Are Glastonbury’s Shangri-La heading for most political year ever?

Shangri-La are working their political ethos into a visual and intimate experience this year…

Anyone who stumbles into the South-East corner of Glastonbury Festival this year might just think they’re seeing things. Shangri-La has brought some outrageously brilliant concepts since its arrival that truly illuminate the forward-thinking spirit of the festival. We’ve had ‘Heaven and Hell’ in 2013, ‘Corporate Hell’ in 2014, but now this year comes ‘Politics Sholitics’.

Inspired by the 2015 general election, you’ll find all manner of corruption and dodgy dealings within this theme. Artistic director Kaye Dunnings has said that festival-goers will have to explore hidden alleyways and darkened rooms that house different political groups. “The main point we’re trying to make is to encourage people to take political action, so not just write about how frustrated they are on Facebook but to actually stand together and do something about it physically.” The creative team believe that there wasn’t anyone viable to vote for this year, so naturally they’re going to give the public a plinth from which to voice their own opinions.

There’s going to be a daily rally where people can create signs and also a speakers corner where individuals can stand to share ideas. Undoubtedly there’s always been a rich political narrative at Worthy Farm, particularly with the likes of Tony Benn and Billy Bragg sharing ideas on the Left Field stage. Shangri-La are, however, working their political ethos into a visual and intimate experience this year.

Don’t be mistaken though, the underlying political nature isn’t all serious; Kaye tells us “you have to make light of these things, otherwise it’s depressing.” The lineup itself boasts many fresh-faced acts who are fully engaging with the political sphere – take, as an example, the likes of Slaves or The Fat White Family. But there will be all manner of names taking centre stage here, from the weird to the wonderful, including an array of performance artists and actors – one of whom will be sleeping in a window for 107 hours.

It’s well known that during the early hours the area is packed and signs warning attendees of long waits to access the area are often familiar sights. So how can festival-goers make the most out of Shangri-La? Kaye says, “definitely arrive here early; get here around eight or nine in the evening because there aren’t many people here. Pick one night and come for the whole night; you’ll never see the whole thing, but that way you can experience every venue and maybe discover an act before they become famous or a secret gig.

In many ways it’s hard to put the experience of Shangri-La into words, but this is something Kaye agrees with: “everyone who comes here will have a completely different experience.” If one thing’s perhaps guaranteed, it is that it will expand your mind. There is nothing too silly or too serious to be said in this area, there is only the process of activism, the skies filled with banners and the streets packed with protesters and placards.

Indulge in the heat of last year’s Shangri Hell below:

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