It seems like only yesterday that we managed to secure our tickets to Glastonbury. Alongside hundreds of thousands of others, I got up at 8:55am on a Sunday morning ready to refresh every device I owned in the hope of getting the golden Glasto ticket. It was a frustrating process but my boyfriend’s iPad finally proved itself the winner for us and granted us access to the best festival in the world.
Since then, the months have whizzzzed by and I suddenly found myself at the night before the big event last week. This was our first time at Glastonbury and we naturally had quite a lot of questions on how to go about getting the best out of our five days at Worthy Farm.
What to pack?
I had read in loads of Glastonbury forums to pack light but like every Glastonbury virgin, I didn’t. I cannot stress enough that you do need to pack light! Only a few changes of underwear and a few outfits to suit all weathers are needed – a couple of tops, shorts, leggings for underneath in case it got cold, and a waterproof pac-a-mac served me all weekend. Basic toiletries and baby wipes are obviously essential too if you have any kind of regard for hygiene.
We overpacked on food and took far too much beer, crisps and snacks. There are food stalls everywhere that serve really great food for a fiver. A big bottle of spirits will do the same job as a crate of beer and save you a few kilograms. Dragging our stuff through fields for five hours really did drive home the message!
When to arrive?
The festival gates don’t open until 8am so if you arrive before that you know you’re in for a queue. Some friends of ours arrived in the queue at 4am and had their tent pitched by 8:30am. We arrived at 7:30am and didn’t have our tent up until 12:30pm. If you’re determined to get a good camping spot then you’re in for around 4 hours of queuing, it just depends if you’d prefer to queue in a car or in person. Seeing as it was 30 degrees when we were queuing, I’d have to say in the car is the better option.
If you’re less fussed about a good camping spot, turn up Wednesday afternoon onwards for minimal queues (an hour or less) and take your pick from what is left.
Where to camp?
Each camping area will suit everyone differently. You need to work out which areas or stages interest you the most and make sure you’re not too far away from them.
As you get more and more central your walk to the attractions become shorter but the noise levels at night become louder. We found a happy medium and camped in Paines Ground which I was really happy with – loos, food stalls and a water point were in the field and it was only a 10 minute walk to The Other Stage and The Park.
As long as you have earplugs, I’d recommend trying to camp as central as possible. Our friend camped in Row Mead, literally next to the Pyramid Stage, and once people had dispersed from the headliner acts it was actually pretty quiet.
Camp at least 5 metres away from a walkway (or you’ll have people walking past you alllll night) and avoid pitching your tent in the lowest points of the field AKA the puddle zones.
What to do?
If you arrive on Wednesday you have the luxury of two full days discovering the site’s areas and attractions. Unfortunately for us it was 32 degrees from 12pm-7pm on Wednesday which confined us to our tent because of the heat. As things started to cool down on Wednesday evening we ventured into The Park for some food. We soon realised that one of the best things about Glastonbury are your fellow festival-goers and their stories. You won’t regret starting a chat with whoever’s next to you. Also, people are always fascinated that it’s your first time at the festival and you’ll gain invaluable advice from people.
As the sun began to set we joined the crowds beginning to gather on the hill above The Park and Tipi Village to watch the ‘welcome fireworks’ be set off. There was a gorgeous sunset and as the lights came on around the site, we were able to see just how huge it was.
On Thursday the temperature was finally back to normal (for the UK anyway) and we got chance to venture around to see the different areas. We walked down what’s known as the ‘old railway’ road which is the main pedestrian pathway running through the site.
We strolled through The Glade, Greenpeace, Avalon before crossing the pathway to Green Futures, Croissant Neuf and Healing Fields.
Have you even been to Glastonbury if you didn’t wear a flowery headband in a yurt? Healing Fields is probably the ‘hippiest’ area of Glastonbury featuring lots of tipis inviting you to come inside to relax or receive a massage, tarot reading or some kind of spiritual healing.
South East Corner
We walked from Healing Fields to Unfairground, which is part of what’s known as South East Corner. This place is absolutely rammed any hour that it’s dark. South East Corner is made up (this year at least) of Unfairground, Block 9, Glasto Latino, The Common, and the infamous Shangri-La. The areas are a bit soulless during the day but it’s worth walking round to get your bearings for when you’re not quite with it later on.
If you do want to experience Shangri-La at night, leave the headliners 5-10 minutes early and march over there to beat the crowds. We retraced our steps from Thursday daytime on Saturday night where the areas were transformed by the dark. Unfairground was really odd this year – lots of zombie babies dotted all over the place a creepy fairground and circus. Walking through Unfairfround takes you to Shangri-La which had an ‘Environmental’ theme this year. I’ve probably never felt more ‘not on drugs’ than I did wandering around, it seemed entirely catered for people who were on LSD or anything other than alcohol. My vodka and orange never felt more tame.
The ‘Gas Tower’ in Shangri-La showed 360 footage of films and other visuals whilst DJs played in the corner. I enjoyed the female only area of Shangri-La ‘The Sisterhood’ where I watched a live band play a funny song about the trials of working in an office.
It’s really difficult to see every area of Glastonbury, we certainly didn’t, but they’re all so great that you can have the best week of your life without seeing any acts or bands at all. When it came to Friday, I’d almost forgotten we were all there for the music.
Our first experience of the infamous Pyramid Stage was to watch Royal Blood, The XX and Radiohead. We chose to stand relatively far back so we could sit down between sets. We’d seen a lot of flags dotted around the camping areas, but it’s only when you go to places like the Pyramid Stage you get a good gallery of them in front of you. I really want to take one of our own if we’re lucky enough to experience Glasto again.
The best piece of advice I can give about Glastonbury might seem like common sense to most people but I didn’t take it! Only see bands you listen to or that you’re interested in, unless you have nothing else to do and want to try something new. I chose to see Radiohead despite only really enjoying one of their songs (Creep) and I was SO bored during their set. It isn’t really their fault, their fans seemed to be loving it. I’d only chosen to see them because of all the hype around them being legends and a band you ‘have to see’ whilst there. We walked back to our tent via Major Lazer’s set on the Other Stage and it looked like the crowd were having an amazing time and I was really annoyed I hadn’t seen them instead – I actually knew a few of their songs at least!
I started to take my own newfound advice on Saturday morning when I headed to the Other Stage to watch Gabrielle Aplin. I used to watch Gabrielle’s Youtube videos, filmed in her bathroom, when I was 15 so to see her at Glastonbury was quite surreal but really moving.
Later in the day, Stormzy became my favourite act of the festival. His set was incredible and he really energised the crowd. If you haven’t watched his performance yet you can catch up on it on BBC iPlayer! Bouncing around to Big For Your Boots on my boyfriend’s sunburnt (forgot about that at the time, oops) shoulders was the definite highlight of my weekend.
Foo Fighters headlined on Saturday night and their set couldn’t have been more of a contrast to Radiohead’s just 24 hours before. The band put on a great show, regularly interacted with the crowd and even let off fireworks during the finale. That’s how you headline a festival!
On Sunday morning we started getting nervous about the horror stories we’d heard from regular Glastonbury-goers who said they’d sat in 8 hours of traffic trying to get home on a Monday. We had a few hours to kill before the music started so we made the decision to pack up the tent and lug everything to the car. We weren’t the only ones packing up, but the vast majority of people looked set to leave on the Monday.
Back at the arena, the highlight of Sunday was The Killers’ ‘secret’ set at the John Peel stage. Come 5pm everyone on-site knew about the sunrise appearance and we weren’t able to get anywhere near the tent! It was actually really nice to sit down and chill in the sunshine whilst listening to anthems like Mr Brightside.
In the evening, the biggest crowd we’d seen all weekend descended on the Pyramid to watch Ed Sheeran. I was starting to regret our decision to leave early; I really fancied another evening wandering around South East Corner or standing under Arcadia’s huge metal spider as it shot out flames (read about Arcadia on the Glastonbury website if you haven’t got a clue what I’m on about!) whilst DJ’s played. The Silent Disco in The Park was also my favourite attraction on-site and I suddenly realised I wouldn’t get to go back anytime soon!
We left about an hour into Ed Sheeran’s set (this plan is problematic if you happen to love the Sunday night headliner, I personally didn’t) and had a half hour walk to the car. We made it out the site with not a single car around us and got home for 3am.
Waking up in my own bed on Monday morning, plus going on Twitter to see everyone annoyed about the traffic, made me feel better about our decision. I appreciate it’s not for everyone though and I will probably just take my chances on the Monday next time around. The Silent Disco is seriously worth it!
I had one of the best weeks of my life at Glastonbury and can’t WAIT to return. A lot of people close to me have now said “Right that’s it, I’m trying my hardest to get tickets next time” which has worried me a bit about the demand for 2019! I think everyone should experience going at least once though.
If you have been to Glastonbury I would looooove to hear from you and about your favourite moments from the festival!