How many people are at Glastonbury? 2022 festival capacity, attendance record, biggest crowd - explained

Glastonbury’s capacity has grown along with the size and popularity of the festival

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In every regard, the Glastonbury Festival is massive.

The site is more than a mile and a half across, with an eight-and-a-half-mile perimeter, and you’ll probably walk every inch of it. Comfortable shoes or boots are a must-have.

But just how big is it in terms of people numbers? What is the capacity of Glastonbury, and what are the largest crowds the festival has ever seen?

Here is everything you need to know.

What was the capacity of early Glastonburys?

The Pilton Pop, Blues & Folk Festival, organised by Michael Eavis on Saturday 19 September 1970, drew 1,500 visitors to Worthy Farm for the first time.

Though incarnations of the event took place again in 1971 and 1979, it would be until the 1980s that the festival became an annual fixture, barring periodic fallow years.

Large festivals have required licences from local authorities since 1983, and as a result, the festival was subjected to a number of restrictions.

These included time limits on when certain stages could be used, and a cap on the number of attendees, a limit which was initially established at 30,000 people.

The event outgrew Worthy Farm in 1985, and the adjacent Cockmill Farm was purchased in order to allow for the festival’s expansion.

Kylie performs at Glastonbury Festival on Worthy Farm (AFP via Getty Images)Kylie performs at Glastonbury Festival on Worthy Farm (AFP via Getty Images)
Kylie performs at Glastonbury Festival on Worthy Farm (AFP via Getty Images)

1989 was the first year impromptu, unofficial sound systems began popping up around the festival site, playing loud, electronic acid house music 24 hours a day. The largest of these rivalled the volume of some of the official stages, and ran nonstop during the event.

In 1992, an expanded festival was held, and a stronger perimeter fence was built ; this was the first year that new age travellers were not initially permitted onto the site for free.

What’s the attendance record?

It’s surprisingly difficult to pin down a reliable Glastonbury Festival attendance record.

That’s because in the past, fence breaches and instances of mass gatecrashing have inflated crowd sizes illegitimately.

In 1994, Glastonbury’s ‘official’ attendance record of 300,000 people was set when The Levellers headlined on The Pyramid Stage.

But that record may have been unofficially broken the following year when, due to a security fence breach on the festival’s Friday, attendance increased dramatically. According to estimates, there were enough fence-jumpers to double the festival’s size.

The festival was again overcrowded due to fence-jumpers in 1999, and in 2000 an additional 100,000 people gatecrashed the site, increasing the attendance to an estimated 250,000 people total.

This led to public safety concerns and the local District Council refused any further licences until the problem was solved.

The festival returned in 2002 with the controversial Mean Fiddler (now Festival Republic) in charge of logistics and security, as well as the construction of a large encircling fence (called the “superfence”) that dropped attendance to levels seen a decade before.

The 2002 event was criticised for lacking atmosphere due to the lower number of attendees, which reflected the fewer number of people jumping the fence.

What is Glastonbury’s capacity?

The festival continued to grow in popularity and size, and is now attended by around 200,000 people every year it is held.

In 2022, the festival is back for the first time in two years, bigger than ever with a packed schedule featuring performers such as Kendrick Lamar, Diana Ross, Sir Paul McCartney, and Billie Eilish.

But it’s unlikely the overcrowding issues and fence jumping chaos of the 90s will repeat anytime soon, thanks to robust security infrastructure.

Fans can arrive as early as Wednesday morning (the event runs from 22 June to 26), but if you have to work that day and can't wait until Thursday, arrive while the sun is still shining... it's impossible to pitch a tent in the dark.

Those who have missed out on tickets can still catch the performances from the comfort of their own home, of course.

The BBC will be providing extensive coverage of the festival through BBC Music, with coverage on radio, TV and BBC iPlayer.