Glastonbury has always been the festival I’ve been dying to go to. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s arguably the biggest, most famous contemporary performing arts festival in the world. It’s five days of contemporary music, dance, comedy, theatre, cabaret, and more in Pilton, Somerset. It’s also very famous for its mud. When I was younger, I used to make the annual pilgrimage to Reading Festival following GCSE/A Level results (yep, I was one of those kids). Unfortunately, I was never able to go to Glastonbury due to timings with school or university. This year, that was about to change. My friend Jo and I were lucky enough to get our hands on a pair of tickets.
Travelling to Glastonbury, Somerset
Glastonbury is located in Worthy Farm, near Pilton in Somerset. It’s in the middle of the countryside, so not really the easiest place to get to. We hopped aboard a train and set off for Castle Cary station in Somerset, which is pretty much in the middle of nowhere.
We grabbed our obligatory festival wristbands upon arrival, and pitched our tent in the rain. After lugging our heavy backpacks through the fields trying to find a space, the rain began to pour. We made the foolish mistake of getting there on a Thursday (a day after most people). As a result, there wasn’t tons of room for pitching, and the heavens opened. Nonetheless, we found a lovely spot the other side of the fence to some Portaloos, and got on with it. It wouldn’t be Glastonbury without a bit of rain though, right?
Exploring Glastonbury Festival
Once we were pitched (albeit soggy), we went out to explore the festival. We were overwhelmed by how crazy it was. The festival teems with thousands of happy festival goers, food stalls, and stages blaring a mix of music. Of course, we needed a compulsory photo with the patchwork Glastonbury sign on the hill.
We sat down with the a cider and soaked up the view. I’m not sure I’d ever get bored of it. The festival itself is pretty huge. I don’t think our tent is even in this picture for a sheer idea of scale. After a fair bit of partying and drinking, we set off to explore.
We came across one of the favourite sections of the entire festival, the Green Futures area. It’s quite peculiar, really. It’s a large, quiet field with little lanterns and candles everywhere. Campfires are around and you can buy really yummy hot chocolate from quirky little stalls. There are a couple of tents lit only by fairy lights playing chilled acoustic music. One tent is even powered by bicycle. It really is incredible, and very bohemian. That’s the hippie spirit Glastonbury’s so famous for, I suppose.
There are little domes dotted around, decorated with neon lights. They’re perfect for relaxing in in the evening after a long day of partying. My photos really don’t do it justice.
Friday at Glastonbury Festival
The next day, we were up and ready for the music to start. We waited to see who the surprise act was, and saw the Kaiser Chiefs. They were good, but a bit of a disappointing choice in my opinion. Next up, Blondie.
I wasn’t expecting much from Blondie as the band has been around a long time now. They were, however, incredible. Debbie Harry’s still got it and she’s so effortlessly cool. You can watch Blondie’s Atomic.
Band of Skulls
After a few more acts, one of the bands I had looked forward to seeing the most was Band of Skulls. They really blew the roof off, and were super loud for a small team. Watch I Guess I Know You Fairly Well.
Next, we hopped over to Glastonbury’s iconic Pyramid Stage to see Rudimental. They have a bit of sentimental value for Jo and I. When we were studying for our finals at university, we would listen to Feel the Love endlessly. It would get us excited for the night ahead. It was when we’d finally be able to remove ourselves from the library and go and dance. Sadly, despite the surprise appearance of Ed Sheeran on stage, they weren’t all that.
Do note those grey skies. For the first time in Glastonbury’s history, the bands stopped playing due to an electrical storm. Subsequently, Rudimental’s set was short. We weren’t too sure what to do with ourselves, and noone knew how long the bad weather would last. The mud was also getting very churned up. Despite the weather, our spirits were high.
The rain finally stopped. Hallelujah! We used the opportunity to explore some of the festival’s more charitable, meaningful protests. That’s one great thing that’s pretty unique to Glastonbury Festival.
After a few more ciders, we went to see CHVRCHES, who never fail to wow with their incredible vocals. In between our muddy trek, we stopped off at Pieminister, which was a true dream in the circumstance.
The food is pretty impressive at Glastonbury, and this was one of our favourite meals. It sure puts Reading Festival to shame. I went for the Free Ranger (chicken, thyme, leek, and ham), and Jo opted for the Moo (steak and ale). Both were delicious. By this time, we were exhausted. We hadn’t sat down all day and this was a brief 15 minute break. If you want to make the most of your festival, it’s what you’ve gotta do though, right!?
Next up, Paolo Nutini. Sadly, he didn’t play any of his older, more famous songs. It was still a great experience while the sun set.
With the sun well and truly down, it was time to dance. Skrillex appeared out of his pod. His set was crazy, and exceeded all our expectations. You can watch Skrillex’ set.
Once Skrillex had finished, we were definitely in the party mood. We went over to Arcadia, an area dominated by a giant mechanic tarantula with a DJ booth. It also dramatically shoots flames, and has speakers all over. We arrived just in time to see Nero.
It was so much fun and we partied until the early hours. Once it ended, we thought that would be over, but oh no! A samba band simply took their position instead and started playing. We headed back to our tent, past the rest of Arcadia. We tried out a glove you can wear that enables you to crush old cars. It really was a crazy place but so much fun. More tomorrow!
Saturday at Glastonbury Festival
Saturday! And we were ready for more bands and more partying. There was only one thing holding us back, again. The rain. We ‘camped out’ in the tent and waited for the worst of the drizzle to stop. We took our time for a very glamorous festival ‘breakfast’.
Our first act for the day was Royal Blood on the John Peel Stage. I’d heard good things about these guys on Sunday Brunch, of all places so we went to check them out. The new duo on the block, even the compere was amazed at how much noise one guy on the drums and another on the bass can actually create. They were very impressive, and probably one of my favourite acts of the whole weekend. You can watch Royal Blood’s set.
Once they’d finished, we attempted to make a quick pilgrimage to the Pyramid Stage. There was just one obstacle.
The mud was well and truly sticky by now, making things a little more difficult. It’s never fun when you move your foot, and the welly doesn’t go with it.
Lana Del Rey
We hopped over eventually in time for Lana Del Rey. Her moodiness oozed across the crowd – she really does have a dramatic theatrical presence.
Lana wore an incredible rainbow tie dye dress, and seemed a little nervous on stage. She began to smoke too. Her performance of Born to Die even made it rain. Check out those grey clouds again. Desperately hoping to avoid a repeat of yesterday, they eventually shifted. Check out her Lana del Rey’s incredible set. She is so, so effortlessly cool.
Taking another trudge through the mud once Lana finished, we went to The Other Stage to see Imagine Dragons. They were brilliant!
Jumping on to the stage having rolled in mud, you could just sense how excited they were to be playing Glastonbury. I had expected more synth/electronic music from them, but they were all about the drums. In fact, at one point nearly all the band were beating a drum. They were just so happy and really made the crowd energetic.
They cheered with the crowd once the sun eventually made an appearance. Things were definitely about to get brighter. Literally.
Jack White was one of the acts I had been most looking forward to seeing all weekend. He was, I’m sad to say, a little disappointing.
Clearly far too drunk on red wine – which he swigged relentlessly from the bottle during his set – he culminated in tripping over the drum kit. Make sure you check out Jack White’s set to see what happened. After numerous appeals from the crowd, he did eventually play ‘Six Nation Army’, which went down a treat.
It was then a waiting game. Time for (as they called themselves), Glastallica. Metallica isn’t particularly to myself or Jo’s musical taste. Given all the controversy they received upon the announcement they’d be headlining the Pyramid Stage on the Saturday, we felt we at least had to experience a snippet of them in the flesh.
Defying all the stereotypes of long-haired metal rockers, we sported pink flowers and neon paint in the crowd while waiting. This could only ever happen at Glastonbury, I’m sure.
Although they seemed to be pretty excited to be there, we weren’t so sure about them. The crowd was apparently pretty scarce versus the usual headliner crowd. This is despite Metallica launching out hundreds of black beach balls. Most people we spoke to after weren’t too impressed either. You can catch Metallica’s set – what do you think? We set off in search of our own party, and didn’t get back until the very early hours.
Sunday at Glastonbury Festival
It’s Sunday at Glastonbury, already! Aware that the weekend was slipping away far too quickly, we were determined to make the most of our last full day at Glastonbury Festival. We packed it full of bands and pear cider.
The 1975 were fantastic, and oh so cool. Catch the 1975’s Glastonbury set.
The 1975 were followed up by apparently the Pyramid stage’s biggest crowd ever. It could only be Ms Dolly Parton! I loved how on board the crowd were, with tons of people wearing fancy dress of Dolly and Kenny Rogers.
Dolly was so good! Given that most of the crowd didn’t really know many of her songs besides the obvious – Jolene, 9 to 5, and Islands in the Stream – she was a lovely, bubbly character who took multiple opportunities to make the crowd laugh. She even impressed us with her bejewelled sax skills. If you don’t watch anything else, watch Dolly’s Glastonbury set.
The second in a great line up of Sunday’s Pyramid Stage: the UK’s most famous redhead, Ed Sheeran. A lovely guy, I couldn’t help feeling that despite his popularity, he would have sounded more amazing on a smaller stage. He still put on a great show, and Jo was ecstatic to see him. Did you enjoy Ed Sheeran’s set?
Next up, one of my favourite bands of all time. For this very reason, I was happy we’d stayed at the front of the crowd near the barrier this whole time.
I simply had to get up on some shoulders for this one for a better view. Just look at all those people! You can check out the Black Keys playing Gold on the Ceiling. You may even spot someone you recognize at 0’35”. They were just as awesome as I’d hoped. This meant even more excitement for the final Pyramid Stage headliner of the weekend.
We secured a great spot near the front in the middle throughout the day. Kasabian skeleton masks were distributed, so we wore them and got ready to dance. They were easily my favourite band of the weekend.
They were so cool, crazy, and energetic. Even Noel Fielding popped out with Serge to say hi! There were flares, inflatable dinosaurs, and the crazy crowd even literally lifted you up so you don’t even have to jump!
We also made it onto the BBC! If you watch the footage carefully, you may see Jo with her pink flowers.
Shangri-La, Glastonbury Festival
Once Kasabian were done, by no means did anything end there. In fact, things were only just getting started. Having found Arcadia absolutely packed to the rafters, we hopped over to Shangri-La. It’s a clubby area that can be described as none other than absolutely freaking crazy.
It literally felt like one big hallucination! There was a huge, random waterfall, and a tree inside a haunted house style club. Here, you could write and hang a wish and read others’ wishes. Think anything from sentimental to downright stupid wishes.
There’s an area where you’re surrounded by people dressed in Day of the Dead outfits. You can even get face paints while you wait in a coffin if you fancy.
Each year, the Shangri La has a theme – in 2014, it was heaven and hell. We found ourselves in hell (naturally).
With so much to see and do, the party doesn’t really ever end at Glastonbury. We saw much more of the sunrise than we had intended. There’s just area after area of partying, whether you prefer something intense or a little more relaxed.
What a crazy, incredible few days it was! There’s virtually no festival like Glastonbury. I can fully understand why people travel across the world to visit. The next morning, we packed up our tents, had one last meal, and bid farewell to the festival. We were very sad to leave. Turns out there is such a thing as the Glastonbury Blues. I’ll be back for sure one day.
Have you been to Glastonbury? Who was headlining when you went? Which acts are your favourite live? Let me know in the comments!