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Travel: a Quick Guide to Glastonbury Festival

Travel Jul 12, 2013

When people ask me what Glastonbury Festival is like the only thing I can think to say is ‘the best weekend of the year’, and honestly it always is. Not only because of the music (which is epic), or the mouth watering food (not one meal disappoints), or the after hours night life (giant mechanical flame throwing spider DJ booth anyone?), but it’s the attitude of the crew and other festival goers that makes it so memorable. The mood is magical and everyone is so happy and caring towards one another – it’s totally normal for random people to pass each other and say ‘Happy Glastonbury’ (like it’s Christmas) and ‘Have a safe trip home!’. Perhaps it’s the smug cloud that surrounds the site (profits go to Greenpeace and Wateraid) or the fact that it’s an all-ages festival with lots of families and oldies but, as a tweaker in the stone circle said to me at 4am on the first night, it really is the happiest place on earth. Move over Disneyland!

After three previous trips (my boyfriend and I decided on a whim in 2008 to move to London from Australia after we were lucky enough to get Glasto tickets!) this time around I started to feel a little more like a local, and have definitely got my must-do list down to a tee.

GLASTONBURY MUST-DO LIST

  •  Shower (…or don’t): Showering is a luxury at Glastonbury and if you’re camping in the public areas dotted around the farm you’ll become familiar with the babywipe rub down – feel the chemical goodness! You can also hightail it to Lost Horizon for a sauna and outdoor shower –  there’s bound to be loads of naked hippies there but soooo worth it for a the sweet sweet goodness of running water in shower form. Another option is to do what we did this year and opt for private camping – with showers!
  • Breakfast: Head to the Park Stage for breakfast – through trial and error we found that it’s the most relaxing location in the morning, visit the Tea & Toast van or Cafe Kazba. If you get a chance take a wander through the Stone Circle and have a gander at the legions of people lying prostrate on the grass after a massive night (or will you be lying in the field too?).
  • West Holts Stage: Start the day off slowly with a Cider and some world music at the West Holts Stage  – pack your picnic rug and stretch out under the flags.
  • Eat, eat and eat again: Food options at Glasto are out of this world – it’s one thing that makes 4 days of camping doable – the abundance of delicious, healthy food from every cuisine imaginable. Amongst the best things to eat? The Samosa Stand at Avalon Stage, the Roast Chicken van between the Other Stage and The Dance Village, The Jerk Chicken stand next to the Cider Bus, the Chai Cafe in the Greenfields, The Mexican BBQ grill in Shangrila, the Sausages at The Beat between the Pyramid Stage and John Peel Stage and The Indian wrap stand in Glebeland. But the key is to be adventurous!
  • Recharge: Having a fully charged iphone at Glasto is like spotting a unicorn in the Dance Village (although if you hang out in the Greenfields for long enough anything can happen) so most likely you’ll have to hit the recharge tent at some stage. In my mind this is the best way the waste a great festival so a) always have a second cheap phone on you (most will last three days) and b) check your phone into the lockers where they will charge it for you while you go exploring.
  • She pee: Ever wondered what it would be like to have a wang? Immerse yourself in festival culture with a visit to the she pee – now you know why there’s never a line up at the mens!
  • Sangria time: Hit the Wine Bar van and stock up on Sangria – a crisp alternative to cups of cider which come in a handy bottle so you don’t spill while you dance – bonus!
  • Afternoons at the Pyramid Stage: The afternoon slot at the Pyramid Stage is always amazing, in the last few years we’ve seen John Mayer, Jack Johnson, Crowded House (one of the best acts I’ve ever seen) and Ben Howard – all standout performances that feel all the more special when you’re sprawled in the afternoon sun on a rug (or under and umbrella if it’s raining – and chances are it will at some point!).
  • Hang out in Cubehenge: Crazy light show of cubes in the Dance Village – super fun!
  • Discover your new favorite band at the John Peel Stage: The John Peel Stage is where all the emerging artists play – bands that you may not have heard of at the time but can be guaranteed that by the same time the following year will be everywhere. Take a few hours in the afternoon to hear (what is likely to become) your new favourite band.
  • Take in sunset at the Park Stage:  Grab some dinner and eat it by the Glastonbury sign overlooking the whole festival –  this is one view you’ll never forget.
  • Headliner & Twilight at Pyramid Stage: Sometimes it’s hard to pick between the headliners at the Pyramid Stage and the Other Stage, but the twilight ambiance at the Pyramid Stage is second to none so I always go with that. Take some time to work your way close to the stage, it really is worth it.
  • Shangrila: Ready to party? The after hours areas of Glastonbury have to be seen to be believed. A few years ago they had the entire set of the slums from Blade Runner, and this year it was half heaven and half hell. I’m a huge fan of the Block Nine area including London Tower Block and NYC Downlow.
  • Arcadia: Not to be missed, Arcadia is a stage complete with a giant mechanical spider – the DJ (we saw fatboy slim!) sits in the head and it blows fire out of its legs. After such a long day it’s hard to stay up til 1am when it opens but if you can, it’s well worth it.
  • Finally, get involved: Glastonbury isn’t all about boozing and late nights, there are so many interesting things happening in the Greenfields, Wateraid stands, Circus Areas and many other places – the key is to wander and explore.

Stay tuned for a little special post on dressing for glasto (footwear is the most important decision you’ll make!).

Sunset at the Park Stage

MEATliquor diner in Shangrila \ Before the music began in the Glade

Bunting in the Greenfields

Looking out over Pennard Hill up to the Park Stage

Afghan Chicken Wrap / The circus field

Costumes so necessary!

A home away from home in the camping areas

Glasto is a mix of girly and quirky

Jumping  between stages / My favorite tea ladies

Breakfast at the park stage

Make sure you bring your long life phone!

Sunset at the Park Stage

Twilight at the Pyramid Stage

The English love their tea!

 

Performers / Block 9 in the daytime

Front row at the Other Stage.

Can we please stay forever?

FYI this year my favourite acts were: Atl-J, Foals, Alabama Shakes, Two Door Cinema Club, The XX, Ben Howard, Matt Corby (people around me were crying he was so good), The Rolling Stones (for historical value mainly), Mumford & Sons and Arctic Monkeys.

Top photo by the Daily Mail  – so weird to be snapped like that!

Tags Collaborations festival festival diy Glastonbury
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