Claimed as “the largest green-field music and performing arts festival in the world”, you have to attend the incredible Glastonbury Festival with over 200,000 revellers, at least once in your lifetime!
Where is the festival?
What is Glastonbury Festival?
Inspired by a 1969 Led Zeppelin concert at the Bath Festival of Blues in Somerset, Michael Eavis created the Pilton Festival. Held at his Worthy Farm’s 160-acres the day after Jimi Hendrix’s death in 1970, tickets cost £1. Entry included free milk from the farm for the 1,500 festival-goers.
Outgrowing Worthy Farm in 1985 saw Michael Eavis purchase neighbouring Cockmill Farm to expand the festival grounds. Today, the festival’s expansive grounds spreads over 900 acres across 14 farms, and is the largest music and arts festival in Europe.
The grounds are even visible from space!
If you’re heading to the festival and don’t have a bucket of cash to splurge on boutique Pennard Orchard Glamping, the Tipi Village, renting accommodation in the surrounding quaint villages, or own/rent a motorhome or campervan, then a tent is your only option.
Expect a plethora of cuisines from around the globe exuding wonderful lingering aromas enticing hungry festival-goers – some stalls are 24/7. Meals look and smell better than they taste.
The food is expensive for the quality and quantity. I did find a stand selling delicious Cornish pies (£6+) opposite the infamous obscure Rabbit Hole.
An average price for a small meal plate is £8-£10. A pint of locally brewed Mallets Cider will set you back £4.50 + £1 for the re-useable plastic cup – or ask for a refund of the £1 deposit.
The Silver Hayes Crew area has new caterers this year and supposed to be better than in 2017. Although trying the £6 tasteless Chilli Con Carne with rice, it’s disappointing. The tiny portion of hot chips for £2 is good.
Just keep these prices in mind if you’re not planning to take food when you’re camping, as you can easily blow your budget on food and alcohol over 5 days.
This year, a CO-OP supermarket set up near Oxlyers Campsite, which offered everything at reasonable prices. Michael Eavis negotiated a 5-year lease for Glasto CO-OP if the Pilton CO-OP Pop Up Store was established.
The run down
This year’s Glasto festival runs from the 26th-30th June. You can arrive on the evening of the 25th, although the music doesn’t start until the 26th. Silver Hayes is the first area open with music and is also the main dance village for the festival. Check out the festival 2019 line-up.
As a returning volunteer Fire Steward for Silver Hayes, it’s always great fun to be on shift with people you know, although you soon meet loads of really cool stewards – newbies and veterans – all have a story to tell…
Luckily, a lift with the bulk of our gear including food, alcohol, sleeping bags, tent, pillows, air bed, clothes, and way too much stuff, sees us venturing to the Steward’s campsite on Sunday morning before the festival.
Not open to the public yet, fields are sparse with only the main venues and facilities set up.
The steward campsite is already in an excited flurry with people erecting tents all over the place, parking campervans and motorhomes, vying for all the choice spots. This year’s site is smaller than 2017’s, so space is at a premium.
Staking out a relatively flat spot for the campsite, erecting 6 tents in the heat in a communal effort, dumping all the gear, we return to Street to wait in anticipation for Thursday morning.
Returning for the gig
With an early start and super eager to get back to the festival grounds, finally arrive at the campsite – everything is still here – bonus.
Filling the tent with more stuff, our home is now complete…
Loads more tents are rammed in the fields around the vast grounds.
Silver Hayes Backstage
Backstage is where volunteers, crew, and musicians can chill out and relax or get some food at a slightly cheaper price than the public area.
A chilled view…
…where you meet gorgeous people with beautiful smiles like Carmen from Mozambique.
You just never know who you bump into…great legs!
The job of a Fire Steward for Silver Hayes is primarily the safety of festival-goers.
This includes politely telling people to put out cigarettes, making sure no one has collapsed, spotting aggressive behaviour, and to give people directions to the profusion of festival areas.
Our job is not to be overbearing. This is a festival and people are here to have a great time, regardless of what hour of the day or night we’re on.
Slightly dishevelled and eyes hanging, but still smiling on my 9pm-2am last day’s shift…
The majority of people know we’re volunteers, so are very friendly and pleasant.
If you’re anything like me, then be prepared to walk an average of around 20 kilometres each day as there really is so much to see and experience – you definitely don’t want to miss anything.
Intermission at Sonic – Silver Hayes village…
Ramping up for another gig…
…partying until sunrise with beautiful people.
Revelling and pussy’ing with groovy Liniker e os Caramelows from Brazil whilst on shift…
Block9’s IICON Stage
Block9’s brand spanking new mammoth and stunning IICON 65-foot head sculpture is awe-inspiring!
Bild Studios created this wonderfully innovative futuristic stage, which Block9 co-founder Gideon Berger states as: “a sinister monument to the terrifying realities of this digital, post-truth age that we find ourselves in”.
Bursting with alternative stalls, tents, and quirky wagons why not indulge in a soothing back rub, a little Reflexology, your future read, or just wander through this colourful interesting alternative village?
Just a few sites to give you a little taste of what to expect.
Arcadia’s ominous metal spider is doing a comfy tour of the Netherlands right now. So instead, an adaptation with a light show from a massive crane, incorporating a huge globe projecting continuous fluidity draws the crowds….
Pennard Hill Ground
Surveying across Pennard Hill Ground in the fading light, waiting for the sweltering sun to subside, delivers respite and a cooling relief.
The Rabbit Hole
The secret Rabbit Hole is an otherworldly psychedelic cry, far from sanity and the norm. Expect an Alice in Wonderland-esque adventure and ambience.
Crawl between this colourful character’s legs to enter the labyrinth of madness…
…and eventually emerge to crawl out from in-between this lady’s…
The Queen of Hearts is also waiting for your head on the other side…
Perched high up (or high on) a 2-metre toadstool, is this colourful character playing an electronic organ without touching the keyboard.
Zany crazy late night shows exude the best of comedy and salacious raunchy vibes…
Loads of glitter is key at the festival – anything goes.
Crowds gather close to Glastonbury on Sea’s new pier.
Artistic doors grace the festival’s smelly long-drop toilets.
A profusion of expressive murals scattered throughout Glasto create an impacting open air art museum.
Festival-goers are happy to pose…
…or happily married.
Sporadic messages to the world are scattered around the grounds.
What’s the festival really like?
Brilliant. Atmospheric. Fantastic. Outlandish.
I could go on but you’ll be bored so I’ll just say that it’s an experience you can’t miss!
I’m always in awe of how 200,000 people from all walks of life, across all ages, come together to absorb 5 days of pure music and art mania, without many incidents. Just proves we can all get on and have fun…
Check out this cool Silver Hayes video of a phone’s journey through Glastonbury.
Mind-blowing festival stats
Some statistics for the 2019 festival, if you’re interested:
- Takes place across 900 acres (around 500 football pitches) in the mythical Vale of Avalon, Somerset, South-west England and spreads over 14 farms
- Festival capacity 203,000 – not including officials, police, and children under 13
- Over 3,000 performances across 100-plus stages
- 135,000 tickets sold in 36 minutes
- Around 300 volunteer Silver Hayes Fire Stewards
- Around 60,000 staff
- About 1,000 volunteer Stewards in total
- Glasto “costs about £40 million to hold of which about £2 million a year goes to charities” – Emily Eavis
- About 50 people employed full time
- Ticket: £248 + £5 booking includes 5 nights of camping. More for a motorhome, caravan, or campervan
- Sale of single use plastics banned this year
More than 1,300 volunteers clean up the astonishing mess left behind by partygoers.
Although I’ve read that 93.3% of tents were taken home by festival-goers this year, I’m not sure how accurate this is or how anyone can calculate the figure.
At least the leftover tents are donated to the Scouts and charity, not just thrown away.
The cleaning starts on Monday morning. Tons of rubbish must be cleared and everyone out of the farm by Tuesday – a mammoth task.