Glastonbury survival tips – from someone who’s been going there for 25 years

It was 1997, the year of the “Glastonbury trench foot”. Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, The Prodigy and masses of mud. Large lakes clustered across nearly all 900 acres of Worthy Farm, the Somerset venue where the festival takes place, and thousands of revelers had to survive without rubber boots.

It was my first year at the best festival in the world, and I’ve been going ever since – except for a few ticket failures and a fallow year. It’s my favorite place on the planet, where anything goes. Judgment is firmly left to whatever gates we could get through, and the long weekend is the most fun any music-loving human being can have.

But it is a test of endurance. Follow these safety tips and you’ll have the best weekend of your life.

Bring comfortable shoes

The Glastonbury Festival is huge in every way. The site is over a mile and a half wide, with a perimeter of about 8 and a half miles, and you’re likely to walk every inch of it (last time I was there I rode about 60 miles wide over the weekend). Comfortable shoes or boots are essential.

Remember where you put your keys

Once inside the festival, you might forget the outside world. So much so that when it comes to driving home or entering your home, you may have forgotten where you put your keys. Keep them safe.

Don’t arrive in the dark

You can arrive from Wednesday morning (the festival runs this year from June 22-26), but if you have to work that day and can’t wait until Thursday, be sure to arrive while it is still daylight. Pitching a tent in the dark is hopeless.

Be bracelet savvy

You are finally at the front of the queue and can exchange your ticket for a wristband. Before offering your naturally dominant hand, stop. Swap it out for the other one — the one you’re not wiping your butt with — so the dangling ends don’t make you even dirtier than you’re about to.

Don’t lose your phone

Take a picture of another emergency contact number and set it as your cell phone lock screen. That way, if you lose your phone or something happens to you, you can reach them.

Bring an emergency tub for nighttime pees

Wild peeing isn’t cool in Glastonbury. Do it during the day and you risk being chased by the “little police” – who whistle to tell everyone exactly what you’ve done – and the rules still apply at night. If you’re worried about falling over guy ropes or getting lost finding a toilet, pack a tub for a tent pee. Tubs of ice cream work better for women and bottles of fabric softener for men!

Try a ‘shepee’

The queue for cabins can be endless. Sheep are urinals for anyone without a penis. Just use a “shewee” device, which catches your pee and propels it into a stream, meaning you don’t have to sit down – total genius. Cardboard shewees are usually available at the entrance, but it’s best to buy your own before the event (both cardboard and plastic varieties are available).

Do not camp near toilets

Not only do they smell (really) bad, but the doors will open and close all night long.

Always carry toilet paper and hand sanitizer

To avoid carrying an entire toilet roll, tear off the perfect amount, fold it up and store it in whatever bag you take with you – ideally in a zippered pocket for easy access. Other essentials include hand sanitizer, blister plasters and painkillers.

Visit the cider bus

It’s an institution, you make friends there and the cider is delicious – if it’s raining, try it hot.



An aerial view of the Glastonbury Festival site at Worthy Farm in Somerset

See a sunset (or sunrise) at Stone Circle

The Stone Circle is a magical place at any time of the day, but go at sunset or sunrise, and you’ll probably have a very special time.

Bring sunscreen and boots

The weather in Glastonbury is unpredictable. I’ve had a mega heat wave (2019), torrential downpours (1998) and both (2011) – you have to be prepared for anything. If the weather is nice, you’ll be out all day, so take high factor sunscreen, and if it rains even a little, it’ll be way too muddy for sneakers.

Use blocks

Padlocks are available free of charge. Store keys, extra cash, or anything else you might want to lose.

Don’t take anything you don’t really need

This agonizing march through the festival is long and difficult. Do not overpack. You will regret it every minute you have to wear it.

Choose your toilet wisely

Glastonbury toilets are probably the smelliest you will ever encounter. Choose yours wisely, especially if you have to sit (or squat) for a while… There are portable toilets (usually OK when you enter the festival, or for the first day or two), long drops (crouching may be required but they have an open roof so look up to the sky as you inhale) and a compost toilet (if you’re happy to use one these may be the least smelly). If you just need to pee, urinals and pees are best.

Buy a trolley

It’s still hard work, but putting all your stuff in a cart and hauling it to your campsite is the best way to do it. Make sure it has four very thick wheels and is sturdy, though – many of the cheaper ones break along the way, especially if there’s mud.

If you want to plan, use the app

If you want to make sure you don’t miss your favorite bands and keep up to date with the latest information, the EE Glastonbury app lets you create personal and shareable queues, has an interactive map (so that you can see if you’re going the right way) and a new “dark mode” to use less battery.

Visit the small rooms

Billie Eilish, Sir Paul McCartney and Kendrick Lamar may headline The Pyramid, but the smaller scenes are always worth seeking out. You might stumble upon the next big thing at the BBC presentation stage, see a secret gig in the park, or find a hilarious stand-up gig in a little area you don’t even know the name of.

Look for Secret Gigs

Radiohead at the Park, The Killers at the John Peel Stage – every year there are phenomenal performances that aren’t officially announced anywhere. Efestivals.co.uk is great for rumours.



Carts are a godsend (PA)
Carts are a Godsend

Sleep

Your stamina will take a hit. You’ll be using a lot of energy all day, and the only way to get up the next morning and start again is to get some sleep. Take earplugs and an eye mask – they really help.

Store alcohol in the shade

Bringing your own alcohol to Glastonbury is essential if you plan to drink and don’t have the money. Remember not to worry about glass bottles (they will be taken away from you) and store cans under your tent to keep them cool.

Never forget your raincoat

Even though the weather forecast says it will be warmer than Ibiza, you need a raincoat in Glastonbury – it has its own weather system.

Prepare a bag for the day

If you’re camping far away (which is usually a good idea, as it’s quieter, flatter, and has better toilets), be sure to pack a bag with everything you’ll need for the day and the night, including warmer clothes for later.

Take portable chargers

They are a godsend when your phone battery is low. Turning off your phone at night and using low power mode when not in use is also a good idea.

Do something different – you are in Glastonbury, after all

Learn the didgeridoo. Weave a basket. Talk to strangers. Dance like a wild beast. The possibilities are endless and you will love your experience all the more.

About Marie A. Gingrich

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