Monday, July 11, 2016

The Thing About Glastonbury Is…

I get it. You've heard about Glastonbury. You know it's a music festival. You know it's known the world over for the SICKEST acts coming together on multiple stages for a few blissful days(and the hype is real, let me tell you). You know it's basically an institution in the music scene.

But there's a whole word more to Glastonbury than just what you'll see on stage. There's good things, bad things, brain-will-never-be-the-same kinda things, but most of all, it's not a thing you should dive into unprepared.

So sit down, get cozy, 'cause the thing about Glastonbury is...

You WILL be crushed multiple times over the weekend and beyond at the amount of acts you missed (including surprise guest appearances or secret sets)
Here's the first thing you need to come to terms with. Tame Impala. Years & Years. Band of Horses. Disclosure. Catfish & the Bottlemen. Just a few of the names I missed in my first Glastonbury because it conflicted with other acts. But the true heartbreak of this year's Glastonbury for me was James Blake and his surprise guest Bon Iver. If you know anything of my musical leanings, it's that I basically think of Bon Iver's album contents as my literal heartsong. I even told my Glasto-mate about my fleeting hope that Justin Vernon would make an appearance for "I Need A Forest Fire". He told me it probably wasn't likely. But as I've learned, NOTHING is impossible in Glasto and I'm taking that to heart if I ever get another opportunity to go.

If you don't believe me, maybe this picture of the Pyramid looking simply unreal will persuade you!

You need to dedicate time to seeing as much as you can see
We got there on Wednesday and I deeply regret not taking the time to really get acquainted with Worthy Farm. See, I went to the festival with Glasto veterans so when we settled into our camp, they knew exactly where they wanted to go afterwards. While the sights they showed me were amazing, I wish I had taken the time to go off on my own and do some solo exploring. It would have helped a lot throughout the weekend to gain this sense of confidence of my surroundings early on so that I didn't have to be led around or to feel like I needed someone else to know where to go/what to do. They were truly awesome tour guides, but the whole point is that you don't want to feel like you're on a tour. You just wanna go wherever your the wind and your muddy wellies may take you. 

Look how massive! And this is just one section of the farm

Your worst moment in Glastonbury will be lugging all the stuff you prepared all while trying to find the perfect camping spot
You will not understand the vastness that is Worthy Farm until you are actually hauling ass across its wide expanse. You will suddenly rue the day you decided to bring that extra box of cookies since every ounce begins to feel like a kilogram the further you get into the grounds. You will be disgusting by the time you finally find a place to set up camp, which is not good considering access to showers is limited in the next few days (also to be discussed later). You absolutely should stock up on supplies for the weekend, but you've been warned since I definitely wish I had had this warning previous to.

Home for five days! <3

You can bring your own drinks, so long as it’s not in a glass bottle
Sure, security didn't check our bags especially well but why take the risk? Simply transfer all your alcohol into plastic litre bottles for your own cocktail crafting later. Alcohol is expensive in the UK in general, and it's really not much more within the festival. We bought a jug of Pimms for £20 and shots were about £5 each in most places I saw. However, you'd save yourself a pretty penny by bringing your own and just taking them anywhere you want on the grounds.

You should invest in a good backpack and pair of wellies
No matter the weather, a backpack and wellies will serve you well. I just happened to attend what was termed 'the muddiest Glastonbury in decades", and it never even rained that hard or long over the weekend. All it took was 20 minutes of rain a handful of times in the day to have me (almost) literally lifting half my body out of the mud with every step. On the other hand, life could have been worse, as with my friend who had to roll her suitcase through all the muck. I can rinse my wellies but she was going to have get real handsy with her suitcase as soon as she got back home. So backpack? Necessary. I have also been told that wellies are well worth it even in a sunny Glasto, since the dust can get quite intense. Either way, even the chance of rain made wellies a sound investment for Glasto.

The mud bath that was Glastonbury 2016

You need to give yourself time to walk to each stage
Though I be but little, I am fierce in my step counts! As Apple Health informed me, I was averaging almost 40,000 steps a day at Glasto. DO NOT underestimate the amount of time it takes you to get from one stage to another. I gave myself a strict minimum of 20 minutes to get to the next location at any time, especially later on in the day as the acts, and the amount of people you have to maneuver through, get bigger.

You will disgust yourself at some point throughout the weekend
Though there were tradeoffs (mud, mud and more mud), I am thankful to have attended a Glastonbury that had relatively worse weather for one specific reason: the blessed lack of sweat. Five days. Five long days without a proper shower was too much for even this adventurous soul. Yes, there are taps around where you can wash your face and hair but not much else. I would highly recommend purchasing an outdoor shower, which is something I'm definitely going to need if I ever have the opportunity to go again, but if not...

You MUST bring baby wipes
Even if for nothing but the fact that it wastes time to find a tap to wash your hands whenever you get them dirty, baby wipes are a Glasto must. For more depraved reasons, you are going to need them whenever the human body does what its needs to do with flagrantly fragrant consequences. It won't be a proud moment, and will probably puncture your dignity, but just go to a show and lose yourself in the moment. With the band, and the crowd of people who have been reduced to similar humbling moments with their baby wipes.

You will see more human waste than you ever thought you’d see in your lifetime
If there's anything that bonds you with your Glastonbury kin, it is the state of horror you are sure to find waiting for you at the toilets. Combine the already unmentionable activity of toilets with mud or dust, altered states of mind, the limits of your hygienic tolerances are going to be pushed, shattered, and changed forever.

You can rest assured with the free lock-ups
The lockups are run by some of the supporting charities, and though I am always a bit dubious of these things, I decided to take a chance. I left money and even my passport with one of the 24-hour lockups throughout the weekend, coming back several times to replenish my stock and never once was there any whiff of tomfoolery. My friends did similar, and had done in Glastonburys past, without any problems whatsoever. Additionally, the lockups usually have piles of toilet roll out for you to take freely!

You’d be smart to have a bottle with you at all times
Water is not something you need to spend on at Glastonbury, so long as you are vigilant about having a water container with you at all times. You'll be supremely thankful for this on the mornings you wake up with your throat feeling like the Sahara.

You can dress up or down but why not all out?
I always love me a bit of fancy dress and my greatest regret this Glastonbury was that I didn't adequately prepare. I thankfully improvised with things I got at the festival but I weep at how much more wackily dressed I could have been! Sure, I brought cute shorts and dresses but part of the wonder of Glasto is you can be any version of yourself you've ever wanted to be -- why not the most outrageously carefree version?

These people did!

I'm not even sure what he is but he's rocking it!

The definition of whimsy

You should be ready to go out after headliners or you may have to wait in lines
Two nights a row, we ran into trouble getting into the South East Corner (an after-hours area) since after headliners, we'd first go back to our tent to change or to replenish our alcohol supply. Both times, we were then faced with massive lines or even security guards that told us that the area was going to be closed for the rest of the night. Save yourself the trouble and get there as early as you can after the gigs, so you are part of the clever group that walks in like VIPs and waves to the people who are left behind the barriers.

You will always be pleasantly surprised at the lack of commerciality 
Vodafone. Coke. Pepsi. Take these, bin them and replace them with Greenpeace, Oxfam and the like. This is what the folks of Worthy Farm have done. Though there are booths abound in Glastonbury, with all your needs - food, clothes, camping gear - within reach, you can assure yourself that any money exchanged involve you and the seller who's trying to make an honest living. No one is trying to rape your wallet for a conglomerate's profit. A specific example of this is when I decided to buy some festival merch after the event. I fully expected the price to have doubled, but my dwindling bank account was gratefully surprised to find they were exactly the same price as they were on site. This would NEVER be the case in a regular concert.

Notice the ad placement at even the main stage isn't for a multinational!

You will be overwhelmed by the sheer love apparent on stage and off
A moment that remains stark in my head was a moment with The 1975. It was the day after the UK referendum and spirits were dampened but Matthew Healy spoke truth - despite the fact that there are people out there who are trying to spread this sentiment of division amongst our generation, we stood together that day in Glastonbury in pure opposition to this. Because Glastonbury is the antithesis to that sentiment. It is about unity, compassion, and loving each other (in which The 1975 boys kicked off with their song Loving Someone). Kids, grandparents, young, old, rich or poor - all of these were in attendance, but none of it matters at Glastonbury. Lovers, families, friends - these are the things you all become to each other at Glastonbury. 




= Glastonbury

You will be hit with sudden moments of surreality in which you just can’t believe this is life.
The haunting pierce of Matt Corby's voice. Laura Mvula's all-too-honest words combined with the purity and strength with which she sang. Adele's sheer excitement and awe at Adele being onstage at Glastonbury. Coldplay paying tribute to a band much smaller than they but definitely gone too soon, Viola Beach. You realise during particular moments that there are things that bind you with everyone at Glastonbury, whether it's the people standing behind a couple barriers from you while they're onstage, or the people pouring their souls into this moment as they join you in singing lyrics back to the people who wrote them. It's an amazing thing, this Glastonbury is. It's this thing that seems to hover above reality in blindingly beautiful moments that you're only used to seeing on Youtube.

But it's something within your reach. 

Don't. Miss. Out.

"We could be heroes, just for one day. We could be us, just for one day."


  1. Cara! Awesome photos!!! :-) What camera are you using? <3

    1. Hehe thanks, Tita! I've been trying to get better at it so that's a massive compliment, especially coming from you! I'm using the Sony A6000 :)