Glastonbury Festival: Tales From The Tented City

Now that I've just about recovered from the fun of this glorious festival I wanted today to share with you a few pictures from last weekends events in those farming fields of Somerset!

Glastonbury Festival 2015

Now I'm no huge festival expert, unlike some friends of ours who have been every year for the past 14 years without fail and could certainly tell you a thing or two, this was only my second time at Glastonbury. In addition to that most of my other festival experience has been confined to one day events in some park somewhere in the city of London. Yet still I wanted to share with you a little of the fun of the festival through my eyes. Not so much in the music, which of course is the main draw and yes totally amazing but is ultimately best revisited via BBC iPlayer rather than some patchy, blurry photo at least 1000 people back from the stage. Instead here is a little snippet of what you can find on exploration of the site. An inside peek at one of the most famous festivals in the world. So whether you're currently dealing with a case of post Glastonbury blues, are intrigued as to whether or not to book yourself your first time ticket next year, or just fancy a little look at some photos from a field in Somerset, then I hope you'll enjoy today's post. Be warned it's pretty photo heavy, I got a little snap happy this time around.

Glastonbury Festival 2015

Glastonbury festival is considered one of the biggest and most famous festivals in the world. Set over 900 acres of land this tented city, roughly the size of the city of York, this year played host to over 177,000 revellers. It's this sheer size that's the first thing to hit you when you first step foot onto the site. 

The famous Pyramid stage drew around 100,000 spectators for Lionel Richie's Sunday afternoon performance, one of the largest single crowds for a performer ever. Standing in the middle of such a wave of people, staring ahead and behind at such a large sea of heads is both amazing and overwhelming in equal measure. The spirit, the energy and the atmosphere is electrifying, and so is the struggle to wade through everyone and find the nearest toilet after one too many pints of cider. Oh and may I just say that Lionel was AMAZING!

Aside from the crowds and the music (and the toilets) there is also so much wonder just waiting to be discovered if you have the energy to explore and do so. This year we spent our first day getting our bearings and doing just that. We didn't see it all, I don't know if you can ever cover all of what is on offer in just one visit it's pretty impossible, but we did see quite bit. Starting with a little relaxation and a much needed massage in the spiritual calm of the Healing Field.

Glastonbury Festival Healing Field

It's in the Healing Field that you can find a few moments peace and rest away from the hustle and bustle of the main festival crowd. Last time I didn't make it far enough to visit, this time we made sure we stopped by for a little massage and quiet time amongst the headiness of the main festival vibe.

You can choose from pretty much any treatment that you can imagine, massage, reiki, reflexology  you name it. Plus if you feel the need then take part in one of the many meditative, yoga or thai chi classes that take place daily. Payment is by contribution, although I urge you to be generous as the practitioners are all fabulous and it's well worth a few of your festival pennies to spend some time in their company and feel renewed and revitalised. Well worth dropping by, this peaceful part of the festival offers something a little different and restful. Plus it's a nice break for your ears from the heady thump of the music on the main stages.

Glastonbury Festival Healing Field
Glastonbury Festival Healing Field

Next let's take a little peek at the Tipi Field. This is really just purely for pretty photo purposes as I love some of the details and colours that came out in these photos. The Tipi Field is an accommodation area in which you can book to stay should you not fancy pitching up your own tent on the main site. Near to the Healing Field and with a fabulous view of the site below, this area is nice for a little wander, a good place to stop for a coffee and a healthy bite to eat and if you have the funds to stay then I imagine a very cool spot in which to park your sleeping bag. Priced at £950 for the five night duration of the festival (not including the price of your festival ticket) it's not the cheapest of options but it certainly looks like a fun one. Although I'm pretty sure these sell like hotcakes and go fast when tickets go on sale so if this takes your fancy seize it quickly!

Glastonbury Festival Tipifield
Glastonbury Festival Tipifield
Glastonbury Festival Tipifield
Glastonbury Festival Tipifield

So we continue up the hill to one of the best places to get a view and the spot to get yourself a colourful flag photo! If you head in this direction take a while to sit on the hill and soak up the landscape of the full festival below you. You can also swing by one of the lively coffee shops on the way and grab yourself a pretty nice hot drink and stupendously delightful slice of cake. Or as we did, grab a truly special custard tart and get some sugary energy to help you with your ascent up the hill to take in the view.

Glastonbury Festival
Glastonbury Festival Tea & Coffee
Glastonbury Festival Tea & Coffee
Glastonbury Festival Tea & Coffee
Glastonbury Festival Tea & Coffee
Glastonbury Festival Sculpture

Another great spot to visit is The Park. Here you will find the 17 metre Ribbon Viewing Tower that looks over the entire site, although always seems to have quite a large queue waiting to go up it. 

It's also the location of the famous Rabbit Hole an underground tunnel that leads you to a selection of live bands, DJ's and all sorts of other unusual and amazing goings on. This is the one thing that we missed that I would really loved to have experienced - so I guess we'll just have to buy a ticket for next year and pop it on the 'to do' list won't we!

It's in the park where you can experience the famous silent disco. These are quite well known nowadays and accessible all over the place but if you've never been it's quite a fun stop to add to the itinerary. We didn't go this year but I can remember it from my previous Glastonbury escapade way back in 2008. Grab a set of headphones and dance along together in silence in a giant tent. Remember to take off those headphones and experience the weirdness of everyone enjoying themselves in the complete silence of a packed tent. Surreal but fun!

Glastonbury Festival The Park
Glastonbury Festival Ribbon Tower
Glastonbury Festival The Park
Glastonbury Festival The Park
Glastonbury Festival Silent Disco

Before I finish up with a few of my own tips and observations, as well as a little playlist in selection of some of my personal favourite tunes from this years festival, here's a few final mentions for other view worthy areas that you should try and check out. Demonstrated in the following few photos!

First up Arcadia the giant metal, fire breathing, spider of a stage and a spectacle to see even when just standing still waiting to do it's thing, let alone when actually doing it's thing! It's here where, from 11pm each night, you can come and watch a spectacular show of fire and lights surrounding a selection of DJs, bands and heart thumping entertainment. Well worth a stop on your Glasto itinerary.

If Cabaret is your thing then head to the nightclub styled Cabaret Marquee that sits happily in the Theatre and Circus fields. Be entertained in equal measure by a flurry of stand up comedy, burlesque, contemporary music and other delights of all sorts and variety. A good place to stop and be entertained for a while and get a break from all of the walking that will by this point be making your feet throb in anticipation of removal of those slightly annoying wellies!

With that in mind the Circus and Theatre fields are well worth a visit and a wander on a sunny Sunday (or any other) afternoon. Be amazed by the acrobatic wonders hanging high in the sky doing their thing, or bewildered and fascinated by the performance artists wandering by doing all sorts of unusual activities in all sorts of wondrous costumes. This is a really fun stop if you can find a moment between headliners to take a peek.

On your way to explore the sights and sounds of the Silver Hayes dance village stop by The Beat Hotel to eat, drink and dance to a top line-up of DJs playing to you in their bathrobes live from their bedroom suites! 

For the true night owls with the foot power and energy to make it out to Shangri-La then the night doesn't have to end once the last band has packed up on the main stages. The fun and frolics continue well into the early hours of the morning as you stumble sleepily around heaven and hell watching late night bands and DJs do their thing. Or go and have a pop at some classic fairground fun in the headiness of the Unfairground.

There really is so very much to do, this is a teeny snippet of what's on offer. Don't take my word for it, get into that festival spirit and go explore and find your own slice of Glastonbury Festival wonder. Oh and I mustn't forget a special mention for one of the funnest but cheesiest moments that you'll ever have the pleasure of standing in a sweaty tent and experiencing. At some point you must head over to Williams Green and sing your absolute heart and lungs out to all of your favourite songs from days long past at the Guilty Pleasures set. Certain to get you well and truly in the mood for all the fun of the festival!

Glastonbury Arcadia
Glastonbury Cabaret Tent
Glastonbury Circus Field
Glastonbury Circus Field
The Beat Hotel
Glastonbury Poster Board
Glastonbury Sculpture
Glastonbury Shangri-La
Glastonbury Shangri-La
Glastonbury Festival Guilty Pleasures

So before I retire from this very long post, and if you've stayed with me this far I thank you, I thought I'd wrap up with a summary of the festival as I see it. These are the things I've learned from this years Glastonbury, and I think they may be useful points to remember for any future festival goers!  

1. You will need wellies and a pac-a-mac. Don't be enchanted by the lure of a bright British weather forecast. It's England and it will rain at some point, pretty much guaranteed. When you're standing in a field with over 170,000 people it only takes a little downpour with all of those feet to make a mushy muddy mess, so be prepared - unless you want this squidgy delight oozing around between your toes. It's also best in my opinion to keep your feet covered even on the sunnier days if you're going to brave some of the less finer things that you may find on the ground of the famous festival toilets #justsaying!

2. You will walk more in one day than you ever thought possible. Your feet will be numb for a fair few days after you return home. Now that the iPhone records your every move whether you like it or not we found that on most days we walked (or jumped and danced) our way to around 40,000 steps a day. Trust me that's a lot of steps and a fair bit of mileage!

3. Walking in wellies all day will tire you out more than you ever thought. Wellies are a necessary but at times, hot, tight and annoying accessory - fact!

4. Festival food is really flipping fabulous. It seems that the days of the greasy festival burger are long behind us and that's obviously nothing but a very good thing. With the recent surge in pop up gourmet food trucks you really will be totally and utterly spoilt for choice. Some of our faves from this year included: Anna Maes Mac'n'CheesePaellariaThe Cheese Truck and Le Rac Shack. All worth taking a look at as you'll also be able to find many of these stalls around the capital this summer. In fact I think you can grab a bowl of Anna Maes amazing mac'n'cheese down on the Southbank in London as we speak.

5. You'll be surprised by the decent supply of 4G phone signal. Some will say this is a good thing, others will strongly disagree but either way technology is now ever present at the festival and I was amazed that at most corners of the site I had a full 4G signal and a longer battery life than before. Cue annoying posts to Facebook (sorry!) and a flurry of tweets and Instagram posts. To be honest when my phone and spare battery finally died I was really happy because it's far better to emerse yourself in the proceedings and be fully present than worry about sharing it with the rest of the world.

For a view on the way digital is changing Glastonbury as it once was known, here are a couple of reads that might tickle your fancy: How Florence + The Machine Won Glastonbury - The Guardian and Technology Is Changing Glastonbury And I Can't Keep Up - Dane Cobain.

Glastonbury Pyramid Stage
Glastonbury Pyramid Stage
Glastonbury The Other Stage
Glastonbury Flags

Phew! Well if you've made it to the end of this colossal post and if after all that you still have the festival fever then you may want to have a listen to my festival soundtrack from this year. Featuring some of my absolute favourites including the brilliant Molotov Jukebox and the truly energising romp that is the Electric Swing Circus. Thanks for sticking with me and if you're planning a trip to Glasto next year then I hope this comes in useful!

Louise

Oh and one final thing, whichever festival you may be attending really do remember to take all of your belongings including your tent, however annoying it may be to pack away, home with you. If you look at this article on the clean up after such an event and the amount of rubbish that's left behind, you'll understand why it's just so very important to be responsible and clean up for the future of the environment and the security of such a fabulous event as this: The Big Clean Up Of Glastonbury Festival.