The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, often referred to Glastonbury or Glasto, is the largest green field open-air music and performing arts event in the world. The festival is best known for its contemporary music, but also features dance, comedy, theatre, circus, cabaret and many other arts.
The head-liners include Arcade Fire, Metallica, Kasabian, Elbow, Jack White, The Black Keys, Lilly Allen, Robert Plant, Lana Del Rey, and many more. Click here for the full line-up.
Glastonbury was heavily influenced by hippie ethics and the free festival movement in the early 1970s, beginning with the Isle Of Wight Festival.
Because of it's size and appeal, Glastonbury has become quite a corporate event, however due to the philosophy of organiser Michael Eavis, there are still aspects of the hippie feel still to be found in the festival The festival retains vestiges of this tradition such as the Green Fields area which includes the Green Futures and Healing Field.
There are also a lot of profitable charitable work that takes place at Glastonbury, with the ethics of eco friendly ethics felt throughout the festival. Most of the staff working at the festival are volunteers aiding the festivals work in raising money for good causes.
You check out our own review of the 2013 festival here
You will often find a big variety of people at Glastonbury, from families with babies, right up to seasoned regulars. It's really up to what kind of Glastonbury you want to have, you can either have a chilled time, an informative ethos seeking time or drunk and drugged craze of a time it's up to you! As long as you are nice to other people, no one cares what you get up to.
Stages and other entertainment
With so much to do at Glastonbury, the headliners are only a small part, of what overall makes Glastonbury the experience that it is.
The Pyramid Stage and The Other Stage, which is built right behind it, are where you are likely to find the popular mainstream, and popular alternative choices of music.
The Pyramid Stage is where the biggest acts play. It's shape has occult connotations and it is built next to a leyline. It burn down in 1994 just before the start of the festival. In 2000 it was rebuilt as an enormous 100 foot steel and concrete structure. Its distinct shape makes it one the most instantly recognisable stages in the world. Almost all the biggest name in popular British music have played there, including Radiohead, David Bowie, Oasis, Morissey, and the Artic Monkeys.
The John Peel Stage is set inside a large tent. It, the West Holts, and The Avalon stages are where you will find rising acts or established acts with particular followings from all genres.
New for 2013 was the Sonic Stage, which featured new and popular dance and electronic based or influenced acts.
2013 also saw the addition of the Arcadia Stage, a robotic spider-sound system hybrid that shoots flames.
There is also the Wow! stage often full of DJ sets, the Spirit of 71 stage, the Acoustic stage and political talks and music at the Left Field. There is also reggae, dub and jungle to be enjoyed at The Gully and The Blues stages.
Every year there 18-21+ stages, some return year on year,with others changing their name.
Away from the music and scheduled events there is a variety of activities on offer at the festival. There is a cinema stage which shows films ranging from recent blockbusters to cult horror films, it has also been use to show live sporting events such as the World Cup final and Wimbledon.
Other attractions at the festival include the healing fields where massages, relaxing music and mediation are the order of the day. One of the site's main draws is the Stone Circle where thousands flock for impromptu jam sessions and fire juggling or to just enjoy the sunset.
There is also the cabaret tent, the circus, as well as poetry and words.
A very important thing to remember about Glastonbury is it's size, it can often take as long as 30 min to walk from one stage to another. It's very important to purchase a map and this festival is suited to those who just go with the flow.
If you are someone who likes a rigid plan, we highly suggest getting familiar with good meeting spots and making sure everyone you go with has a working watch should their mobiles cut out!
Dotted around the festival are lots of mini clubs such as The Beat Hotel, who has DJs playing until the early hours, usually a popular spot for those who wish to party longer.
Glastonbury is a suitable festival for children, there is a huge dedicated area called The Kidz Field, with workshops, play areas and plenty of activities.
There are tons of families who attend festivals, with parents customizing their prams and trolleys and making costumes for their children to wear.
Everyone is really respectful of families too, giving them space if needed, and there is also a dedicated camping area for both families and those who wish to camp in the quieter area.
Children are also welcome to enjoy entertainment in the Theatre and Circus area, we would advise sticking to the the morning and early afternoon shows.
Lost children can report to any information point and will be taken to the Kidz Field until 8pm, after which they will be taken Waggonshed Welfare.
However it is important to note there are no creche facilities so you will need to supervise your children at all times.
There are no separate disabled tickets HOWEVER once tickets are purchased you need to contact the festival for an application form which grants you access to diabled facilities on site, as well as the 2-for-1 PA Scheme where a personal assistant can attend for free.
To do this email [email protected]
Bare in mind the walkways can get pretty crowded, so bring comfertable gloves if you need to use the ground when getting from main stage to other stages.
June is a very hit and miss period for the UK summer, it's either the time when an early heatwave can happen, or when rainy periods are still settling.
Glastonbury is famous for it's mud, even in summer times so bring wellies!
It's best to prepare for both extremes, for when it does get sunny, whether it's hot or not it's a good idea to bring sunscreen and aftersun, as you are often hit by direct sun, with limited shaded areas.
The following places have been recommended as good local hotels to try out:
- The Overlook
- Number Three
- Apple Tree House
- Parsnips Bed & Breakfast
- The Kings Arms
You can find some other places recommend to stay here
With the campsite opening at Wednesday, it's recommended to stay local if driving the night before, so that you can get a good pick of camping when you arrive at the opening time.
What to wear
As soon as a hint of the UK Summer Festival season begins, fashion magazines and media outlets with fashion sections will churn out endless useful and useless articles on what they recommend wearing, while trends come and go, here are the standard items mentioned across all posts and features:
- Maxi Dresses/Floaty Dresses: Sometimes just packing black leggings and a selection of dresses and cardigans is the easiest but most accessible way to pack for a festival, not only are they easy to dance in but when the beer and burger float kicks in, something non restrictive is the way to go.
- Decorative Poncho: Nobody wants to carry a rain coat around but then having wet clothes isn't much fun either, there are tons of fashionable and colourful ponchos on websites like Primark, New Look, H&M, the list is endless.
Rock a cool hat to make up for your miserable wellies.
FOR BOTH SEXES
As is the case for all festivals in the UK, weather is unpredictable so awesome wellies will see you through the weekend! Fancy dress is also encouraged for some great photo opportunities.
Also no matter how sunny it gets, flip flops are never a good idea as the area can get quite rocky at parts, it's important to wear footwear that is comfortable as you will doing a lot of walking.
There will be standard Camping available, unlike most festivals that keep the camping and arena separate, the main camping area of Glastonbury bleeds into the arenas, meaning if you arrived early enough, you could camp near the Pyramid Stage!
Different areas have different vibes, with the same people returning year after year. Pennard Hill Ground is a notoriously lively spot, so if you pitch your tent there expect to party a lot and have music playing at all hours. The grounds on the periphery of the festival, on the other hand, tend to be more quiet.
There is also family and quiet camping, which would highly recommend to people who love their sleep.
Camper-vans and Caravans
A separate camper-van/caravan ticket must be purchased with your weekend ticket, and this can be done by calling 0844 412 4626 then providing the caller with your weekend booking reference number.
Gaining vehicular access to the site opens at Midday on the Tuesday until 2pm in the Sunday. This then reopens for people to leave at 6pm on the following Monday.
For those using hired campervan/caravan that need to arrange delivery onto site, their contractor will need to contact the Glastonbury Off-Site Manager to arrange arrival and documentation.
Each caravan is allowed one car to be parked beside the caravan however a £20 car parking ticket must be purchased.No generators are to be brought on site and there are no electrical hookups provided.
Pre Erected Tents
The festival will be providing their own pre-erected tents off-site, in an area called Worthy View, on the hill behind the Stone Circle Field, for the following prices:
(not per person but in total)
- Pre-erected classic scout-style tent - £250 for 5 nights
- 2 person Cloud House - £300 for 5 nights
- 2 person 9ft Yurt - £300 for 5 nights
- 4 person Bell Tent - £500 for 5 nights
- 4 person Tipi Tent - £500 for 5 nights
- 4 person 12ft Yurt - £600 for 5 nights
- 2 person dome tent - £200 for 5 nights
- 4 person dome tent - £400 for 5 nights
- 6 person dome tent - £600 for 5 nights
- 8 person dome tent - £800 for 5 nights
These prices do not include the cost of the festival ticket, which is required to book a tent in Worth Views. There will be showers, toilets, and a kitchen serving food on site. There will be special parking near the camping.
Parking at Glastonbury requires the purchase of a special ticket. A camping ticket costs £25 pounds and is of limited availability. The car parks are located in the fields surrounding Glastonbury. Those who arrive by car will park in a field chose by the stewards.
If you plan on coming by car, and all parking tickets have sold out, follow the blue P signs to the nearest car park. All car parks will charge £30 pounds.
The hours between 7AM and 2PM are the peak arrival times for the festival. The worst times to leave are between 8AM and 5PM on a Monday, with queues up to 8 hours long.
Follow the Glastonbury twitter account to stay on top of the latest traffic information for the duration of the festival.
There are Natwest Cash machines near the farmhouse that do not charge for cash withdrawals, and are open 24 hours from Thursday 10am to Monday Noon.
There are also ATM's that charge £2 for withdrawal and are situated near the following destinations:
- Near the Park Home Ground Medical Centre
- Near the John Peel Stage
- On the walkway between the Jazz World Stage and the Other Stage.
You can charge your mobile for free at the EE Help Centre, although free you are encouraged to make a small charity donation.
There are also payphones located at the five Information Points across the festival site.
Contrary to belief, there is actually really good phone reception at Glastonbury, with telephone reception improved year on year.
Free toilet paper is handed out at various information points.
There are a small number of showers at the bottom of the Kidzfield and Greenpeace Field. Due to the number of people attending, and lack of running water, expect long queues. Those attending are encouraged to bring sanitary wipes to clean themselves.
If you are worried about getting your stuff stolen you can leave your valuables in free property lock-ups. You can also pick up free toilet roll and soap at these points.
There is a church where everyone is welcome to pop in for a bit of peace and quiet. There are also a variety of informal prayer tents including Hare Krishna, Muslim, Jewish, and others.
While it is not (yet) possible to get legally married at Glastonbury, the festival does offer the gorgeous Pilton Tithe Barn to hold receptions. E-mail [email protected] or call: 01749 890 735 for more information.
Food and drink
With over 500 food stalls Glastonbury has something to cater for any taste. There is the standard hoard of burger vans, which are probably the most common type of food stall but there are also a number of less obvious stalls such as fresh fruit, asian cuisine, african, vegetarian and vegan, kosher and even a place selling a breakfast baguette called Pauline Fowler's Growler (named in honour of an Eastenders character).
All vendors have to locally source their food and order from one supplier, so you will defiantly get to try quality food.
The festival operates a 'Challenge 21' policy for the sale of alcohol. Those attending who look 21 and under will be asked for valid identification. You can pick up wristbands that prove that you are over 18 at the lock-up points by presenting ID, so that you will not be asked again.
Glass bottles are banned from the festival grounds, so if you are bringing spirits remember to transfer them into plastic. People attempting to bring amounts that are deemed unreasonable will have them confiscated.
Perform at the festival
Every year the festival launches the annual Emerging Talent Competition offering new unsigned bands a chance to win a slot on the festivals Pyramid Stage.
Contestants are required to supply a link of one of their songs online (on YouTube, Soundcloud, etc.). All entries are judged by a panel of 40 music bloggers from the UK, 8 of those acts then go forward chosen by Michael and Emily Eavis.
There is then a live final in April at Worthy Farm where bands battle it out as it is decided who is the winning act.
Past winners include Scouting For Girls, Golden Silvers, Stornoway, The Subways and We Have Band and Treetop Flyers.
Bands can attempt to book one of the smaller by contacting them directly. Here is a list of the smaller stages and their contact information.
Bands that are signed to a record label can contact festival organisers directly if they are interested in playing.
Volunteer or Work
In addition to the Glastonbury festival organisers who recruit hundreds of people each year to help them with various activities, hundreds of other organisations, including charities, traders and corporations, hire people, both paid and voluntary, to work for them at the festival.
This forum post on WikiFestivals may be useful to you when looking for volunteering positions.
The following organisations recruit stewards for a mixture of paid an unpaid positions each year:
- Festaff - Stewarding positions.
- Oxfam - Stewarding and Car Parking positions.
- Traffic Management - Car Parking positions.
- DC Site Services - Stewarding positions.
- Stuart Security - Security positions.
- Oasis Carnival - Steward Positions.
- Festival Lizards - Steward positions.
- Green Stewards - Steward positions.
Oxfam also run a useful forum for volunteers of all their festivals here.
Trade at Festival
To work as a trader at Glastonbury, candidates are required to fill out a form that can be accessed here. Permission to work as a trader is not given on a first-come, first-served basis, but rather each application is considered individually. Prospective candidates are encouraged to take their time in filling out the application, adding as much information as possible. Click here for the Terms and Conditions.
Setting up a stall at Glastonbury isn't free. Traders who have passed the application process are required to pay a fee to get permission to set up a stall, which can come out to several thousands of pounds. The exact price is variable, and it depends on the size of the stall and the items being sold.
- The Green Fields
The Green Fields are an area in the southern part of the festival. Festival-goers can head there to relax and get a little peace and quiet. Numerous workshops are held there, and there is a Craft Field where craftspeople can show off their skills and teach others, be this using a kiln, making pottery, sowing, or preparing vegetarian food. If you have an interesting skill or craft that you would like to teach people, you can apply to work here. The application form can be found here.
Drugs and security
Whilst drug use is common at Glastonbury it is no less illegal than it is anywhere else. Always be careful when buying or taking drugs.
There will usually be many people selling various drugs around Glastonbury. Dealers vary from relaxed hippies selling hash cakes, to students selling nitrous oxide (laughing gas) balloons, to serious dealers loaded with hundreds of pills or large amounts of cocaine and ketamine.
Use caution when dealing with anyone selling drugs. Drug dealers at Glastonbury may be far from trustworthy so act accordingly.
Drugs are available all over Glastonbury. Most people tend to drink and smoke during the day and resort to more illegal substances as darkness falls.
It is common knowledge that drugs are available (and that drugs are frequently taken) at the 'Stone Circle' at Glastonbury. If you visit this remote, quiet field you will be sure to find someone either selling something, or someone that can direct you to someone who is. Laughing gas is very common at the stone circle during the day, night and into the early hours.
You can usually expect to hardly get searched upon entry, with no guard dogs present. This doesn't mean that there aren't policeman on site, but as long you keep your wits about you, you should be fine!
The BBC also has extensive coverage of the festival via their website and TV channels,
A free app is available for iPhone, Android and Nokia platforms, with the app split into Schedule, Map and News. There was also a personal planner option too. The news is helpful for notifying you whenever there is a delay, cancellation or program changed.
Trivia and History
- The first festival was headlined by T.Rex.
- Local Pilton Resident get a free ticket every year.
- A murder trial was put on hold one year to allow a juror to attend the festival.
- Organiser Micheal Eavis was originally set to join the British Merchant Navy, but returned to the farm after the passing of his father.
- In 2002, A £1 million "superfence" was finally erected in 2002 to beat the fence-jumpers and to boost security.
- In 2007, a volunteer found £6,000 in cash.
- Despite being named as one of the worlds most influential men by Time Magazine, Micheal Eavis remains humble and is often seen taking pictures with attendees.
- The First festival was held in 1970, the day after Jimi Hendrix died. & The price of a ticket in 1970 was £1 and included free milk from the Glastonbury farm
- The festival celebrated it's 40th anniversary
- In 2012, organiser Micheal Eavis was awarded with the Lifetime Acheivement Award at the European Festival Awards ceremony.
In 2012, Glastonbury and promotion company Festival Republic have parted ways in what has been called a "mutual and cordial" departure.
Melvin Benn, who has recently been appointed Chairman of Wembley Stadium, added: "From an operational point of view, myself and my team have taken the Festival as far as I can and it is time for a change I think... I am committed to ensuring as smooth a handover as possible to the new team in Pilton and enjoying Glastonbury for many years to come as a festival goer myself."
The management of the festival has now moved in-house.
For a full list of the 2013 line-up click here.
As standard practise, Glastonbury festival is taking a year out for the land to recover, but Glastonbury 2011 was a success with a lineup that features U2, Morrissey, Wu-Tang Clan, Biffy Clyro, Coldplay, Elbow, Paolo Nutini, Tinie Tempah, Beyonce, Pendulum, Primal scream, Mumford & Sons. The Chemical Brothers, Queens of the Stone Age, Kaiser Chiefs, Cee Lo Green and Janelle Monae.
To have a look at past headlining highlights, click here where we have mentioned all the main headliners since 1971.
If you want to watch past highlights, a quick youtube search will bring up what you need, here are some of the popular highlights from the past
- Beyonce 2011
- Coldplay 2011
- Radiohead 2011