What to expect and how to watch

One of the biggest and best-known music festivals in the world is back in full force this summer. Known for its eclectic music and often muddy fields, the UK Glastonbury Festival has provided some of pop music’s highest peaks over the years, from David Bowie at the zenith of his powers in 1971 to Pulp’s triumphant last-minute headlining performance in 1995. This year’s lineup, 2022 will be no different.


Expectations from music fans will be even higher this year due to the fact that the festival hasn’t taken place since 2019 due to COVID-19 related issues, hinting at a return to its climax.

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As usual, the festival will be covered on television and radio in its entirety by the BBC. So what does society have in store for us this year? Here’s a look at what to expect from Glastonbury Festival 2022.


A birthday celebration for Paul McCartney

Having turned 80 last weekend, Paul McCartney will become the oldest headliner in Glastonbury history this Saturday when he brings the day’s events to a close on Glastonbury’s famous Pyramid Stage. This won’t be the former Beatles’ first appearance at Glasto, having also made headlines in 2004. It will be McCartney’s first big appearance at the festival since the release of Peter Jackson’s documentary film about the band’s last concert which debuted in theaters earlier this year.

Expect McCartney to be in top form, having completed a United States stadium tour last week.

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Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds show will warm up the crowd earlier in the evening. They are set to perform several new songs from their latest album, which is due out later this year. Los Angeles-based, Grammy-winning pop trio Haim and West London rapper AJ Tracey also perform.

Billie Eilish enters Glasto history

Rounding out the Pyramid Stage headlining roster are Billie Eilish on Friday night and Kendrick Lamar on Sunday night. Fresh off of her Golden Globe win for Best Original Song in January, Eilish, 20, will become the youngest headliner a day before McCartney’s appearance.

The singer recently made waves when she expressed surprise that Glastonbury is set in the decidedly unrock-n-roll surroundings of Somerset’s Worthy Farm. It is home to the Eavis family, who have hosted the festival since its inception. Eilish is currently on the European leg of a world tour to promote her second album, happier than everreleased last July.

Meanwhile, Lamar is currently on top form, having performed at this year’s Super Bowl and released his latest album, Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers, to widespread critical acclaim last month. Lamar was due to headline the festival in 2020 before the arrival of Covid canceled the plan.

The Other Glastonbury Festival Stage

However, the Glastonbury Festival is not limited to the main stage. The wide variety of performance spaces available ensures something for everyone, whatever their musical tastes. “When in doubt, take a walk,” festival organizers proclaim, and the enormity of the festival site, nestled in the folds of the Somerset Levels, certainly repays the advice.

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The other stage will host Foals, Megan Thee Stallion and Pet Shop Boys on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, respectively. All three have new singles right now and are worth watching, but Megan Thee Stallion’s set is especially hotly anticipated. 2022 represents his first appearance at the festival. His release earlier this year of new tracks “Sweetest Pie” and “Plan B” offer tantalizing previews of material to appear on his second album, which is slated for release before the end of the summer.

Elsewhere, Glastonbury alum, curator and folk-punk legend Billy Bragg headlines Left Field on Friday night. Grammy-nominated soul singer Yola closes the same space on Sunday night. Meanwhile, there are plenty of opportunities for EDM fans. In the 1980s and early 1990s dance music fans were largely left behind by Glastonbury, but Orbital’s famous set at the 1994 festival ushered in a new era of trance, techno and house appearing at Worthy Farm. Carl Cox and Jon Hopkins are among the artists who shoot sets in Arcadia. Glastonbury’s go-to venue for clubbers, Sonic, will feature sets from Fatboy Slim, drum ‘n’ bass band Sasasas and Australia’s Logic1000.

Fans of 1970s punk rock will be delighted to find a handful of bands from the era making an appearance. Chief among them are mischief masters The Damned, known for their classic punk anthems like “Smash It Up” and “New Rose,” which headline Avalon Stage Friday night. Also appearing are the Tom Robinson Band and the Undertones of Northern Ireland.

How to watch

BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds will broadcast Glastonbury Festival 2022 from June 22-26.

Jan G. Gilbert