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Surviving your first Glastonbury Festival

by Steph 18th June 2015
Glastonbury Festival

Glastonbury Festival can be many people’s first experience of camping, and because it’s so different to a standard camping holiday or Eurocamping, it can be a tough experience if you’re ill prepared. In honour of National Camping Month, we’ve put together an essential guide of do’s and don’t’s for any new festival goers.

The Essentials

At Glastonbury Festival you can’t drive your car up to wherever you pitch your tent, so packing light is key (unless you’re prepared to do several trips to and from your car). Depending on where you park, or if you travel by bus, the walk to your camping field can be long and tough. Pack your stuff in a rucksack, so you can strap it to your back and still have your hands free to carry that all important crate of beer!

[responsive-image id=’2839′ align=’left’ caption=’Use a decent tent to prevent flooding’ alt=’Glastonbury Tent’]Obviously you need a tent. Whilst putting up a tent can be a real chore and make a pop-up one look tempting, you definitely need a proper tent (complete with an inner section) for Glastonbury.  Pop-ups are fine in the sunshine, but will soak up any decent amount of rain and you’ll end up regretting using one. In the past, I’ve had to build a make-shift dam with sticks to change the flow of water from running underneath my tent!

Take a sleeping bag and something to sleep on. A lot of people take air beds, but I’ve always found a self-inflating camping mat does the trick and can be strapped onto the bottom of your rucksack.

When packing clothes, try not to go over the top: keep it to a few outfits and take layers. Even on sunny days you’ll benefit from having something warm to wear in the early hours! You definitely need wellies and a waterproof. Even if the forecast is sunny, take them anyway; you don’t want to be at Glastonbury without wellies if the heaven’s open.

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Suncream, a hat and sunglasses are also must-have items, although you can always buy these once you arrive if you prefer.

Take a portable phone charger as you’re bound to run out of battery and the queues at the Chill ‘n’ Charge can be long. My brother always takes an old Nokia to use for texts and calls, and the battery lasts all weekend. Very handy when you’re trying to arrange to meet up with friends.

The Non-Essentials

Food and Drink

Glastonbury Festival has a massive range of really good quality food and at reasonable prices too. Personally, I’d say not to bother with camping stoves and cooking equipment and explore the food stalls instead.  I do find it useful to have a few snacks to hand in case hunger strikes and you can’t be bothered making a trip from your tent to pick something up.  Cereal bars, Jaffa Cakes and malt loaf were always in my rucksack!

There’s really no need to take water: Glastonbury sells local spring water at a very reasonable price so you may as well avoid carrying extra weight.  I always take a few cartons of juice, which are small and light to pack, but can be a lifesaver if you’re hungover.  The big money-saver at Glastonbury is alcohol, unlike other festivals, you can take your own alcohol throughout the festival site.  This means that if you want to buy a nice cold pint of Somerset cider, there are no queues at the bar, but also means you save a fortune.  Just remember you can’t take glass.

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If you’ve walked for miles weighed down with bags, it can be tempting to pitch your tent in the first spot you see, but you’d be wise to choose your spot carefully. Pitching up a safe distance from the toilets is an obvious one, but here are a few other tips for camping at Glastonbury Festival:

[responsive-image id=’2842′ align=’right’ caption=’A flooded Pennard Hill’ alt=’Glastonbury Festival’]

1. Avoid the edges of the path – the metal grates used to mark out paths are noisy and in bad weather, paths start to spread so you’ll find people kicking the edges of your tent as they pass.

2. Don’t camp near stages – the toilets nearest stages are the worst, plus they’re the busiest areas and get really muddy in rain.

3. Camp on high ground – If it rains, water will flow downhill and if you’re at the bottom you’re at risk of flooding.

4. Don’t leave space – If you pitch your tent with friends and leave a nice little communal area in front, don’t expect it to be there in the morning – it’s best to just keep all your tents close together.  Some people choose to rope off their own area, but I find this annoying when you’re walking through a camping field at night and tripping over ropes!

Top tip: If the weather’s hot, take some foil blankets and peg them to the outside of your tent – they’ll stop it becoming a sauna at 6am.

I used to always head to the top of Pennard Hill to camp, but this is now one of the first fields to fill up, but I find you can always get a decent spot in the Diary Ground.

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What to do

Watching artists on stages is an obvious draw of Glastonbury Festival, but do make sure you experience some of the other wonderful events on offer. Here are my top 5…

1. Sunset at the sacred space

The views of the whole site are magnificent and it’s a great place to sit and relax for a bit. Head up to watch the sunset over the festival on Wednesday or Thursday, so you won’t miss any bands.

2. The South East Corner

This is home to the Unfairground, Shangri La and Block 9 where you’ll see some bizaare sights!  A great space to spend some time in the early hours when the main stages are finished – but it does get very busy!

3. Arcadia

The show at Arcadia is spectacular and kicks off at 11pm with DJs and a giant fire breathing metal spider – enough said.

4. The Park

This is another area that’s great late at night, with a couple of bars to choose from and the 17 metre Ribbon Tower you’ll have seen on the TV coverage.  It’s also home to the Silent Disco and the Rabbit Hole – find the entrance, crawl through a tunnel and you’re in a club, with DJs playing until about 4am.

5. The Glade

I like spending some time in The Glade in the (late) morning with a coffee. There’s often some chilled out dance music being played amongst the trees… Bliss!

I hope you’ve found this a useful guide to Glastonbury Festival and I’d love to hear your own tips and recommendations in the comments section below. Remember, Glastonbury is set on a farm, so make sure you tidy up after yourself before you leave. Love the farm, leave no trace.

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