The history of festivals in Britain (and beyond) is rich in history – from the Festival of Britain in 1951 to the riot of Beaulieu Jazz Festival in 1960, and the epochal Woodstock Festival in 1969 through to Jay-Z headlining Glastonbury Festival in 2008, festival culture now appears firmly embedded in mainstream culture.

The timeline presented here comes from a variety of sources, the genesis being Professor George McKay’s history of Glastonbury (2000), which, as George says, ‘There is a certain randomness to this, both in terms of where it starts and what it includes, and a certain bias in its focus around popular music and left politics, either traditionally organised or lifestyle. Why not add your own entries, too?’

The history of festivals is still very much being written – do get in touch if you feel that we have missed out a festival of significance so that the history of festivals continues to grow.









McKay, George (2000) Glastonbury: a very English fair. London: Victor Gollancz.

The archive: a history of UK rock festivals 1960-92 website

Webster, Emma (2014) The Association of Independent Festivals: six-year report 2014. AIF/Live Music Exchange website

Thanks also to Adam Behr and Simon Frith for their input.