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The Winning Formula of Glastonbury Festival

by Gemma | Jul 12, 2019 | Events |

We’ve either heard of it and are an avid fan, have it on our bucket list, or want to avoid it like the plague – but why do so many people flock back to Glastonbury year on year? 

The blood pressure starts to rise from the moment the tickets are released – you’re surrounded by your 10 different devices, nervously watching each of them and hoping that you’ve been good enough throughout the year for the Glastonbury Gods to look upon you favourably. Then, if you’re lucky enough to get confirmation of a ticket, your next worry is your meal plan for the next few months to make sure you look absolutely fabulous while you’re wearing next-to-nothing accessorised with a lot of glitter. You also need to make sure you have all of your equipment ready for your arrival and ensure that your packing is as efficient as possible – do you really need that fourth camping chair? Do you have enough alcohol? 

Reading all the “survival tips” readily available online can prepare you to a certain extent, but it can’t ever ensure you’re fully ready. The day comes… It’s sweltering, sweaty and smelly from the moment you arrive – once you actually make it to a carpark. In the crawling queue, the oasis that is the entrance feels like a lifetime away as you ease past abandoned trailers that have lost their wheels and their fight with the mud. Once you finally pitch your tent ready to enjoy yourself, you need to plan meticulously to ensure you see all of your favourite bands – and when’s the sun going to come out?


So, with all this preparation and unnecessary stress, we want to explore Glastonbury’s winning formula – and how it can be replicated for other events. We could just say that people are gluttons for punishment and leave it there, but there’s definitely more to it. Its loyal fans are testament to that, most with their wristbands from years gone by still worn proudly on their wrists as a badge of honour.

Glastonbury’s legacy is the first in a long list of things that make the event what it is, with a plethora of legends having graced the iconic stages and even the odd royal visit – if it’s good enough for them, it must be good enough for us! Celebrities now hope to play on one of the many stages and many become very emotional when their time comes. People trust word-of-mouth and with friends, family and celebrities telling you how much they loved their time, you’re bound to be a little curious. 

Although that level of reputation takes a lot of time and investment to become a reality for events, making sure that your attendees have the best possible experience really is key to ensuring that your next one has a bigger, better following. It might seem like a simple thing that we should all be delivering every time, but when it gets to the event and your mind is dealing with urgent matters, your priorities may shift a little. It’s always worth checking that the “customer experience” is at the heart of all your decisions and that feedback is taken from attendees and actioned. 

Having said that, the team behind the beast that is the biggest greenfield festival in the world do a fantastic job making sure the event doesn’t rest on its laurels, adapting with technology to ensure that the demographic they appeal to continues to diversify. Offering variety also means that this diverse demographic are all catered for. The festival’s line-up is always a closely-guarded secret, which for many just intensifies the intrigue when fighting it out for a ticket. Even if you went into the event blind, you could still pretty much guarantee that you’d know some of the headliners and if you don’t know an act yet, you’ll love them once you watch them. Not to mention the surprise appearances announced on the day – seeing David Attenborough on the Pyramid Stage will definitely be a highlight of our year! 

A mystery agenda can be replicated very easily – people love a guest appearance or a surprise location for a dinner, as it creates a feeling of spontaneity. We all know that being mysterious can also be a little bit of a cover-up for not knowing exactly what the final plan is… so keep that one in your back pocket for when you’re struggling to get a decision from the board or if you’re still in negotiations and can’t announce until the contract is signed. 

The Glastonbury coverage on the BBC is also a massive factor in ensuring both returning and new visitors attend. There’s nothing that can create more of a feeling of FOMO than watching a band that you love play an amazing set to a massive crowd who are singing along with them. We actually wrote a blog about this – check it out here: https://www.sledge.co.uk/blog/live-streaming-a-powerful-marketing-tool

We’re not saying broadcast your top execs at an intimate dinner to the rest of the company, but livestreaming is a great tool to both create that FOMO feeling but also involve those who are unable to attend. 

It’s not all about the massive acts and that’s why, although you may enjoy singing along from the comfort of your sofa, you’ll never be able to replicate the experience of being there. There’s so much to discover, from secret piano bars to pop-up protests, that you come to realise that the music is only one key part of the event. Adding layers to any experience can help to create the feeling of discovery and adventure, so have more than one area to explore, whether defined by theming, space or activities. Think about your attendees – can you split them into different categories and design an area you know each would love? Like-minded people will flock to the same area, creating an easier networking environment. 

What we believe is one of the key elements to Glastonbury’s success is that they have a clear message and ethos that is stated throughout every communication touchpoint delivered – they know what works for them and who they are. This is key to any event. What is it that you actually want people to take away from the whole thing? That should always be one of your main priorities when delivering any experience. 


So that’s it, the winning formula of Glastonbury: look after your attendees, be mysterious, include as many different demographics as you can, create FOMO, prioritise variety and have a very clear message which you believe in – simple right? 

Get in touch for support with making your event as successful as possible at hello@sledge.co.uk