On the way home from the Isle of Wight Festival 2022, my walking companion commented that he had never been to the Glastonbury Festival and would very much like to.
It's been a few years since my last Glastonbury Festival, but pre-children I went three or four times over about six or seven years. The vagueness on my part is not down to a drug-induced haze but just a poor memory.
Anyway, I do recall a couple of key differences between Glastonbury and the Isle of Wight festival which we debated during our walk back to the cinema car park.
Glastonbury certainly has a longer list of big name bands each year and it's easy to be awed by this. It's a truly great festival and I'm not meaning to put a downer on it.
However, my experience is that the bands at Glastonbury are spread out over so many stages and such a large geographical area that you will only see a fraction of them.
The stage scheduling clashes are severe and I recall a couple of times where there wasn't much of interest to me personally for a few hours in the afternoon, and then there was an almighty collision of five or six great bands all appearing at once.
This is presumably done for practical reasons with Glastonbury being attended by about 210,000 people in 2022 once you include artists, workers, blaggers and people who actually bought a ticket. I'm no expert on crowd management but spreading people out is presumably a lot safer than having everything watching one act.
Definitive figures for the Isle of Wight Festival 2022 are hard to come by, with some reports saying 50,000 attended and others saying 'over 90,000'. I'll update this blog if I get a final answer.
My most memorable stage clash at Glastonbury was choosing between Iggy and the Stooges and The Killers. At the time, I liked both and couldn't decide where to land. Watching a bit of each isn't an easy option because the crowd size and venue is so large that walking between stages is slow. Add in a little rain and the mud soon slows you down as you squelch and slide around. The worst was when the mud turned from a chocolate mousse consistency to a sticky brownie consistency. Boots became stuck after each step and you soon decided to stay put.
Incidentally, I chose The Stooges but the rest of my companions chose The Killers. The Stooges was an excellent gig which included a mass stage invasion and someone unfurling a banner which called for the return of the Wispa.
On the Friday night of the same festival, I had to choose between Arctic Monkeys, Bjork, Hot Chip, Spiritualized, Damien Rice, Fatboy Slim and The Waterboys. I chose Bjork, but I would have happily watched any of the others.
The Isle of Wight Festival does occasionally have Main Stage/Big Top clashes but they are not so severe. Watching half and half is also quite feasible if you don't mind watching from a distance. There are several other stages but they tend to be local artists and up and coming acts which you can stumble upon rather than big names with big queues.
The differing ticket price is also worth a mention. In 2011, Glastonbury was £195 and the Isle of Wight festival was £175.
In 2022, Glastonbury had increased £85 to £280 whilst the Isle of Wight Festival had only increased by £20 up to £195. For islanders, tickets were only £145, putting them at about half the price of Glastonbury.
I'm not trying to start a rivalry between the two festivals. They are very different beasts and they both have a great history and heart. I've had a great time at both. I just felt that the Glastonbury weekend was a good moment to share our post-festival debate.
I also appreciate that this is far from a comprehensive comparison. I haven't dipped into the cost of a portion of chips, the convenience for travelling, the cleanliness of the toilets or the queue time to get in. I'll leave that for another day when I've drawn up some graphs and charts.
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog