Glastonbury Festival Taking Year Off To Deal With Crowds

Organizers looking at how to safely manage large audiences, prevent gate-crashers.

England's renowned Glastonbury Festival will forgo 2001 to send a message to gatecrashers who have tainted the event in recent years, organizers announced Thursday (January 4).

The cancellation was also partially prompted by last summer's Roskilde, Denmark, tragedy, where nine concert-goers were trampled to death during a Pearl Jam performance. Police reports released since the incident have blamed organizers for letting the festival get too large.

"There are many good reasons for [forgoing Glastonbury 2001]," promoter Michael Eavis said in a statement. In addition to showing "all the interested parties that there has to be more effective control over numbers, which means among other things designing a fence that works properly," organizers want "to tell all the people who came without tickets that their behavior is not sustainable," he said.

Glastonbury will return in 2002, Eavis said, and until then, "we will use the coming months to develop ways and means of controlling entry to the site effectively."

The Glastonbury Festival, held on a field in Somerset, England, began in 1970 as a small concert headlined by Al Stewart. It has grown over the years into the country's premier summer festival, attracting acts like Radiohead, Oasis, David Bowie and the Cure and crowds of up to 102,000 people.

This year will not be the first that the festival has been absent. Eavis sat out 1996 after exhausting his crew during the 25th anniversary show the year before, which was also marred by gatecrashers.

"Any festival that doesn't run is a shame," Jo Brooks, press officer for England's Essential Festival, said. "It's kind of a double-edged sword. On one side, it frees up more acts for the other festivals, but on the other, we're losing one of the main places where the other festivals advertise. It's disappointing, but it won't affect us. We have our own audience and they have theirs."