If you were tried to get tickets for this year’s Glastonbury festival (or any year for that matter), then you’ll know of the frustration, the excitement, the anticipation, and the fear that’s involved in the process. More than all that you’ll know about the anger you feel when you either can’t get on the website, or when it kicks you off at a vital moment (usually the payment screen). But if you were one of the lucky 135,000 people who won this ‘lottery’ and scored yourself one, then you’ll he feeling the same emotion as me. Relief. This year in particular was an important one, as the festival has its rest year in 2018. So if you didn’t get one for next year’s festival, then there’s a fair while to wait for the next. If you got one, congratulations. You can now relax, count down the days to the greatest party on earth, and wait with baited breath as the acts are announced. The first of which was announced last week in the shape of Radiohead. It was of course the worst kept secret in the entertainment world. I can’t imagine there’ll be the usual complaints that follow headliner announcements. Radiohead are Glastonbury legends. For those who didn’t manage to get tickets, don’t give up hope yet. There’s always the resale.
So why is Glastonbury such an important festival? It’s kind of hard to describe it, as the only way to really see the magic it holds in its gates is to actually go there yourself (which like I said above is not the easiest of things to do). Whilst the BBC do an amazing job of capturing the events for TV, there’s an element to Glastonbury that can no way be captured on film: the atmosphere. I only went on my first Glastonbury in 2010. 2017 will be my third. I’d always watched in on TV, so was excited to be there; but I had no idea just what would be in front of me. After completing the ridiculously (and unexpectedly) long walk to the camping area (carrying not only the essentials we needed for the weekend, but also an epic amount of cider, wine and crisps), then we immediately knew we were in for something special. The buzz, the excitement of everyone around us, and the general comradary of all wanting to enjoy some great music was overwhelming. People we’d never met before spoke to us like old friends for an hour or two. People with nothing in common suddenly had this great experience to share, and I never once saw even the first sign of trouble.
I would always reccomend getting there early (if traffic hold ups allow) so you get two full days to acclimatise to your new surroundings before the madness begins. Friday to Sunday will be solid bands, trudging through the mud to get from one end of the site to the other to catch everyone you need to see. There will always be clashes. There may be bands you want to see when your mates want to go elsewhere. I had to endure a full Coldplay set on the Pyramid stage whilst one of my favourite bands Glasvegas headlined John Peel. we also missed Pulled Apart By Horses before we got stuck in the Jesse J crowds. Don’t go with a definitive list of who you want to see, because it’s never going to happen. I always go with a top five, and anything else is a bonus. When you see the final schedule, only then should you plan when and where you need to be. But even then it’s not a guarantee you’ll make it there on time. If you’ve never been before, then you have to realise the sheer scale of the site. Worthy Farm is like a city in its own right. Give yourself plenty of time to get around, and make allowances for the fact the mud will slow you down (and there will be mud). The acts you absolutely must see will not be your favourites at the end. It’s the random acts you’ve come upon by accident that will be your new favourite bands. I went to see Death Cab For Cutie last time because we were near John Peel, and had an hour to kill. I knew very little about them, but quickly got familiar with their back catalogue when I got home.
Whilst the music is top of the agenda, there are so many other things to see, most of which you will stumble across by accident. The street acts, the food stalls, the speakers, the comedy, the bars. No matter how many times you go to this magical festival, it’s impossible not to experience something new.
I remember standing by my tent, which we usually pitch on the hill near the Pyramid stage and looking down on everything going on around me. It was dark, and as far as I could see was Worthy Farm, lit up in all its glory. It went on for miles, and every time I turned my head even slowly, was something new and exciting going on. Where else can you find that?
At the end of the weekend, it takes some real adjusting to real life again. The people you see in service stations on the way hoe are different. You are catapulted back to reality. And then of course there is sleeping in a real bed again. After sleeping on the floor in the middle of a field, walls, beds, and mattresses are a novelty. Field life has been your life for the last few days. The Glastonbury blues will set in, but you will be left with the memories of an amazing few days.