Glastonbury is a small town in Somerset in south-west England. It contains the ruins of an old abbey, and has some beautiful countryside around it. There are many myths and legends associated with Glastonbury. Many of these are stories about the Celtic people who lived in England before the Anglo-Saxons came in the 5th and 6th centuries. Today Glastonbury is a favourite place for people who are interested in alternative lifestyles. Here are some of the things you can do in Glastonbury: — you can buy organic toothpaste, or aromatherapy for your cat; — you can visit the burial place of the ancient (and probably mythical) King Arthur and his wife Guinevere; — you can try on a jumper covered in special Celtic patterns; — you can browse in a bookshop that specialises in things like New Age Ecology and Geomancy; — you can attend courses on Shamanism and witchcraft.
Glastonbury is famous as the home of the Glastonbury Festival. This is a festival of music, dance, theatre and comedy. It takes place on a farm a few miles from Glastonbury. People come from all over Britain and abroad to camp in the fields, listen to the music, make new friends and enjoy themselves. Glastonbury is in fact the largest festival of its sort in the world. It started back in 1970, and has been held on most years since then. Every year it becomes bigger, with more people, more bands and more to do and see. This year, about 180,000 people will come to the Festival to hear bands like the Arctic Monkeys, and singers like Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen, to listen to new poetry, and to see cabaret, circus and comedy performances.
Unexpected things happen at Glastonbury. In 1994 the main stage burned down. In 2001 a fence collapsed and thousands of gatecrashers were able to get in. But above all Glastonbury is famous for mud. There was heavy rain in 1997 and again two years ago, in 2005. The rain itself is not a problem. We are English. We are used to rain. We are happy standing in the rain, eating sandwiches and listening to a pop concert. But the rain caused the streams to overflow, and because there were so many people at the festival, the fields turned to a sea of mud. There were pictures in the newspapers of festival goers covered from head to toe in mud. They looked very happy too. They obviously thought, "If we are going to get muddy, we might as well enjoy it". Sensible people now bring good waterproofs and several pairs of wellingtons with them to Glastonbury. The man who owns the farm where the festival is held — his name is Michael Eavis — is determined that this year the mud will not be a problem. He has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on new drains and other improvements. However, all parts of England have had very heavy rain in the past two weeks, and the weather forecast for Glastonbury this weekend is — yes, more rain. So, which will win — Michael Eavis's new drains, or the mud? I am betting on the mud.