Encounters with Walkabouts and the rest of Theatre & Circus at Glastonbury Festival 2024

Glastonbury Festival 2024. Photo: Charles Gervais, Both Hemispheres Photography

Glastonbury Festival’s Walkabout acts have been bringing joy to the festival since the 1980s – some of them have appeared at almost every festival – and it’s an amazing sight.

As the Theatre & Circus area organiser Haggis McLeod said, “It’s like walking into a parallel universe – you don’t know what you’ll come across but it will be enchanting or clever, funny or downright ridiculous.”

Glebeland and Bella’s Field also have static acts and there’s always more to see that isn’t necessarily on the official schedule. So what was 2024 like in Theatre & Circus outside of our main reviews?

Encounters with Walkabouts and the rest of Glastonbury Festival 2024

This year was no different, with a host of new and returning Walkabout acts gracing the Theatre & Circus fields. Our first walkabout encounter surprised us early on the Wednesday. Having manoeuvred through the crowds descending on Worthy Farm, got our wristbands at the gate, constructed our tent (phew) and headed out into the festival for our first sights and sounds of 2024, we heard voices as we bounded through the Circus Field towards Bella’s Field.

The Midnight Playground at Glastonbury Festival 2024. Photo: Charles Gervais, Both Hemispheres Photography

“I like your hat,” said a voice out of nowhere and, seemingly, from nowhere. “Isn’t it lovely,” came another voice from the direction of a pair of black Victorian-style lamposts who were commenting on the passersby in very proper English. “Yes, darlings it’s bikini weather but where is the pool,” one of the voices said to a group of passing girls. Soon they were engaged in full conversation with the lamps. Not on the website schedule, we later realised they were The Talking Lamposts, the alter ego of Kiki & Pascal.

While at The Pavement, taking in Kiki & Pascal, Groovy Guy and Goldie Fiasco on The Pavement, Steve on his The Magical Musical Bubble Bike passed by, spreading bubbles and joy as he went – and bringing laughs to the kids every time the machine seemed to break down. A wander up to Glebeland and we came across Celestials, these tall angels on stilts moving graciously through the area – a fine majestic sight in the waning light.

Disco Turtle at Glastonbury Festival 2024. Photo: Charles Gervais, Both Hemispheres Photography

The following night we’re back in Glebeland, having spent some time with the late-night attractions in Rimski’s Yard, where a large crowd has gathered around the incredible sight of the enormous Disco Turtle, dancing energetically to the sounds of Bonkers by Dizzee Rascal and Houdini tomorrow night’s Pyramid stage headliner Dua Lipa – the sounds emanating from the turtle, who was itself dancing and bringing the disco lights to match. The Celestials were there to party too. We take a wander further up to Atchin Tan where there’s a fire blazing and an acoustic guitar is out, with songs to be sung.

On Friday we happened across Jay Rawlings performing his magic tricks for the first time following his successful world record attempt in the Circus Big Top the previous day, before bumping into him the next day to see the whole show. That night we stopped by Move Yourself to try out the interactive video installation on a wall outside The Astrolabe Theatre which was buzzing with intrigued revellers – including kids and adults alike – who were dancing as projected abstract computer-generated images of themselves mirrored their movements.

There was a real party atmosphere in the area. In the Circus Field we join the mass of people who are trying out The Midnight Playground, a nighttime LED hula-hoop workshop with over a hundred hula-hoops. It’s a striking image in the darkness, luminating the field outside the Big Top.

On Sunday, with people having chalked up more steps than they’d ever managed before, there was a lot more sitting around involved – so it was no surprise to see a large crowd seated around Mr Peewee and the Drumming Puppet as we emerged from a trip up North with Black Liver in Poetry&Words. The children who still have energy are dancing in time with the drumming puppet and having the time of their lives.

It’s around this time we realise that, actually, our legs are a bit spent too so we find a spot to sit and watch Harvey Juggling on A Little More Sensation and marvel at his incredible skills as he juggles three knives while performing a balancing act. We rest for a bit longer with our copy of today’s Glastonbury Free Press, printed right here in the Theatre & Circus fields on a Heidelberg press. We read organiser Emily Eavis’s thoughts about Glastonbury’s continued status as a peace festival, take in Paloma Faith’s agony aunt advice and consider Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s views on live music.

Glastonbury Festival 2024. Photo: Charles Gervais, Both Hemispheres Photography

Most importantly we reflect on poet-in-residence Sally Jenkinson‘s latest poem, Degima for the Artists (“The first thing I fall in love with / is the art”).She sums up the festival in just ten lines, capturing the mood of the festival, how it feels to be on Worthy Farm and the vastness and variety of what it offers. But you can’t rest too long at Glastonbury Festival – there’s more to see, so up and off we go to make the most of this final day in the Theatre & Circus fields of the greatest show on earth.

We spot Jersey Girls as make way back through the Circus Field – the pair of Jersey cows having stopped for photos under the Theatre & Circus signs and are asking everyone to ‘say Moo’ to the delight of children lined up for their turn. There’s more we don’t quite figure out the name of, many stopping for photos, others making magic, doing tricks, putting on a show, or generally having fun. Wouldn’t it be great if it never stopped?

Glastonbury Festival 2024 ran from 26 to 30 June

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