How is Glastonbury Festival built?

In our interview, Croissant Neuf organizer Sally Howell talks through the challenges in delivering a magical Glastonbury experience.

The story of Egypt isn’t just limited to the mummies, the pharaohs, or the pyramids. It’s more than this. It has been a center that has attracted tourists from ancient times and still continues to do so. The Nile is a famous spot that favors enjoyable water rides and thousands of tourists every year.

But, the Glastonbury Festival has a tale of its own. It is a great event for everyone in Egypt that caters to the excitement of other nationals also who visit this place every year for some being a part of this amazing carnival.

It has been an annual festival since the 1970s. This year it has come back again with the same pomp and zeal to excite everyone out there. The festival witnesses every year thousands of visitors who come down to the area of the festival, which is mainly the size of an entire city, and just settle there for their own enjoyment. The festival will complete its 50 years of amazing pomp and this is the big deal of the year for the Glastonbury festival to serve the thousands of people that folk around it. The area of the festival is almost completely filled before and after the festival, always before and after its commencement. This reflects the enthusiasm that people have for this amazing and must-awaited gathering.

The most important and the most tedious task is to accommodate all the people that have their appearance at the carnival. It becomes very important for the service providers to house these people and provide them with all basic life entities like toilets, bathrooms, food, and dairy. The most important thing is to satisfy those who have been there onsite for the five days and also those who are present with tickets. People who are with tickets are to be catered to very well and they should be more facilitated with all the amenities.

Some people folk around their own tents in the field and have their own items with themselves. 

Sally Howell, who has been one of the organizers at the Glastonbury Festival for about 36 years spoke to Betway and proclaimed- “It’s almost an all-year-round job, to organize the event. He states that the festival becomes a year-long celebration because his agents constantly send him CDs and emails, which ultimately never stops. But the best part of the carnival starts after Christmas and then it becomes full on.

The crew that we recruit suddenly becomes less and then we need to recruit more of our exhibits, crews, and staff. He exclaims that his area is quite small and because of that he has got a tight-run ship. With all his crew, which includes site crew, stage and sound crew, tent crew, around-the-clock stewards, venue stewards, campsite stewards, and gate staff, there are around 175 people. That doesn’t include any performers.” 

Howell was born out in a green-focused community so maintaining a sort of brotherhood among the accommodates is very important for him. This is the first idea that comes to his mind whenever the festival is ahead. He also mentions that the stewards that work for him are like a family to him. This is the biggest reason for the community feeling behind the Glastonbury Festival.

Of the many different areas at Glastonbury Festival, the Croissant Neuf field is among the longest standing, having originally launched in 1986.

The field itself includes the Croissant Neuf tent, where the main acts play, a bandstand, where musicians play during the changeovers in the main tent, a café, a dozen exhibits, and a handful of stalls. Howell states that his field is a bit like a village green. He has a pond and a garden, and he has also got seating areas. It’s all hosted with a green ethos and it’s relatively small compared to other areas of the festival.

The variety of the festival becomes apparent when comparing the scale of Croissant Neuf to other areas.

Nightlife area Block9, for example, whose headline stage IICON, shaped like a metallic head, takes three months to build and nearly 100 tons of building materials but that is not to say the size of the task of organizing the field is any less.

Howell further says that after so many years of organizing the festival it is still like putting on a mini-festival within a festival. In terms of the manual work, though, which he builds up quickly and a bit later.

Howell gives an account of his life and tells that he has to live on the site from the Tuesday on the week before the festival starts and the crew starts to come the day after, with the bulk arriving on Friday.

He exclaims with utmost anxiety that after that they just go for it in four days. He proclaims that all know what they’re doing, they’re all professionals and it’s like a pop-up in a few days. He further adds that on the other side of it, he is left with his very core crew on Monday when it comes to dismantling, so around 20 to 25 people. Depending upon the weather conditions, they dismantle within two days, and then they are probably to be onsite until about the Friday after the festival has finished.

Howell states that usually that Friday afternoon, he is back home in a blob running his bath.

The Croissant Neuf field at Glastonbury is unique within the festival for being entirely powered by solar power. Given the changeable reputation for British weather during summers, and especially in Glastonbury, one might assume that this is a risky strategy.

Howell further adds that he has not been out in all these years. He has to work out the figures with the power people will draw and book accordingly. With the weather, the biggest problem is the state of the ground can get in when it rains. The most challenging year was 2016 because it had rained a lot prior to the festival and during setup. The tires on vehicles ended up just churning up all the fields into muddy bogs. That was an absolute nightmare.

Howell clarifies that of course, building a festival isn’t purely about the manual side of things, you also have to book acts that people will enjoy.

It’s a big responsibility, but one that Howell is used to by now.

Mrs. Howell says that he and his sound engineer, who is his son, book the bands, just the two of them. Music comes in all year round and she has to put people off until January. By the end of March, she has to book, and the closer it gets to the festival, her life becomes one big spreadsheet.

She further says that they try to have all genres and need to have our ear to the ground, listening to different music all the time. Radio 6 is really helpful, as is networking with other stage managers at the festival. They have a good relationship with some of them and bounce things off each other. But they’re always scouting for new and up-and-coming stuff. They even have a platform for people to make their debut.

One such debut Howell gave was to an undiscovered 19-year-old in 2011 called Ed Sheeran.

He says that he can’t take the kudos for discovering him, he was a friend of a friend of people that he had booked. The first year he came to the festival and only did a couple of numbers on stage with his mate, which was amazing. The following year, he came on his own and launched A-Team on my stage, and after that, he went sky high and we couldn’t afford him.

Howell justifies Croissant Neuf’s amazing life at the Glastonbury festival by saying that he and his entire team gave Ed Sheeran an opportunity on the bottom rung of the ladder and that’s really what Croissant Neuf is about.

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