Glastonbury is right around the corner and if you’re lucky enough to have a ticket, congratulations – you're about to have the time of your life. Secondly, how’s the planning and prepping going? If you're anything like us you'll be leaving everything to the last minute...
Whether you’re a first-timer or a festival veteran, it’s worth having the the lowdown on parking, where to camp, the dreaded toilet situation and, most importantly, where to get a drink in the quickest possible time. As we all know, Glastonbury, held on Worthy Farm in Somerset, is one of the world’s most iconic festivals, so it pays to know your Pennard Hill from your Pyramid Stage and your Other Stage from your Oxlyers.
Where to park
If you’re not getting there by coach or train, as many festival-goers choose to, you may have made the brave but understandable decision to drive (it means you get to bring more stuff, after all). The car parks open at 9pm on the Tuesday night before the festival and there are four main entrances for cars. The one you use depends on the direction you’re coming from, rather than where you’ve pitched your tent (more on that shortly).
Unsurprisingly, most people want to park as near to pedestrian entrances as possible (after an early start and a long car journey, the last thing you want to be doing is lugging a tonne’s worth of camping gear for several miles in the mud). Unfortunately, though, where you park is largely down to luck. You can choose which direction of the site you approach from (approach from the side you want to park: map here), but the stewards will direct you to a parking field. Some of the car parks are over half a kilometer from the site and, depending on which camp sites are full by the time you get there, you could end up dragging your belongings much further. Soz.
It’s also worth avoiding arriving by car between 7am and 2pm on the Wednesday. If you’re stuck in the A39 queue it can take many hours to get in. Double soz. If you do end up getting stuck in traffic, though, you can always get your brows and/or makeup done at Benefit's drive-thru beauty bar, GlastonBrow. The brand is offering free festival-essential products and brow waxes on Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd on the June A37 Fosse Way. Look out for a glistening pink beacon amid the sea of traffic.
Where to camp
A heated topic, this. No one wants to be left panic-printing a map of the camping site on the morning before you leave, so have a campsite of choice – and a backup (or two) – in mind beforehand. Good camping spots are like gold dust at Glastonbury and while having a decent one isn’t crucial to having a great time, it makes a lot of difference. Arriving on the Wednesday is crucial if you want a good one (unless your kind-hearted mates are saving you a spot).
These are some of the the most popular:
Pennard Hill – The busiest and it fills up shortly after the gates open on Wednesday morning. It’s on a hill so usually stays dry and is well located near the main stage, but it acts as a thoroughfare so can get pretty noisy at night. A good site for party animals.
Row Mead – Also on a hill, so another good one for avoiding flooding. It overlooks the Pyramid Stage, too, making it an ideal site if you’re lazy. It’s also very popular and fills up fast.
Big Ground – Like Row Mead, Big Ground is also spitting distance from the Pyramid Stage. It’s also home to the site’s only flushing toilets. This may sound like NBD right now, but once you’ve seen (and smelled!) the long drops, they’ll sound more appealing than a spa day.
Hitchin Hill – Along with Wicket Ground and Lime Kiln Ground, Hitchin Hill Ground is one of the smaller and quieter sites. They’re found in the north-west corner of the site and close to the bus and coach station – ideal for making a hasty exit on Monday morning. They’re far away from the action, though, particularly Shangri-La, which you won’t want to miss.
Oxlyers – Not for anyone who’s planning on sleeping. Oxlyers is central (between the Silver Hayes dance area and the Other Stage), but is the lowest lying campsite. Expect to find a sodden sleeping bag when you get back from a rainy night of raving.
Many, if not most, Glastonbury-goers last the whole festival without showering at all – wet wipes and dry shampoo are your friends. But if you don’t want to fully embrace the festival lifestyle and CBA to bring a portable shower, you have options. There are showers at the bottom of the Kidzfield and in the Greenpeace field but expect to queue for ages, particularly between about 8am and lunchtime. Either get up at the crack of dawn, which won’t seem very appealing after a big night, or have an early evening shower.
After the first few days, you’ll have to embrace a certain amount of grossness, but make the experience less stomach-churning by walking to loos a little further out rather than queueing at the busiest (this is often quicker anyway). Aim to use the toilet furthest from the path, too. The composting toilets are your best bet for avoiding nasty smells – just do your thing and sprinkle the sawdust provided. There are also four “Sheepee” sites, aka female urinals, which make for a very swift wee and a... unique experience.
There’s a plethora of cuisines available, so this is obviously subjective, but certain food stalls crop up time and again in people’s recommendations. The festival is heaven for veggies and vegans (there’s a list of options here), and Manic Organic is always mentioned as a highlight – find it between the Avalon and Greenpeace fields and expect hearty portions. The falafel at Goodness Gracious Healthy Foods is life-changing, The Parsnipship makes delicious and interesting food, and head to the Hare Krishna tent for free, healthy meals.
Omnivores rave about the Goan Seafood Company for its fish curries, Le Grand Bouffe for its tartiflette, Le Rac Shack for its Alpine-style cheesy goodness, Anna Mae's Mac N Cheese, Voodoo Rays for its 22-inch pizzas and Square Pie for its stodgy comfort food. People also recommend the Green Futures farmers’ market.
If you want to save some cash and don’t fancy buying every meal, bring food that doesn’t require cooking, plates or cutlery. Fruit, cereal bars, crackers, crisps and biscuits work well. The same goes for alcohol – day and night drinking quickly gets expensive if you’re relying on bars, so stock up at a supermarket beforehand (preferably not on your way to the festival, as this will mean you arrive later).
Just make sure nothing needs refrigerating and remember to decant everything into PLASTIC bottles before (glass is confiscated at the entrance). During the day, you'll often spot hardcore drinkers wandering around with liquid refillable backpacks, which remove the risk of spillage but greatly enhance the prospect of looking like a dweeb.
There are countless bars, but some are more interesting and less well-known than others and so are worth checking out. The Underground Piano Bar is no longer a secret but is still pretty special (and still can't be found on any maps) and The Rabbit Hole is weird, wonderful and hosts bands, although the queue can be long. Other favourites include The Beat Hotel, the iconic Cider Bus, the rustic Cockmill bar, the grand Avalon Inn, the idyllic Spike bar in the Glade area, and the hippy-dippy Bimble Inn.
After hours, popular hangouts include the dystopic and bizarre Shangri-La (expect a massive queue, as people often go straight there after the headliners finish), Block9 for underground dance music (also very busy), the Unfairground for subversive art and music, and the unmissable Arcadia. Strummerville was magical last year, too.