A brand new metal stage is debuting at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. Made out of an old tube carriage, the ‘Earache Express’ promises to bring chaotic sounds to Worthy Farm. But it’s not the first time metal has played a starring role at Glastonbury (and we’re not talking about headline slots from Metallica and Motörhead). In fact, sheet metal is one of the main acts every year at the biggest festival on the planet. Here’s how:
Glastonbury’s legendary ‘super-fence’ was installed in 2002, after fence-jumpers at the previous festival, in 2000, overran the event and made it unsafe. Organiser Michel Eavis vowed to install a ‘ring of steel’ around the site. The new fence measures eight miles long and a lofty 12 feet tall, comes complete with watchtowers and is made of sturdy sheet metal. Costs for the fence were rumoured to come to around £1 million, but breaking into Glastonbury is now pretty much impossible thanks to this galvanized steel fort.
Metal at Glastonbury: Bins
OK, waste disposal might not be very exciting, but Glastonbury bins are the best-dressed bins around. Made from sheet steel fruit juice drums, the 11-12,000 bins are painstakingly painted by a team of volunteers who get started with their artwork weeks before the main event.
The Ribbon Tower at Glastonbury
Standing tall in the Park Stage area of the festival is the brightly coloured ribbon tower. Made of galvanized steel scaffolding, the towering spectacle can be seen from all around the festival and is often used as a meeting point for revellers. Festival-goers can climb the structure for stunning views of the site.
No matter how disgusting they are, toilets are a pretty integral part of the whole festival experience. As well as plastic Portaloos, avid Glastonbury-goers are all too familiar with the facility affectionately known as the long-drop. The long-drop is basically a row of cubicles on a raised galvanized steel platform with a very large pit beneath it. Those looking for a more comfortable lavatorial experience needn’t look far though: Glastonbury is phasing out Portaloos and introducing eco-friendly compost toilets, accessed via chequer plate steps and much more pleasing on the nose.
The Stunning Metal Art
Glastonbury is home to a wealth of visual art, including installations and sculptures made of everything from sheet metal such as Corten steel to good old junk. Many of the art has a strong message, like this sculpture The Edge of Meltdown by Joe Rush, which appeared at the 2015 festival. It shows a polar bear perched atop an iceberg made of discarded pickled sheet steel and cold reduced steel sheet domestic appliances, and serves as a stark reminder about climate change.
After years of thousands of plastic cups blighting the landscape and going to waste, in 2016 Glastonbury introduced a sustainable option: the recycled stainless steel cup. Available for £5 at ten of the festival’s bars, it totally sold out in 48 hours.
Think of stages at Glastonbury and chances are the iconic Pyramid comes to mind. But if you’re lucky enough to go to the festival, you’ll come across many more creative stages. Perhaps the most interesting of these is the incredible Arcadia. Part flaming DJ-booth, part performance space, this gargantuan ‘spider’ is made of a myriad of recycled items and sheet metal.