FESTIVAL founder Michael Eavis has been awarded the Freedom of Glastonbury after the town council voted unanimously to grant him the honour.

Mr Eavis CBE was nominated by councillors Jon Cousins and Serena Roney-Dougal, the mayor and deputy mayor of Glastonbury, in appreciation of his services to the town and local economy.

In the past, freemen held several privileges and often did not have to pay local taxes. 

The award is now mostly symbolic but, according to tradition, Mr Eavis has now been conferred the right to run his sheep through the centre of the town. 

The dairy farmer, who was born in 1935, held the first festival, then known as Pilton Festival, at Worthy Farm in 1970.

In 2009, Mr Eavis was named among the top 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. 

Somerset County Gazette: Rapper Stormzy was the last Friday night headline act at Glastonbury before the pandemic cancelled two festivals. Picture: Andrew Timms, PA WireRapper Stormzy was the last Friday night headline act at Glastonbury before the pandemic cancelled two festivals. Picture: Andrew Timms, PA Wire

After the vote to make Mr Eavis a freeman, Cllr Cousins said:  “I can think of no one more fitting of receiving this honour. 

“This is an opportunity to acknowledge that, as founder of the Glastonbury Festival, Michael has helped to promote Glastonbury for over 50 years, both nationally and internationally – a true lifetime’s work.”

Cllr. Roney-Dougal added: “The festival makes a significant contribution to our local economy, as well as providing year-round employment locally and support for many local organisations, community groups, and charitable causes – and, on an international scale, raising money for such truly worthy causes as Oxfam, WaterAid, Greenpeace, and CND.

“Our town’s high regard for Michael is clearly shared by others throughout the country and establishment.

“He has received Honorary Degrees from the Universities of Bath and Bristol, an Honorary MA from the University of Creative Arts, and, in 2007, he was appointed CBE for his services to music in The Queen’s Birthday Honours.”

Glastonbury Festival is set to return this year after it was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

This year's Pyramid Stage headliners have been confirmed as Billie Eilish, Sir Paul McCartney, and Kendrick Lamar.

Diana Ross will fill the Sunday afternoon legend slot.

When the line-up was announced, Glastonbury Festival co-organiser Emily Eavis - daughter of Michael - said: “We are very happy to bring you the first shortlist of artists from the main stages for Glastonbury Festival 2022 – and, if you can believe it, there’s even more to come!”

The festival will be held between Wednesday, June 22 and Sunday, June 26.