year sees new rumours circulating that The Libertines will be playing together somewhere on site (and I’m sure this year will be no different!)… Or last year, everyone was convinced Daft Punk would definitely be playing. Imagine our disappointment when the ‘secret guests’ after Fatboy Slim turned out to be Chase and Status instead (though the Daft Punk rumours did mean we ended up at this stage in time for Fatboy Slim, which more than makes up for it):
An interesting approach that Glastonbury takes on Twitter to keep attendees up-to-speed during the festival is by using three different Twitter accounts to handle different types of content:
- @GlastoFest: The official year-round Glastonbury Twitter account which posts official news for the festival.
- @GlastoLive: Providing official live updates from the festival during the weekend.
- @GlastoInfo: Answering questions from those at the festival during the event
Dividing the content between different Twitter accounts is a great idea as it means users don’t have to trawl through a flood of updates to find out information they need. It also means that if they tweet @ one of the accounts, they’re more likely to receive a response, especially from the @GlastoInfo Twitter which was set up with the intention of communicating with attendees.
The 2014 Glastonbury app
Each year Glastonbury release an official app for the festival, and this year’s has been launched by EE.
The EE Glastonbury app has a clear and easy-to-use interface, and there are three key features to this app; the line-up, the map, and the social integration.
The app offers a full list of all of the artists playing the festival, along with set times. This lets you browse through the stages and artists to compile your own schedule in the ‘my line-up’ section. This is a pretty handy feature as you can then go into this section to see all the acts you want to see, and you can see any clashes too. You also have the ability to set reminders 30 minutes before an act starts too (though how successful these reminders will be in the noise of the festival is yet to be seen…).
Now if you’re anything like me, finding your way back to your tent can be one of the most challenging parts of the festival. I’ve definitely had moments where late at night at Glastonbury I think I’ve finally arrived back to my campsite, only to find that I’ve somehow ended up at the other side of the site. Not a fun time.
With the EE app, you can drop a pin on different locations of the festival map and give them a name (such as ‘my tent’), the app will then also be able to locate where you currently are to help navigate you back to where you want to go. You can also drop pins to help you remember where you parked your car too, to spare you wandering around a number of car parks on the Monday trying to find your car, when all you want to do is go home and sleep.
The social integration
For those who live through their social networks, the EE app also has plenty of social integration too. You can connect with Facebook to see which acts your friends are going to see, as well as posting on their walls through the app. There’s also a ‘News’ area which will have a livestream from the Glasto Twitter, as well as other tweets related to the festival.
A big issue with previous Glastonbury apps (such as the Orange app from 2011) is they’ve been slow to load and have been huge battery-drainers, and at the festival you want to access info quickly while preserving battery. Luckily, the new app from EE so far looks more promising on this front – I spent a good amount of time browsing through artists and adding them to my schedule, and didn’t notice any impact on the battery life… So let’s hope it holds up this weekend!
And all this is one of the many reasons we love Glastonbury…
It’s incredible to see a festival that has been around for nearly half a century embrace digital so fully. Glastonbury knows it has something special, but with so many artists performing across so many stages, it can be hard for attendees to keep up. That’s why Glastonbury aims to make it the best experience it can for those on-site by keeping them connected and up-to-date with all the info they need to make the most of this huge festival.
At the same time, the impressive amount of coverage of Glastonbury brings the festival to those who aren’t able to attend as well. And while the magic of Glastonbury is not something that can ever truly be caught on film, it gives a little taste as to what the festival is all about, and lets those who were there re-live the memories that may still be able to bring a tear to their eyes…
Anyone who was lucky enough to witness Blur’s legendary set in 2009 will know how powerful Glastonbury can be… You can still hear outbursts of “Oh my baby / Oh my baby / Oh why / Oh my” being sang en-masse throughout the arenas, campsites and car parks, years later…
The crowd at Glastonbury certainly never disappoints, and neither does the festival. So whether you’re going or not, make sure you stay connected and follow all of the coverage to witness the best weekend of the year.