The start of festival season has rolled around once again, and the mother of all (English) music festivals will be kicking off in exactly one week. Glastonbury Festival is not for the faint of heart: It is longer, bigger, and usually wetter than almost every other festival in the world. But it is epic, and definitely something to experience at least once.
Prepare for the worst weather. And the best.
Glasto is famous for sodden campers glooping through knee-deep mud. Wellies, rain ponchos and warm clothing are essential. Last year, we were surprised with incredible weather on Friday afternoon that lasted through the weekend (I even got sunburnt!) and I was able to pack away my Hunters after the first day.
Wardrobe-wise, prepare for all eventualities: Freezing temps, driving rain, sunshine and heat. Layers are a good idea. I tied a long-sleeved jacket or jumper around my waist and packed a pair of leggings in my little backpack to pull on at night when it cooled down – they’re easy and take up no space.
Even if the sun is out, I always stick to closed-toe shoes if I know I’ll be getting close to the stage. I’ve suffered too many trodden-on toes to risk sandals. Grab your oldest pair of Converse of ankle boots that can be thrown out after three days dancing in the dirt.
Bring as much alcohol as you can carry.
The lines for the bars, particularly surrounding the Pyramid Stage, can get long in between sets, and you’re allowed to bring alcohol into the festival, so why not? Only plastic bottles though, no glass. Decant your spirits into smaller water bottles to carry around for the day. My favourite drink was buying slushies (slurpees) and adding vodka – delicious and refreshing!
Don’t bother with that much food though.
Glastonbury welcomes amazing food vendors to the festival. There’s every gourmet street food truck you can imagine, and even a farmer’s market. Snacks are great for the tent, but the food stalls are affordable, and eating well will help your stamina to keep on dancing.
Stake your claim.
Take care when choosing your camping spot – don’t just dump your stuff on the first patch of grass you see. Avoid slopes, the bottom of a hill (if it rains, the water will pool there), and anywhere within smelling distance of the toilets (but not too far either!) Familiarise yourself with a landmark close to your tent, and attach a flag or some distinguishing feature so you can easily find your home, no matter what state you’re in at the end of the night.
Familiarise yourself with the grounds.
Glastonbury is huge. It can take 30 mins to get from one stage to the other, so spend some time on the first day working out where all the stages are and your routes between them, or you’ll risk missing some of your favourite bands.
Invest in external phone chargers.
Phone charging stations are prime real estate – the wait is tedious and never can keep up with the demand. Save yourself the heartache of missing that Instagram moment and invest in a portable charger – most carry two charges’ worth of juice.
Pack the kit.
A ground sheet and a foam mat for under your sleeping bag will make a huge difference to keeping warm through the night.
Bring something to sit on. If you’re camping and it’s raining the whole time, you will have nowhere to sit for three days but a damp, cold ground. Invest in one of those little fold up chairs. You’ll be glad you did!
Waterproof one spare set of clothes in a ziplock bag just in case you tent gets flooded.
A flashlight or even better, a headlamp, is essential for middle of the night bathroom runs.
Staying clean is possible.
It is easy to tell the campers who don’t bother washing themselves by day three. Pee-yew! Baby wipes and dry shampoo will certainly be your friend if you’re doing general camping, but there is also a hairdressing station where you can get your hair washed for under £20. Laugh now, but you just might be running to that hair salon tent by Sunday!
Roughing it not your thing? Consider glamping.
I must admit, I chose the glamping route for Glastonbury last year (but have done my fair share of festival camping so feel I’ve paid my dues!) There are a bunch of options, from the ridiculously extravagant yurt costing upwards of £4000, to just a small surcharge over the cost of your ticket. Depending on what you go for, you can have your tent set up for you, an air mattress, hot showers, breakfast, charging stations, right through to carpeted bedrooms with four-poster beds.
Another advantage is being able to park close by your tent, so valuables can be locked securely in the car, and you’ll have a quick getaway on Monday! There are loads of companies to choose from – we went with this one and they were great. Tangerine Fields is a hugely popular choice as their range of pre-pitched tent options are very affordable.
Yes, the toilets really are that bad.
And by day three, they’re seven levels of hell. It ain’t pretty. There was one raised sawdust toilet block last year (these are popular at festivals in Australia and are so much better in terms of smell and general disgusting-factor). Locate these and use them whenever you can – they’re definitely the lesser of two evils.
*Cheeky tip: There are a set of stairs to these at either end, one is meant to be the exit. I discovered that because people hover in the middle of the corridor waiting for friends, the view of the exit from the entrance is blocked, so no one can see if you skip the queue and slip in the exit door. I jumped a 20-minute long queue several times doing this. Bad behaviour, I admit – but it gets ruthless when you’ve spent hours queueing for toilets all weekend. I won’t tell if you don’t.
Have fun! I’ll leave you with some (very shaky) Mick Jagger to get you in the mood…