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Behind The Scenes: Glastonbury – Virtual Reality

The largest music festival in the UK, The Glastonbury Festival, has been cancelled this summer due to problems with security.

The founder and organizer of the festival, Michael Eavis, announced the sad news in January this year. Nevertheless, the festival will play on the traditional weekend this month – but only on the Internet. The band Stereophonics will do an exclusive webcast performance.

In August the wedding bells will ring for the farmer, founder and organizer of The Glastonbury Festival, Michael Eavis. He is to marry Liz Walker, whom he met last year. For the occasion, the Original Glastonbury Festival Website is now organizing a collection of money to buy them a wedding present. The people behind the collection say that Michael Eavis makes a great effort each year to provide the best party in Britain therefore, they want to do something special for him.

It will not be the first time this year that people show their appreciation of Michael Eavis1 tenacious work with the huge festival on his own property. When the Glastonbury Festival 2001 was cancelled at the beginning of the year due to problems with too many people gaining unofficial entry over the fence surrounding the festival area, a group of musicians began their fight to get the festival back on it1s feet.

It was the two DJ1s, Pete Tong and Zoe Ball, who, together with the members of Blur and All Saints, started a collection of signatures. Under the name "Save Our Glasto", they strived to collect 1.000.000 signatures in order to put pressure on the Minister of Cultural Affairs to finance a higher fence to enclose the festival in aid of preventing trespassers onto the festival grounds. But the efforts were fruitless. Thousands off signatures were not enough to procure the needed one million pounds for the fence and then to re-open the festival after the cancellation.

Nevertheless music will play on the traditional Glastonbury Festival weekend, 22 – 24th June. However, the 2001-festival will be a virtual one. The website PlayLouder, have teamed up with Glastonbury organizers to do a virtual version of the festival. They1re doing it by using a combination of footage from last years web casts, archive material from earlier festivals including The Cure, Elastica, Green Fields and Healing Fields, as well as exclusive webcast performance by names like Basement Jaxx, Stereophonics and Gorillaz.

Last year, PlayLouder made an exclusive coverage of the festival with live web casts for eight hours a day over the weekend. All of that material will now be the foundation for the first ever virtual music festival.

"We have taken a year off and come up with the idea of a virtual Glastonbury 2001 on the PlayLouder site. Some of the atmosphere will be captured on the screen and the Worthy Farm spirit will prevail." Commented Michael Eavis on the project.

Michael Eavis guaranteed that next year there would be a new Glastonbury Festival. At that time he expected that all the problems with security would be solved. At the festival last year nearly 100.000 people gained unofficial entry – many ticketless people jumped over the fence, and others were let into the festival area by the paying the gate staff.

In the light of the tragedy at the Roskilde Festival last year, Michael Eavis said, when he cancelled the festival, that the horrific death of nine people at the festival in Denmark focused the attention of festival organisers and licensing authorities to the dramatic consequences of overcrowding.

Every year nearly 100.000 people buy tickets to the festival, which employs around 20.000 people. The festival is held on 700 acres in a valley in Somerset, and was born there over 30 years ago on the 19th of September 1970. 1500 people saw T Rex play at the first Glastonbury Festival. For thousands of music fans the festival is today, according to an article from BBC News, the same as Christmas – more than a chance to get away from all, it is a chance to live a different kind of life for a few days.

Not only for the audience is the festival an important event. Every year the profit is used to support the work for the three organisations Oxfam, Greenpeace and Water Aid.