In News

After Glastonbury officially kicked off summer last month, we thought we would take a look at the history of music festivals. You might not think it, but music festivals are a key part of our heritage and some have been running for decades!

Cheltenham Music Festival
Started: July 1945
Most recent: 8th-15th July 2023
Cheltenham Music Festival is one of the oldest festivals of music in the world, starting in 1945 and running continuously to this day. Initially, it was just three concerts and today, features more than 60 events across the festival which encompasses classical, jazz, folk and electronica performances, as well as spoken word and family events.

Reading and Leeds
Started: 1961
Most recent: 25th – 27th August 2023
Did you know that Reading and Leeds began in the early 1960s as a jazz Festival? Well, now you do. Initially known as the National Jazz Festival, it first took place in Richmond, London before becoming the National Jazz and Blues Festival. Later, to reflect the UK’s changing taste in music, it started inviting more rock and pop performers and eventually found its home in Reading in 1971, prompting the name to Reading Rock. In 1999, its sister festival was founded and Reading and Leeds, with shared headliners was born.

Isle of Wight
Started: 1968
Most recent: 15th – 18th June 2023
Isle of Wight is the first music festival of its kind to take place in the UK, it was modelled on Woodstock, even being known as the Woodstock of Europe. Initially it was a small gathering of people, but the 1970s saw it grow with over 600,000 people in attendance. It continues to attract chart toppers from around the world, as well as visitors from all over. In fact, one visitor to the 1970 festival was one of Glastonbury’s co-founders, which began two years after Isle of Wight debuted.

Glastonbury Festival
Started: 1970
Most recent: 21st-26th June 2023
Glastonbury was founded by dairy farmer Michael Eavis and Andrew Kerr and was originally called Pilton Festival, running over two days and with tickets selling for just £1. Today tickets are well over £200 and it is a week long event with a host of performances from different genres of music, comedy, circus acts and more.

In recent years, acts like Paul McCartney and Elton John have headlined.




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