The First-Timers Guide to the Glastonbury

The First-Timers Guide to the Glastonbury

by jessicajolly / Jun 01, 2015 / 0 comments
Monday, 1 June 2015

What, you’re going to Glastonbury for the first time? We’re so excited for you! But if you’re a youngster who’s just expecting a big romp in the field or an American who’s only done Coachella, you’re not ready. Trust us.

Who the hell are we? A 12 year Glasto veteran who’s mum attended the first festival in 1970, and a foreigner who’s Glastonbury cherry popped last year. Make yourself a tea and take some notes.



Ease of assembly is a major priority when choosing a festival tent, as space is tight in the campgrounds. Quechua popup tents are well affordable and easy to use. In fact, some are cheap enough to where you could buy a spare and use it as a common area / dining room with your friends (this way you won’t roll over your sausages in your sleep.) This fancy new model is a bit spendy, but we’re loving in the built-in light.


Americans, leave your Bonaroo bikini at home. You need rain gear. WELLINGTON BOOTS are an absolute essential. A rain hoodie or parka is required as well.
But ladies, don’t worry, you can still look cute. Pack a summer dress. One you don’t mind never wearing again. Short shorts look adorable with your wellies, and big headdresses not only make it easy for your boyfriend to find you in the crowd, but also hide how dirty your hair has become. Pack bright colours and anything sparkly.
Everyone, you need TWO SEPARATE bags of clothing. A bag of summery attire, and a larger, wet-weather bag that contains warm clothes. Also, you need two outfits for each day. When outfit number one gets wet, you’ll need a change of dry clothes while the first airs out (if it’s a particularly rainy year, these items won’t dry out until you get home.)


BRINGING YOUR OWN: If you have the option, a camping stove is desirable. It brings down your festival costs considerably. Caravan Tech has good prices on camping cookware. Some eggs, bread, tea, milk, and pre-cooked sausages make your hungover mornings so much more recoverable. I also recommend a few packages of Pot Noodles. On normal occasions they taste like poverty, but while shivering in a tent as you come down from whatever mystery drug you took 4 hours ago, Pot Noodles taste like milk n honey.
Bring spirits and mixers if you fancy cocktails, as the bars usually just serve beer and cider. Dark and Stormies are a popular cocktail (rum, lime, ginger beer) because they taste great cold or tepid so are not reliant on ice. That's another thing: I don't recommend wasting cooler space on ice. It's going to melt quickly and get everything even wetter.
ONSITE CUISINE: If you are arriving by coach or don’t have room for food, never fear, festival food has become fantastic. More on that later in the article, we’re still talking about what to pack…


BABY WIPES aren’t just for babies bums. They are for every inch of your mud-caked body. There are showers at the Greenpeace and Kidz fields, but it’s an incredible amount of effort to only be clean for 45 minutes. That said, you could end up with someone else’s bodily fluids all over you (and not in a good way), so know where the Greenpeace field is located in case your best friend pukes on you.
Dry shampoo is nice to have if you’ve got lots of hair. Bring extra water bottles for teeth-brushing, as the water taps often have long queues. Loo rolls are another essential, more on that later.


You’ll need pockets for money, drugs, festival guide, water bottle, and any bits and bobs you pick up along the way. Your trousers are going to get mucky, so blokes, I recommend some sort of man-bag. One that straps to your chest will stay firmly attached while you're dancing at Arcadia.
Girls, we know you’d never be seen wearing a bum-bag. At music festivals, they are not only accepted but expected. You can find really cute ones these days. Invest in one you love and take it every year.

f. “STUFF”

You wanna bring Mary and Mandy, but you don’t want those girls to put a stain on your permanent record. It’s not too difficult. Glastonbury rarely has sniffer dogs, so party favours are pretty safe hidden inside your luggage. That said, illegal substances are still illegal inside the fest, so be discreet.


Queuing at a charging station is a horrible way to waste time at a festival, so bring fully loaded portable chargers with you. EE has a powerbar device they are offering exclusively for Glastonbury. Another hot tip is to bring an old flip phone with your current SIM card inside. The batteries in those old stalwarts last for ages, so you'll be able to make calls much more reliably than with a power-hogging smart phone. DO NOT bring your laptop. There's little wifi, it WILL get damaged, and you don't need it, I promise. What you DO NEED are EARPLUGS. There will be cokeheads arguing in a tent behind yours at 6am. The earplugs will help you get a good nights sleep, and cut down on stage noise if you are a bit sensitive.



To snag an ideal parking and camping spot, arrive at Glastonbury before 5am. It sucks, we know. But you’ll save your legs and not end up camping near the toilets. No matter how early you arrive, you should get a high quality garden trolley to hoist all your stuff up the hill. It’s a very long walk from the parking lot to the campgrounds, you DON’T wanna do that journey more than once if you can avoid it.


If you purchased a coach / ticket package, you did well. The coaches are very comfortable and you don’t have to fuss with parking. Do arrive at the pickup point about an hour before departure to ensure a good seat. I was lucky and had a really funny bus driver last year who gave me a tour of all the sights we passed along the way.


BikeToGlasto has set up bike locks, cyclist-only camping, and arranges for your luggage to be shipped down from a drop-off point. I know it sounds insane, but cycling all the way to Pilton might be the most hassle-free way into the festival. You avoid the parking lot and the dreaded pedestrian queue by locking up right by the wrist-band gate. There are groups organized to leave from Bristol, Bath, and other west country locations.


One of us remembers the days of hopping over the fence and running down the grass like a Pagan warrior. You’ve seen those videos from the early 90s. It doesn’t work any more. You need to be proper ninja to get through fence nowadays. If you didn’t get a ticket and are still reading this guide, go on, try it then. Here's an article about the last recorded fence jumper, who scaled the walls in 2007.


There are two things to consider here: 1. Not getting flooded, and 2. Proximity to stages. Those two priorities are often in conflict, as stages are located in low-lying areas. We at Festivals and Gigs highly recommend Penard Hill. Even in a very rainy year it will not flood, and you get a fantastic view of the fest. It’s a bit of a mission to get to the other side of the festival from here, but on the first two days simply acquaint yourself with the layout and then you won’t have any troubles. Which leads us to…



You’ll get a map on arrival. Study that shit HARD then take a nice long walkabout so that you know where everything is before the gigs start. It’s very annoying getting lost at Glasto, when you know your favourite act is somewhere in some tent or other. Here's a map you can begin acquainting yourself with now.


You are already having an amazing time! You and you’re friends have danced, drank gin cocktails, and listened to Welsh people in the next tent have an orgy. But you’ve got 3 days of non-stop gigs ahead of you, so don’t consume too much alcohol and try to get a decent amount of sleep. You’ll hate yourself if you are already out of commission come Friday.



You’ll get a festival program as soon as you arrive, and opening it is like experiencing 300 Christmas’ all at once. Don’t get too overworked though. You can’t see them all. Pick out your priorities, then find some fun alternatives that are near each other. It can take 90 minutes to get from one side of the fest to the other, be sure to plan a half hours journey between major stages.


This is a very reliable online resource you can use to see which bands are playing simultaneously. This is best to go through thoroughly before the festival, as you may not have online access.


Leave plenty of time in your schedule to accidentally trip onto your new favourite act. Walk by tiny tents and outdoor stages where you’ll see a group of old geezers from York playing punk tunes on trombone. These will become many of your most memorable moments.


It happens every year, it will happen this year. A big-name act will perform a surprise set on a little stage either very late at night or smack in the middle of the afternoon. How to make sure you are one of the lucky few who saw these events? Keep your phone charged, check twitter and texts, and traverse every section of the festival. Be out and about and ready to run.

e. Don’t get too rigid.

I’m saying this myself as well as to all of you. I can be a bit type-A, and tend to make long lists of everything I need to catch, setting myself up for disappointment. You may not see every band you plan to, and that’s ok. I’m still alive even though I overslept my nap and missed my favourite folk singer last year. Glastonbury is an incredible experience and you’ll have loads of wonderful memories. The wicked band you missed is probably going to do another gig in your town at some point, so forgive yourself.


It’s quite competitive getting a spot in the Glasto food lineup, so it’s become an excellent culinary experience. But, eating at the fest is expensive. Expect to spend £30 a day on food if you aren’t bringing any of your own. The queues are very long, SO EAT DURING NON-MEAL TIMES. That will save you hours, seriously. Here are our favourite Glastobury food stalls from 2014, sure to make an appearance this year:

TIBETAN KITCHEN: £8 gets you a well spiced carton of stir-fry and a perfect lil dumpling.

LE PAIN BAGUETTE: Sandwiches are great for grabbing as you run to the next tent. While many can be bland and boring, this stall’s sandies are well-stuffed and very tasty. I got the tuna salad, loved it.

CRAYFISH BOB: Spicy and warming cajun food, this is perfect in the evening when a chill is starting to set in. Finding authentic Louisiana cuisine is fairly difficult anywhere in the UK, the fact that a perfect pot of gumbo is available at Glastonbury speaks to how diverse the food is at the fest.

Food to Avoid: The American amongst us advises to steer clear of any Mexican stalls. Festival nachos are offensive, always. And don’t run up to the burger trucks right by the main stages, they are overcrowded and skimpy. There are far more fulfilling meals right around the corner.

Inside Tip: The Hari Krishna tent gives out free food to the dead broke. It doesn't taste like much, but those boiled potatoes might save your life.


Thacher’s and Brother’s Cider are the beverages of Glastonbury. Pear, Apple, Strawberry, they are all delicious. They are all STRONG - festival edition Pear is 7%. Make sure your body is ready for high alcohol consumption. A pint runs about £4.50, even a delicate drinker will consume at least 3 a day. Most bars only take cash, but there are cashpoints throughout.
Water taps are free and located in all camping areas. Queues are fearsome in the morning, fill up your flask or water bottle before you go to bed if possible. There are no taps by the stages, where a bottle of water will run you £2.


You’ve heard stories about mountains of poo arising from the toilets. That happens at other festivals, but Glastonbury is fairly well tended-to. The green metal drop toilets are the least noxious. They are cleaned every night, so empty your bowels early in the day for a less horrifying experience. Ladies, skirts are highly advisable, it’s no fun dropping your trousers onto the mucky toilet floor. The wheelie-bins are fine the first two days, but don’t go near them on Sunday, or anytime after a rain.

If you are already getting a bit sick at the thought of festival toilets, an Immodium each morning will keep you from having to use them much.

Don’t pee in the trees, people. It’s illegal and you’ll get your willy bit by stinging nettles.


There are tons of great fashion and accessory shops at Glastonbury, and not all of them are priced for the upper middle classes. We bought cheap mohawk wigs last year, which made moshing in the Left Stage all the more hard-core.

Expect lots of crystals and beads in the jewellery stalls. There are plenty of hidden gems with unique products to sell, just have patience and reserve a bit of time to seek them out. We’re hoping Lucky Dandy has a stall up this year, they’ve got some of the most inspired and edgy accessories in the UK.

Inside Tip: The Mexican Hammock stall in West Holts sells great hammocks, but even if you aren’t buying one, you can test one out with a nice afternoon lie-down. Aaaahhhhhh…..


Monday morning, it’s time to load up the trolley and head back down to the prime parking spot you snagged. Here’s the deal, traffic is going to be horrendous getting out. If you’re feeling intrepid, hike down to the parking lot at some point over the weekend and move your car to the back. There are people who leave early or pop out of the fest to go shopping, so you can often find a spot closer to the exit. Lots 33, 34, and 37 are the easiest to drive out of, scope out those areas before you move your vehicle.

As you leave, everyone in your party is going to feel like they’ve been run over by bus or that their insides have turned to poison. Make sure you’ve got at least two drivers in the car. It’s going to be a rough journey (but it will have been worth it.)


Book Monday off work. There is NO WAY you’ll be able to get to the office, much less have a coherent conversation with bosses or customers. Have food in your kitchen before you leave for the fest, as the thought of grocery shopping or take-away will seem treacherous to your over-tired system. Homemade toast will taste like heaven.

That about sums it up. Comment below if you've got any questions. And have a wonderful Glastonbury!

Written by Jessica Jolly & John Sipson

Rating out of 11: