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Party now, pay later: Glastonbury a break from cost-of-living worries

·3-min read

By Paul Sandle and Sarah Mills

GLASTONBURY, England (Reuters) - Festival-goers are determined to have a blast at Glastonbury and put the rising cost of fuel, food and drink to the back of their minds until they leave Worthy Farm on Monday after a weekend of escapism.

A majority of the 200,000 people at the renowned British music festival secured a ticket in autumn 2019, when 'coronavirus' was a word familiar to few outside the science community and inflation was 1.5%.

Two and half years later, inflation is 9.1%.

Although COVID restrictions are over, the festival scene is not immune to the pressure, with both vendors and revellers feeling the impact.

"We're probably going to fork out a lot of money over the weekend whether we like it or not," said Daisy Wakefield, a 25-year-old mental health worker from Manchester.

"I think it's kind of impossible to go to a festival and not end up spending over 200 quid (pounds) probably on booze, food and travel."

Graphic designer Ben Gale said price rises would not make a difference to his plans.

"I'm just going to not look at it and then suffer the consequences later," he said. "You can't be penny-pinching once you're here, especially as we waited so long to get here."

Meals from the festival food stalls cost as much as 15 pounds ($18) or so, although options are available for less than 10 pounds and some vendors have meals for a fiver.

"The meal price is getting on for nine quid a go, whereas it was probably six or seven quid last time, so it's not the end of the world," said 57-year-old Martin Price.

GLAD TO BE BACK

Stallholders said the cost of energy, ingredients and labour had gone up, exacerbated by suppliers leaving the industry during the pandemic.

"I'm so glad that Glastonbury is back and I'm proud to be here, it's such a great atmosphere," said Mohammed Tadimi as he served a long queue at his Exotic Tagine stall.

He said all the ingredients for his Moroccan dishes had increased, from chicken to vegetable oil. Lamb had risen from around nine pounds a kilo to 16 pounds, he said.

"I kept my prices the same since 2019," he said. "But probably next year if I am going to be coming back I'll put the prices slightly higher."

Matt Dunford, the co-founder of Tunbridge Wells coffee shop chain Fine Grind, is a first-time vendor at the festival.

He said it was hard to find baristas since Brexit, although it helped that people wanted to work at Glastonbury.

"Our costs have probably gone up by about 8-10% on buying coffee, you can pass on some of that but you can't pass on the whole thing," he said.

"We're lucky because with coffee and food, it's something people want and it doesn't break the bank," he said, adding that his team had been serving drinks, cakes and cookies nonstop for more than five hours a day.

Ailbhe Quinn, a 29-year-old teacher from Ireland, said Glastonbury would probably be her vacation this year.

"We're happy enough after being locked up for so long to spend the money," she said. "But at the same time you need to check the bills will be paid."

($1 = 0.8153 pounds)

(Reporting by Paul Sandle, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

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