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Glastonbury hosts heaven, hell and haircuts alongside the music

Festival goers play rounders with a wellington boot and a beer can on the first day of Glastonbury music festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset
Festival goers play rounders with a wellington boot and a beer can on the first day of Glastonbury music festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset

By Isla Binnie

PILTON, England (Reuters) - Tomato fights, anarchic gymnasts and astrophysics drew festival-goers of all ages away from the mainstream music acts at Britain's Glastonbury festival this weekend.

The 1,500 hippies who paid one pound ($1.52) to attend the first Glastonbury festival in 1970 would barely recognize the massive three-day event, where around 150,000 fans were watching 2,000 acts on 58 stages, alongside thousands of workshops and stalls.

The Rolling Stones, who were headlining the festival on Saturday for the first time in their 50-year career, were guaranteed to draw a huge audience, but many preferred to seek out the smaller venues and avoid the heaving crowds.

"I'm usually not so into the huge stages. I like the ones that are more intimate," said Sean-Tastic, one half of the Irish dance and comedy duo Lords of Struts.

With their farcical gymnastics routine, the neon lycra-clad pair drew an enthusiastic crowd to an outdoor stage in the festival's Cabaret area.

Dancing in silence was the theme of one of the festival's late-night events. After dark, a sprawling 900-acre site transformed into a pulsating strobe-lit playground where revelers dance to music played on flashing headphones.

Another nocturnal venue, the Shangri-La area, adopted a heaven and hell theme, offering golden wristbands and entry to a mud-free haven to those approved by the Desk of Judgment.

The Latin-themed Common area, where staff stalked around dressed as the dead, was due to host a tomato fight on Sunday, imitating the annual Tomatina festival in eastern Spain.

Less messy activities included getting a novelty hairstyle.

"I get a bit bored by some of the things on the main stages," said Flo Lipin, 35, as she queued outside a caravan called "Total Eclipse of the Head" for a haircut themed on music styles of the music of the 1970s, '80s or '90s.

"The smaller things are more interesting - and sillier."

For those who agreed with Stones front man Mick Jagger that rock'n'roll can be "intellectually undemanding", celebrity astrophysicist Brian Cox was due to talk about the mysteries of the universe and veteran protest singer Billy Bragg was debating politics and feminism in the Left Field tent.

With the average age of Glastonbury revelers now hitting 36 and more families attending, there were also family-friendly attractions such as a circus and clay modeling.

Craft-minded festival-goers could choose between workshops on making Mongolian-style tents, magic wands, or jewellery out of drink-can ring-pulls.

"The wonderful thing about Glastonbury is that I feel so safe here and it is great for families," said Nancy Laws, 35, at the festival with her 3-year-old son Joshua and 10-month-old daughter Amelie. "There is a really relaxed vibe."

($1 = 0.6593 British pounds)

(Additional reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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