Monday, 16 June 2008

Countdown to Glastonbury: Top Tips

So Bawley’s Hummer is going to Glastonbury. And I’m not. But rather than just sulk about this state of affairs, and because we at Bawley like lists, I thought I’d do something productive, and share my years of experience in the trenches to bring you my top ten top tips for a tip top time on Worthy Farm.

I’m Nick, by the way. I’m new here.

1. Ignore the weather forecast.

It will be wrong. That’s pretty much your one Glastonbury certainty. There is such a thing as a hot, dry Glastonbury (I’ve been to one!) But if it rains (and it probably will) you will need wellies. And it’s much better to bring them with you before you go, because as soon as the site starts getting muddy, the queues at the welly shops become reminiscent of Communist Russia. And even when it’s hot during the day, the site gets really bloody cold at night, and not even the pear cider will keep you warm. So, basically, pack for every possible weather condition.

But if anyone’s asking, I reckon it’s going to be a scorcher this year.

2. Get to the Stone Circle.

Preferably for sunrise or sunset. Help yourself to a flaming torch, sit back, take in the spectacular view over the whole site, and enjoy the atmosphere of the Best. Campfire. Ever.

3. Bring your own booze.

One of the brilliant ways that Glastonbury differs from pretty much any festival on the planet is that it’s a total alcohol free-for-all. You can bring as much booze as you want with you, and you can take it anywhere on the site, which means that you’re not limited to queueing up for overpriced poor quality lager served to you in a flimsy paper cup. The only (legal) thing you’re not allowed to bring on site, though, is glass, because the site’s a working farm most of the year, and broken glass hurts the cows’ feet. So you just need to decant any wine or spirits into something plastic before you get there. My tip, drinks wise, is a few nice boxes of red wine – easy to carry, no glass, and you don’t need to keep it cold.

4. Be prepared for the toilets.

Widely acknowledged as The Worst Thing About Glastonbury but really not that bad. You’ve basically got four types: urinals (for girls too! The She-Pee apparently works well. I don’t fully understand it, but it involves a cardboard funnel); then there’s Portaloos; long drops and a few proper flushing toilets up near the farmhouse and in the Green Fields. The urinals are fine, as are the long drops and flushing toilets, but avoid the Portaloos at all costs. And don’t forget the bogroll.

5. Try the pear cider.

It’s the true taste of Glastonbury! It’s almost impossible to get hold of anywhere else, so the Pear Cider from the
Brothers Bar is a treat. Drink enough of it, and it starts doing strange and wonderful things to your head, and can make The Pigeon Detectives sound like Pink Floyd. And that’s a good thing.

6. Think about tent placement.

It’s a big site. Really big. And there are lots of fields to camp in. Some fields are near the stages, some aren’t, some a quiet, some are noisy. Some are flat, some are hilly. Most people have a theory about which are the best fields to camp in, but I don’t think it matters too much, just as long as you observe the following rules:

a) Be close to the toilets but not TOO close (you want easy access, but you really don’t want to be able to smell them.

b) Steer clear of the main paths because it’s amazing how loud people can be when they’re drunk and walking past your tent at 3 in the morning.

c) Stick to higher ground. Remember the floods?

d) Try to put your tent somewhere memorable, or make it distinctive (flags are good for this). You’ll be amazed how many tents look EXACTLY LIKE yours in the dark.

7. Get lost.

It’s a cliche, but the best things about Glastonbury are the bits far away from the main music stages. The circus, the healing fields, the ti pi fields, the smaller music stages and the like are all amazing, as are the people you’ll see there, and that’s what really makes Glasto the best festival on the planet. Make sure you take plenty of time to wander round the whole site. You really can have a great time without seeing any bands at all.

8. Beware the ATM queue.

There are a lot of opportunities to spend money at Glastonbury. There are fields filled with novelty t-shirts, drug paraphernalia and hand-crafted hippy shit. Unfortunately there are somewhat fewer opportunities on site for getting your hands on your cash. There’s a bank on site with five ATMs that don’t charge fees, and a few others around the site that’ll charge you a couple of quid, but, for a hundred and fifty thousand people, it’s not quite enough. So bring cash with you, but obviously keep it safe (tent robberies and pick pocketing is actually much rarer than you think at Glasto, but it does happen) and if you have to get cash, try to do it early in the morning or late at night when the queues are much much smaller and you’re not missing bands. However, if that band is
Hard Fi, you’ll probably have more fun queuing for a cash machine and celebrating the irony.

9. Go and see a band you’ve never heard of.

They might just become your new favourite. I discovered Bright Eyes that way, and I first encountered a little-known band called The Killers about halfway down the bill on one of the smallest stages. They won’t amount to anything, I thought to myself.

10. See a headliner on the Pyramid stage.

Having said that it’s best to explore and make sure you get around the smaller stages and all the non-musical stuff Glastonbury has to offer, and despite the fact that non of the headliners this year are what might be described as ‘unmissable’; there’s something about the Pyramid that brings out the very best in bands and audiences, so make sure you see at least part of one of the headline sets. Famously, Radiohead rose to the indie-rock superleague after their performance in 1997, and their performance in 2003 was simply one of the greatest things I've ever seen.

My tip this year would be Jay-Z. With all the controversy surrounding his appearance this year, and with the rumoured guest appearances and what will certainly be a spectacular light show, I think he’ll be pretty awesome.

11. Ignore all of the above.

It’s Glastonbury, innit! It’ not about rules, man. It’s about the vibe. Man.

1 comment:

Hummer said...

A perfect debut
* Self referencing - check
* Contains a numbered list - check
* Mentions Radiohead - check

Welcome to the team.

Oh yeah and thanks for the tips