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Key questions

  • How can flooding affect major events such as music festivals?
  • How do you use the flood maps on the Environment Agency website to assess the flood risk to selected festivals?

Key concepts

  • Place
  • Space
  • Scale
  • Physical and human processes

How can flooding affect major events such as music festivals?

Just type Glastonbury floods into Google images and see what comes up. Glastonbury has been affected by flooding over the years, although drainage was improved after floods in 1997 and 1998. However, flooding continues, for example in 2005 and 2007 - although the water did dissipate within hours thanks to the drainage improvements. In 2005, the heavy rains and thunder on the first day delayed the opening of the festival and several stages were struck by lightning. The deluges left some areas of the site under four feet of water, and flash flooding literally caused rivers to run through the site and wash away tents and peoples' belongings. The Reading Festival is another festival that is sometimes badly affected by heavy rains (we will see later just how much, and why).

In this lesson, the starter resource provides students with a set of images of Glastonbury floods. Photograph interpretation is an important geographical skill, and the students must summarise each image through a caption. Captions should be short, snappy and creative, for example torrent through tent for the first image as the water rushes through the man's tent. They should imagine it's a caption or headline for a newspaper article.

Another skill is to be able to empathise with another person's situation. In this case students are asked to imagine that they are the person in the tent and to write down a few sentences to describe their thoughts and feelings.

How do you use the flood maps on the Environment Agency website to assess the flood risk to selected festivals?

The Environment Agency is the leading public body for Environmental protection (air, water and land) in England and Wales. One of their main roles is in flood warning, protection and management. The website provides lots of information for people on how to assess their personal flood risk, and what to do in the event of, and aftermath of a flood.

The flood map tool on the website allows people to enter a postcode and obtain a flood risk map, which gives the likelihood of flooding in that area. It also provides further information on understanding what the flood map shows.

The main activity resource gives students the postcodes for six festival sites around the UK. Using the flood map tool on the website, they must obtain flood risk maps, assess the potential level of risk, delineate the likely extent of any flooding and identify the parts of the site most at risk.

Glastonbury is done as a class in order to demonstrate the use of the website, how to interpret the resulting map, and how to write a flood risk report - which they will be required to do on their own for each of the other sites.

The What is in your backyard? section of the Environment Agency website identifies local environmental issues. Click on the flood risk icon. On the next page, you must enter the postcode for Glastonbury Festival - BA4 4BY - into the search box, and click search. When the map appears, zoom right in to 1:20,000. This reveals a map which shows that the site is at risk of flooding from rivers or the sea without defences - shown by the blue shading on the map. There is a strong likelihood that at least some of the site would be affected if heavy or persistent rain led to the rivers bursting their banks. However, the flooding is unlikely to be very severe or extensive, mostly affecting the lower land of the south and south-east corner of the site.

V Festival (Chelmsford) is held at Hylands Park (CM2 8WQ). The flood map shows that the park itself is unlikely to be affected by flooding - the area at risk of flooding is to the east of the site. However, more able or perceptive students may pick up on the fact that the railway and main access roads may be affected by flooding, which would have potential knock-on effects on the festival.

Leeds Festival at Bramham Park (LS23 6ND) is at a small risk of flooding on the northern edge. However, this does not look likely to be extensive. There is, however, some risk of travel disruption due to flooding of the nearby access roads.

Reading Festival at Little John's Farm (RG1 8EQ) close to the centre of Reading itself lies on the south bank of the River Thames. The flood map shows extremely high risk of flooding which would affect most of the site (all of the site during an extreme event), and also the surrounding area, causing extreme local disruption. Again, if you type Reading Festival flooding into Google, you come up with a multitude of articles, images and sites.

Beautiful Days Festival takes place at Escot Park in Devon (EX11 1LU). The River Tale runs through the park, and the flood map reveals that this is susceptible to flooding which will affect an area running from north to south through the site, and may also affect access roads and the main A30. However, the remainder of the site looks to be safe.

Latitude Festival takes place at Henham Park, Suffolk (NR34 8AN). The flood map shows that the majority of the park itself is free from flood risk, although the far south would flood. The main flooding is to the east, along the river. This may affect travel along the A12 in a few places close to the festival site.

Downloads

Dots

Starter

Take a look at the PowerPoint presentation and the flood document. Both show some images from the Glastonbury Festival in 2007, when heavy rainfall caused flooding and mud-baths across the festival site.

First of all, write a caption for each of the pictures to describe what it shows - as if it was part of a newspaper article.

Now imagine that you were at the festival. Write a few sentences about what you might have been thinking or feeling.

There are more instructions on the worksheet.

Dots

Main

Flood maps

Some music festivals are more at risk of flooding than others due to their location and the features of the site.

In this activity, you will need to use your map skills to identify the different features of the landscape that make a festival more at risk from flooding.

The flood alert document provides you with map extracts for six festivals in this country. Your task is to write a flood risk report for each.

As well as looking at the features of the landscape, you can use the Flood Map Tool on the Environment Agency website to help you.

On the website, click on the At home and leisure section and then on Flood maps under the heading What's in your back yard?. Type the postcode of each festival into the box in the top left hand corner of the screen. A map will appear which shows you how likely it is that this area will flood. You can zoom in and out using the controls.

You should be precise in your reporting. Make sure that you include:

  • How likely it is that that area will flood
  • How far the flooding is likely to extend
  • Which areas of the festival site are most likely to be affected by flooding

Dots

Plenary

Flood reports

Your teacher will ask you to read out your reports to the rest of the class.

Now rank each of the sites from one to six according to how serious the flood risk is (with one being the most at risk of flooding and six being the least at risk).

  • How many of the festival sites are at risk from any type of flooding?
  • How many of the festival sites are at risk of severe flooding?
  • How many of the festival sites are not at risk of flooding?  

Why do you think festivals are sometimes held on land that is at risk of flooding?

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