With a population of less than ten thousand, and an area of 3.74 km, Glastonbury is a town and civil parish in Somerset. It has become known worldwide for its music festival (originally the 'Pilton Festival') that lasts five days, and in billing terms has attracted the leading names in the various forms of contemporary music. The festival owes its vision and practicality to Michael Eavis, born in 0ctober 1935, a farmer by profession. a Methodist by Christian allegiance, and a fan of contemporary music in its various expressions.
The Festival began in 1970, the day after the death of rock legend Jimi Hendrix. The event is centred on Michael's Worthy Farm site. For the 2019 event, a six figure number of tickets were sold out in 37 minutes. Eavis pledged a special ticket allocation to trainee nurses. The Festival is co-run with daughter Emily. Although music dominates the Festival it has space for less well-known artists, and for the arts in general. The Festival does not push religious faith, unlike Britain’s largest contemporary religious gathering, Greenbelt.
Eavis, educated at Wells Cathedral School, has honorary degrees from the Universities of Bristol and Bath. Methodism has always been central to his life. His father was a local preacher. Michael attends chapel where his 93–year- old mother plays the organ. Eavis says: 'We’re chapel people.' He finds Wesley hymns and tunes have something in common with popular music. His Methodism is rooted in social conscience. He stresses that Charles Wesley, was a believer in 'love divine'. In 2018 he became the first patron of a revamped New Room, Bristol, the oldest Methodist building in the world.