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A mysterious place, well known for its annual festival

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Glastonbury Tor
Glastonbury Abbey
Glastonbury Festival
Glastonbury is just a small town, but nevertheless, its name is very well known across Britain. The main reason for this fame now is the Glastonbury Festival. It's the biggest open air arts festival in the world, with 150,000 tickets sold every year. It's come a long way from its humble beginnings in 1970, when 1,500 attendees paid a single pound to get in. They were even given free milk!
The festival's current programme is known for its incredible diversity. It probably features every performance art ever invented, including theatre, dance and comedy. The most famous acts are the contemporary bands playing on the gigantic Pyramid Stage, but this is just one of around 80 different venues, hosting literally hundreds of performers. It's a mystery how they ever manage to organise such a huge event. Every year it generates 300 tonnes of rubbish, and 800,000 million gallons of human waste!
The festival takes place every June, so in theory it should enjoy warm, balmy sunshine. Glastonbury though, is notoriously unlucky with its weather. Previous years have seen some severe flooding, with huge areas of the campsite turned into a swamp overnight. Thankfully the water never seems to dampen the spirits of the festival-goers, who can regularly be seen covered head-to-toe in mud, dancing to the music regardless.
Glastonbury was, however, already a well-known place long before the festival came into being. Archaeology tells us that people have been living here since prehistoric times. For much of its long history, Glastonbury has been thought of as a strange, mysterious place, shrouded in myth and legend. It was apparently the burial site of King Arthur and his wife Guinevere. In another story, the town was the hiding place for the Holy Grail.
If this makes you feel a little sceptical, try visiting the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey. It's an evocative place, that'll really make you believe the stories are true. The building dates from the 7th century, or possibly even earlier. It was a rich and influential monastery, and although most of it no longer exists, the remaining walls and structures drip with atmosphere. The supposed tomb of Arthur and Guinevere is here, so take a look for yourself and decide if you believe the story.
The town, the abbey, and the festival site are all overlooked by the breath-taking Glastonbury Tor. The surrounding land is mostly flat, so this conical hill seems more like a mountain. It's crowned with a single stone tower, which is all that's left of a 14th-century church. During Henry VIII’s upheaval of the English monasteries, the last abbot of Glastonbury Abbey was brought to this tower. In front of a baying crowd, he was hung from the neck until dead.
This is a true story, but there are many other tales associated with the Tor that are of a more dubious nature. Most notably, the hill is supposedly an entrance into the mythical island of Avalon, where Arthur's sword Excalibur was forged.
Visitor Information
Glastonbury Abbey is open daily, 9am to 6pm (4pm winter, 8pm summer). Entry costs around £6. Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset, BA6 9EL. Tel: 01458 832267

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