It’s finally that time of year again and this, undoubtedly, will be a huge post of recommendations, handy tips and tricks and useful information about the greatest festival on the earth. This year’s festival runs from the 22nd to the 26th June 2016 on Worthy Farm, 7.7 miles outside of Glastonbury, in a village called Pilton. The festival has been running since 1970 (where free milk was given out, “hippies” flocked from Stone Henge to visit and the Kinks pulled out and were subsequently replaced by T-Rex) and is renowned for its rain and mud. It’s attended by a whole host of celebrities, who look like they’ve never reached out past the hospitality area, and enjoyed by over 100,000 people each year.
I’m by no means a Glastonbury veteran. This year will be my second year. Last year (2015) my dad and I drove the three hours up to Worthy Farm on a boiling hot Thursday afternoon, at about 3 o’clock (if you were really that interested)… and by 6pm on the Thursday you’ll probably find a) there’s no where to camp b) everyone’s already been there for about a day and a half and usually drunk and c) you’ll probably not be able to recognise the place from the thousands of articles you’ve read online. We learnt the hard way. You see, once you’ve been searched by the security guards, wrist banded by the volunteers and patted on your merry way to find a camping space (with a huge bag) you’ll probably feel quite confused. I also had a massive “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” balloon tied to me so I was wished a belated happy birthday by a surprisingly large amount of punters as I weaved through the site. We managed to circle the entire site about three times before walking through a packed field and pitching our tent right in the middle of a collection of tents. The surrounding people were lovely though and offered us drinks as a welcome (this is something common at the festival, lovely people). This space, although not one of those I’d intensively researched before hand, seemed perfect- a view of the Other Stage is, by no means, a bad view to wake up to each morning and it was within walking distance of relatively “nice” (by festival standards) toilets and food and drink stalls. However, on the Friday night having been up for countless hours dancing and singing along with bands and being so shattered it was, shockingly, time for bed (again, not a planned activity, but needs must and I’m ashamed). At this point we’d realised our reckless choice of sleeping position could cost us a weekend of sleep. We’d managed to set up camp right next to Arcadia, the giant mechanical spider which spits fire and has various guest DJs playing ALL NIGHT LONG (not the Lionel Richie song, although maybe some did). I can remember falling asleep with the floor moving listening to what could have been Annie Mac playing “Afterglow” by Wilkinson- every time I hear the song it feels me with intense nostalgia and pleasure. The moral of this story is that it’s probably best to arrive earlier and talk to all the lovely, helpful staff before setting up camp so you can… erm… find a suitable place to stay which meets your needs.
Another rookie mistake is the overpacking. I wholly believe you can survive the weekend with alcohol, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and a pair of good wellies, not that you’d probably want to. Less is often more, but I never listen to those sorts of things either. There’s plenty of things you didn’t know you’d need and, on the other hand, many a thing you bring and never ever use. You have to bear in mind that you probably won’t shower for nearly a week, will have to face the dreaded toilets at some point (which really aren’t that bad if you steer clear of those surrounding the main stage) and that festival food and drink is very, very expensive. Glastonbury is a brilliant festival in that it allows you to bring your own alcohol and food in and lets you consume it anywhere on the site- providing it’s not in glass bottles (glass is banned and will be confiscated). Tents are obviously a thing you need, for sleep, shelter and storage, unless you’re lucky enough to be staying at Worthy View or in a luxury Tipi or Yurt. Don’t use locks on them as they scream valuable items are inside and try and take the tent with you before you leave as it threatens the animals otherwise- cows can be killed by eating left over tent pegs! Love the farm, leave no trace. Below is a list of things I bring with me categorised into various degrees of necessity.
- Money (there are card machines, I think some of them may charge for the privilege of use though, and some stalls do take cards, or so I am informed, but cash is definitely the way to go).
- Tent (WITH SPARE PEGS- where do they even go?)
- Clothes (I usually opt for a selection of clean underwear, 5 tops, 2 pairs of shorts, a hoodie and a rain mac, but this might be slightly obsessive)
- WELLIES (this is Glasto, it probably will rain)
- Welly socks (short, flimsy socks WILL NOT DO)
- Suncream (on the other hand, you might need suncream. Last year we saw it all and I got terribly sunburnt. The marks are permanently engraved on my brain)
- Toothbrush and toothpaste (don’t be grim, this is an easy one)
- A handy “bum-bag” or rucksack
- Baby wipes (a luxury shower alternative)
- Toilet rolls (literal gold dust. Your key to success)
- Torch (or optional head-torch for navigating your way back to the tent and/or the toilets in the night time)
- Food and drink (if you’re not intending to buy food or drink on site)
- Paracetamol and plasters (for the odd headache, graze and that)
- Ear plugs (if you intend on getting some sleep)
- Dry shampoo (unless you want to spend a fortune on getting your hair done at a salon on site, which probably isn’t a bad idea)
- Hand sanitiser (there’s no nice sink to wash your hands in at Glastonbury)
- Sleeping bags
NOT SO ESSENTIAL BUT NICE TO HAVE
- A mallet (for those stubborn pegs and the hard ground… not likely to be used this year considering the weather)
- Disposable cameras (fun, quirky and cool, if you’re into that kind of thing. They may run out of film, but never out of charge)
- Emergency ponchos (trustworthy, always your friend in torrential rain situations and light and small enough to fit into your bum-bag)
- Blow up bed, pump and pillow (for a more comfy night sleep)
- Bin bags (can be used for anything: fancy dress, to sit on, to store smelly and wet clothes, to store nice and new clothes, to cover silly shoes, etc. etc. etc.)
- Flip flops (if it’s dry, you can use flip flops to “pop” to the toilet)
- A portable phone charger (in the 21st century we value our phones more than the experience. It won’t last the weekend on one charge… and if it runs out how will we be able to update our Facebook status?! *rolls eyes*)
- Glitter/make up (a bit of fun to get into the spirit)
- Spare clothes for the way home (a GOD SEND. I’m sure you’ll thank me later)
- Hair bands (an alternative for the natural hair look or dry shampoo)
- Balloon for tent/flag (your ‘very recognisable’ tent will not be so recognisable when placed within a field of hundreds of similar tents in the dark)
- A “onesie” (good for sleeping in or, erm, fancy dress?)
My greatest tip would probably be just to explore. This is rich coming from me, but you won’t believe the weird and whacky stuff that goes on within Glastonbury. There’s naked yoga in the Green Fields, a 5k run on the Thursday morning, an underground piano bar and rabbit hole and many a tribute band. These things don’t get the coverage of the headliners, but they’re incredible to see anyway. What I love about the festival is that you could re do it hundreds of times and get a completely different experience each time. It’s a microcosm of the world and you can be whatever you want to be, even if it’s just for the weekend. You’ll see things you’d never imagine to see… Whether it’s the Dalai Lama or an ambulance driving through thousands and thousands of people (to the aid of grown man, in excruciating pain crying having dislocated his knee head banging to Mötorhead) everyone will have a different and unique experience.
The music is, obviously, an essential part of the weekend. Whether you’re there or at home catching up on the BBC, there’s countless acts you can watch over the weekend. This year the festival is being headlined by Muse, Adele and Coldplay, with Jeff Lynne’s ELO playing the coveted Sunday tea-time legends slot. Whether ELO is your cup of tea or not, you can discover the latest and greatest bands all over the shop. There’s something for everyone. I’ll do a follow up post on what not to miss this year tomorrow.
I’ve always been told that the stone circle is the place to be after dark and that there’s something simply breathtaking about taking in the views of the site from the top of the hill in the Park area. I intend to visit both this year and I suggest you do too. If this isn’t your thing then there’s various night areas, like Block 9 and Shangri La. Arcadia is the installation of choice for many, with its incredible displays and live DJs.
I think Glastonbury is the place to be this summer and, if you’re lucky enough to have tickets, I wish you the greatest experience. It’s something which encapsulates many and spans across the ages. Anyone can go to Glasto. Anything goes at Glasto.