Glastonbury tips: 10 things I learnt at the festival
Here are my Glastonbury tips from a first-timer who ended up going on the muddiest year ever. Lucky me. I definitely recommend you read all of this before you book and again before you pack. Enjoy!
1. Book your tickets at work …
Or anywhere else with a truly powerful internet connection. Your patchy home WiFi probably won’t cut it against a hundred thousand other people trying their luck. So it’s definitely worth staying late/getting in early to work when the sale starts. If not, make it a team effort with some friends helping you try all at once on different computers and devices. There’s always the second round in April to give you another chance of getting tickets, but the competition for these is just as fierce! Do everything you can to maximise your chances as there is nothing worse than sitting on your own hitting refresh for half an hour and still missing out!
2. Don’t go for the coach package
Admittedly, 2016 was an awful year for people who travelled by coach. Bad weather affected traffic entering the festival site (with queues for over 12 hours) but it also affected the coaches picking festival-goers up (due to flooding just outside London). There were HUGE delays at both ends and a pretty miserable journey for many. I met some people who had booked an 8am coach for Thursday morning but didn’t arrive until 1:30am Friday due to some seriously bad luck. Meanwhile, my seasoned festival friends all caught the train to nearby Castle Cary and then the free shuttle to the festival site and had a seamless experience with no delays, even for the shuttle. So next time I book a Glasto ticket, I definitely won’t book a coach+ticket package. One of my top Glastonbury tips: train all the way!
3. The colour of your wellies doesn’t matter
Wellies should be at the top of any Glasto packing list. I even took two pairs with me, which was one of the best ideas I had all festival. But don’t waste any time trying to find the “perfect” wellies, that match your outfit, or have a cute design on them. All that matters is that they fit you well (because you will LIVE in them) and are of decent quality (because the suction mud will rip the sole off a cheap pair of wellies). You will probably be knee-high in mud from the moment you arrive and never see what your wellies look like ever again. So don’t believe the Daily Mail: no one is paying any attention to what wellies you’re wearing. They probably wouldn’t even notice if you were barefoot.
4. You can take your own booze anywhere
Possibly the best thing about Glastonbury is the fact that not only can you bring your own booze to the campsite (like most UK festivals) but you can also take it anywhere on the site! There isn’t anyone checking bags as you head to the stages because they don’t care, as long as you bring no glass to the festival (just decant everything into plastic bottles). This is a very wise move: just imagine the size of the queues at the bar with 135,000 ticketholders attending every year?
There are still plenty of bars at the festival and they are still busy but with this mix of options, it makes the festival much more fun and affordable! Also, make sure you bring a few options too. Five days of drinking only vodka can really turn you off it for life. Next time I’m taking some gins-in-a-tin and a few ciders too. Maybe even a little red wine too.
5. Don’t just bring dry food
This was the best Glastonbury tips that my friend Lucy gave me! After several days of eating just crisps, muesli bars and protein bars, you will find dry food pretty hard to swallow. So make sure to pack some snacks with a little moisture, like tinned fruit. You’ll thank yourself by Sunday.
6. Bring something you can sit on in the mud
There’s nothing like the leg ache you will feel by the Sunday if you have stood ALL DAY for 4 days straight – let alone waded through knee-deep mud. Some people carry portable chairs from gig to gig, but I can’t be bothered to do this all festival. Instead, next time I’m definitely going to bring a bin bag for every day of the festival just so I can sit my ass down at least once a day. Honestly, it is a definite game changer once days of exhaustion set in.
7. Get to bed before dawn every night
Glastonbury is overwhelming in so many ways (both positive and negative) so you really need sleep if you’re going to survive it. If you’re not in bed by dawn each night then you’re probably going to miss out on the whole next day, which would be such a waste if you wanted to see loads of the festival. Plus, if you’re a light sleeper like me, then you’re probably going to find it hard to get more than 4-5 hours once the campsite really wakes up around 10-11am. So when you see those first rays of the sun, make a beeline for your tent. There’s always more fun to be had the next day.
8. The Greenpeace showers are everything
My friend Kia described these to me as the dream and they pretty much were! They’re even better than the Posh Wash showers I used in Artist Camping at Bestival. Plus it’s such a lovely (and effective) non-queuing system. Situated in the Greenpeace area of the festival, you can shower for free any day from 8am-8pm. Just grab a number from the person out the front as soon as you arrive and keep an eye on the digital screens across the Greenpeace area: there’s one in the cafe so you can go grab yourself a veggie breakfast and some fairtrade coffee while you wait for your number to come up.
Once inside, you’ll find yourself in a large, open space where around 10 or so people will be showering at any one time (it’s all split by gender). You undress from all your dirty clothes in one area and then cross into the clean space naked, where you can have a proper shower using only their earth-friendly products (which were perfectly fine). It’s a luscious sensation to feel so clean after days spent in filth and I felt high as a kite as I walked back to my campsite! I highly recommend it.
9. On the last night, head to Block 9 early
This was a MEGA lesson for me on the last night: don’t screw around once the headline acts have finished. High tail it to South East corner because they shut the whole area (which includes Shangri-La, Arcadia and the infamous NYC Downlow) because it gets so busy. You and 135,000 other people will want to party their ass off on the last night and it can only hold so many. I was shut out for over an hour because I got there so late, and it was only through sheer good luck that my party partner in crime and I managed to get in. Was it worth it? Without a doubt. So don’t to risk missing out.
10. It will take DAYS to recover
When you’re booking that week off work, book the week after it too. No joke. I have never been so shattered in my whole life. I spent days afterwards in bed just trying to find the energy (or brain capacity) to function. When my friends told me they had booked a recovery week in Croatia the day after Glasto, I thought they were crazy (or at least being too extravagant). Now I don’t understand how they even managed to get on the plane! So I would say, at a minimum, you need 2-3 recovery days. But if you can swing it, take off the whole week.