Peak festival season is just about to begin in Europe, but there is a glaring absentee from the roster of events: Glastonbury. Glasto, which usually transforms a quiet corner of England into the world’s largest greenfield festival in the final weekend of June, is taking a break in 2018.
The 200,000 people who attended last year’s gathering at Worthy Farm in Somerset aren’t short of alternatives this summer. But what does a ‘fallow year’ hold for Emily Eavis, co-organiser and daughter of festival founder Michael? We asked her about her travel plans, other festivals, and the pleasures and perils of orchestrating such an epic event.
Emily Eavis visited Mozambique as part of the festival's work with the charity WaterAid © WaterAid
Where was your last trip?
Where is your next trip?
Describe Glastonbury Festival in five words for a visitor from outer space.
An alternative world. Celebration. Music.
What is the most challenging part of organising such a mega-event?
Juggling this job and all the responsibilities of keeping it going with raising my three children.
The sun sets on another epic day at the world-famous Glastonbury Festival @ Andrew Allcock / Glastonbury Festival
What about the most enjoyable?
The people we work with make it what it is. We are lucky to have such a tight team of great people, many of whom are very creative – that’s what makes it so much fun.
Can you recall your first memory of the festival?
My first memory is of an early eighties festival, sitting on my dad's shoulders in the blistering heat.
If you were an all-powerful sorceress, who would you bring back from the dead to play the Pyramid Stage?
Performers entertaining the crowd at the Port Eliot Festival, Cornwall © Barcroft Media / Getty Images
Do you attend other festivals for inspiration or pleasure – and, if so, which ones?
On a festival year, I don’t have a chance to visit others as by the time we have finished the clear up it’s September and the season is over. However, this year is a fallow year, so I’m looking forward to going to a few; Port Eliot and Boardmasters are on my list.
What should people expect when the festival returns in 2019?
There are a lot of things going on at the moment, planning tweaks and new areas too. It’s a bit too early to announce anything yet but rest assured the wheels are in motion and we are deep in planning for next year.
With street performers and food stalls giving it a carnival atmosphere, Marrakesh's Djeema El Fna has distinct overtones of Glastonbury © Pavliha / Getty Images
What about a favourite place (and why)?
I’ve travelled a lot in Africa – some trips with Oxfam and WaterAid and some trips with friends. I adore Africa. Marrakesh at dusk reminds me so much of Glastonbury Festival, the energy and magic in the air... it’s the closest comparison I can think of.
Can you tell us about your most challenging travel experience?
Travelling in Haiti with Oxfam was probably the most challenging trip I have done. We travelled everywhere and at 21, I’d never been anywhere like that before. We met some incredible people and it kickstarted a deep desire to work with charities. The festival donates 2 million pounds a year to charity and that’s really at the heart of it. Without that, it simply wouldn’t be the same event.
Sri Lanka is the sort of country where a wrong turn can turn into a masterstroke © Anton Gvozdikov / Shutterstock
And biggest travel fail (ie something that didn't go according to plan)?
My husband and I got completely lost in Sri Lanka once, we were doing a road trip to the north and took a wrong turn, which resulted in us going to an entirely different part of the country by accident. We found a remote coastline and turtles on the beach so we were pretty happy with where we ended up.
What is your best or worst travel souvenir?
I was given a wooden walking stick by the chief of a village in Mozambique; it hangs out the front of our house at Worthy Farm.