In just under a month I will be going to the Glastonbury Festival. While I'm there, I will be blogging from the West Holts Stage about the things I see and do. More on that later but, first, I want to start with my main point - I think that the Glastonbury Festival should be given City Status. I've checked and all that's needed is approval from the Queen and the "City of Glastonbury Festival" will be born.
Here's my argument.
1. A City-sized population.
This year, 177,500 people will be milling around the festival. In 2011, The City of Oxford registered a population of 151,900. The historic City of York has a population of 198,000. If Glastonbury was a City, it would be the 46th biggest in the UK and 15 times larger than the smallest city in England - Wells, which is just down the road in Somerset. If Glastonbury was held in New Zealand, it would be their 5th biggest city.
The numbers don't stop there. If you lifted the 1000-acre site and placed it around Bank Tube in the City of London it would cover around 12-14 stations. That's insane. My morning commute is 3.5 miles. I might start walking half my way to work just to remind me of how big the site is. If you don't know London, the BBC have a handy website where you can input your postcode to see how Glastonbury measures up against your hometown: give it a go yourself and you'll no doubt gawping like I was.
2. A City-sized economy.
In 2007, Glastonbury and Mendip District Council looked at how big Glasto's economic impact was. When they'd added everything from spending on staff and suppliers to what visitors spent when they arrived, they estimated that Glastonbury's economic value was £73 million. Accounting for inflation, in 2013, that figure is likely to be closer to £100 million or more. That means that, in just a few days, Glastonbury is worth about the same as the revenue sales of Quaker Oats - sold all year round. Think about that when you're next tucking into your porridge. Not just that, but Glastonbury raises about £2 million for charities like Wateraid, Greenpeace and Oxfam each year. It also shares its economic success with its neighbouring towns and villages. In addition to the £6 million Glasto spends on local suppliers, in nearby Pilton it has repaired and refurbished two churches, playgrounds and helped to build a new working men's' club and 22 affordable homes with 10 more planned this year.
3. A City-sized culture.
Every good city has different parts, each with their own identity, culture and character. Glastonbury, with its countless stages and areas with music, cabaret, circus acts and sculpture, is no different. To illustrate this, we've all heard about the iconic Pyramid stage but in the City of Glastonbury have you checked out the West Holts Stage? This year I will be blogging from West Holts trying to capture some of the festival atmosphere, experiences and stories that might just give a bit more insight into what Glasto really has to offer, there might even be a Huff Post exclusive in there somewhere.
While the legendary Rolling Stones will be entertaining tens of thousands of spectators for as far as the eye can see, at West Holts you get closer to the artists and you get the chance listen to something that might amaze, delight and challenge your senses. Steve Symons, who books all the acts at West Holts, says the stage is where you'll find "the best groove based music from around the world from the soulful to the psychedelic. A place where you can expect to find young blades rubbing shoulders with living legends." Just look at this year's line up at West Holts and you'll see none other than the disco legend Nile Rodgers in there. This is the same Nile Rodgers who had a big hand in writing the biggest hit of the year so far in Daft Punk's "Get Lucky." See, the West Holts part of the city has something unique to offer, just like all the other areas too.
4. A City-sized Cathedral?
Not quite, but still, Glastonbury has a Church with two services a day and a Roman Catholic Mass on Sunday. It has a Jewish tent and Muslim prayers and you can even get married for the weekend at the Shangri-la. Not bad for a city made up of tents and marquees.
5. City-sized safety.
We've all heard the press releases that crime nationally is falling. Well, at Glastonbury, not only do the police have possibly the nicest website I've ever seen for a public service, but they even say themselves that Glastonbury has a "relatively crime-free existence". Not many cities can say that about themselves can they?
So there you have it. I think it's pretty clear that Glastonbury deserves to become a city. Now it's just down to Her Majesty to do the honourable thing.