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June 28, 2022
Sport Update

Glastonbury Festival welcomes back crowds as fans deal with travel disruption

More than 200,000 festival-goers will arrive at Worthy Farm in Somerset for the event, headlined by Billie Eilish, Sir Paul McCartney and Kendrick Lamar.

But train travel has been hindered by a strike on Tuesday, with two more planned for Thursday and Saturday.

One fan, Sarah Hogg, says she is now “nervous” about making the trip.

The 33-year-old from Newcastle had booked a seat on a train to London on Thursday morning, which would have got her there in time to catch a pre-booked coach to the festival.

But she’s now going to have to leave after work on Wednesday evening to get the last train to London, where she’ll then have to crash on a friend’s sofa.

Sarah’s slickly-planned journey has turned into a 24-hour endurance test, involving an extra day hanging around in London. “It’s made me incredibly nervous about it and it’s just added stress.

“It wasn’t that long ago when they announced that this [strike] was all happening, at a point where everyone who’s going to the festival had already planned how to get there.

“I’m not particularly happy about it, but come hell or high water I will get myself to Worthy Farm.”

Is it worth the added stress and cost? “Of course,” says the seven-time Glastonbury ticket-holder. “It’s my favourite place on this planet.”

Festival organisers Michael and Emily Eavis were there to greet festival-goers, many of whom had queued outside since Tuesday, as the gates opened at 08:00 on Wednesday.

Emily said it had been quite an “emotional” morning, after the pandemic put paid to the event for the past two years.

“It’s more spectacular this year,” she told BBC entertainment correspondent Colin Paterson. “The wait has been so long and it’s just the biggest build up we’ve ever had.

“Everyone’s feeling very happy and a little bit emotional about opening the gates.”

“It’s all so exciting, you’d never believe it,” her father, the festival’s founder, agreed.

Fans have also been warned about the weekend’s weather, after the Met Office issued a yellow weather warning for possible thunderstorms and torrential downpours across southern England, including the festival site in Pilton, which could lead to flooding in some places.

Zahid Fayyaz, a solicitor from Brixton, has been to Glastonbury “five or six times” and he usually gets the train to Castle Cary, the closest station to the Somerset festival, on the Thursday.

Like Sarah, he bought his tickets in 2019 and kept hold of them, as the event’s 50th anniversary celebrations were twice cancelled due to Covid.

Now that it’s finally here, the McCartney fan and his friends will have to take an extra day off work, spend more cash and go the long way around in order to avoid disruption.

“It’s annoying but I’m just going to stay positive at the moment,” he says. “I’m generally supportive of the strike but I’d prefer it if it wasn’t this week.

“It will cost me more, and it’s going to take an extra two hours, but aside from this, I’ll be fine. But other people won’t be able to take time off work or afford the extra money.”

Allan Clifford, a teacher from Leeds, is still hoping to get to Glastonbury on Thursday but has had to rethink his plans.

He was a regular at the festival when he was younger and was looking forward to channelling his inner “hippy” once again in his 50s, but wasn’t sure how he would get there because of the rail strikes.

That was until “a wonderful and generous person called Alice, who I’ve never met before, offered to let me hop in her car and drive down with her”.

“What has happened is a lot of people getting online and organising car shares,” he explains.

He had been been worried that the strike would mean “the loss of a lot of my hard-earned money”.

However, he says he still supports the rail union RMT, despite his personal predicament.

Two weeks ago, a dispute between the RMT and employers, over pay and redundancies, led to the announcement of the biggest planned rail strike in decades.

One of the bands Allan had been looking forward to seeing, The Damned, were forced on Tuesday to cancel their upcoming headline slot at Glastonbury’s Avalon Stage due to Covid, but he said he won’t let that news dampen his spirits with 3,000 acts to choose from across the weekend.

This will now include The Kalush Orchestra, winners of the recent Eurovision Song Contest, for what will be the Ukrainian collective’s first ever UK performance.

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