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Glastonbury: Embracing Culture and the Future of the Festival

Stormzy’s iconic 2019 headline performance (which still gives me goosebumps today) was a huge nod to relevance, black culture, diverse music and the streets. The Glasto stages have been blessed with heroes such as Curtis Mayfield, Jay Z, Lenny Kravitz, Stevie Wonder, Beyonce and, in 2022, Kendrick Lamar. But that Stormzy performance, for me, spoke to the direction Glastonbury (as a brand) is heading in, and since then have worked to maintain this by including a diverse line-up and headliners.

This years festival was headlined by Arctic Monkeys on Friday, Guns N' Roses on Saturday, and Elton John on Sunday. Despite the absence of an ethnically diverse headliner, there were a number of acts across the weekend were present including: Wiz Kid, Central Cee & Dave, Krept and Konan, Cat Burns, Aitch, Skepta and Stefflon Don.

Above: Afrobeats artist Wiz Kid, the first African artiste to headline UK’s biggest festival, Glastonbury 2023 By incorporating events such as Aitch unveiling the Manchester United kit, Afrobeats sensation Wizkid gracing the stage, and Skepta's memorable performance of "Mas Tiempo," Glastonbury leaned into, the importance of integrating culture into its future.

Cultural Moments That Define Glastonbury Glastonbury's recent embrace of cultural moments has showcased the festival's commitment to reflecting the evolving music landscape and capturing the imaginations of younger festival-goers. The unveiling of the new Manchester United kit by rapper Aitch created a unique fusion of football, music, and fashion, captivating fans of both industries. This collaboration united industries and communities, amplifying the festival's appeal beyond traditional music enthusiasts.

The inclusion of Afrobeats superstar Wizkid on the Glastonbury lineup marked a significant shift towards global sounds and recognition of the genre's rising popularity. Wizkid's performance thrilled audiences, reflecting the festival's commitment to showcasing influential artists worldwide. This move provided an immersive experience for festival-goers and solidified Glastonbury's reputation as a platform for groundbreaking talent. We know Afrobeats cannot be ignored and to see the incorporation of the genre on a stage like Glastonbury - is a movement.

Krept and Konan had a party! Skepta's "Mas Tiempo" performance brought the vibrant sounds of the grime and UK rap scene to Glastonbury's stages - highlighting the festival's ability to adapt to different, current music trends while celebrating homegrown talent. By incorporating such moments, Glastonbury appeals to younger audiences, ensuring its longevity and relevance in the ever-changing music landscape.

Cultural integration is vital to Glastonbury's future. In order to attract a younger demographic - it is important that the brand connect with diverse audiences by collaborating with them; catering to their tastes, including them in content and reflecting their tastes.

Cultural integration allows Glastonbury to create a sense of inclusivity, where attendees from various backgrounds feel represented and celebrated. It promotes diversity, breaks down barriers, and fosters community connections. By providing a platform for emerging artists like Cat Burns and cultural icons alike, Glastonbury ensures that the festival remains an important cultural event for years to come.

Looking Ahead: As Glastonbury continues to diversify its lineup and integrate cultural moments, it sets a precedent for other music festivals worldwide.

To secure its future as a relevant festival amongst diverse communities, Glastonbury must continue to collaborate with artists from a wide range of genres and backgrounds, ensuring that the festival's lineup reflects the ever-evolving tastes of its audience. By doing so, Glastonbury will maintain its status as a cultural touchstone, attracting younger generations and remaining relevant in the dynamic music festival landscape.

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