After months of rampant rumour and febrile speculation the organisers of this summer's Glastonbury have confirmed that the Rolling Stones will headline the festival in June.
"It is about as big a coup as we ever thought would be possible," said Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis. "It is something we never thought we'd be able to pull off – a dream booking. We've tried or talked about getting the Rolling Stones to play Glastonbury throughout my entire life – I can't remember a year it hasn't been wished upon."
The band, who last year marked their 50th anniversary with concerts in London, New York and New Jersey, will be Glastonbury's headline act on Saturday night.
They are the biggest name in a bill that will also see Arctic Monkeys headlining on Friday and Mumford & Sons taking to the Pyramid stage on Sunday. Other names on the main stage include Dizzee Rascal, Primal Scream, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Elvis Costello, Rita Ora and man of the moment Ben Howard, the winner of best breakthrough and best male solo artist at last month's Brit awards.
Around 200 performers have been announced for the festival but it is three words – the Rolling Stones – which leap out from the list.
The rumour mill has been at full throttle since Keith Richards last year said there would be more to come after the band's five 50th anniversary concerts in London and the US.
He told BBC 6 Music: "On a good day, if the weather's fine, [Glastonbury] is an interesting proposition."
Then in February Ronnie Wood said he would twist his bandmates' arms until they agreed to play Glastonbury. He told journalists: "Wouldn't it be nice. We've got a meeting next month and that's going to be my first question to them. It's something I've always been interested in. I'm going to twist their arms."
Evidently it worked. Mick Jagger said on Wednesday: "Can't wait to play Glastonbury. I have my wellies and my yurt."
Wood said: "I've been using all my persuasive charm on the boys for a few weeks now, really pleased to be doing it, can't wait to be getting out on that stage at Worthy Farm."
Richards said: "We all had such a ball last year, and the energy between the band is so good, we can't wait to play Glastonbury, see you on a summer's day in England."
Eavis said it had been a "straightforward booking". Of the rumours, some of which have been of the "it's on, it's off' variety, Eavis said: "It's rumoured every year, but we've never even really had a serious conversation about it until this year.
"It is a major coup for us and it so exciting to be able to say they are playing, it is such an honour to have them. I get the sense they are excited too, there's been a real buzz about it from both camps."
Some final tweaking going on here at the farm... twitter.com/emilyeavis/sta…
— Emily Eavis (@emilyeavis) March 27, 2013
She said getting the Stones was the kind of thing that kept her awake at night, thinking: "God, if this is possible we've really got to try to make it happen. It has seemed such a shame that they haven't done Glastonbury but we had to wait until they were ready for it. This is the right time, the right time for them and the right time for us."
This year's festival sold out in record time, an almost absurd one hour and 40 minutes after tickets went on sale last October. About 135,000 people will attend.
Arctic Monkeys, who are expected to release their fifth album this year, are returning to Worthy Farm after last appearing in 2007. Eavis said she was delighted they were back: "They are one of our great British bands."
On the Sunday night it will be Mumford & Sons, which is particularly pleasing, said Eavis, because it was only four years ago that they were playing at 11am on the Park stage. "That's always really exciting and really important for us to have those bands coming through to do these huge slots and make that transition to becoming a headlining band. It has been an important part of our history."
Eavis said it felt "particularly British" this year, in contrast to previous years that have seen big American headliners such as Beyoncé in 2011, Scissor Sisters and Stevie Wonder in 2010, Jay-Z in 2008 and the Killers in 2007.
In the acoustic tent this year will be artists including Sinead O'Connor, Martha Wainwright, KT Tunstall, Lucinda Williams, Stevie Winwood and the Proclaimers.
One unquestionably big US star will be there on Sunday, however, with country and western giant Kenny Rogers filling the teatime slot, possibly with guests. At 74, he seems to be the oldest star on the bill, older than even the Rolling Stones (Jagger and Richards will celebrate their 70th birthdays this year while Stones drummer Charlie Watts is 71 and Wood 65).
Glastonbury returns after a two-year gap, having timed its regular "fallow year" to coincide with the Olympics in 2012. "We are coming back with a lot of energy and excitement and enthusiasm," said Eavis. "We all feel really fired up."
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