If you’ve read Kat’s biog on our website you’ll see that she loves live music, the great outdoors and hot, sunny weather. AKA festivals!
Well, as a festival stalwart, I have enjoyed many years of the good old British camping weather of ‘too hot to stay in the tent’ or ‘too wet to venture out of the tent’! But just how many years has camping been a popular pastime and what are the origins of camping to watch music? Here’s what I found.
The idea of camping as a pastime has been around for about 100 years. Thomas Hiram Holding is believed to be a champion of this, being a keen cyclist, he wrote a book about ‘Cycling and Camping in Connemara (Ireland) in 1898. He described some portable camping equipment he’d designed and asked readers to contact him. Thus, was born the Camping and Caravanning Club in 1901, which today has over 700,000 members.
Of course tents have been around for much, much longer than that. The first tent-type structure would have been formed by throwing and weaving foliage over a stick base, with animal hides being introduced for warmth and durability.
Forward thousands of years to Yurts from ancient Siberia. Farmers would herd sheep and yak across the Tundra and use the animals’ layered wool along with sprinkled water to fashion them into a ‘felt’ type material for making tents. The word ‘Nomad’ actually comes from the Siberian word for felt.
Back to the camping we know today. The 1960s brought an age of nylon and lightweight plastic structures of all types, leading to a far more portable, practical and popular travelling companion. The whole camping experience became the (sadly) more disposable one we now see.
So, what of music and people gathering in large numbers to witness it?
Back in the 6th century B.C., the Pythian Games in Delphi, ancient Greece, were perhaps the earliest example of festivals involving music. Held in honour of Apollo – the god of music, there were musical competitions as well as the usual athletics and shows of strength.
The oldest ‘popular music’ festival known to be in existence is the Reading Festival which started life as the National Jazz and Blues Festival in 1961. Not too far on its heels was the Isle of Wight Festival in 1968, and then the world’s most famous festival, Woodstock in 1969. And Glastonbury? The UK’s best known and biggest began life as the Pilton Festival and took place on 19 September 1970, the day after Jimi Hendrix’s death. The audience of 1,500 paid just £1 entry each and were offered free milk from Worthy Farm and Glastonbury’s founder, Mr. Michael Eavis.
Me? I’ve been to a couple of largish festivals this year including Boomtown and Shambala. So, if I’m not here at Treetops designing workbooks for clients or creating some of our marketing material, I’ll be stumbling from my tent with the suitable glitter, fairy wings and wellies! Happy camping!