Thousands of revellers have arrived in sunny Somerset for the 2009 Glastonbury Festival.

The event, which is held on Worthy Farm near Pilton, Somerset, just six miles from the town of Glastonbury, is the largest greenfield music and performing arts festival in the world.

Overlooking the site is Glastonbury Tor, a hill which is topped by St Michael's Tower. Glastonbury Tor is supposed to be the location of the Isle of Avalon in English legend, the place where King Arthur's sword Excalibur was forged and where the king was taken to recover from his wounds after his last battle at Camlann. It was also famed for its beautiful apples.

By the end of today, an estimated 60,000 people are believed to have pitched up tents at the site, but the total number of people attending the festival will be around twice that number (up to 137,000) during the actual music events.

Fans have paid up to 175 each to see acts such as Lily Allen, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Blur.

Thunderstorms are expected on Friday and saturday, and could turn the event into a mudbath for the revellers. Though the "Glastonbury Mudbath" is now a national institution, and is one of the reasons why revellers flock there.

The festival is running from today until Sunday.

Sun smiles as music fans troop into Glastonbury Festival... but thunderstorms are on the way

By Daily Mail Reporter (external - login to view)
24th June 2009
Daily Mail

Thousands of revellers headed for Glastonbury today in glorious sunshine - but they face torrential thunderstorms by the time the festival is in full swing at the weekend.

An estimated 60,000 music fans are expected to have pitched up at the site by the end of the day even though the music does not begin until tomorrow.

The sun was beating down today as early arrivals tramped onto 900-acre Worthy Farm in Somerset to set up camp after gates opened at 8am.

Preparing for the party: Festival-goers began pitching their tents today as they flocked to Glastonbury

Rocking up: Music fans start to arrive at the Glastonbury Festival site at Worthy Farm, Pilton this afternoon

Blue sky thinking: Gates opened today for the first of the 140,000 music fans arriving at what has become one of Europe's largest music festivals

But forecasters warn that over the following days, when the audience for acts including Lily Allen, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen will have swelled to 137,000, fans who have paid 175 each could be in for a classic Glastonbury mudfest.

Rachel Vince of forecasters Meteogroup said: 'Unfortunately, on Friday and Saturday Glastonbury could be in the line of fire from thundery showers. It could be torrential thunderstorms at times.

'It is likely that if there is a significant amount of rain Glastonbury could turn very muddy, because of the sheer volume of people. The advice is to pack your wellies and your sunglasses.'

Nice day for it: One woman cools down in a bikini and wellington boots as she struts around the venue

Hair today: A colourful reveller arrives at Glastonbury for the four-day celebration of performing arts and culture

The festival, hosted by dairy farmer Michael Eavis since its beginnings in 1970, is notorious for scenes of sodden music fans wading through the mire or stranded in the middle of giant puddles.

In 2005, storms and flash flooding caused havoc at the site, with many festival-goers having to use their tents as makeshift boats to float around waterlogged areas.

In 2007, more rain ensured a similar mudbath, though a new draining system meant a repeat of 2005 was avoided.

Pole position: Festival goers set up their tent in a camping area on the day before the festival starts

Playing in the shadows: Silhouettes of festival goers in a camping area on the day before the music kicks off

Sunny side up: Edwina Elkington, 19, and Emma Dudlyke, 18, from London arrive at Glastonbury Festival today

Beating the traffic: Two revellers make their way past queuing traffic to get to the festival

This year festival-goers are likely to be able to catch some sunshine, with highs of 23C (73F) from tomorrow until Saturday - and forecasters say rain is not an absolute certainty.

Ms Vince said: 'Thursday should be generally dry with sunny periods although there is a threat of thundery showers which can't be ruled out. The temperature will be around 22C, though.

'It might be the case that the showers won't hit Glastonbury, but it remains a threat from Thursday onwards.'

Reformed Britpop stars Blur, headlining on Sunday, may fare better with 'less severe' showers, she added.

Eco warriors: Revellers dressed as 'green' police pose for a photograph

Rock of ages: Young and old enjoy the big festival build-up at Worthy Farm

Just in case: Wellies could be needed by Friday when thunderstorms have been forecast

Enlarge Gimme shelter: Campers erect their gazebo - used for shade or protection from the rain

Feet up: A camper rests in a wheelbarrow as he reads the festival programme

Festival spokesman John Shearlaw said all possible preparations were being made to deal with the predictably unpredictable British summer weather.

'There are 30,000 people on site now, working flat out to get everything ready,' he said.

'What can you do? The festival isn't God. You can't sit around waiting for the weather.

'People are coming earlier and earlier - maybe at last half will come today. The preparations are sound and we can't wait to start.'

Meanwhile, back at Wimbledon...

Spectators have been fainting and carried off during matches at Wimbledon today because of the high temperatures. A steward assists a man who fainted, above

Stewards help an elderly woman off Centre Court during a match between Maria Sharapova and Gisela Dulko