It is one week until Saint Michael (Eavis) opens the doors to his back garden and invites more than 200,000 people to drink, dance and ‘just have a little lie down beside this bin for a minute’. Yes, two years later than planned, Glastonbury is finally back for its delayed 50th anniversary; you can virtually feel the vibe shift as half the capital prepares to decamp to Pilton for five days.
A lot has changed in the two-and-a-half-years since you bought the tickets — specifically, that you are two and a half years older. If you — say — bought your tickets in the fin de siècle glory of your late twenties, there is a chance that you are now — say — 32, and get a bit ‘panic attack-y’ if you miss a step of your nighttime skincare routine.
On the other hand, perhaps this is your first time going and you have no idea what to expect; or perhaps this is your 11th festival, but you’re remembering that you have to live outside for five days, and you’re quite into your mattress topper now? Be you newbie, geriatric millennial or veteran, this is a guide to surviving Glast-off.
In the bag
Newbie? Glastonbury has drawn up a list of essentials (glastonburyfestivals.co.uk). Suggested additions include a portable charger (try Iniu, amazon.co.uk), earplugs (try BioEars, boots.com), blister plasters (always Compeed) and Berocca (trust me).
On to the wardrobe. You’ve curated your virtual moodboard (read: screenshotted Google images) of your festival muses: Alexa; noughties Kate; a flick of Florence Welch. You imagine yourself looking leggy and déshabillé, perhaps wearing a visor, or a crochet dress; you have conveniently ignored the fact that Alexa, Kate and Florence all stay in hospitality and have access to hot running water.
Wear what you want underneath but don’t forget: jumpers, âwellies (or sturdy boots) and a raincoat. This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised. Scandi-brand Rains does a good line in utilitarian-chic, (very) waterproof jackets (uk.rains.com); Hunter wellies are a cliche for a reason (they’re solid), and their haute-cagoules are high-spec and stylish, if expensive (hunterboots.com). Sandals are a go-to if it’s warm, although by day two it’ll be boggy around the loos, so you’ll want something else that won’t risk cholera of the foot. Think lug-soled Doc Martens, not a gold sandal (drmartens.com).
If you need a quick change, there’s a trove of an Oxfam shop on-site where I once bought a denim sleeveless cut-off waistcoat after sun-burning my shoulders so badly they blistered — though I had to take it off when a friend said I looked like Avril Lavigne ‘in a bad way’.
On the road
This shouldn’t need more than a sentence, but strike action means it’s not as simple as it seems. If you were planning to go by train — quick, green and relatively comfortable — then you might find it’s a little more complicated as there are planned strikes on Tuesday 21, Thursday 23 and Saturday 25 (and a Tube strike on the Tuesday, which could have knock-on effects). Rail service GWR says it is working on a contingency plan and is hopeful it can maintain scheduled trains — keep an eye on their website (and possibly look into a contingency plan of your own).
As a result of the chaos, the roads will probably be busier as more people hit the A303. If you’re on the coach, know this: they never leave on time; they will get stuck at Stonehenge for at least an hour; one always breaks down (a friend has been on the offending coach on two separate occasions). Driving is fun — unless you’re the driver — and means you can come and go when you please (a godsend on the Monday morning), but today is the deadline for car parking permits, so hurry up: £50, visit glastonburyfestivals.co.uk for more info.
Main tip? However you arrive, don’t drink all your tinnies on the way there as it’s a fair walk to all the campsites and, from experience, if you fall down wearing a rucksack, it can be hard to get up.
Summer of our disco tents
You will hear plenty about camping spots — Pennard Hill is the festival’s nirvana, and you’ll have a terrible, uncool, irrelevant time unless you stay there; Oxylers is full of nutters; there’s a secret campsite inside Shangri-La, etc.
In most people’s experience, the best camping spot is a quiet-ish one near some fairly OK loos. The site is huge, but it’s also totally scaleable — camping ‘further out’ isn’t the Glasto equivalent of living at the end of the Met line. Wherever you are, you’ll be fairly close to the action, and while the central spots mean it’s easier to get to bed, it also means it’s more likely a pissed reveller will fall into said bed at 7am. My advice is to see where’s available when you arrive, put your tent there and then go and get a cider.
Go the distance
Five days of living outside — both literally, and also in a more spiritual sense — is a long time; calibrate your boozing according to your stamina (to be honest, a rule for all occasions).
Want a pint for brekkie? Do it — while remarking on how right now you ‘should be in a 11am meeting!!’. Rather not? I have a friend who does it sober every year and comes back feeling brilliant; to each their own.
At its best, Glastonbury’s energy is sort of like the best segment of a wedding, when all the speeches are over and the bar is still well-stocked and Rihanna is playing at top volume — but before everyone gets eye-poppingly drunk, the bar runs out of everything except White Claw and someone’s singing along to The Proclaimers. What goes up must come down — I once cried when I finished a toastie, because I ‘couldn’t believe it was over’ — but the low is usually proportional to how much sleep you’ve had, so make sure you go to bed at least once (and ideally, bring a self-inflating mattress). Also: remember to eat — a real meal, not cereal bars. The festival has a commitment to doing hearty, £5 dishes. If you’re feeling teary, a veggie curry will definitely help.
As in past years, Glasto’s tech partner is EE, which means the site is hooked up to 5G (it’s also running the EE Recharge tent, 10am until 10pm from Thursday to Sunday, so you can keep phones fully charged — visit ee.co.uk/glastonbury). This also means you can share everything on Instagram/Twitter/TikTok/WhatsApp from the moment you wake up in the tent, hugging a warm tin of Strongbow, to your selfies from the Southeast Corner at 4am. Things to remember: videos of Pyramid Stage sets usually look crap on your Story; anyone you meet on Hinge won’t have showered for three days; and your boss may be watching, so it will be harder for you to pull a sickie if you’re still not recovered by the Wednesday after the festival finishes.
I’m with the band
The headliners do matter, but they’re not the be all and end all. If you’re serious about seeing something (and you should be), the Glasto app, another EE production, is a smart tool: you can create a line-up, share it with friends and get nudge notifications so you don’t miss anyone — this year’s iteration also has a Dark Mode that chews through less battery and an interactive map to help you find (and keep hold of) your bearings.
Prone to getting carried away and missing a Pyramid Stage headliner? This year, EE has also created a huge, WiFi connected rooster at the Recharge tent, who will crow half an hour before the headliners go on — your cue to hotfoot it to the main stage, fast.
You’ll also be handed an analogue guide to the festival — i.e. a programme — when you arrive, although mine usually ends up in a cider-puddle by 4pm on the first afternoon. There’ll be rumours of secret sets: the frontrunner is Harry Styles, who appears to have a Worthy-sized gap in his tour-dates. See you in the fields...