Glastonbury Festival 2022: Arcadia, the giant flame-breathing spider, returns

The famous giant flame-breathing spider from Glastonbury Festival will be back for the 2022 event. Arcadia will be back at the famous Somerset Music Festival and will host a number of hard-hitting DJs.

The enormous mechanical spider that sprays fire and shoots laser beams was not present at the last festival in 2019 as a new attraction took its place. The towering Pangea, made from a huge disused crane from Avonmouth Docks in Bristol, brought a new kind of party to the festival with imaginative aerial displays.

However, the Arcadia Spider will return to Pilton in June and will be the stage for DJ sets from world famous DJs such as Calvin Harris, Carl Cox, Chase and Status, Four Tet, Jon Hopkins and Sub Focus. The stage is also ready to welcome a “very special guests” slot.

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A statement from the Glastonbury Festival says the spider will be back “in epic style for 2022, returning to Glastonbury with one of its biggest lineups”. Arcadia’s team added that “the spider is locked down to land at Glastonbury – and it’s coming heavy.”

Arcadia was founded by Pip Rush and Bert Cole and their first collaboration, the Afterburner, debuted at Glastonbury Festival in 2007 after being built in a stable. The following years saw refinement of the Afterburner until 2010 when three Customs and Excise scanning units were attached as ‘legs’.

Arcadia in action

This first incarnation of the “spider” led to many tinkerings and modifications to the massive structure over the years as its show evolved. Arcadia is mostly built from recycled materials and old military equipment.

After being born at the Glastonbury Festival, the spider has traveled to festivals and events all over the world. It wowed crowds in Thailand, New Zealand and the United States.

What happened to the Pangea crane?

The spectacular view of Pangea from Arcadia, Glastonbury 2019
The view of Pangea from Arcadia, Glastonbury 2019

The spider was not present at the last Glastonbury Festival in 2019 and a new installation – Pangea – took its place. The giant crane, made from a huge disused crane from Avonmouth Docks in Bristol, featured a huge glowing moon and all the spider’s fire and lasers.

After the 2019 festival, much of the crane base remained undismantled and was planned to remain permanently at the Worthy Farm site. However, in 2020 Mendip District Council rejected Arcadia Spectacular LTD’s plans for the “partial erection of (a) crane structure” for a period up to August 1, 2023.

The base of the Pangea Crane at the Glastonbury Festival site
The base of the Pangea Crane at the Glastonbury Festival site

The council refused the plan to keep the crane on the site because of its ‘excessive scale’ and ‘foreign industrial design’, and said it was ‘incompatible’ with the landscape and ‘would degrade’ the quality of the agricultural landscape”. The council added that there was “no compelling case” for its need and that the “encroachment” on the countryside outweighed the benefits of the plan.

It has not been revealed if this refusal of the planning application is the reason for the spider’s return in 2022. Responding to a question on Facebook about the Pangea crane, the Arcadia page said: “Well, having lost two years to covid, all accommodation the flexibility of permission, we had evaporated.We chatted with the crane, explained to him that we loved him too, but the spider was back in his nest.

Jan G. Gilbert