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How To Survive Glastonbury Festival

Updated on August 13, 2013

What Is The Glastonbury Festival?

For anyone who doesn't know about the Glastonbury Festival, it's a family run music festival that takes place annually at Worthy Farm in Somerset, England. The first Glastonbury Festival was held on September 19th 1970, and it has since grown into a legendary event that is known worldwide. Glastonbury is considered by many to be the best music festival in the world, but it is far from being just a music festival, it can also be a spiritual adventure, albeit, a potentially messy one.

I've been to Glastonbury a fair few times over the years, I've had the Glastonbury experience, it's amazing. If you're a Glastonbury virgin and considering going, don't think that all you're going to need is a tent, a few clothes and some cash. You would be so wrong!

Glorious Glastonbury

The blue areas you can see are thousands and thousands of tents!
The blue areas you can see are thousands and thousands of tents!

Glastonbury On A Good Day

If you've never been to Glastonbury, you might be wondering why this hub is called How To Survive Glastonbury? Well you're about to find out!

Glastonbury can be the most beautiful, magical place on a good day. Some may refer to it as heaven. On a good day means, dry and sunny weather though, and this is Britain. We don't have proper seasons weatherwise, we have mad changeable weather that can have you in shorts one minute and a jumper the next. You would assume as the Glastonbury Festival takes place in the last week of June, i.e Summer, that the weather would be gloriously sunny and hot. Ha! Not always so as I myself have experienced on a few occasions.

Surviving The Glastonbury Rain

This photo has not been photoshopped!
This photo has not been photoshopped!

Glastonbury Weather

A little rain won't hurt right? Well yes, a little is ok. What I experienced on 2 occasions wasn't a little rain though, it wasn't even what would be considered a lot. It was like someone had poured the contents of the Thames River onto Worthy Farm. I didn't just get wet, I had to survive a flood.

The thing about Glastonbury is that it is held on working farmland. When us campers aren't there, cows are. The ground just isn't able to cope with lots of rain and thousands of people trudging over it. This is the first part of Glastonbury survival: The Weather.

Thing is, you've bought your ticket months in advance, you have no idea what the weather's going to be like. You would assume that it's being held in Summer so everything will be fine, but check weather reports like mad on the days leading up to the festival, be prepared!

If the weather reports say sunny and hot, don't think you've escaped. Take waterproofs and wellington boots anyway. If the reports say rain, then take extra socks as well as the waterproofs and Wellington's. If the weather report states that there will be heavy rain, panic!

The best advice that I can give anyone going to Glastonbury for the first time in heavy rain is to prepare mentally for what's about to happen. You're going to get very wet and cold, and unless you wear Wellington boots, your jeans will soak up all the moisture from the ground making them heavy and sopping. You're also going to have to go to the toilet in a mud filled portaloo, more about them later... And you're going to be sleeping in a tent with a wet and muddy floor.

I don't want to put anyone off of going to Glastonbury, it's an amazing experience regardless of the weather. I just recommend being prepared for the worst!

Glastonbury Mud

Watch Out For That Mud!

Worst Case Scenario Needs

So it's going to be muddy and wet huh? It's not going to be pleasant but you can make the Glastonbury weekend a lot better if you go prepared.

Essential items for a muddy and wet Glastonbury:

  • Wellington Boots - I made this mistake, I didn't have any and I suffered. Soaking wet feet over a potential period of 5 days is not smart.
  • Waterproofs - Who wants to be soaked to the skin?
  • Plenty of thick socks - unless you want to sleep in your wellies!
  • Plastic bags - Yes, I realise this isn't green, but it will stop items getting wet and is also great for putting wet clothes into so they are out of the way.
  • A plastic sheet for the bottom of the tent - Sleeping in a tent that has a wet floor isn't a good idea.

Unfortunately, if it's one of those years when the flood gates open, there's really nothing you can do other than get wet and muddy, this is why preparing mentally for such an event is key. Know that it's going to be pretty grim, but make the best of it anyway. Love the mud, but please, no matter how good an idea it seems at the time, don't start rolling around in it! I promise that you will regret it and you'll probably lose some friends when you start stinking.

The Verve Glastonbury 2008

Amy Winehouse Glastonbury 2007

Glastonbury Tips

Generally, you aren't going to be camping in conditions like above, but you're still camping and at Glastonbury there's a few things to remember.

Going to the toilet is a nightmarish experience, especially after the first day of the festival. It's not so bad for the guys, but for us girls, it's a grotty experience that fills me with dread. I won't go into detail, but imagine the worst where the toilets are concerned and you'll be spot on. They are filthy and disgusting, and there's no other way to put it.

If you're going to Glastonbury for the music, then plan ahead. Choose which bands and artists that you want to see and make a note of the days, times and stages. It's so easy to literally get lost (in more ways than one!) at Glastonbury. If you're there to see your favourite artist, then don't be disappointed because you've missed their set due to being swept up in a wave of jugglers and performance artists, or maybe you got carried away by the alluring vibes of the Healing Field. If you're there for the music, you've got to plan ahead.

I would highly recommend making a detailed note of where you pitch your tent! There are thousands of tents that look the same on the various campsites, you'll want to remember where your one is when it's late, you've over indulged and you're stumbling around in the dark. Ending up in the wrong tent probably isn't a good idea.

Same with your car, if you're driving to Glastonbury then you'll need to park in a designated parking site. Don't forget which one you're in! After 3 - 5 days of the Glastonbury experience, you aren't going to feel like wandering around for hours looking for a lost car.

Don't take anything valuable like an iPod or digital camera unless you are going to have it on you at all times. Don't leave anything of worth in your tent, because as much as Glastonbury can be magical, there are still some people there who just want to steal your stuff.

The Glastonbury Survivial Kit!

  • A decent tent - preferably one that's easy to put up and unlikely to fall down.
  • A sleeping bag - the cosier the better.
  • A pillow - who says you can't have a bit of luxury at Glastonbury!
  • Wet wipes - these are essential and you won't believe how many things you'll end up using them for!
  • Toilet paper - you HAVE to take toilet paper.
  • A pocket torch - this is especially useful for finding your tent in the dark.
  • Sun cream - despite what you have read about Glastonbury weather, the opposite can happen, it can be scorching and you do not want to run the risk of getting burnt.
  • A fully charged mobile phone - people can easily get separated at Glastonbury, a spare charged battery may also be a good idea.
  • Cash - for food and drinks, most stalls won't accept cards.


Glastonbury The Celebrity Way

Alternatively, if you're wanting to do what Kate Moss does when she goes to Glastonbury, then you'll be wanting the details of the company who fly people in and out of the festival by helicopter and provide them with luxury accommodation nearby.

I don't actually think that's having the real Glastonbury experience, as camping is a huge part of the whole thing. Though I do understand why some celebrities choose to be choppered in and out as you may think that the VIP area is a world away from the regular camp sites, but it isn't. Sure, you can park your Winnebago and drink the free bars dry, but if it's wet and muddy on the regular camp sites, then it's the same in the VIP one. Saying that, if you can blag your way into the VIP area then do so. If you have the right pass you'll be able to watch from side of stage and not get crushed in the crowd.

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