Glastonbury Festival. A glorious, beautiful beast. A magical megalopolis, stretching for miles and filled with every sight, sound and pleasure imaginable! And 2020, the 50th year, is going to be bigger and better than ever. It’s a sensory overload, so if you’re a Glastonbury first timer, here are our top ten tips on how to navigate the festival and make sure you have the best time possible.
1. YOU WON’T SEE EVERYTHING.
The Glastonbury Festival is huge. It’s hard to convey the scale. Set in a beautiful vale of green fields, it’s magically transformed into a pleasure dome of music, theatre, comedy, shops, clubs, cafes, bars and endless experiences. There’s even a Co-op! With over 250,000 guests and covering over 1,000 acres, you could spend your whole time just walking around and not seeing any of the acts you hoped to see… You will be exhausted but hopefully exhilarated by the end. Accept that when you’re back at home sat on the sofa, watching the highlights, you won’t have seen most, if any, of the bands! You’ll think you were at a different festival. But that’s part of it! Pace yourself. Take in the sights and remember you’re there to experience the festival and have the time of your life.
2. DON’T JUST DO THE HEADLINE ACTS.
The press is full of news about the headline acts and it’s hard not to make an itinerary of who you’d like to see which includes just popping over to the Pyramid Stage to see a living legend. But sometimes you’re just not going to get there. It could be over an hour’s walk away. You could have been waylaid by a one of the fantastic roving walkabout acts from the Theatre and Circus fields. And that’s OK because chances are the best acts you’ll see will be at the smaller stages. Last year there were 2,800 performances across 79 stages, so there’s a genre for everyone. The Pyramid Stage and The Other Stage which get the heavy weight names are incredibly packed, and when the big acts finish, watch out because its gridlocked. If you don’t like being in big crowds it can be slightly stressful. If that sounds like you, then be prepared to sacrifice the final numbers of a set and head out early. If you don’t want to be down in the mosh pit, then there’s always room to sit on the hill to the right of the Pyramid stage. If you’re at the Pyramid stage, then make a pilgrimage to Julian Temperley’s Burrow Hill Cider bus. Julian is the father of fashion designer Alice and his cider is the taste of Somerset.
3. IT’S A MARATHON. GOOD FOOTWEAR IS ESSENTIAL.
You have been warned. Comfy footwear is key to a happy festival. Do not wear new shoes. Do not wear anything that you would mind getting filthy. If it’s muddy, well you’ll be living in wellies, and if it’s dry, your footwear will look as if it’s run the Marathon de Sables. And at some point, unless you’re staying at Pilton Manor Boutique Glamping, you’ll be using the Glastonbury Festival Loos. (More on those later…) Vintage cowboy boots, ancient suede boots, old trainers and flat sandals all work. Oldies are the best and will keep you on your feet.
4. FESTIVAL FASHION
Though you’ll be staying in a luxury glamping site, you will be partying with over a quarter of a million people, dancing, sitting and perhaps be walking a good 10 miles a day. Practicality will be a priority. Think utility wear with glamour. Dresses work well as you can layer them and wear them with those vintage boots. And please, never, ever, maxi dresses or a jumpsuit that you have to step out of. You will regret wearing anything that swishes along the ground.
5. THE LOOS ARE BRILLIANT!
Joking. Going to the loo at Glastonbury is a rite of passage. And yes, the smell will be seared into your nostrils for months to come. Don’t look down! If you see a compostable loo, get in that queue! It’s worth the wait. There are women’s urinals, sheepees, dotted around the site. Again, it’s a right of a passage but this time a fun one and highly recommended. They’re the cleanest, sweetest smelling loos on the site.
6. WEDNESDAY IS THE NEW FRIDAY.
Though live music at the festival only officially starts on the Thursday, the gates are open on Wednesday and there’s lots to love. There’s impromptu music, DJs and traditionally one of the headline acts plays at a small venue such as Williams Green. It’s a laid- back night filled with anticipation and excitement as the site gets ready to go all out as the biggest music festival in the world.
7. FIELDS, FIELDS, FIELDS.
It’s not just about live music. There are fields of activities for kids, circus acts, cinemas, comedy and talks. Even if clubbing and dance are not your vibe, seeing the sights and dipping a toe in Block 9 and Shangri-lah is to be recommended.
8. CHILL OUT.
Take time to chill out and take it easy. Hang out at the Green Fields. Have a massage. Join in a yoga session. Take in the view from the standing stones. Stop, sit, breathe and admire.
9. JELLIES AND BROWNIES CAN CATCH YOU OUT.
Think twice before you accept that jelly. If you’re buying from a random unofficial seller it may not just have vodka in. Glastonbury is a community and some people want everyone to have the same time as they’re having but that might not be for you. The beauty of Glastonbury is that it’s big enough for everyone to do their thing.
10. YOU ARE THE FESTIVAL.
Glastonbury Festival is big, bold and beautiful. But despite its size, it retains its Pilton village charm. It’s huge, it’s crowded, it’s messy and it’s and a melting pot of talent, creativity and good times. It’s the safest and friendliest of cities, with a community who come together to have nothing other than a great time. Go with it. Ride the festival wave and enjoy the world’s greatest party.