From 24-28 June this year, I was one of the 175,000 people who attended Glastonbury at Worthy Farm.Thanks to my good friend and fellow blogger, Nicole, I was able to nab a last-minute ticket in the April resale. What followed was a long period of planning and, in the weeks directly preceding the festival, I was in a constant but confusing state of nervous excitement.
I can’t remember the exact moment when I first heard of Glastonbury, but I imagine it was sometime during my teenage years spent in South Africa. I’ve always had a love/obsession for music – although my tastes in said music may have changed slightly over the years.
More and more frequently, I would search for live performances by whichever artist/band I was listening to at the time and it didn’t take long to realise that there was a particularly prestigious place to perform your music: Glastonbury.
Living in South Africa, Glastonbury seemed like something very far away, and not just physically. I just could never envisage myself there. So, it felt very surreal indeed when my official festival ticket arrived at my door. Finally, the Glastonbury in those videos I used to watch was about to become real, and I was about to experience it all – the music and the mayhem – for myself.
Before I got there, though, I went into reading overdrive. I read forums, blogs and just about anything I could find. When I found out that one of my colleagues was a veteran of the Glastonbury experience, I made myself an annoyance and asked every question I could think of. There were so many different bits of advice: where to camp, what to bring and what to see.
With all of this more or less retained in my head, we had an early start (5am early) on the 24th and set off to the farm that would be our home for the next few days.
It’s so hard to sum up my time at the festival into a single post. Glastonbury went way beyond anything I could have expected, and those five days felt like a lifetime whilst simultaneously racing by far too quickly.
Drawing from that, I’ll instead share some of the highlights, as well as the all-important lessons learned, from my very first Glastonbury.
Oh. My. Goodness.
I feel like I go to a lot of gigs since moving to London, but what happens when you throw so many bands in one place at the same time?
My brain pretty much imploded when I saw the lineup and then immediately imploded again when I tried to start plotting out all of the musicians I wanted to see.
People come to Glastonbury for many different reasons. Some are there to see the bands, some will sleep all day so that they can make the most of the nightlife and some will just be there for the general vibe (more on that later). We fitted into the first group and I think we spent most of the weekend running from one gig to the next.
When I look back on the list of musicians we saw in those few days, I struggle to believe it: Hinds, James Bay, Alabama Shakes, Jungle, The Vaccines, The Libertines, Florence & the Machine, Prides, George Ezra, Father John Misty, The Maccabees, Ben Howard, SOAK, Hozier, Patti Smith, Lionel Richie (who easily drew in the biggest crowd), alt-J, FKA twigs and The Who.
After five days of dashing from one area of Glastonbury to the next, I thought that I would be exhausted, but instead I just felt more and more energetic so that I could get the most out of the festival.
The worst thing that can happen when it comes to Glastonbury’s lineup is a clash. I guarantee that there’ll be two (or more) bands you’ll really want to see playing at the exact same time but at opposite sides of the festival grounds. Still, I just see that as an excuse to see the band you didn’t choose at the next Glastonbury!
In my (limited) experience, every single festival out there will have its own vibe. Some will be more grungy while others will be hardcore partying 24/7. Glastonbury, despite all of those thousands of people, never felt anything other than… happy.
I know that sounds like a completely hippie thing to say, but, no matter whether we were in a massive crowd or even when things were going wrong with our tent, everyone around us just appeared relaxed and wanting to have a good time. When our trolley broke, fellow campers came to our rescue, and when we were putting up our tent, someone basically ran across from the other side of the field to lend us a hammer.
You get my drift.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of hippieishness at Glastonbury, and that suits me perfectly. After all, my favourite areas at the festival turned out to be the Healing Fields and the Stone Circle.
The relaxed, happy vibe aside, the other best part of Glastonbury is the variety contained within the festival grounds. If you’re after crazy nightlife, there’s Arcadia and Shangri La. If you want to chill out, there’s Strummerville and the Healing Fields. If you feel creative, you can check out the Craft Field. If you’re after the concerts, there are many, many stages to keep you occupied.
It’s an incredibly creative place and I can see why it takes an entire year to put it together. Each area of the festival is so detailed and I remember feeling overwhelmed that there was so much to see in so little time.
Another great fact? Above and beyond all of the many areas you can explore, there are also secret spots – and it becomes a game to find as many of these as possible.
One of the biggest highlights of the entire festival was finding the Secret Underground Piano Bar. After scrambling around in the dark one evening, we found a doorway, had to basically crawl in and then found ourselves in something that resembled both a cave and a treehouse all at once. And who was there, leading everyone in a song? Glastonbury’s founder, Michael Eavis himself!
No matter who you are, you *will* get carried away by it all and, although you’ll be dirty, exhausted and sleep deprived, you’ll absolutely hate the idea of going back home.
|Travel ladies at the Silent Disco.|
My Glastonbury festival would not have been the same without the people with whom I shared the experience.
From Chris’ friends to key figures in the beloved travel blogger family I have here in London, it was so much fun getting to listen to the music, getting rained on (it will always, always rain at Glastonbury), finding food to restore depleted energy stores and exploring the grounds with these special people.
Mushy bit over.
|Ok, ok, one more group shot.|
- Wet wipe showers are a thing. There aren’t a lot of showers at Glastonbury. In fact, one person in our group went for one and disappeared for three hours, as that was how long the queue took. Since this took up way too much gig time, wet wipes were the next best thing.
- Dry shampoo for the win (see point above).
- Berocca is your new best friend. Glastonbury is loud at all times and there’s not much sleep involved. And Berocca is pretty efficient for hangovers too.
- Layer, layer, layer. The weather at Glastonbury went from cloudy to scorching to a downpour all in one day. While I would recommend bringing as little with you as possible, bring clothes that you can easily layer if the weather turns for the worst.
- There are pros and cons to every area that you can camp in. We stayed in South Park, which was a little bit of a walk from everything but it also meant that we got a bit more sleep than those in the central camping spots.
- Try not to leave anything behind. Glastonbury gets a lot of negativity for the amount of litter left in the aftermath. So while I recommend bringing as little as possible, also try to take everything back with you too. I couldn’t believe how many abandoned tents there were on the last day.
- Stay up for the sunrise. Even if you only do it once for the entire festival, plonk yourself down at the Stone Circle and join the other folk waiting for the first glimpse of the sun.
- Invest in a better tent. We were cheapskates and went for a pop-up that snapped on day two. Next time, it’ll be a bigger, sturdier tent for us.
- Invest in a better trolley. You’ll need a trolley to transport booze and other heavier items into the campground and, because we bought a cheapie, ours didn’t last long at all. It’s a long walk to the camping sites from the car parks and the main routes are covered by a metal pathway. I don’t mean to exaggerate, but the wheels on our trolley disintegrated as soon as we rolled onto the metal.