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Glastonbury: the pop-up city that plays home to 200,000 for the weekend

The Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, which started in 1970, is now one of the largest music festivals in the world.
The Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, which started in 1970, is now one of the largest music festivals in the world. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
In June of (almost) every year, a medium-sized city emerges for a weekend in the West Country, then disappears again. The population – over 200,000 people at its peak – would make it the seventh largest city in the south of England, after London, Bristol, Southampton, Portsmouth, Plymouth and Brighton (possibly its nearest relative). Regarding the Glastonbury Festival as a “city” might seem counter-intuitive, given its premise of a partial return to ancient rural civilisation – fake stone circles and all. But a city it is, with a massive system of infrastructure and spatial organisation that is no less impressive for being temporary. This is a place where at least one of the dreams of the 1960s lives on – or where it went to die, depending on your view of the festival and its attractions.