[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Saturday, 25 June, 2005, 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK
Glastonbury keeps the noise down
By Ian Youngs
BBC News entertainment reporter at Glastonbury

A silent disco and noise patrols are two new measures the Glastonbury Festival is deploying to try to reduce noise pollution, one of the last remaining problems for local residents.

Glastonbury silent disco
The silent disco is colourful - but some find it eerie
In a Glastonbury dance tent in the early hours of Saturday, revellers were doing what club crowds tend to do - moving, grooving, waving their arms in the air, clapping and cheering the DJs.

There was only one thing missing - the music.

This was the silent disco and apart from the odd cheer or burst of applause, there was a kind of surreal peace.

There was no music coming from the speakers - but the clubbers were all equipped with cordless headphones to let them tune into the music, able to choose between two DJs and control their own volume.

The silent disco is the latest innovation from Glastonbury organisers. It has not been set up to improve the clubbing experience, but to reduce overnight noise for residents in the nearby village of Pilton.

"The only real issue with the licence was noise," according to Glastonbury spokesman Crispin Aubrey.

"There had been a relatively small number of people in the village complaining about the levels."


It is the first time the silent disco has been brought to the UK.

Glastonbury silent disco
These fans are not put off by having no bass around them
And revellers, who are trusted to return the 75 headphones, were trying to get into the spirit - but the experience took some getting used to.

"It's quite surreal," said Jill Hobson, 33, from Leeds. "I'd rather feel the music around me, when you feel the bass."

Cameron Manson, 28, from Melbourne, Australia, said it was "fantastic". "You'd rather see it live - when it's cranking out, you really get a feel for it.

"But this is good, it's different, it's always good to try something new."

And as not all fans were tuned into the same DJ, it was "a laugh" to see people dancing to different music, he added.

"It's good - it's a bit creepy, a bit eerie," according to Hannah Kassimi, 22, from Nottingham. "I don't think we'd come back, this is probably just an experience."

The other major tactic to keep noise levels down is the use of noise patrols, who are monitoring levels both inside and outside Worthy Farm.

The festival has five teams checking the decibel levels of stages and sound systems, while there are automatic monitors recording the noise at every corner of the site.

And the festival and Mendip District Council both have their own noise patrols in the surrounding villages, checking sound levels and responding to complaints.

Before 0030, the noise in the surrounding areas is allowed to be within a certain volume - but after that, it is too loud if it is "audible and discernible".

Noisy stages

Some areas do keep going all night - with speakers rather than headphones - but within strict limits. And parts of the festival have just been made quieter, according to Mr Aubrey.

Glastonbury mud
Organisers hope only the mud makes its mark on the area
In some parts of Pilton on Friday night, a distant thud from the festival was drowned out by the trickling of water running down the hill after the morning's storms.

But in the village churchyard at 2330, the sound of Pyramid Stage headliners The White Stripes did carry across the valley.

The songs and music could be made out, if not the words being sung. It was nothing decent double glazing would not keep out, but the volume was not insignificant.

But The White Stripes were the only sound drifting up from the festival, and they finished by 0030.

The noise was not a problem compared with the past, according to one village steward, who said he could make out the lyrics to Sir Paul McCartney's songs last year.

"You didn't have to be in the festival grounds," he said. "That's how clear it was."

Mendip District Council senior environmental health officer Chris Malcolmson said the measures had been "very successful" so far.

"We did have two complaints from the same person at about 0100 [on Saturday] but they were deemed to be unjustified. Our noise teams went up there and there was no noise.

"This time last year, we were getting complaints about overnight noise so this is a fantastic improvement.

"But we've still got tonight and tomorrow to go so let's not count our chickens."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific