The Tab guide to Glastonbury 2015
We’ve got absolutely everything you need to know ahead of going to the UK’s biggest festival next week.
Next weekend, the greatest music festival on the planet will take over a corner of Somerset, Auntie Beeb’s airwaves, and your social media feeds.
If you’re not going to Glasto, you’re probably sick of hearing about it by now. But it’s this incessant buzz about the festival that lures in fresh punters year after year, all looking to find out why everyone’s making such a fuss about spending five days on a farm.
To the uninitiated, Glastonbury can be a confusing mess, a city-sized labyrinth crawling with hippies and Greg James. Even those who’ve been a few times will still have failed to learn everything there is to know about the place.
Whether this summer is your first time or your hundredth, it’s probably worth giving our comprehensive guide a read, if only for the smug realisation that you knew all of this already.
What you need to bring
We’re going to go ahead and assume you’re not a complete idiot and understand the basics of packing for a festival.
Tent? Check. Sleeping bag? Check. Shit ton of booze? Double-check.
That last one is worth stressing double for Glasto: BRING A METRIC SHIT-TON OF BOOZE.
Unlike pretty much every other festival, Glastonbury lets you carry your own drink with you around stages rather than forcing you to buy from the bar. So buy in advance, bring more than you can carry comfortably, and you’ll be quids-in by the end of the weekend.
If this is your first year at Glasto, you’ve probably had everyone telling you about the mud. Even your nan has probably mentioned it. If you’ve laughed these comments off with a “eh, how bad can it be?” don’t come crying to us when you’ve lost your Vans in knee-high sludge and you’re being laughed at by Nick Grimshaw.
Under-estimate the mud at your own peril. You’ll need wellies, or at the very least some awesome hiking boots. Most of the clothes you take will probably get ruined, so pack accordingly. Shorts, crop tops and a warm jumper for the evenings are a yes, leather jackets, jeans and white polo t-shirts are a MASSIVE no.
It always rains, right? Well yeah, pretty much and this year is unlikely to be any different. Forecasts change all the time so you’re best checking on Tuesday.
At the moment, forecasters can’t seem to decide if it’s going to rain all weekend or actually be quite nice. So far this week we’ve had both of the following headlines appear in the papers: “Experts predict Glastonbury Festival will be a scorcher as sunny weather settles in” and “Glastonbury 2015: early weather forecast looks cloudy and damp”.
Have you looked at the site map yet? It’s ridiculous. How the fuck are you meant to know where to camp from looking at this?
Hawkwell, Michael’s Mead, Lime Kiln Ground and (unsurprisingly) Hitchin Hill Ground are all on land that’s quite steep, meaning your tent will probably be on a slope. If that’s not annoying enough, having to walk back to your tent up the hill in the early hours of the morning will be.
Also, avoid Rivermead, which as its name suggests is one of the soggiest areas of the site. Camp here and you’ll be one of the first to be flooded.
Pennard Hill Ground is an extremely popular campsite, particularly with those who like spending late nights up at the Stone Circle or in the Park. However, if you do go here, aim for the end furthest from the disused railway line as there is a slight slope and that end of the field has suffered some pretty horrendous flooding in previous years.
Kidney Mead and Row Mead are both ideally situated if you plan to spend most of your time at the Pyramid, Oxlyers is better suited to those who want to be close to lots of different stages.
Dairy Ground is not only close to the Park and Arcadia but is also a short walk away from the Stone Circle and the delights of the South-East corner.
If you’re leaving valuables in your tent, NEVER put a padlock on your tent. You might as well put a massive sign up saying you have shit to nick, and the padlock is useless against a knife that cuts through your tent.
Instead, dissuade thieves by making your tent look as messy as possible. That way, even if they do take a peek in, they’ll probably assume it’s already been robbed.
For an added bonus, hide your valuables in among your dirty underwear: it’s doubtful anyone will look in there.
Unlike the festivals you grew up on, Glastonbury has an uncountable number of stages. Nobody truly knows how many there are, but you should make an effort to see bands on as many as possible.
Pyramid and Other get all the attention but are let down by dodgy sound quality at times. West Holts and the Park both offer something a bit different to what you’d get at normal festivals, though the hill at the latter means late arrivals might have a hard time seeing the stage.
Some of the best smaller stages to keep an eye out on: William’s Green offers the chance to see fairly big bands in a more intimate setting, The Blues is probably the best part of Silver Hayes, and it’s worth stopping by Leftfield at least once to remind yourself that some people actually come to this festival for the politics as much as the music.
If you want to forget you’re at a music festival at all, head to the Green Fields and hang out with all the hippies. Here you can sign nuclear disarmament petitions, visit a stage powered purely by people riding a bike next to it and show off your sick kick-flips in the Greenpeace halfpipe.
Most importantly though, this area has the nicest showers on site. If you’re the kind of person who can’t stand a bit of dirt on their face and thinks using wet wipes on their bits is beneath them, you’ll love it here.
Despite its massive size, finding your way round the site is easier than you’d expect. Instead, the thing to watch out for is how long it will take you to get from A to B. A journey from one stage to another can sometimes take close to an hour.
When it comes to the evening, you’ll probably want to head to the south-east corner. Called the “naughty corner” by some (slightly tragic) people, the less you know going in, the better. Designers and artists create a different world in this corner of Glastonbury each year and you could wander round for hours there every night and never get bored.
Sure, there will be particular DJs playing that you might want to see, but chances are you’ll be too fucked to remember seeing them anyway. Even people who hate clubbing will love it.
If you find the crush of people in the south-east corner too much, there’s also loads of cool late night stuff happening in Silver Hayes and The Park.
As we said earlier, the site is fucking massive, so trying to plan every minute of your day and rush from one band to another means you’ll probably not enjoy yourself as much as you should do.
EE have the official Glastonbury app, which gives you the schedule, and even lets you stream live performances if you can’t get to the stage.
Printing off a clashfinder can be an easy way of keeping track of when and where the bands you want to see are playing and makes it easy to come up with plans on the hoof.
Scan the line-up for the most ridiculous sounding act that isn’t Catfish and the Bottlemen and try checking them out. You might discover your new favourite band.
Drink and Drugs
We’ve already touched on drink, you don’t need to buy any. That said, there are a few bars it’s worth trying as they’ll offer something a bit different. Both the Cider Bus and the Brothers Bar are must-visits for fans of cider, and there are a couple of pretty cool bars that offer cocktails and/or Pimm’s that will make a nice occasional change from your cans of lager.
Because it’s staffed by mild-mannered volunteers, the searching on the way into the festival is pretty lax/non-existent. Obviously don’t get cavalier about things. There are some stewards and police on site who will confiscate drugs and Nos is now banned in the stone circle/sacred space though it’s unclear how they intend to actually enforce that.
There are plenty of dealers selling pills across the festival, and the Stone Circle is probably the best place to pick up, particularly early on in the festival. Most of the acid is dud, but there may be exceptions. By the last night, there is pretty much a total drought.
Tip: apparently, taking a magnesium tablet before you drop stops you gurning.
Glasto has so many food vans it could almost be a food festival, so don’t waste your money buying burgers and hog roast: you can get those anywhere.
Instead, experiment a little, though always ask yourself the same question: is this food option so experimental/spicy that it might leave me ill/shitting all day?
As well as buying stuff, bring some tasty food from home to snack on. One good idea is to make pizza at home, and then cut it up and bring the slices in a tupperware box to eat cold. A seriously under-rated snack. “Space food” like Pepparamis, Baby Bells, Cheesestrings, bags of nuts, dried fruit etc. are good for nibbling on.
One thing to keep an eye out for in the morning: fresh milk from the dairy is delivered around the site, as well as milkshakes and fruit juices. Nothing will get your head right in the morning better than a pint of ice cold, fresh milk. It’s basically the drink of the gods.
Bullshit you should ignore
Not everything about Glastonbury is amazing, some aspects of it are a bit rubbish. At the top of this list is the BBC circus that comes along for the ride each year.
Whatever you do, don’t stand below the makeshift BBC studio and shout and wave. Don’t get excited every time you hear someone on stage declare you’re “live on Radio 1”. Don’t agree to be interviewed by Jen Long. And definitely don’t get sucked in by the promise of “secret acts” on the BBC Introducing stage.
The idea of seeing big bands on such a small stage sounds awesome in principle, but usually all you get for waiting around half an hour is a two-song set and a hasty goodbye.
On the subject of secret sets, also ignore everything other people tell you about secret sets. Only one in 100 will be right and it won’t be the ones you want to be true. In other words, you’ll waste an hour because someone told you Prince was playing in secret only for the Courteeners to turn up instead.