Glastonbury Festival co-founder Michael Eavis given knighthood in New Year Honours

Glastonbury co-founder Michael Eavis has been given a knighthood in the New Year Honours.

The dairy farmer, 88, who first hosted the Pilton Pop, Blues & Folk Festival at Worthy Farm in 1970, has been recognised for services to music and charity.

Responding to the announcement, Sir Michael joked that he may "take a couple of tickets" in his pocket if the Prince of Wales performs the investiture ceremony.

In an interview with the official Glastonbury website, Sir Michael said his daughter Emily, with whom he runs Glastonbury music festival, had brought him the official letter.

Recalling receiving the letter, he said: "I was really surprised to see it, actually. Why did they choose me I wonder?

"What can I say, really? I’ve done quite a lot of stuff in my life and I’ve always been fairly sure that I was doing the right thing."

He added: "When I got the CBE in 2007, I went and told my mother, who was 95 at the time. And she just said, ‘Oh that’s a pity, I thought you would have got a K’!"

Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis and his daughter Emily organise the festival. Credit: PA

Sir Michael, whose father was a Methodist preacher, was born in Pilton, Somerset, in 1935, and educated at Wells Cathedral School.

He later went to the Thames Nautical Training College and initially joined the Union-Castle Line, part of the British Merchant Navy, as a trainee midshipman.

In 1954 he inherited his parents’ 150-acre farm and 60 cows and had a change of career.

He was first inspired to host a music event at Worthy Farm in 1970. Admission was £1, which included free camping and free milk.

Audiences enjoyed performances by Marc Bolan’s Tyrannosaurus Rex (later T. Rex), who played in place of the Kinks who were due to headline.

The following year it became Glastonbury Fayre, a small event attracting around 1,500 people, and the date was changed to coincide with summer solstice.

It is now the largest greenfield festival in the world and is attended by around 200,000 people each year, drawing the biggest musical headliners and a raft of celebrity guests.

The Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset Credit: Yui Mok/PA

Sir Michael said the farm "has been a fantastic part of my life too", adding: "We’re actually finalists for the Gold Cup again this year, which is the UK’s premier dairy herds competition.

"The judges were here earlier this month and we’ll find out if we’ve won in February. So that’s a big deal too. Well, it is to me anyway!"

Greenpeace, Oxfam and WaterAid all receive donations from the festival and the event aims to raise around £2 million per year, which also helps hundreds of local causes.

Sir Michael is still active in the running of the festival, but his daughter Emily and her husband take full responsibility for the line-up.

During the festival, he chooses to walk among the punters instead of travelling through the site’s myriad rat runs, and is often seen taking selfies with fans.

In 2023 he was met by rapturous applause as he performed on the site’s Park Stage before the music officially kicked off.

Michael Eavis appears with his band on the Park Stage at the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset Credit: Yui Mok/PA

Hundreds chanted “Michael” as he was wheeled out on an office chair to perform a collection of classics as he recovered from an operation on his leg.

Sir Michael has also been politically active and unsuccessfully stood as a candidate for the Labour Party in 1997.

Sir Michael has also been vocal in his support for fox hunting, trophy hunting and badger culling, prompting anger from animal rights activists including Queen guitarist Sir Brian May, who has claimed he will never play the festival in protest.

He was made a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2007.

Asked about the knighthood ceremony and if he had met the King before, Sir Michael told the Glastonbury website: "I have, actually. Last time I met him, I got a suit especially.

"And he said, ‘Why aren’t you wearing your shorts?’! But I think William might do the ceremony.

"He’s made a few mentions of wanting to come to the Festival. So I’ll probably take a couple of tickets in my pocket!"