Glastonbury festival kicks off with mud and megastars
By Belinda Goldsmith
PILTON (Reuters) - Britain's largest music festival got off to a traditionally muddy start on Thursday as thousands of campers arrived at Glastonbury in pouring rain for three days of music headlined by veteran rockers the Rolling Stones.
The event that started as a retreat for about 1,500 hippies on a dairy farm in rural Somerset in 1970 has grown into the world's largest music festival, featuring about 2,000 acts on 58 stages and attended by more than 135,000 people.
Gates opened early Wednesday and by late Thursday nearly 120,000 people had flooded into the 900-acre site about 130 miles southwest of London, turning the working farm of festival founder Michael Eavis into a tent city.
But while Glastonbury is known for megastars performing alongside eclectic acts, it also has a reputation for falling foul of Britain's fickle summer and this year was no exception, despite forecasts for dry weather.
By mid-afternoon on Thursday the rain was falling heavily, continuing into the night, with revelers in raincoats and rubber boots - known as wellies - negotiating muddy tracks.
"The forecast was fine so I am glad I did bring clothes for all weather," said Grace Murphy, 23, an Irish social work student, dressed in a bright pink raincoat and black wellies.
"We'll still have fun. It's a great atmosphere and there's no other festival as awesome as Glastonbury."
Meteorologists from Britain's national weather service, the Met Office, had forecast largely dry weather, but even in the rain the music fans descending on Glastonbury were determined to have fun, having paid 205 pounds ($315) each for tickets. Continued...