Festivals Park Life: the Glastonbury stage’s greatest secret sets

With Emily Eavis promising plenty of treats for The Park Stage’s 10th birthday, we pick out its most memorable surprise moments.

Given the scale of Glastonbury Festival’s site Worthy Farm, it’s no surprise that artists love cropping up in weird and wonderful places. Since The Park Stage was founded in 2007, it has provided us with some of the most legendary secret appearances.

As this year will mark the tenth anniversary of the stage, Emily Eavis has revealed they’re planning some ‘exciting surprises’ for the area - a big old birthday bash, in other words. Here’s a list of some of the most magical shows to take place underneath the rainbow ribbon tower over the last decade.

Biffy Clyro

Biffy graced the stage for a chaotic set back in 2010 which ended with Simon Neil leaping from the speaker stack and injuring himself in the process. The show came in a period when hype had hit fever pitch following the album ‘Only Revolutions’. They had announced that they’d perform on the Saturday through Twitter and gifted a setlist crammed with classics like ‘The Captain’, ‘Bubbles’ and ‘Many Of Horror’.

The Dead Weather

Casting a murky cloud of darkness to the otherwise sunny weekend, Alison Mosshart and Jack White brought their star lineup to the field in 2009. They played the Friday night special guest slot after it was announced via The White Stripes mailing list the night prior. Some fans also clocked onto the fact as soon as the band’s distinctive white guitars could be seen onstage. They dropped material from their debut album ‘Horehound’ at the show.


Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood were introduced as ‘two legends’ by Michael Eavis for their infamous surprise show. The band got stuck into a setlist featuring ‘Lotus Flower’,’15 Step’ and ‘Street Spirit’ for perhaps what was one of the busiest shows the field has ever seen. It poured down for the duration – a factor that only added to the haunting gloom of the proceedings. Heaps of disappointed fans were turned away from the field, but it proved worth the wait for those who got in as they brought more than a few classics.

The Last Shadow Puppets

A fresh faced Alex Turner and Miles Kane took to the stage for an acoustic show back in 2008. Having been announced earlier on in the day it didn’t come as much of a surprise to fans. What did turn heads however was when Jack White joined them onstage to play a guitar solo during Billy Fury cover ‘Wondrous Place’. The collaboration had apparently been agreed during a meeting backstage where Kane had to play White the song on his iPod so he could learn the part.

Franz Ferdinand

In the same year Franz Ferdinand drove thousands to the stage with their own unannounced appearance. Frontman Alex Kapranos simply greeted the audience with the solitary word ‘surprise’ before they played all sorts of classics. Their biggest hit ‘Take Me Out’ was dedicated to a festival goer who had clocked them earlier in the day and mistakenly believed them to be from Sheffield rather than Glasgow. They went on to headline the Other Stage a year later.


Jarvis Cocker and co brought a bit of Britpop magic to The Park in 2011. Fuelled by nineties hits like ‘Disco 2000’ and ‘Do You Remember The First Time?’ it proved for more than a sensational affair. Before playing their closer ‘Common People’, Jarvis emotionally stated, “Glastonbury is not about me, it’s not about you, it’s about us.” Talk about leaving on a fitting note.

Tags: Biffy Clyro, Festivals, Features

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