Glastonbury 2011: Mark Radcliffe on his festival hopes

Why the 6 Music presenter is reluctant to pitch a tent


What are you most looking forward to?


Taking my youngest two for the first time. More than the music, I can’t wait to see what they make of the “other” Glastonbury: the kids’ field, the circus and theatre tents, the weird sights and sounds you see just wandering around – people dressed as praying mantises and the like.

For a kid, I think it will be like going to wonderland. Entering a world where the rules no longer apply.

Have you opted for tent, tepee or decadent hotel?

My wife is very keen on camping. I’m not. I’m almost 53 and a grandfather now; I don’t need to get trench foot to feel good about myself. I’d rather be in a comfy hotel with flushing toilets.

So what did you decide?

We are camping. If I look even more dishevelled and bleary-eyed than usual, you’ll know why. We’ll be in a tent. We thought about a tepee but they seem pretty pricey! We can be utterly uncomfortable in something much cheaper.

I have to be honest: I do have a hotel room backup in case the weather is dreadful. The excuse is that my eight-year-old will get very tired but secretly it’s for me.

Standout year?

I was there on my 50th birthday. My folk-rock group The Family Mahone played on the Avalon Stage and the whole crowd sang Happy Birthday to me.

Then I stood on the side of the Pyramid Stage and watched Leonard Cohen doing Hallelujah while 70,000 people sang along. Sublime.

Which other festivals are worth a visit?

I really like the Cambridge Folk Festival. It’s a tiddler compared to Glastonbury – a mere 10,000 people – and very friendly and unpretentious. You see things you’d never see or hear anywhere else.

Such as?

My first year there, a friend insisted I see this diatonic accordion player from the Basque country. That sounds a bit esoteric, I thought.

He was playing the diatonic accordion with two guys stripped to the waist in leather aprons hammering a huge wooden xylophone with poles. With a pint in my hand and the sun on my back, it was absolutely marvellous.


Mark Radcliffe presents Glastonbury highlights this weekend on BBC2 with Zane Lowe, Lauren Laverne and Jo Whiley

On Thursday 23 June from 8-10pm, BBC 6 Music unites with Radio 1 and Radio 2 for a first ever triple cast, live from the Glastonbury site