Beginner’s Guide to Glastonbury
From Wednesday 22nd to Sunday 26th June 2016 Worthy Farm is transformed into the most magical place any music or arts lover could possibly imagine. As soon as you arrive on site it’s easy to see why it’s dubbed “The Best Festival in the World” as it’s a sprawling haven of lights and delights stretching out as far as the eye can see. When the festival is in full swing it boasts a temporary population akin to that of Wigan with over 135,000 revelers (plus a further 40,000 staff and artists), on a 1,000 acre site. Therefore navigating your way around Glastonbury can be a bit of a minefield (it takes an hour to walk the mile and a half from one side to the other). But fear not, this handy beginner’s guide should have you all prepped for your first Glasto experience.
Amongst headliners Muse, Coldplay and Adele, grime favourites Skepta and Stormzy will be playing, as well as Grimes, Låpsley, Carl Cox and Underworld. It’s not a cliché to suggest that the festival caters to all tastes; you would be daft to miss a live set from Floating Points, while for light-hearted nostalgia be sure to hit up sets from the likes of Madness, Cyndi Lauper and Earth, Wind and Fire. Remember the music only plays one part of Glastonbury’s appeal. Merely a fraction of the artists have been announced so far for the 100 different stages on offer; there still remains a plethora of DJs, live acts, shows, circus acts and famous speakers to be announced when the remainder of the lineup is unveiled in May.
- The Pyramid Stage is the most obvious thing to tick-off your to-do list. Anyone who has seen Glastonbury footage instantly recognises the huge main stage, and there’s bound to be at least one act you want to see playing there.
- No trip to Glastonbury can be complete unless you visit Shangri’La and Block 9. Expect yourself to leave behind the mundanity of modern life and get caught up in these weird themed worlds. Here you’ll find banging techno, 70s disco and all sorts of other wonders that can entice the raver in you to have some bizarre existential euphoric experience.
- A must is hitting up Stone Circle. This is a great place to chill out during the day, or unwind at night. We would especially recommend venturing here on the Wednesday or Thursday nights as it’s an ideal place to make new pals, watch fireworks, or to have a few beers and work out some of the stuff you want to do over the next days. On Thursday why not venture down towards the Silent Disco or the Rabbit Hole - you may even catch Michael Eavis doing karaoke!
- For those with a disposition towards electronic music, Silver Hayes is the dedicated dance area, with both big (and smaller) DJs playing all day up until the early hours. One such stage here is The Blues, which is dominated by reggae, dub and jungle. Sets from the likes of Mungo’s Hi-Fi and DJ Die are known to happen here, while if you’re lucky you may catch a secret set, such as Chase and Status did in 2014. A short walk away you’ll find Arcadia, an amazing metallic spider-like structure with pyrotechnics galore, where world renowned DJs amidst label takeovers spin drum and bass, techno and house from the evenings until late.
- The Park stage is where you’ll find countless great acts, but why not utilise the hill which overlooks this stage (with the big Glastonbury sign) to nurse any hangovers and grab a bite to eat. Here you’ll also find the Ribbon Tower providing spectacular views of the festival, but it’s worth noting that queues can be big so wait until 5pm before you head up.
- A word of advice for those who went too big, too early and find themselves with an empty wallet by day 3: the Hare Krishna tent provides free food all day (and get involved with the chanting and general free-spirited vibes). Alternatively in the Green Fields cycling for ten minutes to regenerate their energy can get you a free cup of tea! Better still, just come prepared (there are cash machines of course); every day you’ll be spending on average £4.50 a pint, the same for a spirit plus mixer, or around £5 for a 187.5ml glass of wine. Even if cider doesn’t normally tickle your fancy, try one of the various flavoured versions at the Brothers Bar, which is a great place to chill on the grass while you can watch the goings-on at the West Hoults Stage.
- Most importantly, you’re only at Glastonbury for 5 nights, so be open-minded, free-spirited, charitable and let your inhibitions go at this hedonistic getaway.
Definite Do Not’s:
- Firstly, don’t let the sheer size daunt you; accept the fact that it is impossible to see and do everything you’ll want to - mainly because there will definitely be times you’re nursing a horrid hangover and want to do nothing more than escape your tent and lie in a hammock for a couple of hours and sip tea. Incidentally, one such place to do this is the Treehouse Café en route to the hammocks atop the hill.
- The following is the best piece of advice any Glastonbury goer can take onboard: don’t live your Glasto weekend by the programme! By all means utilise your free programme (given to you at the gate) to work out some of the artists you’re most desperate to see, but don’t be that friend who composes an itinerary that’s impossible to adhere to. Live your life in the moment, work out a selection of musicians you feel it’s imperative to see, but otherwise just get caught up in the amazing stuff you would never be able to see for £25 at your closest O2 Academy. More often than not the best thing to do is to forgo over-planning; go out and wander and we can guarantee you’ll stumble across something amazing, something you’d never have thought of going to see and something that will undoubtedly prove to be one of the highlights of your weekend. That could be anything from being at a tiny stage hidden away playing happy hardcore, comedy or folk mid-afternoon, a weird part of Shangri-La seeing cross-dressing dancers letting you think you’re in a David Lynch film, or even stumbling across a revered speaker in Left Field.
- Equally don’t believe everything you hear circulating the festival regarding secret sets: of course keep one ear to the ground and keep an eye out for clues dotted around the festival but every year snippets of conversation will be overheard regarding The Stone Roses or Oasis popping up somewhere. You’ll end up telling your friends you need to leave the Glade stage by 1AM otherwise you might miss that vague rumour you heard from some sketchy gurning gentleman in a bucket hat that Jamie Jones is playing a secret B2B set with H from Steps, and before you know it you’ll have missed something more fulfilling.
Camping, Packing and General Hygiene Advice:
- Where should I pitch?
We’d recommend pitching your tent somewhere relatively close to the action, but far enough away that you’re able to get a few hours kip. This means somewhere around a 15 minute walk from the main stages, such as Dairy Ground. But also, and especially if you plan on losing yourself in Block 9 until 6am, bear in mind that you’ll regret camping absolutely miles away from these areas as the walk home is never fun (nor easy when you’ve lost your bearings). Of course arriving early means you’ll secure the best spots, but whenever you arrive just make sure you’re not one of the daft fools that pitches their tent right beside the walkways. You’ll end up with drunk revelers collapsing onto your tent in a stupor, and if it rains, you’ll end up with mud seeping into your tent’s porch.
- What should I bring?
Don’t overpack! Only bring the essentials - that is waterproofs, warm clothing, not so warm clothing, wellies/waterproof boots, sun cream, face wipes, toothpaste, waterproof tent and sleeping bag (come on, you know the essentials already), and use the rest of your carrying abilities for the alcohol you want to take in. This is important. Glastonbury is one of the few festivals which allows attendees to take their own alcohol from the campsites to the stages, but just remember to decant spirits into plastic bottles.
One essential item is a portable phone charger. Be sensible here, one that costs around £20 will fit the bill. It’s a long festival and inevitably by the Saturday your phone will have died so say goodbye to Snapchatting your night away in front of Adele. You don’t want to be one of those people that keeps urging everyone to queue for 2 hours at the EE Recharge facility. It’s annoying for everyone involved, don’t do it.
- Any advice for keeping my body functioning properly throughout the festival?
Firstly, keep hydrated: be a sly dog and refill your water bottle at the free taps dotted around the campsites at the least popular times - i.e. not between 9am and 1pm, because there’s always massive queues. Secondly, the long drop toilets sound horrendous (let’s not lie they’re not great), but you’ll invariably have to utilise them, just remember to bring your own toilet roll and wash those grubby paws of yours.
Given that all those who secured a deposit on their ticket need to pay off the remainder of the balance by 7th April, the resale will realistically take place at some point from mid-April. Keep an eye out on Twitter, Facebook and the Glastonbury website to make sure you don’t miss out.
By Chris Gill