Health and Safety in Glastonbury Music Festival Case Study

Sample Research Proposal on the Glastonbury Music Festival Case Study

This is a sample research proposal for a case study on Health and Safety in Large UK Music Events like the Glastonbury Music Festival. The Glastonbury music festival is one of the UK’s key music festivals and is popular among avid festival lovers in the United Kingdom. This research proposal highlights the health and safety risks of large music events in the UK using the case study on Glastonbury music festival.

The research proposal also analyzes the impacts of health and safety risks posed by large events using the impacts of the Glastonbury music festival case study. Furthermore, the Glastonbury music festival case study proposal notes that there has been little research on the topic and, thus, states the need for more research on the health and safety impacts of large events.

What is the Glastonbury Music Festival?

The Glastonbury music festival is one of the popular music events in the UK. The Glastonbury festival was founded in 1970 and is one of the oldest music events in the United Kingdom. The festival features five days of music, dance, and several other performance arts.

Since its inception, the Glastonbury festival has been key in promoting British culture. In recent years, the Glastonbury Music Festival has been reported to attract attendances of between 100,000 to 200,000 fans each year (Ancliffe, 2017).

glastonbury music festival

UK music festivals are becoming more famous by the day and are some of the large scale events held in the UK annually. While, to many, UK music festivals are all about having fun and appreciating cultures, hosting such enormous music events poses significant health and safety concerns for organizers and government agencies, who must ensure that risks are minimized.

Some of the risks associated with large events include; inadequate infrastructure, rowdy crowds, congestion, inadequate security to protect crowds, noise pollution, and littering, among others.

Location and Size of the Glastonbury Music Festival  

In its 2016 event planning report, Glastonbury Festival Event Ltd. stated that the event, which is normally hosted on outdoor venues like dairy farms, attracted close to 200,000 participants annually.  The report further stated that over 100 stages are used for performances, in addition to over 5,000 lavatories, close to 15,000 litter bins, and close to 1,000 food joints being provided. (Edwards, 2016).

The event has been likened to the relocation of a whole city to a dairy farm for a week (Ancliffe, 2017).  The Glastonbury music festival is so big in size that the organizers of Glastonbury music events have partner with several agencies, groups, and service providers in order to meet the security and sanitation requirements of organizing and managing such music events.

The Challenges of Organizing Large Music Events: Glastonbury Festival Event Management

Planning and hosting large scale events has the potential to cause significant health and safety challenges depending on the type of event, event size, and level of planning/organization. In essence, for an event of the scale and size of the Glastonbury music festival, ensuring proper crowd control, monitoring human traffic, and ensuring proper waste management during the event is a major challenge.

Comparing the number of people involved in large music events to that of event amenities, it is clear that the availed facilities may be inadequate. Tarlow (2002) noted that the complexity of managing risks in large scale events is magnified by the fact that several actors are involved in their organization and running.

For instance, food and transport providers, several of whom are involved in the organization of large music festivals, are normally secondary actors whose objective in engaging in such events is to profit from the huge crowds. This poses a risk in that secondary actors may cause a negative occurrence that could have detrimental health and safety impacts.

The magnitude of the Glastonbury music festival increases its potential to cause serious food-related health and safety risks. The Glastonbury Music Festival organizers partner with licensed vendors to provide food, beverages, and alcoholic drinks. In that case, negligence by such actors on guidelines for food safety, security monitoring, waste management, and selling of alcoholic drinks may cause the event to have have significant health and safety impacts.

Health and Safety Issues in Glastonbury Music Festival

The Glastonbury music festival has been associated with several negative health and safety impacts that are mostly as a result of inefficient crowd control measures and environmental pollution.

Salter (2014) acknowledged that, considering the magnitude of the Glastonbury music festival, where huge human populations are involved, risky health incidents and accidents are inevitable. To start with, the festival attracts tens of thousands of music fans who are mostly concentrated at various performance stages across the venue.

The concentration of large crowds at the stages where performances take place increases the risk of participants getting injured due to crowd surges, stage diving, stampedes and the collapse of structures. Moreover, such crowding raises temperatures around these stages and raises the risk of suffocation. In addition, noise pollution due to the loud music around these stages impacts the health of participants as it can lead to the loss of hearing.

Additionally, event participants are exposed to harmful emissions emanating from within the event (Edwards, 2010). Research carried out by the Oxford University revealed that UK large events release several tonnes of carbon dioxide due to the heavy use of generators, vehicles, and erection of toilets within the festival sites. Large amounts of human waste is deposited in toilets within the Glastonbury music festival and, consequently, lots of ammonia gas that is harmful to the health of the festival goers is released that is released (Gray, 2013).

Moreover, the erection of camps within the festival’s venue causes several dump sites to be created around the tents. The accumulation of waste within event venues not only pollutes the environment but also poses the threat of participants contracting diseases due to the proliferation of harmful pathogens.

Research Aim

To assess the health and safety impacts of large music festivals by particularly looking at the Glastonbury music festival as a case study.

Research Objectives

  • To identify the health and safety impacts of large music events
  • To identify the current measures of mitigating the health and safety impacts of large music events
  • To identify possible solutions to the health and safety risks that exist within large scale events

Scope of the Case Study

The research will focus on the case study of the Glastonbury music festival. The researcher will look in to the likely health and safety issues that emanate from large music events through secondary research.

Literature Review on Health and Safety in Large UK Music Events

Existing literature on the health and safety impacts of large music festivals can be categorized into two; those that dwell on the health benefits of attending such events or those that highlight the negative impacts on health and safety like injuries and drug and alcohol consumption. McGrath (2015) and Packer & Ballantyne (2011), for example, noted that attending music festivals has beneficial psychological and social impacts on young people.

Lim et al., (2009) on the other hand, noted that by attending music festivals, young people are likely to engage in risky behaviours that expose them to health issues like contracting sexually transmitted infections. Webster & McKay (2016) on the other hand noted that large music festivals in the United Kingdom not only affect the health of partcipants but also weigh an impact on health institutions. For instance, during the 2004 Oxygen festival, the workload at nearby hospitals increased significantly despite the fact that the festival had medical units on-site.

Besides the health and safety impacts on individuals, other studies have focused on the environmental impacts of large music festivals. Webster & McKay (2016) noted that the large human populations at event venues cause direct impacts on flora and fauna, more so through trampling.

In support of this observation, Shirley et al. (2011) reported that at the Brinkburn Summer Music Festival, bats were forced to migrate from the venue due to the disturbance caused by the event. Worth noting is the fact that UK music festivals emmit large vulumes of carbon dioxide into the environment, with statistics indicating that they emmit close to 19778 tonnes of the gas annually.

Health and Safety Impacts of Glastonbury Music Festivals

Edwards (2016) explained that the organizers of the Glastonbury music festivals have always established elaborate plans and measures to ensure that the health and safety impacts of the event are addressed by mitigating risks and establishing protocols and teams for responding to issues during the event.

However, Ancliffe (2017) noted that besides planning, the operational management of occurences during an event is crucial in addressing the health and safety impacts of events. This is because unexpected changes in crowd flows and behaviour may occur during the event, causing significant health and safety impacts. Therefore, careful planning does not give assurance on the outcomes of an event.

This has been the case with the Glastonbury music festivals where unexpected events occur. Robertson & Rogers (2009) noted that festival goers are more likely to be the cause of the negative health and safety outcomes witnessed at events. For instance, Raineri (2013) stated that the engagement of event patrons in activities like stage diving and crowd surfing is likely to result in injuries or even death.

In relation to this argument, Ancliffe (2017) added that bad weather has the potential to increase chances of health and safety incidents by altering patron behaviour. The Glastonbury music festival is in several cases affected by rains, which can alter crowd flows as people get stuck or slip and fall, or crowd around shelters. These behaviours may result in crushes and stampedes.

Edwards (2016) stated that the Glastonbury music festival organizing committee has put in place elaborate measures for crowd control, incident monitoring, and response. Additionally, the group states that as a result of these stringent measures, very few incidents of injury have been reported.

This claim is, however, questionable. Webster & McKay (2016), for example, reported that in the 1991 Glastonbury  Music Festival alone, 2.8% of the participants sought medical attention. Considering the large numbers that attend the festival, this is a significant percentage and an indicator of the high health and safety risk present at the festival. Moreover, some health and safety incidents may go unnoticed or unreported.

Negative health and safety outcomes in large music events increase where participants engage in risky behaviours due to group influence and peer pressure. Oakes and Warnaby (2011) noted that large music festivals cause immense congestion around the venues leading to increases in antisocial behaviours, increased alcohol consumption, and a rise in crime levels. Au et al. (1993) explained the behaviour of individuals in large events using the crowd behaviour model.

One of the key tenets of this model is the idea of groupthink, which states that feelings of cohesion prevail in large gatherings which influence individuals to forego rational decision making for the sake of achieving unanimity. That means that event goers would rather engage in risky behaviours than upset their groups by making the right decisions. This argument is also fronted by the contagion theory which describes the behaviour of individuals at large gatherings as being irrational due to the hypnotic influence from other participants (Raineri, 2013).

The Glastonbury music festival also poses significant environmental health and safety impacts to the host venues. Much of this is due to the destruction of flora and fauna through trampling, literation and dumping, and emission of carbon dioxide and ammonia gas into the environment. Robertson, (2009) claimed that 50 % of mangers of events such as Glastonbury music festival do not care about health and safety of the environment within event venues.

This claim, is however contradicted by Webster & McKay (2016) who noted that it is the Glastonbury event’s patrons that contribute immensely to environmental pollution at the events through acts like littering and urinating in undesignated areas.

Moreover, it is a fact that organizers of the Glastonbury music festival provide litter bins, toilets, and ensure garbage collection and clean up after the events (Edwards, 2010). Edwards also noted that the Glastonbury CarShare Scheme, which aims to reduce motor vehicle carbon emissions at the events is a good indicator of the event’s commitment to environmental health and safety. Webster & McKay (2016) also reported that the Glastonbury music festival’s committee had put in place policies for waste recycling, tree planting, and reducing carbon emissions.

Therefore, while the events causes significant health and safety impacts on the environment, its organizers takes measures to address these issues. However, it is also important to note that the efficiency of these measures has not been studied.

Research Questions

  • What are the health and safety impacts of large music events?
  • What are the current measures of mitigating the health and safety impacts of large music events?
  • What are the possible solutions to the health and safety risks that exist within large scale music events?

Research Methodology

The chapter describes the methodology that will be used in order obtain and analyze data for the case study. The literature review reveals that UK music festivals have significant health and safety impacts on participants and the environment. It also reveals that the Glastonbury music festival’s committee has taken sizeable measures to address the impacts of the event.

However, the efficiency of these measures has not been evaluated in previous related studies. Worth noting is that, in this study, the researcher intends to gather relevant secondary data from previous studies on the health and safety impacts of large music events in order to meet the stated research objectives. The onion model of conducting scientific research shown in fig. 1 below will be adopted in developing an appropriate methodology for the study.

Figure 1: The research onion model. Adopted from Saunders et al. (2009)

Research Approach

In most cases, research studies either adopt a deductive or inductive approach (Saunders et al., 2009). Deductive approaches are adopted where scientific methods are used to conduct rigorous tests with the aim of proving or disapproving theories. Inductive approaches, on the other hand focus on making observations with the aim of building knowledge and formulating theories on how variables relate.

Considering that there exists significant literature on the study topic, the health and safety impacts of large music events, this proposes the adoption of a deductive approach in the actual study. This will help in testing the accuracy of previous findings on the health and safety impacts of large music events.

Research Purpose

As stated in the objectives, the purpose of the proposed study will be to identify the health and safety impacts of large music events, the current measures of mitigating the health and safety impacts of these events, and to identify possible solutions to the health and safety risks that exist within large scale music events. In order to meet these objectives, this paper proposes the use of a descripto-exploratory study approach.

Descripto-Exploratory Study

The proposed study will make use of a combination of exploratory and descriptive study approaches to meet the research objectives. The purpose of exploratory studies is to describe phenomenon in their current context, to identify new insights, and to make new observations (Robson, 2002). These type of studies are appropriate where literature analyses and interviews are used to gather research data.

Descriptive studies on the other hand focus on present situations in their current form and in an accurate manner. Descriptive studies are normally a forerunner to any form of research as they help the researcher to understand the phenomena under study and to identify key issues. This helps the researcher to determine the course of a research study.

Nature of the Study: Glastonbury Music Festival Case Study

The proposed case study will discuss the health and safety impacts of large music events with respect to the Glastonbury music festival. Therefore, it will take the nature of a case study. Case studies are employed where a given phenomenon can be investigated through the use of a real life example using a wide array of evidence sources (Saunders et al., 2009). The case study approach allows a researcher the freedom to use multiple data collection methods through triangulation.

Data Collection Methods

The proposed case study will collect both quantitative and qualitative data from secondary sources. This data will be collected using appropriate data collection tools and then analyzed to obtain meaningful information. In doing so, the researcher will need to identify appropriate data sources and to select appropriate methods of collecting data.


Surveying as a research method helps a researcher to identify and select appropriate, suitable sources of quantitative and qualitative data that can be analyzed statistically or descriptively to obtain inferences (Saunders et al., 2009). In that case, the researcher develops an inclusion criteria that outlines the modalities of picking secondary sources.

Ethical Issues of the Proposed Glastonbury Music Festival Case Study

Considering that the case study will not make use of human participants, the researcher is not likely to encounter ethical challenges. However, appropriate acknowledgement of secondary data sources will be done in order to avoid plagiarism.

Limitations of the Case Study

On conducting a literature analysis for the intended study, the researcher observed that there has been little research interest on the health and safety impacts of large music festivals in the UK, and more so those of the Glastonbury music festival. Therefore, the researcher will have limited options in sourcing for secondary data sources and in comparing previous findings to those of the intended study.


Ancliffe, S., 2017. Crowd Planning for Public Safety. Perspectives in Public Health, 137(1), pp. 25-27.

Au, S., Ryan, M. & Carey, M., 1993. Key Principles in Ensuring Crowd Safety in Public Venues. In: Engineering for Crowd Safety. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Edwards, C., 2016. Glastonbury Festival Events Ltd 2017: Event Management Planning, London: Glastonbury Festival Events Ltd.

Edwards, R., 2010. Festivals like Glastonbury and Leeds need to curb their carbon emissions. [Online]
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Gray, L (2013) ‘Glastonbury 2013: How Green is going to a Festival?’ The Telegraph [Online] [Accessed January 2014]

Lim, M. S., Hellard, M., Aiten, C. & Hocking, J., 2009. Surveillance of STI Risk Behaviour among Young People Attending a Music Festival in Australia, 2005–08. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 33(5), pp. 482-484.

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