I’m no festival connoisseur.
I’m no festival connoisseur. I’ve never had any issues with camping or any of the other festival treats (long drop toilets, mm) but after attending Reading Festival in 2008 and 2009 I took some time away from the festival scene until I was a bit older and could appreciate it all a bit more.
So, earlier this year I went in for the resale of Glastonbury tickets and secured my first ever trip to the world famous festival, albeit on a coach from Norwich—I’m in London. Sitting at home and watching Glastonbury coverage from the BBC was not an option. In 2011 I did just that and told myself I want to go to there.
Hitting Glastonbury- via Norwich
After some scattered organisation I was fully stocked on baby wipes, anti-bacterial hand gel and anything that will make me smell less like a goat. I headed on my way to Glastonbury via Norwich and arrived on the Thursday afternoon bright-eyed and bushy tailed.
Not much queuing resulted in entering the astonishingly sized Glastonbury surroundings. It was big, bigger than I imagined, just HUGE. Thankfully a friend from work had a clan based in South Park and had reserved us a little space. I was still feeling pretty chirpy, everyone’s excited and smiling. The atmosphere was buzzing and you knew everyone was just eager for it all to kick off in full force after tents were pitched and heavy bags were ditched.
Here comes the…rain
We trundle along and along, and along, until we finally reach our spot. Pop-up tents are genius so we threw it up, pinned it down, bosh! Then it started raining. Oh, here it was, the rain. I’d been warned of this. I’d seen the photos of people knee deep in mud and other similar-looking substances (oh God).
The group I was with headed off down to all the pre-festival festivities, it was really incredible. I can’t believe how much stuff there was to do there and I’m sure I didn’t even scratch the surface that weekend. We headed to a permaculture corner where there was great smelling food and palm reading and all sorts of crazy structures.
We stumbled across a little tent playing some music, the man inside called himself Mik Artistik. He was bizarre and absolutely bloody brilliant. Such lyrics included ‘the lights are on,’ ‘everybody take your trousers off’ and ‘sweet leaf of the North’ which I’m pretty sure someone told me was about a leaf that he saw in his car that stayed there on his travels from London to Leeds and back.
Bizarre and bloody brilliant
It’s important during festivals to not focus on all the bands you MUST see, because there will be clashes and there will be massive walks between the two opposing stages. You’ve got to spare some time to just stumble across random talent. I discovered so much new music there as well as music I already knew and loved and now have the novelty of saying I’ve experienced live.
It rained for seven hours straight. We ended up in a place called Shangri-La where there was a Heaven and a Hell. In keeping with the weather, only Hell was open. We returned here again a couple of times over the weekend, it got increasingly busy but instead of people elbowing and being generally disgruntled with one another it was peaceful and everyone was having a good time.
A slice of iconic history
Unlike Reading or other similar experiences I didn’t see people being horrible or passing out in bushes vomiting on their own shoes. I’m told there was a guy wearing paper cups for shoes but I’ll take that as innovative rather than misfortunate.
I took the approach of not clawing my way to the front or getting right in the mix of those first few thousands bundled in like sardines. We found a spot fairly far back from the action with a view of the stage, the screens and enough room to dance about. It’s the atmosphere that completes the experience of the live music.
The Rolling Stones were a personal highlight—a piece of iconic history that I’ll ride on throughout my life. I saw heaps of music—the beauty of it all is strolling from field to field listening to such a variety of tunes. Another highlight was Chic ft. Nile Rodgers. That man is a legend and it was hit after hit after hit.
The toilets, for anyone who’s as worried as I was, were just something that had to be faced. There’s a long drop style where I headed on the first day and some poor sod had exploded just everywhere. Did not visit those again. Spent some time queuing for the portaloos and ducked in after a girl, sure girls’ do what they do but it generally smelt a bit more like roses and a bit less like hot sick.
Roses really smell like…
There were also compost loos where you take a scoop of sand for poop, I didn’t see any cups for said scoop so unless you used your hands I don’t know how they would complete the sequence. I went in there – people hadn’t completed the sequence. Did not visit those again.
There was a naked sauna. Yes, naked. I walked in there and the immature girl inside me got the giggles. I grew up a bit and went back the next day in my underwear for a cold shower and a sit and a straight face. People lived freely there and it’s just something that would be so weird in everyday life but it was ok in there, a lot of things are ok at Glastonbury.
The whole festival had a great vibe. It was sunny for the rest of the time after the initial outburst. People smiled, offered advice, and shared thing. The wide variety of food was awesome and the music resonated throughout.
My Glastonbury experience was incredible. I was lucky with the weather in the end, I was lucky with the people I was with and all that was lead by the experiences available, the freedom of living away from the outside world, the music/arts and all the wonderful performances.
10/10—would go again.
Photo: Satari Travels