Thousands of music fans are expected to descend on a Somerset farm in England today as Glastonbury throws open its gates to revellers.
This year’s event will see Metallica, Kasabian and Arcade Fire headlining the musical extravaganza with other major acts on the bill including the Black Keys, Massive Attack and Pixies.
A steady stream of campers are expected to arrive throughout the day aiming to get the top spots for their tents, with wellies and raincoats looking to be essential attire for the weekend.
Festival-goers are unlikely to need them today or tomorrow but forecasters have said that the fine weather that has been enjoyed recently is not set to last, with heavy downpours expected from late tomorrow onwards which are likely to make the 1,200-acre site “quite muddy”.
John Griffiths of Meteogroup said the fact that the ground is currently hard due to the lack of recent rain will not make much difference because of the amount of rain expected to fall.
“If it was just a few showers, the hard ground would make it drain off,” he said. “But with three days-worth of rain due, it will get quite muddy, I suspect.”
Car parks were opened from 9pm yesterday to allow festival-goers to arrive throughout the night when traffic volumes were low, but they were not allowed to leave their cars.
The gates to the world-famous festival were being opened from 8am today for those keenest to get their Glastonbury experience off to an early start ahead of the main acts beginning on Friday.
The first official day of music will see Elbow, Lily Allen and Rudimental perform on the Pyramid Stage before headliners Arcade Fire.
Other acts on Friday include Haim, MIA, Jurassic 5, Skrillex, Paulo Nutini, Metronomy and Kaiser Chiefs across some of the many other stages.
The family-friendly festival will also see Blondie, Ellie Goulding and Dolly Parton perform later on in the weekend as the fields of Worthy Farm, Pilton, are transformed into a tented city.
Tickets for this year’s Glastonbury Festival sold out in the record time of one hour and 27 minutes.
Around 120,000 went on sale, with more than one million people registering for the event, seen as the mother of all festivals.
Once all the performers, workers and volunteers are included, it brings the total number of people on site to around 175,000.
The addition of Metallica as one of this year’s headliners has divided opinion, with many saying their heavy metal sound does not fit the “hippy” vibe of the festival.
But farmer Michael Eavis, who organised the first event in 1970, said he believes the American four-piece deserve their spot as no other band has ever been as “keen” to play.
He said earlier this month: “We have been going for so long that people don’t expect us to put on a heavy metal band.
“We had Rage Against The Machine and we have had lots of fairly heavy metal bands in the past but this is not a typical headline.
“We usually have bands like Radiohead, Coldplay and U2, the Rolling Stones, but I am really looking forward to them.
“There’s no other band in the whole history of the festival that has been so keen to play. They will do the best set of their lives here.”
With so many acts across more than 100 stages to choose from – the festival’s official website recommends trying the “tapas Glastonbury experience – trying a little bit of lots of different things”.
As usual, there are also some more unusual acts on offer, with this year seeing the English National Ballet making their Glastonbury debut by opening the Pyramid Stage on Sunday with their performance of Akram Khan’s Dust.
The Left Field area will also see a tribute to Labour stalwart Tony Benn, who died earlier this year.
Other draws among the acts include Interpol, London Grammar, Wilko Johnson, De La Soul and Goldfrapp, with Jake Bugg, Lana Del Rey and Mercury Prize-winner James Blake also on the bill.
Music fans will experience improvements to this year’s festival site, including a bespoke 4G network and app with features such as live streams of BBC coverage, both powered by festival technology partner EE.
The festival was granted a new 10-year licence, allowing for a capacity of up to 135,000 public tickets, by Mendip District Council in March, securing its future.