Festivals have always been a fertile breeding ground for creativity and culture, nowhere more so than Glastonbury. It's a shining example of how an event can be a portal into otherwise hard-to-reach worlds; a one-stop shop for cultural nourishment and a platform to connect.
The experiences we have in fields can shape our friendships, values and life choices. They also put us in a special kind of context; where we can forget our solitary selves for a minute and wilfully get lost in the crowd. There's something quintessentially human about being in a shared physical space, having a collective experience, just for fun.
As we've stumbled into 2021, from the safe spaces of our homes, news of Glastonbury's cancellation spells a creeping sense of dread and déjà vu for everyone in festivals. We may not openly talk about it, but there's a personal cost (alongside the business one) for all involved. The congregation of people in the real world is not just the bedrock of the industry: for many, it's a purpose. It's why we do what we do.
And festivals aren't just a playground for the fans, they're a source of inspiration for the people who create them. Everyone who works in the field has themselves experienced those moments of joy, surprise and, occasionally, transcendence at festivals. It's what drives us. I'm happy not being out all the time, and spending the winter months in planning mode but, come the summer, I want to be out there seeing what others are doing, hearing what they're making, experiencing what's on offer.
Whether it's a five, 10 or 20-festival season, summer is also time to reconnect with people I might only ever see in that setting; find out what they're working on and hatch half-baked plans "at the front left of the sound desk". The challenge for everyone this year will be to substitute the connections and inspiration that festivals wrap up so neatly, via other means.
At a time when we'd normally be ramping up for the season, with the Beat Hotel at Glastonbury as the centrepiece, instead, we've got time to re-evaluate what we're doing, and why, and figure out how best to navigate the next phase. I'm hopeful we'll look back on this period as the biggest retreat in history and, thanks to technology and ongoing collaboration, emerge with more ideas, creativity, and a renewed appreciation for the power of collective experience.
Nick Griffiths is co-founder at The Beat Hotel and founder at Kingdom Collective.