Originally Glastonbury was heavily influenced by hippy ethics and the free festival movement in the 1970s. The festival retains vestiges of this tradition, including the Green Futures/Healing Fields area and the reputation for drug taking. The festival site also has a megalith circle similar to Stonehenge.
The festival takes place at Worthy Farm near the small village of Pilton, but since Glastonbury is a nearby town already associated with mystical happenings it has lent its name to the event. The nearest town to the festival site is Shepton Mallet but there continues to be interaction between the people espousing alternative lifestyles living in Glastonbury and the festival itself.
The festival is organised by local farmer Michael Eavis, who has hosted the event since its inception.
The first festival (a smallscale event called the Pilton Festival) was in 1970, followed by the larger scale Glastonbury Fayre of 1971. The festival was not held again until 1979, and has been an annual fixture since 1981 (albeit with breaks in 1988, 1991, 1996 and 2001).
During the 90's the festival suffered from increased overcrowding and crime due to a culture of popular gate-crashing. In 2002 the festival returned after a break with substantial surrounding fence that reduced numbers to the levels of a decade earlier. By 2003 people got the idea that it was no longer possible to crash the festival and hence it is recognised as one of the most successful years to date as well as selling out within 20 hours of tickets being available.