DESPITE some “grieving” the loss of Glastonbury Festival’s famous Arcadia spider, fans say they are ready to have their “minds blown” by a new fire-belching dragonfly installation.

Arcadia has been a key destination for late-night dance music at Worthy Farm’s showpiece in Somerset for well over a decade, first appearing in 2007 before cementing a permanent fixture in one corner of the festival in 2014.

For most of that time, barring the installation of a giant crane called Pangea in 2019, Arcadia DJs have performed into the early hours in the Spider – a giant metal arachnid which allows fans to gather beneath the artist and is surrounded by a dance lighting system and pyrotechnics which belch flames into the sky over the farm.

This year, the spider has been replaced with the Dragonfly, a reimagining of the flying insect built from an ex-military Royal Navy helicopter – turning “a weapon of destruction into a unifying symbol”, according to organisers.

They said its design is inspired by the arrival of the first dragonfly and the Aboriginal First Nations of Australia, and the stage will be opened each evening by a “spectacular” ceremony called Warraloo alongside Aboriginal representatives of the Wadjuk Noongar.

Festivalgoer Henno Tamms, who has travelled from the Netherlands for his third Glastonbury since 2017 and shared fond memories from the festival’s famed dance area, told the PA news agency he was excited by his first sight of the new installation despite some fans’ sadness about the change.

“A lot of people really loved the Arcadia spider… a lot of people online were grieving like ‘oh no the spider’s dead again,” said the 27-year-old, who is currently unemployed, as workers made the final touches to the new installation behind him.Chemical Brothers perform to huge crowds beneath the Arcadia spider in the very early morning in 2023.Chemical Brothers perform to huge crowds beneath the Arcadia spider in the very early morning in 2023. (Image: Ben Birchall/PA Wire)

“But it looks promising, so we’ll have to see… maybe it’s a birth of the new thing.

“They’ve blown our minds before, I’m sure they can do it again.”

Mr Tamms recalled watching Calvin Harris performing in the Spider and reflected on the draw the stage has on Worthy Farm thanks to the fireballs produced by its biofuel pyrotechnics, which the Dragonfly will still boast.

“(The Spider) was kind of small, but it also felt really big… you can hear it breathe all over the site every time it spews fire,” he said.

“The first time you see that it pops your eyeballs out – it’s like a cartoon moment.”

Mr Tamms’ friend Nam Goldstein, from New York, who he met through the festival in 2017, was similarly effusive about the dance offering at Arcadia, which finishes as late as 3am over the Glastonbury weekend.

“Even when they’re testing the fire, you’re like ‘this is the place to be’,” the 35-year-old IT worker told PA.

“Even if I like the performers or not, there’s something so magnificent about the ritual (at Arcadia)… with the music and when it’s connecting together – it’s incredible.”

The pair said they were looking forward to a DJ set from Hot Chip in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The main acts at Arcadia are set to perform from Friday to Sunday, with Fatboy Slim opening the stage at 10pm on Friday night.

Arcadia organisers have also announced the launch of the Bug, the Dragonfly’s “mobile amphibious cousin” made from submarine moulds, which will roam the festival on six wheels with a custom sound system.

At his first Glastonbury Festival, Max Shard said he is looking forward to seeing Eric Prydz close out Arcadia on Saturday.

“I’ve seen it on the TV as the spider, so I thought it was going to be the spider,” the 19-year-old roofer from Yeovil told PA.

“It will be just as good, it’s just a different… (and it’s) a lot different to what you would ever get at another festival.”

Arcadia organisers said in a May release about the Dragonfly: “As conflicts flare around the world, the transformational nature of the sculpture is a monument to hope.

“It celebrates possibility in epic style, inviting reflection on a changing climate and ways to navigate it through co-operation and the creative use of technology.”

Additional reporting by Edd Dracott, PA, at Glastonbury Festival.