If you manage to get a ticket and are heading for the first time to Worthy Farm for the iconic Glastonbury Festival, it is important that you have a good idea of what to expect before you go. The mistake many people make is thinking that the festival in the beautiful countryside of Somerset is just like any other music festival.
The truth is if you have been to other music festivals, even outside of the UK, your first ever Glastonbury will still be quite a shock to the system. There are very few events that even come close to being like Michael Eavis' five-day celebration of music, film, arts, culture, humanitarian and ecological issues and fun. If you have ever heard attendees of Glasto say that it was 'a life-changing experience' or 'like nothing they had experienced before' and thought they were talking rubbish - they really weren't.
A site that is 1,100 acres in size and an average attendance well into the 130,000s – it is more than just a big music festival. For that long weekend in June, Glastonbury essentially becomes a little village.
This is why, if you are indeed one of the fortunate ones to get your hands on the coveted tickets to what is arguably the most influential, iconic, biggest and famous music festival in the world; you NEED to properly prepare for the experience. The phrase 'expect the unexpected' is apt when heading to Glasto as a newbie.
To help you out, UK Festival Guides has put together what we feel is a truly indispensable and essential survival guide for your first time attending the Glastonbury Festival.
Be Prepared To Walk A Lot
Although most festivals are quite big, Glastonbury is big on a whole new level at an area of 1,100 acres - the same size as 500 football pitches. Therefore, a lot of walking is involved. Not just getting from and to your campsite from the main festival area, but around the festival grounds itself. It can take as long as an hour to get from one side of the site to the other, and that's not factoring in the various distractions and obstacles you may be faced with or if there has been a lot of rain.
Bring Wellies And Hiking Boots
Following on from the last point above, it is obviously important to pack a decent pair of wellies, even if you don't use them. When it rains at Glastonbury, it can turn the lovely green pastures into muddy swamps. Ideally, you should also pack a good pair of hiking/walking boots as well because when the mud gets sticky and your wellies sink into it, your hiking boots won't.
Handy Hygiene Accessories
On the subject of all that mud, muck and all other types of dirt; it can be quite a task trying to stay clean during Glasto. Although you are unlikely to stay 100% clean, there are some essentials you should pack to help in the constant battle against the grime, germs and bacteria. This includes:
• Hand sanitizers
• Wet wipes
• Toilet rolls
• Bin bags
• Resealable plastic sandwich bags
Of all the things listed above, by far the most versatile is the bin bags. You will find various uses for black sacks from makeshift seats to stop yourself from getting too dirty when as the ground at the site gets murkier and murkier or to keep your dirty clothes separate from your clean stuff. They also make a quick and easy mac when it starts to rain suddenly and if you think the rain might continue and conditions might worsen, you can use them to cover and wrap your stuff if your tent floods.
Dress In Layers Prepared For Weather Changes
The weather at Glastonbury can change at the drop of a hat, almost and back again, all within the same day. Therefore, it is best along with your wellies and hiking boots to also pack a hat and sun cream, shorts for during the day and jumpers for nights. Think layers and bring enough (but not more) to cover all possible weather and temperature changes.
Don't Take Any Valuables
You may want to go to Glasto looking your very best, but trust us on this one - no-one will notice the designer handbag you take, those flashy trainers (who the hell wears expensive trainers to a music festival in a field anyway?) or that bling. It is really not worth taking a whole lot of valuables to Worthy Farm, only for them to be lost or stolen.
Hide Anything Of Value You Do Take
We don't want you to copy our suggestions to the 'T' as such, but the items you do have to take to the festival that are of any value should be hidden in random places in your tent so that they are much harder for the average opportunist thief to get at. So, in socks, the bottom of sleeping bags (if you take one, more on that later), pillowcases and any little nooks and crannies you can find in your tent or secret pockets.
Get There As Early As Possible
Although the festival officially kicks off on Friday, the actual festival extends as early on in the week as Wednesday. Not only is it worth heading to Worthy Farm long before Friday to experience what the festival has to offer before the main and bigger bands start arriving and playing, it will help you to get a better campsite and great spot to pitch your tent. Everyone recommends a different time, but if you aim for Wednesday/Thursday arrival, you will get your Glasto off to a good start.
Pitch Friend's Tents For Them
If you are heading down there before your friends, you won't be able to save a spot for them, so arrange to take their tents down with you. You could offer to take their tent down in exchange for them taking some of your other luggage.
Avoid Pitching Your Tent At The Bottom Of A Hill
Further to arriving as early as you can, you should also look to set up camp at the top of a hill. The area behind the family fields is usually best as they are not as busy and have cleaner toilets. Camping at the bottom of a hill or near a stage may mean if there is torrential rain or other bad weather, that your tent becomes waterlogged and uninhabitable.
Consider Taking A Duvet
Ditch the sleeping bag, if you want a truly comfortable sleep at night when you finally roll into your tent. Although sleeping bags will be a lot more practical, nothing can beat the comfort and warmth of a duvet.
Divide Your Tent Into Two Clear Sections
It can be really messy and unhygienic when you are sleeping in the same small space for three nights or more. This is why it is highly recommended that you divide your tent into two clear sections - your sleeping area and your living/awake area. This means regardless of the weather conditions you will find it relatively easy to keep where you sleep comfortable, tidy and as clean as possible.
Invest In A Headtorch
You need to remember that you will be staying in a large field and the only lights available, particularly the immediate area around your tent, will come from what you or other campers bring. It is sensible to not only pack a handheld portable torch but also a headtorch as well. This will free your hands up if you are carrying things to and from your tent in the middle of the night or early hours of the morning, while still enabling you to see.
Choose The Furthest Away Toilets
If you want to avoid the infamously disgusting toilets closer to the main site, you should try and use the two or three less busy toilets closer to where you are camping. Not only are these generally cleaner, but there are also shorter queues too so even though you may have to walk a little further when nature calls, you won't be stuck in a massive queue.
Memorise Where You Have Camped And Find Some Solid Landmarks To Find It
We can't stress enough how big the entire site where the festival is held is, so it's a good idea once you have set up your tent, that you get your bearings. Take some time to memorise exactly where you are using some solid landmarks as reference points. Choose things that you will be able to see in the dark because the fields look completely different at night and if you are there early (and even if you aren't), by the end of the day more people will have come and set up their tents.
Plan Your Day But Be Flexible
Undoubtedly, there will be a great number of bands you want to see, but you are unlikely to see every band on your list. Plan each day so you can see the main bands you are interested in and be flexible with the rest of the time, as there is always something happening or someone interesting playing on one of the many stages. You could and probably will discover your new favourite artist or band if you keep your mind open.
Choose One, Not Both When Sets Clash
On the subject of bands, it is quite likely over the course of the weekend that two bands you like will be playing at the same time. Instead of trying to see half of both sets, choose one and miss the other. Trust us, by the time you start trying to work your way out of the crowd to navigate to the other stage area for the other band, you will probably miss their set.
Seriously, you shouldn't be going to a festival like Glastonbury just to see the main headliners and ignoring the sheer variety of interesting activities, events and people there are at Worthy Farm. When you are not dancing or jumping around like a lunatic to your favourite artists, ramble aimlessly getting lost in the crowd. Glastonbury is so much more than just about the music and if you want a truly memorable experience, you need to embrace everything it has to offer.
Avoid Wearing Denim
A random point, we are sure but it's valid because if it rains (and you never know what the British weather will do), you want to make sure you are not wearing anything that could trail on the ground and mop up all the water, dirt and whatever else is around the toilets and other murky areas. Shorts, tights and skirts are what you should be packing, just as long as they are not denim.
Leave No Trace
Remember that no matter how excessive and exciting your weekend gets, however much of a wreck you are at the end of that long weekend in June - that in order for Worthy Farm to remain a magical place, it needs to be looked after. Remember it is a working farm and most importantly, remember your pledge.
When you buy tickets for the festival, you are asked to sign a pledge that basically says you will leave no trace you were there - in other words, leave it as you found it as best you can. You also agree to avoid urinating on the land and using the toilets on site, use the bins instead of throwing stuff on the ground, leave none of your belongings behind (including your tent, even if it's wrecked) and will make sure of the bin bags and recycling pens.
This point may feel a little patronising, but, you'd be amazed the number of people who are inconsiderate and don't follow these justified and very simple rules. Make sure you aren't one of those!
Well, there you have it, our rather comprehensive, but essential survival guide for your first time attending what is arguably the best festival in the world. It is certainly the most iconic and biggest.
Above all else mentioned above – have fun and be nice to your fellow festival-goers. After all, you are all going to be there for the same reasons – to have a life-changing experience set to an outstanding soundtrack!
Published on 08 January 2018 by Paul Stewart