With the worst of winter now behind us, the days are getting longer and spring will soon be upon us. The optimistic among you may have already set aside your cozy rainbow woolies for another year and, if you're anything like us, will be looking forward to lazy al fresco afternoons in the countryside or at the beach, to music, merriment and - who could forget? - tye-dye!
While we like to see each season as an opportunity to express our best selves, through the plethora of unique and sustainable hippie fashion found on our shelves, here at The Hippie Clothing Co we find there’s nothing quite like the excitement that accompanies the coming of the Spring/Summer season. Not least because we can now begin counting down the days to the first events in this year’s calendar of festival fun.
With new additions popping up every year, both in the UK and further afield, as well as familiar favorites like Bestival, Latitude, and Wilderness Festival, and the culturally sacrosanct Glastonbury, there really is something for everyone. Whether you’re a glow stick wielding sesh-head, indie obscurist, or someone who prefers to pair avant-garde jazz with a chilled new-world chardonnay, there is a festival for you.
And why shouldn’t there be?
Because there is something undeniably special about the festival experience. Look beyond the consumerist trappings of modern music festivals, the drinks and “connectivity” sponsorships, and you will find, at their heart, something far more elemental, something that speaks to a kind of base-level desire for shared experience and community, a cathartic release from the pressures and responsibilities of work-a-day life.
Armchair anthropologists might argue that this festival experience is, in fact, a necessary component of human civilization: a means of promoting social cohesion and a common culture among individuals, and affirming the values and general status quo of society at large. Throughout human history we have downed tools and gathered en masse to celebrate and enjoy the fruits of our collective culture, to be entertained and amazed by these large-scale spectacles...to stagger in the early hours through makeshift encampments, having completely lost sight of our tent!
An abridged history…
Perhaps the earliest example of this took place 4000 years ago in Ancient Mesopotamia (now modern day Iraq). The Akitu Festival was held over a period of 12 days in April, coinciding with Babylonian new year and the sowing of the first barley crops. A mix of solemn religious rites and prayer, feasting, music and dance, Akitu transcended economic and class divisions and even included a ceremonial slapping of the King, as a demonstration of humility before the city’s patron deity and protector, the god, Marduk (The King’s tears were said to please Marduk and served as a good omen for the coming year…🤔).
Founded sometime in the 6th century BC, The Pythian Games of Ancient Greece were held every four years in the sacred precinct of Delphi. It was here that Apollo, god of poetry, music, art and archery, was said to have slain the mythical serpent creature, Python, who had until then inhabited the center of the earth. Comprised of a mix of athletic and equestrian events (very much akin to the Olympic Games), the Pythian Games also featured competitions in singing, painting and poetry recitation, as well as various musical and dramatic performances, and a large scale reenactment of Apollo’s victory over the eponymous beast.
Fast forward two and half thousand years and the modern music festival is born. Billed as the “First American Annual Jazz Festival”, the 1954 Newport Jazz Festival featured performances from legends Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Dizzy Gilespie. Held over a weekend in July, the first iteration of the festival brought over 13,000 music fans to the sleepy Rhode Island suburb, causing quite a stir among upper-class residents (unaccustomed, presumably, to the sight of so many disheveled students and nogoodnik young people, with their insouciant finger-snapping and nonsensical hipsterisms, like: “Far Out!”, and, “Daddy-O!”).
There soon followed a slew of legendary outdoor events, “happenings', and multi-day music festivals, born from the burgeoning hippie and counter-cultural movements of the 1960s and culminating in the Woodstock Music and Art Fair of August 1969, where over 400,000 people gathered at a dairy farm in Bethel, New York, for what was billed as, “3 Days of Peace & Music”.
So much has been written about Woodstock over the past fifty years that I will spare you another history lesson. Suffice to say it stands as a cultural highwater mark of the 20th century and is considered by many to be the apotheosis of 1960’s hippie idealism.
(For those of you that haven’t seen it, the accompanying feature-length documentary, Woodstock (1970), is definitely worth checking out. The suitably groovy split-screen editing is worth the price of admission alone, and for fellow hippie and boho fashion enthusiasts, it serves as an excellent source of summer festival-wear inspiration - Note the array of fringed Native American jackets, the vivid floral prints and sawn-off denim, the ubiquity of headbands, and the ever-present birthday suit!)
Britain’s answer to Woodstock, Glastonbury Festival, was first held on the 19th September, 1970. Then titled the ‘Pilton Pop, Folk & Blues Festival’, this first iteration of the much-loved Festival cost just £1 to attend (with free milk from organizer Michael Eavis’s dairy farm included in the price of a ticket) and featured a headline performance from Marc Bolan’s “Tyrannosaurus Rex”. Though poorly attended and somewhat marred by the last-minute cancellation of original headliners, The Kinks, Eavis was not deterred and the newly-titled ‘Glastonbury Fayre’ returned the following year, with the addition of the now iconic Pyramid Stage. Over the ensuing half-decade Glastonbury has continued to evolve with the addition of multiple stages and dozens of other smaller performance venues, becoming a firm favourite of festival goers the world over and inspiring a proliferation of similar events up and down the country.
…and the rest is more or less history!
So whether you’ve got a full itinerary of festival fun lined up for this spring/summer season, or you’re simply content to kick back and catch the best bits from the comfort of your own couch, you can do so knowing that you are in good company; that you are taking part in an essential cultural practice with a rich and storied history, stretching all the way back (if a little tenuously!) to our ancestors in ancient Mesopotamia.
…And, if you happen to be in the market for some truly inspired summer festival threads, know that, here at The Hippie Clothing Co, we’ve got you covered.
Looking to relive the heady days of 60’s psychedelia? Why not check out our extensive range of tie-dye t-shirts, our ever-popular cotton bandana headbands, or flash tinted Lennon-inspired sunnies?
For the practically minded, we've got an abundance of hands-free storage solutions to keep your gubbins in apple pie order, from 100% natural hemp bum bags, to tie-dye utility belts.
And, let's be honest, nothing quite says peak festival fashion like a well-deployed pair or harem pants! Whether you favour a voluminous drop-crotch design, or a classic genie silhouette, we’ll have you kitted out in style.