Glastonbury’s May Day Celebrations 2019

The Best One Yet?

What a wonderful May Day. I didn’t make it up the Tor for sunrise I’m afraid, but I do have a good excuse: I’m really bloody lazy when it comes to crawling out of bed only 4 hours after I’d crawled into it. I went along to the Assembly Rooms for the Community Celebration the evening before, the hall was packed with local poets and musicians, it was all very cultural and most likely deeply sacred. I wasn’t feeling very cultured so I went and sat outside with the smelly smokers in the alleyway. (Even though I’m a smug ex-smoker, having given up for 6 months now. Go me! I even wrote about it). I had a lovely chat with Tony Atkinson, one of Glastonbury’s Bards, who is hugely normal for Glastonbury even though he wears a suit and shiny shoes. Max and Lisa, who created the Really Wanna Go website, were telling me about their latest adventures in Germany and San Francisco, they are such wonderful storytellers I felt like I was there with them.

I eventually got out of bed on May Day morning and headed down to the Market Cross in time to see the Avalonian Free State Choir. I’m not after a prize, but I would like to point out that I’m only 5’2″ and have to be quite inventive to get a vantage point for video. The crowd were 6 deep around the Choir and I knew I couldn’t get any decent footage from the back, So I got down on my hands and knees and crawled through the forest of legs so I could kneel on the floor at the front of the circle, without obstructing anyone’s view. I managed to capture 3 of their songs before my knees started complaining, I’ve put them into a short video for you. If you get the chance to see them live I highly recommend it, their songs send shivers down my spine. We are truly blessed to have them singing for us in our town.

Next, I headed to the Mocha Berry Cafe for a bucket of cappuccino, going back into the thick of things as the May Pole was being carried from the Market Cross. Photographer and artist Dimitris from the Art Bank Cafe gave me a hand up onto the old horse trough so I could get a bit of perspective on things. I managed to film the crowd heading up the High Street while trying not to think about falling off the horse trough. That’s dedication that is!

I hope watching the video gives you an idea of how the rest of the day progressed, it was colourful, hectic, hilarious and I’m sure deeply spiritual. I did try to get into an appropriate state of mind for the sacred and symbolic nature of the occasion – the return of the sun, the abundance of nature, fertility, the divine union of the eternal Goddess and God and all that. My efforts were thwarted however, by my friends, who greeted me in the profane fashion of people who have lived in Glastonbury for ages.

Mike (tweed wearing bagpipe maker and accomplished musician), proffering a Burns the Bread bag asked “Would you like an Eccles cake? I accidentally bought two”. Needless to say I accepted his kind offer and spent most of the opening of the circle covering myself with crumbs and trying to face the right direction. Dora (lovely person, singer songwriter, writer, teacher) asked “Can you smell poo?”. Well yes, I could, most likely due to having stepped in a big sloppy cow pat shortly before. Another friend, observing some rather ‘Glastonbury dancing’ asked “Oh for God’s sake! Are they doing Tai Chi?”. See, it’s not my fault.

May Day in Glastonbury Town 2018. Photo by Vicki Steward for Normal For Glastonbury

I took a load of pictures, hope you enjoy them. There are more but they are stuck on my camera’s memory card and I can’t seem to extract them. Sadly they include the pictures I took of lovely flute player Niall from Ireland who was wearing the amazing headdress.

I first met Niall on May Day 2018 when I photographed him with Guardian writer Peter Ross who was visiting the town. The photo was later to appear in Peter’s excellent article ‘Pagan Paradise‘ which made me very happy, especially when it was printed as a full half page in the travel supplement and I got paid for it.

My Photographs of a Marvellous May Day

Do click on the photos to see a full size, uncropped version.

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4 thoughts on “Glastonbury’s May Day Celebrations 2019”

  1. Beautiful photographs! I had a giggle at ‘what Boris does on his holidays’. I couldn’t be there in person but I feel like I’ve experienced a part of the day! Great fun!


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