The Conception of Events: The Display of Status and Wealth.
One of the most significant glamping trends occurred with the shift from luxurious mobility, towards extravagant exhibition and display of wealth and worldly power. Luxurious tented complexes were utilised by the Ottoman Empire (1299-1922) for its nobility to transverse its immense territory. In a subtle shift, the role of encampments not only provided comfortable accommodation but were also designed to project power and grandeur, instilling awe and deference amongst local populations.
The establishment of spectacular events, situated within temporary settings, stimulated innovation and creativity. The most notable event occurred in 1520 in the royal summit between King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I, which has since become known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold. This mirrored a similar event occurring in 1396 between King Charles VI of France and Richard II of England at the same location. At each occasion, the monarchs strove to display the most extravagant, the most spectacular, and the most luxurious spaces never seen before. Massive tented constructions were adorned with magnificent furnishings and embellishments, all inlaid with gold and vivid designs. Significantly, the event included considerable pageantry, feasts and banquets; a raft of tournaments, archery and wrestling competitions; along with music, jousting and games. The event contained many characteristics that have since become crucial (in updated form) to glamping spaces and experiences. Further, the event around the Field of the Cloth of Gold was to become the forerunner and archetype for model day festivals involving glamping.
Henry VIII and Francis I meet June 1520, The Field of the Cloth of Gold, Royal Collections Trust, public domain image.
The Democratisation of Glamping: Urbanites Seeking Rurality.
While actual manifestations of glamping had been around in continental Europe for some decades before 2005, its uptake had been moderate and conservative. It had always been embedded in the notion of providing urbanites with shelter under the stars, with a familiar ease and comfort. However, functionally, this in itself merely mitigated the negativity that urbanites perceived concerning rural places and rustic conditions. It was the desire of people to experience life away from their “normal’ that provided the reason or motivation. Glamping furnished a ready-made shelter that was both completely different (but also a little bit the same) for people while participating in their new experience. Glamping spaces made experiencing rurality more accessible for urbanities, while glamping experiences provided a mixed sense of escapism, entertainment, along with aesthetic appeal.
The Rise of Festival Glamping.
While British city dwellers also sought brief periods of hiatus, its uptake of glamping was slower than on continental Europe. It was interest in the Glastonbury Music festival that provided the media attention and impetus and for glamping to be popularised. Glastonbury is a five-day festival held in rural Somerset commenced in 1970, and takes a number of elements from the Field of the Cloth of Gold, updating them around contemporary trends in music. Pre-erected tepees have been a feature of the festival, and over time other glamping options have become a mainstay, with exclusive packages including luxury ablutions, and gourmet meals becoming notable. Bell tents were included on higher ground around 2005, and other glamping options have been incorporated since. While the origins of “glamping” as a term is contested, one account has it being coined around 2005 as a derogatory reference to the elitist enclave within a larger area of uncomfortable camping and disagreeable living conditions typically experience by fanatical Glastonbury fans. Differences were particularly discerning in that year as a deluge in weather drowned the lower camping areas.
Since the incorporation of glamping concepts within Glastonbury, others have been quick to include similar manifestations in their own offerings. Coachella followed suit, and subsequently, glamping has become an important component in many multiday festivals.
"Flying the Flag" by MrGiles is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Glamping Trends Today.
Since 2005, the uptake of glamping has been exponential. Along with this, a diverse and eclectic range of glamping trends has occurred. Variations within glamping spaces now include a wide variety of constructions and locations, with glamping also making inroads into urban spaces. In keeping with current societal concerns, glamping experiences have broadened to encompass involvement in the environment and aspects of social responsibility.
"Longitude 131" by kerryaboyne (on flickr) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0