Glastonbury 2014: Dolly Parton lifts rain-soaked festival to sunnier climax

Country star's afternoon show lifts mood of muddy weekend as Michael Eavis hails successful event despite weather problems

First came torrential rain, then came the thunderstorms and finally the sun broke through the Glastonbury skies as first Dolly Parton and later Kasabian lined up to bring this year's mud-spattered festival to a raucous end.

Having faced practically every weather condition short of snow since Wednesday, bleary-eyed revellers enjoyed traditional summer temperatures on Sunday following four days of torrential rain and electrical storms.

As 177,000 campers prepared for a final night of partying, hailing this year's festival another success, Glastonbury organiser Michael Eavis declined to make his ritual declaration that his year's event the best ever.

Speaking at his farmhouse on a muddied hill overlooking the Pyramid stage, the Pilton farmer billed the event "a great success again, in spite of the mud and everything" – and revealed he will consider whether to continue running the world's biggest greenfield festival after its 50th anniversary year in 2020.

"I think I can run on another six years which would take me up to 50 years, then see what happens after that," said 78-year-old Eavis, who runs the festival with his daughter Emily. "Every single person there last night wanted to shake my hand and say it's the best thing in their life. It really is quite phenomenal that appreciation of the event – 44 years and people love it more than ever."

It was always going to struggle to live up to 2013's vintage year, when the Rolling Stones topped the bill for the first time in the band's five-decade history. And there was no shortage of controversy about Metallica becoming the first metal act to headline the festival – but the sheer ferocity of the band's set appeared to go down a storm with the 100,000 people who heaved in front of the Pyramid stage on Saturday night.

Eavis himself is more of a Dolly Parton fan than Metallica follower, but he was pleased with the band's high-energy set: "I thought they put so much into it, it was like their lives depended upon it. They just delivered a show and people loved it."

Speaking before her highly anticipated Sunday afternoon set, Parton said she was so excited about performing at the festival she had written a special song about the Glastonbury mud.

She said: "This is a very exciting day for me and we've got all kinds of things going on. Look, I don't have a bit of mud on me! When I was coming in this morning I was looking at all the mud and thinking, this is not that different from where I grew up in the mud. My daddy was a farmer in East Tennessee and I grew up on a farm - mud is mud wherever you go. I saw all the tents and the people and I can't believe after all these years I've never done Glastonbury before."

She added: "For my setlist I thought, well, I can't do a whole bunch of sad slow songs because everyone's drunk and high. There are two or three songs that they have to hear, like Coat of Many Colours and a few songs that are part of my whole life and background but we've tried to have a set where we keep people moving and not bring them down too much. I'm so excited to be part of this whole thing. I'm just a country girl and now I feel like a rock star."

The bookies are already taking bets on who will headline next year's festival, with Fleetwood Mac among the surprise early betting favourites, along with Kanye West and Kate Bush. Eavis declared that he already booked next year's headline acts, but declined to reveal who they are. The annual rumours of a surprise Prince gig turned out to be unfounded, but Eavis said he had invited the Purple Rain showman to play Glastonbury, even offering to meet him at the nearest train station before taking him on a personal tour of Worthy Farm.

Eavis said it was a "shame" that lightning storms brought a dramatic halt to Friday night's shows, but added that he was not one to argue with health and safety experts. "We wouldn't have stopped it years ago, would we? I don't know whether we should have stopped it or not. It was a shame, but it was only for an hour."

Michelle Caraffi, 61, who lives nearby, arrived at the site on Sunday morning having watched Metallica on television from the comfort of her living room. "It's a rite of passage for lots of young people but it's for every age group really," she said, picking her way gingerly over the mud wearing flip-flops in front of the Pyramid stage. "There's lots of criticism about it being very middle class and the tickets being expensive, but I paid £80 for today but think of how many people you can see for basically the price of one gig at the O2."

Caraffi added: "I think as long as the bands come and people come, it's a phenomenal thing to get set up every year and I definitely hope it continues."

Dubliner Sara Cooke, 36, finally made it to her first Glastonbury after trying and failing to get tickets for years. Sat watching English National Ballet perform a set seemingly tailor-made for bleary-eyed revellers on Sunday morning, Cooke said her highlights were Scottish post-rock band Mogwai – a "stupendously amazing wall of sound" – and the American singer-songwriter John Grant. "It's my first Glastonbury so I got a bit of a baptism of fire with the thunder storm. I'm amazed how massive it is, I knew it was big but I'm just finding new things all the time."

Police said they had recorded 182 crimes during the festival and made 85 arrests – a 20% reduction on last year. Most of the arrests were over drugs, over which police stepped up their warnings following the death of a 26-year-old man on Friday morning after taking ketamine following his arrival on site on Wednesday.


Josh Halliday and Hannah Ellis-Petersen

The GuardianTramp

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