Hettie Burn gives the lowdown on Glastonbury
The reason that Glastonbury is unique – the reason that thousands of festival goers of all ages migrate to Somerset year after year – is that it is a festival to be experienced completely on your own terms. Firstly is the sheer breadth of experiences available, from the Fields of Avalon, amongst which thousands of ravers spend the early hours dancing around a massive flame-throwing spider, to the Healing Fields, where you might find it hard to sit down without a do-gooder beginning to massage your shoulders. Secondly is the fact that the festival quite literally never sleeps; wandering around at four in the morning can feel busier and more electric than any other time of day. And thirdly is that very word ‘wondering,’ because that is what Glastonbury does best. The ethos of the festival is not to timetable the bands you want to see and spend hours dehydrating at the front of the main stages, but to wonder around the 1200 acres of beautiful valley in Somerset and see what, or who, you find.
Glastonbury is immersive. For one, the camping fields are interspersed amongst the other fields which means that sleeping can vary quite considerably in quality. If you’re looking for a reasonable nap then the far west fields a best (Darble or Dairy Ground), but if you’re looking to use your tent solely for storage rather than sleep then Pennard Hill and The Park are ideal. These later fields are near the south-east corner of the festival, where many of the unexpected and bizarre experiences at Glasto can be found. Little that goes on there is remembered the next morning, but you might be lucky enough to recall catching one of the secret headliners on stage or in a tiny venue, or getting lost in the winding alleys of Shangri-La only to discover a place you never expected to encounter. The other option for late night antics resides in the opposite corner of the festival, where the Dance Village will be playing host to the best DJs until the early hours.
By day the more central areas of the site become the focus. The main stages are active usually from 11am until 1am, and the line-up tends to speak for itself. The Pyramid Stage that played host to Beyoncé in 2011 will be welcoming The Rolling Stones this year, and The Other Stage will play host to Alt-J, The xx and Foals among many more. Yet with up to 40 stages in Glastonbury, the smaller and more intimate gigs are worth seeking out and offer quite literally every genre of music and performance art in existence. If you feel like exploring rather than watching for a while, to wander through the Healing Field up towards the Tipi Park could easily occupy a whole afternoon as your get intrigued by numerous tents. The atmosphere of Glastonbury is ultimately friendly and welcoming, and to experience the festival at its best is to have no agenda and just follow your feet.