Image: Cathryn Virginia. Photos: Getty Images
Attending Glastonbury is a rite of passage for millions of people across the UK, but as everyone knows it isn’t easy. Tickets sell out in record time and no amount of military-grade preparation can help guarantee success. But it seems that some people just seem to get lucky every single year. Is attendance at the greatest place on Earth a little more likely for some? This group of people I speak of is Scousers, of course. As that old adage goes, you’re never more than a few feet away from a Scouser at Glastonbury. But why? How is it that one of the world’s most difficult ticket-buying processes always seems to work out for people from Liverpool?
From rumours of secret high-speed internet to the See Tickets servers being secretly based in Merseyside, I – a long-term resident for the last decade – decided to investigate.Naturally, I started my inquiries into the online rumours the way most people do: I consulted Reddit. On r/Glastonbury, I came up against the first age-old rumour about Liverpool’s internet. As legend goes, the city has a higher speed internet than the rest of the UK, so it makes those they're more likely to get a ticket. However, according to a recent study by USwitch, Liverpool isn’t in the top ten most mobile data-driven cities. But it also failed to rank in the top ten least reliant, which suggests that high-speed internet is not guaranteed in Liverpool (cities that are less reliant on mobile data tend to have faster internet). Other national reports rating UK broadband speeds yielded the same result. Whether it’s mobile or broadband, Liverpool has never taken the number one spot for the fastest internet.I had another lead: A few Reddit sleuths are convinced that See Tickets, the official Glasto ticket sellers, have servers located in Merseyside. Another rumour posited that their external cloud server might even be based somewhere in close proximity to Liverpool. Like, say, Ireland?? In the interest of journalistic integrity, I rung up See Tickets, who were happy to confirm they actually have servers in France, UK and Germany – but they didn’t want to get specific about their locations, which is understandable, given, you know, terrorism risks and that. Hmmm.
Mario, a 40-year-old website developer and IT wizard based in Sussex, claims that See Tickets “has multiple backend servers”, which implies that the servers would be in multiple locations, too. Alas, he also notes that the server's location would only impact the user by a fraction of a second. It seems likely that this alone doesn’t explain the Scouse surge at Glastonbury every year. If there are no technical loopholes giving Liverpudlians easy access, how do so many Scousers end up being able to make the sacred Glasto pilgrimage? I spoke with Sean, a 28-year-old Scouser, who has attended Glastonbury three times. “For one weekend, the Scouse party scene relocates to Somerset,” he confirms. Interestingly, he mentions an online rumour that has also surfaced in my investigation: According to legend, when Glastonbury launched in 1970, one of the security firms on site was based in Liverpool. As Scouse security guards flocked home, they spread the word about a “boss fezzy” called Glastonbury.In a bid to get to the bottom of the security rumours, I called up several firms to see if they had a higher-than-average representation of Scousers on their Glasto security teams. Unfortunately, none were willing to comment about staff demographics. Back to the drawing board!Paul is a 37-year-old festival steward who has worked and attended Glastonbury for the last decade. While he couldn’t confirm anything about Scouse security firms, he acknowledges that Glastonbury arouses dogged loyalty from Scousers.
“I’ve met hundreds of Scousers over the years at festivals now, but I’ve religiously attended Glastonbury for the last decade,” he says. “Scousers are the same. Attending and working Glastonbury is definitely seen as a necessity for so many Scousers.” Glasto was always going to be big among people with a near-legendary love of tunes and partying. After all, Liverpool was dubbed the “Capital City of Pop” by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2001 because Scousers have the most Number 1 hit singles on the UK chart per head of population. It even became a UNESCO City of Music in 2015. In Liverpool, music isn’t just an art – it’s a way of life. So is it any surprise that Scousers want to travel to one of the world’s biggest parties?“Scousers have a taste for fresh, innovative music – for making new weird and wonderful families and being part of the euphoric, symbiotic energy that Glastonbury brings,” says Danny Pye, a 27-year-old creative from Liverpool, who’s worked at the West Holts stage for the last two years.He also works alongside a number of other Scousers who help support the stage production at Glastonbury. My research brought me into contact with another intriguing lead: Could it be that Scousers are more likely than others to want to lend a hand to produce one of the world’s biggest musical festivals?
“There’s always been an unusual connection between Scousers and the central Glastonbury communities,” Pye says. “I think mostly it comes from how Scousers and Glastonbury share core values. In Liverpool, you’ll find music lovers and ravers traversing dingy bars, hidden clubs and illegal parties to find something a little bit different, or odd, or perhaps for something that is yet to be celebrated on the scale they think it deserves to be.” Unfortunately, Pye’s Scouse-heavy experience just extends to West Holts – not to any of the larger stages – so it felt a little remiss to draw any conclusions from what he told me.Lee Daley, a 28-year-old support worker from Everton, Merseyside, has attended a total of six Glastonburys, after hearing the legendary stories from his mum and dad: “I had to attend Glastonbury after everything my parents told me about it. One year, they even went over the wall, but that’s not something I’m planning on doing this year, as I’ve got a ticket.”This points to one more theory about just why there are so many Scousers who get to Glastonbury: They’re breaking in. According to last reported estimates in 2000, anywhere between 10,000 to 30,000 people jump the fence every year. However, there is no data to suggest that more Scousers make these attempts than others. When I reported for VICE on the secret WhatsApp group for break-ins, it seemed that people from down south were better represented, but Scousers were the ones most likely to reap success – although this was purely based off my own anecdotal research.Unfortunately, this is where my investigations end. Since there’s no official city-specific data on the people who nab Glasto tickets or those who break in, I can only speculate about the number of Scousers who arrive each year – only that it has nothing to do with mysterious internet servers or WiFi. It seems that it remains a mystery that perhaps only the gods of Glastonbury – and Michael Eavis – will ever know. But one thing is for certain: Scousers have an intense allegiance with music events all around the world, and attending these cultural events runs through their blood. Just take a trip to Ibiza, Berlin or any other destination synonymous with a good time, and you’ll find a Scouser. When this happens, don’t ask them how they got there – just tag along and you’ll be guaranteed a good time.