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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 June, 2004, 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK
Glastonbury Festival gates open
Tents at Glastonbury Festival
Dark skies greeted fans who arrived on Wednesday
The gates to this year's Glastonbury Festival opened on Wednesday, with organisers saying a trickle of festival-goers were already on site.

A spokesman said it had been a "very slow start", possibly due to the rain that hit the site on Tuesday night.

He said organiser Michael Eavis was planning to use a "cloudbusting machine" in a bid to prevent more rain.

The music begins on Friday. This year's event is headlined by Oasis, Muse and Sir Paul McCartney.

'Worrying'

"It was very slow in the first hour, so much so that it was a bit worrying," the spokesman said.

"It has picked up this afternoon, but it is nothing like the start of last year," he said.

He said there had been no issues with the security fence, a 1m barrier designed to stop people getting into the festival for free.

Glastonbury had been threatened with a refusal of its licence unless major steps were taken to prevent gate-crashers.

Fans at Glastonbury festival
Some 112,500 fans are due to be on site by Friday
According to the spokesman, police on site have not reported any crimes so far.

The five-day forecast for neighbouring Shepton Mallet shows sunny weather for Thursday, Friday and Sunday, but showers on Saturday. The temperature is expected to reach a high of 21C on Sunday.

Eavis' "cloudbusting" machine was designed by 1960s psychologist and inventor Wilhelm Reich, who believed extracting "orgone radiation" from the atmosphere caused clouds to turn to rain.

The machine, which may be set up several miles away to "break up" clouds far from the site, was last used at the festival in 1971.

"It is a bit of a joke," the spokesman said. "In a way it is using psychological powers to keep the rain away. He's (Eavis) still trying to get the machine working."

Headliner Sir Paul McCartney recently used another machine to spray dry ice into rainclouds at a concert in Russia.

Giant screen

Meanwhile, organisers announced that they will show England's Euro 2004 football match against Portugal on a giant screen on Thursday night to prevent festival-goers leaving the site to watch it in local pubs.

In an ongoing bid to prevent criminal behaviour, police will this year patrol the 112,000-capacity festival site on mountain bikes.

"Officers on mountain bikes can get around the Glastonbury site much more quickly and efficiently than those in 4x4 vehicles," a police spokesman said.

Last year reported crime at the festival fell by 43%, with robberies falling almost 80%.




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