- It’s inevitable that the world’s two most famous music festivals will get compared, but Glastonbury and Coachella offer attendees very different experiences.
- In many ways, Glastonbury, held on a farm in Somerset, England since 1970, and the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, held at a polo club in California, are worlds apart.
- Both are hailed amongst the best festivals in the world, drawing the biggest acts and hosting some of music’s most iconic performances like Beyonce at Coachella 2018, or Jay-Z at Glastonbury 2008.
- Here’s how they compare side-by-side.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Glastonbury Festival and the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, are arguably the two most famous music festivals in the world, but for very different reasons.
Attending Coachella, in Indio, California, is a modern pilgrimage for many in the media industry, drawing Instagrammers, music moguls, and the fashion elite to watch the world’s biggest stars perform.
Glastonbury, in Somerset western England, on the other hand, is a sprawling mish-mash of mud, music, and warm beer, catering to every taste, however bizarre, and virtually every activity imaginable.
Here’s how they match up.
- REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
While more people attend Coachella overall, Glastonbury is substantially larger than Coachella, with 135,000 tickets sold in 2019.
In California, Coachella 2019 welcomed 99,000 people on each day.
The festival mainly works on a daily or weekend ticket structure, which differs from Glastonbury where general admission includes all six days of the festival.
- YouTube/Chris Watts/Vimeo/Horseplay Productions
Coachella has been held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, since its inception in October 1991.
When it’s not being used to host the festival the club’s car park is filled with polo spectators and golfers.
Glastonbury has been held at Worthy Farm, in Somerset, western England, since September 1970.
The dairy farm is owned by Michael Eavis, who founded the festival.
Every five or so years Glastonbury has a “fallow” year, so the land can recover and local organizers can rest.
Coachella enjoys glorious sunshine almost every year, with temperatures averaging out at 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), and rain rarely gets in the way.
Glastonbury, on the other hand, is known to turn into a 900-acre mud bath when the heavens open.
In 2005, almost a month’s worth of rain fell in a day during the festival, turning the site into a mire. 2016 was also a particularly wet year as flash floods hit.
The rain got so bad in 1997 that Neil Young cancelled his set.
Temperatures are also variable, with highs of 34 C (93 F), but an average of 15 C (59 F).
Cost of a ticket
A general admission ticket for the five days of music at Glastonbury in 2019 cost £248 ($312.)
A general admission weekend ticket for Coachella in 2019 cost $429 (£341.)
Glastonbury revolves around the iconic Pyramid Stage.
It’s the site where Radiohead played their iconic OK Computer set in 1997, and where Jay-Z began his 2008 set with his own rendition of Oasis’ Wonderwall.
The Coachella Stage is the main stage at Coachella.
It was the scene of Beyonce’s 2018 marching-band themed “Homecoming” performance, which marked the first time a black woman headlined the festival.
Both festivals always book in huge acts for their line-ups.
This year Coachella was led by Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino, and Tame Impala, while Glastonbury pulled in Miley Cyrus, Janet Jackson, and The Killers.
In the past Coachella has been the scene of other iconic sets.
In 2014, Outkast played a come-back gig, to rapturous applause, and in 2006 Daft Punk, famous for rarely playing live gigs, raised the roof with an epic set.
Glastonbury, too, never disappoints.
Both Paul McCartney, in 2004, and David Bowie, in 2000, wrote themselves into Glastonbury legend with Pyramid Stage classics.
In 2019, Glastonbury did not sell any single-use plastic bottles. The same year, Emily Eavis, daughter of founder Micheal, announced that 99.3% of tents were taken home by festival goers, an astonishing number by UK festival standards.
Coachella has also made a big effort to be sustainable. At the end of the festival, all unwanted items can be donated to the Galilee Center, a charity combating poverty in the local area.
However, Coachella’s water filling stations are few and far between.
INSIDER’s Mackenzie Pendergrass reported she had attended the 2019 edition of the festival with a reusable water bottle, but was forced to buy bottled water daily.
Bottle refill stations, Pendergrass said, were: “tiny, pushed to the back of the park,” and “barely marked.”
Coachella’s website says they “encourage bringing your own reusable bottles” but not “steel, metal, aluminum or glass bottles.”
The first-ever Coachella was held in October 1999. Paul Tollett and Rick Van Santen of music promoter Goldenvoice founded the festival, hoping to attract 70,000 fans with a wide-ranging lineup of artists.
The first Coachella lineup spanned multiple genres, with standout performers like Beck, Rage Against The Machine, and Tool.
Though Coachella popularized the idea of music festivals in the US by distinguishing itself from the disastrous Woodstock ’99 festival just months earlier, the first Coachella was almost the last.
The 1999 Coachella was ultimately not profitable, with the festival only selling around 25,000 tickets in total. The festival was canceled in 2000, but returned again in 2001 and has been charting its upward course ever since.
The first Glastonbury was held in 1970, the day after Jimi Hendrix died.
Early editions sold tickets for between £1 and £5, and hosted performances from a young David Bowie and Peter Gabriel.
Since then the festival has only grown in reputation, and size, so much so that tickets sell out in under an hour, and every five or so years a “fallow” year must be taken to let the farmland rest.
The festival organizers always donate large sums of their profits to charity.
After the 2017 festival £3 million ($3.8 million) was split between Oxfam, Greenpeace, and WaterAid.
Length of lines
Having so many people in one place naturally results in queues, and both festivals are famous for having long bar and entry lines.
Early birds to both festivals can get inside with as little as two hours spent queuing, but in some cases Glastonbury ticket holders have been known to wait as much as seven hours at peak times.
There’s no doubt Coachella is the place to be for those looking to up their social media game.
Coachella’s official hashtag “#Coachella2019” saw 218,000 Instagram posts over the course of this year’s festival.
Influencers and Instagrammers often document their outfits and experiences of the festival.
By contrast, the official hashtag of Glastonbury “#Glastonbury2019” was only used 35,100 times.