Last updated on April 24th, 2023 at 08:56 am
Last Updated: April 2023
I have just returned to the real world, having had one of the BEST weeks of my life. Yes, folks, I went to Glastonbury Festival. The festival to end all festivals.
Glastonbury was unlike any festival I’ve been to – bigger, better, friendlier, crazier. I’ve never experienced anything like it before and the sense of community is amazing. I’m not much of a crier, but I cried every day at Glastonbury. It was emotional – in a good way.
So I thought I’d let you in on a few of my top Glastonbury tips and advice – all the things I wish I’d known before I went. I hope they help you get prepared and make the most of your Glasto experience!
UPDATE: Since I wrote this post, I went to my second Glasto (2019) and my third (2022 – I still can’t believe I got a golden ticket in the resale) and I’m going again in 2023, so have added a few more tips to the list! 🙂
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30 Essential Tips for Your First Glastonbury Festival
Table of Contents
Pick Your Crew Wisely
Glastonbury is a crazy place. It’s busy, is hectic, it’s stimulating – it’s an absolute assault on the senses and it’s going to be one of the most amazing and uplifting times of your life… but also knackering, so you’ll want to go with good people.
People who you know are up for a laugh, laid back, can cope with not showering for almost a week and being uncomfortable, easy to get along with, and non-judgemental. Basically, no moaners or mood hoovers.
You’ll also want to be with people who you know will look out for you and have your back! Having a couple of veterans in your group is also helpful.
I love having a big group because it meant that we could split up and go and see our favourite bands. Saying that a lot of people also go alone and there are meet-up groups in the Glasto Facebook group for solo travellers.
Go With an Open Mind
One minute you’re dressed as a disco mermaid, then you’re rocking out to the Foo Fighters at the Pyramid Stage, next you might be doing an Irish jig at the Avalon Inn, followed by a visit to an all women’s bar where most of the women are topless, then you might go salsa dancing at Glasto Latino before watching the sunrise and chanting with Hare Krishna monks in the Stone Circle.
This was my first Saturday night at Glastonbury. Your experience will be completely different from mine and everyone else’s, but if you go with an open mind and just see where the festival takes you – you are going to have the best time.
Choose Your Campsite Well
There are lots of different campsites at Glastonbury – all very different and which one you choose will really affect your Glasto experience. Some are loud campsites near to the action and some are quieter and further away. There are also a couple of family campsites and a disabled campsite.
Unless you go super early and are some of the first people in the queue, you will probably find that the campsites nearest to the Pyramid Stage (the Big Ground and Kidney Mead) are full, so you may want to focus elsewhere.
Here’s a map of the Glastonbury site and the Glastonbury Tips website (run by my mate Paul) has a good guide to the Glasto campsites. But wherever you camp, I’d try to stay away from the walkways as they’re noisy, and also the long-drop toilets!
Whilst it’s nice to be near the loos if you need to get up in the middle of the night, they do smell after the first couple of days. Most of them are made of metal, so they bang and creak when people use them, which will keep you awake if you’re a light sleeper.
To be honest, for your first Glasto, it’s a bit of a hit and miss as to whether you get the right campsite for you, but just do your research and you should be ok!
Park Close to Your Chosen Campsite and Try to Enter Via the Right Gate
Once you know where you want to camp, you’ll need to work out where you need to park and which gate is nearest to the campsite you want, otherwise, you’re in for a long old walk!
This can be tricky, as once you get near the site, you’ll have to follow a set route, but if you can try to come in from the right direction – that will help. Gate A is definitely my least favourite gate to enter as that’s where all the buses get dropped off so the queue is bigger and slower than the others.
But be prepared for a bit of a walk, no matter where you park!
Take Travel Johns
If you wake up needing a wee in the middle of the night, or early morning, going to the loo can be a right pain. Both times I’ve been, our pitch was on the far side of the campsite, away from the loos – when you’re desperate, the walk feels like it takes forever!
So I’d advise you to take a few Travel Johns (or Janes) for emergencies!
Pack As Light As You Can
You will likely have loads of stuff regardless, but the lighter you can pack the better because you will have to carry it for quite a distance.
The first time I went to Glastonbury, we arrived at the festival site at about 6.30 am, thinking we’d just stroll right in. Nope. The walk from the car park is long, we queued for four hours and it was scorching hot. We’d decided on the way that we didn’t want to make 2 trips, so we took everything with us. And we had a LOT of stuff. Tents, chairs, our backpacks, food, alcohol…
By the time we got to the gates, the collective misery of the crowd was obvious, some people were even crying. I’d pretty much lost the will to live. My back was aching, my hands were hurting, I was burnt, tired and we’d run out of water. I was dragging one of my bags along the floor.
The second time I went, we arrived at about 8.30 am and queued for one-and-a-half hours. The third time I went, we queued for 4 hours in the blazing sun! It was HELL! Either way, there’s always a fair bit of walking involved to get to your campsite.
Just remember, you can buy almost anything there, including festival clothes, wellies, food, alcohol, camping accessories and medicines – they have it all. So only take what you really need.
Bring a Trolley
You’re probably going to ignore what I just said about packing light, so let me give you the next best piece of advice – bring a trolley.
They tell you not to bring one, but I’d definitely recommend bringing a trolley like this one – they are a Godsend!
Once you’ve been in that queue for a few hours, you’ll definitely regret it if you don’t. It was bad for us, but we were able to put our stuff down as the ground was bone dry, had it been muddy, all of our stuff would have been ruined.
Whichever trolley you bring, make sure it has good wheels and a strong axis because it will need to be pulled across uneven and potentially very muddy ground. We saw so many with collapsed wheels.
Take a Good Tent
Plenty of people take those tiny one-man pop up tents and that’s fine. But for me, having a good tent is important.
One with a porch, ample space (for you and your bags), and room to stand up in is my preference. If it’s light and easy to put up and down – even better.
Check it to make sure it’s waterproof and there are no bits missing before you go.
What to Pack for Glastonbury
So what essentials do you need for Glastonbury?
- Big backpack.
- Waterproof tent, groundsheet & pegs.
- Sleeping bag.
- Mattress – either a thin camping mat or a blow-up mattress if you want to be comfy.
- Foot pump (for your blow-up mattress) – you only need one per group really or you could borrow off another group.
- Tarpaulin – good for putting on the ground to sit on outside your tent.
- Waterproof jacket with a hood or a poncho.
- Walking boots (if it’s raining more, consider wellies too).
- Trainers – good for when it’s sunny or around the campsite.
- Wet wipes – 2 packs of biodegradable ones, in case you can’t or can’t be bothered showering.
- Hand sanitiser – just one bottle is usually fine, as they have hand sanitiser at every toilet.
- Toilet paper – one roll is ok and you can pick up more when you’re there.
- Head torch – for in the tent, going to the loo at night etc. You could also bring a lamp for the tent.
- Clothes – t-shirts, leggings, shorts, warm jumper/fleece (very important – it gets really cold at night), socks & underwear. It’s all about layers. The crazier your clothes are, the better. But pack light, you don’t need loads.
- Sun hat – you’ll be outside pretty much all day.
- Toiletries – face wipes, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, moisturiser, razor & lip balm.
- Sun Cream – it can be really hot and if it’s sunny, you’ll be out in the sun all day. Getting burned is not nice!
- Shampoo & conditioner – I didn’t shower once, although if you do, just take a tiny bit like the ones you get in hotels. I love the Lush shampoo bars. Dry shampoo also if your hair gets greasy.
- Small mirror.
- Glitter, lots of (biodegradable please).
- Hairbrush & hair bobbles.
- Refillable water bottle – you can’t buy plastic bottled water at Glasto, but they do free water bottle refills everywhere.
- Carabiner (I used this to attach my water bottle to my bag).
- Alcohol and mixers – one of the great things about Glastonbury, is that you can bring your own alcohol into the festival itself and not just at the campsite.
- Plastic bottles – I use these to decant my spirits as there is no glass is allowed.
- Bin bags – great for rubbish, wet clothes/camping equipment etc.
- Camping chair – sitting on the floor gets very annoying after a few days. One with a strap or carry case is good so you can take it around with you. My friends carried them around for the day and took them back early evening.
- Small backpack for taking around with you for your smaller essentials (jacket, money, cards, phone, lip balm, wipes, hand sanitiser).
- A nail brush. Once a day, go give your hands and nails a good scrub.
- Picnic blanket – if it’s dry, it’s nice to sit out on the rug whilst watching your favourite bands.
- Pens – you never know when you’ll need one.
- Towel – in case you want to shower or you get soaked.
- Gaffer tape & string to fix broken tents.
Bring Alcohol With You
One of the best things about Glastonbury is that you camp inside the festival and you can bring your own alcohol. You can also buy alcohol and mixers there, but it’s not super cheap.
Just remember, you are not allowed glass, so decant everything into plastic bottles before you arrive.
Carry Your Toothpaste and Toothbrush Around With You
One of my best Glastonbury tips… you are welcome!
I carry my toothbrush and toothpaste around with me at all times so that when I’m on my way home or on the way out, I can brush my teeth without having to pop back to the tent to get all my stuff!
Pronounce it Right
Don’t call it “Glastonberry” (Americans, I’m talking to you here). It’s said more like “Glastonbrie” like the cheese. This is like when people call Edinburgh, “Edinboro” – just noooooo! It’s “Edinbruh”.
Plan a Bit, But Not Tooooo Much
Before you get there, read through all the ‘stuff’. Info on the website, the lineup, what’s on etc.
When you arrive, go through the line-up with your pals and get an idea of some of the bands you want to see, maybe give ’em a little circle in your programme (see, told you that pen would come in useful). It can take a while to get between stages, so be prepared for that. You won’t be able to see them all, so just pick a few things you want to see each day.
But, there’s a lot to be said for leaving your fate up to the Glastonbury Gods. On the first day, I said I wanted to go with the flow and see where the festival took me. And that was what I did. And it was fabulous.
Spend Some Time Exploring the Site on the Wednesday & Thursday
The main bands aren’t playing on Wednesday and Thursday, so use that time to explore the site, get your bearings and see all the ‘other’ stuff. Believe me, there’s loads of it and you might not get the chance once the music starts!
Despite being there for 5 full days, I still didn’t see everything.
Wednesday and Thursday are usually my favourite days because it’s all new, I’m still feeling fresh and there’s nowhere you ‘have’ to be. We just normally mooch about, check out the food stalls, get a cider from the Cider Bus, buy our Glastonbury t-shirts (before they sell out), go to Power Ballads on Thursday and have a drink by the Glastonbury sign.
Don’t Worry Too Much About Showering
Not gonna lie, I didn’t shower from Wednesday morning until I got home on Monday afternoon.
Glastonbury has so much to do, why waste time walking to the showers, then waiting for them and then having one? Bring a week’s worth of wet wipes and off you go.
I wet wiped in the morn and also had a pack of those wet toilet wipes with me at all times. Most people don’t shower, so you won’t be stinking alone!
Don’t Roll in the Mud
We’ve all seen it, people rolling around in the mud at Glastonbury. Oh, what fun!
Until afterwards when you’re like “What the hell have I done?”
At the risk of sounding like your mum, it may seem like a great idea at the time, but once you’re in, that’s it. You’re probably gonna stay like that until the end of the festival. And your tent and all your stuff will be covered in crap. Not nice.
Take your Ticket Everywhere You Go
Ok, this is an obvious one for when you arrive, but if you need to pop back to the car for any reason, take your ticket with you.
Your wristband is not enough to get back in. So to save you trudging all the way back to your tent and back again, keep your ticket with you!
Try and Look After Yourself
It’s important to look after yourself at Glastonbury as it is a 5-day festival, it’s a marathon, not a sprint – pace yourself. I only got my voice back almost a week later – both times!
At the risk of sounding like a complete alcoholic, it’s quite tempting to just get up in the morning and start drinking again. I do recall at one point on the first day saying I was happy to live off “cider and good vibes” although that was a short-lived notion.
Glastonbury is 24/7, so there’s always a party happening somewhere, but if you really want to make the most of the experience and not feel like absolute crap by Sunday, you need to pace yourself and at least try and keep healthy.
There are plenty of ways to stay healthy at a festival – the most important being to keep clean, try and get some sleep, eat properly and drink lots of water. You also need to keep yourself covered in the sun, dry in the rain and warm at night.
Bring Ear Plugs and an Eye Mask
If you have trouble sleeping, I’d definitely recommend bringing some earplugs and an eye mask, if you don’t have a blackout tent. The festival takes place during the lightest time of the year, so it’s going to start getting light around 4.30 am.
The festival runs all day and all night long, so you’ll usually hear very loud music until at least midnight, but even when the bands stop, it’s still quite loud from the ‘Naughty Corner’, people coming back for the night and people partying outside their tents. And just when the late-night partiers go to bed, the early risers start getting up. The tents are so close together that you can hear everything.
Look After Your Valuables
You can leave the majority of your possesions in your tent, but things like your wallet, phone, camera, ticket, passport etc should be kept with you at all times, because whilst most people are honest, there can be opportunists about.
When you are sleeping, keep your valuables in your sleeping bag with you and not near to the door of your tent. And when you are out in the day, keep them safe in your bag – if your bag has a secure pocket, even better as it’s very easy to lose things – especially when you are drinking.
If you have anything on you that you won’t need every day (like your car keys), I would maybe put them in the secure lockers.
It’s good to write alternative contact details or your postcode on your valuables – they have UV pens at the lockers. That way if you lose your stuff, you can be contacted. Generally, people are great with lost property and so many people get their lost items back, but not always.
Use the Compost Toilets – They Smell Better
The toilets at Glasto are legendary – for all the wrong reasons. Oh, the things I’ve seen…
The metal long drop toilets are generally fine, but some are splattered with God knows what, the doors are quite small so you can see everyone’s feet and they are quite low so you can see over the top and they stink, especially by day 4 and 5.
However, for a nicer loo experience, use the compost toilets. They don’t really smell, they’re more private and just a lot cleaner than the regular long drops.
Go See Beans on Toast
Jay McAllister is a Glastonbury legend. He’s there every year and his songs are poignant, down to earth and funny. They comment on society and are often politically motivated. He gives a voice to a lot of people who don’t have a voice or at least struggle to make it heard.
Take a Power Pack or Solar Charger (or four)
You’re probably going to be using your phone a lot, to take photos, locate your friends and check the app/social media and there are very few places to charge your phone.
The site is massive too, so peeling away from your friends to charge your phone is a right pain in the ass. When I was there they had a half-hour limit on charging too, so I think I only managed to get up to around 30% charge.
You’re there for a full 5 days, so you’ll need enough charge to last you. Take a portable charger with good battery life, and a backup too! Maybe a solar charger if you can!
Go See Some Bands You’ve Never Heard Of
Definitely go and see the bands you love.
For me, the Foo Fighters, The Killers, and Kylie were my absolute highlights of the last two festivals, however, it’s always good to expose yourself to some new stuff too as seeing a band live can be a game-changer.
Plus, you will see some up & coming artists who will no doubt be massive in a year or two.
Look Out for the “Secret Sets”
So, my mate, Paul (aka Daddy Glasto) told me about this one…
On the last day of Glastonbury 2017, The Killers, who probably wrote THE best festival song of all time (Mr Brightside) did a secret gig at the John Peel stage.
In the programme, this appeared as a TBA. The announcement on the @secretglasto Twitter account simply said “A lot of questions being asked about the John Peel TBA slot at 17:30 today. Somebody told me who it is, but we are trying to verify….”
Haha, amazing! As I’m sure you know, The Killers also sing the song ‘Somebody Told Me’. Elbow were another secret gig. In 2019, David Attenborough and Foals made surprise appearances.
So follow @secretglasto on Twitter and look out for clues.
Eat All the Food
The food at Glastonbury is amazing and I probably wouldn’t bother trying to take much of my own food next time… just a few protein bars or something for desperate times.
You can literally get anything you want – mezze plates, toasties, poutine, cheesy chips, curry, kebabs, salad, pulled pork, halloumi wraps, and even a roast dinner in a Yorkshire pudding… and it is generally all good! The trick is to hang around for a few minutes and see what everyone else’s food looks like and then order!
And I highly recommend visiting my friend’s (Anna and Tony) truck called Anna Mae’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese. They are in 2 spots on the site this year (2023).
Look After Your Feet
We walked around 30,000 – 50,000 steps per day at Glasto, so you need to make sure you look after your feet. Take wellies in case it rains (or you can buy them there). Getting trench foot is not my idea of fun!
I’ve been really lucky with the weather (all three times), so I was able to leave my wellies in the car and I just wore trainers on the first day and walking boots for the other days.
Make sure you wear new boots in before you go, take good socks and make sure you have a clean pair for every day. It may also be a good idea to take some blister plasters (just in case) and foot powder to make sure they stay dry and fresh!
Join Glasto Facebook Groups
Glasto Chat, is by far, the best group I am part of on Facebook. It’s a real community. This is your tribe and they will keep you entertained, I promise you.
These are the folks who will get you excited and they are the only ones who understand how you feel when it’s all over.
For other Glastonbury Festiva advice, join my friend Paul’s Glastonbury Tips Facebook group.
Don’t Be a Dick
Ok, so first of all, Glasto is all about peace, love and music. Be kind, be nice to people and the environment.
Be respectful of your neighbours at the campsite. Have fun, but please don’t be the knobby neighbours who just shout all night and leave crap everywhere, like the guy in the tent near me who seemed to enjoy sitting outside his tent all night, drinking cans of Stella and shouting “Slob on me knob” at the top of his voice. FML!
Leave No Trace
When you leave, take all your stuff with you. Despite pleas from the organisers, people leave tents, gazebos (they tell you not to take these) chairs, rubbish… all kinds. It’s not on! Get with the Glasto spirit and don’t be those people.
This is not Woodstock 99.
Have Something Else to Look Forward to When You Get Home
The Glasto comedown is horrible. I think I spent most of the Tuesday after my first Glastonbury listening to the music I’d heard and crying. You may think I’m weird, but once you’ve been, you’ll get it!
Knowing you have to wait at least ANOTHER year (and there’s no guarantee you’ll get a ticket for the next one) is literally the worst thing ever.
After the last one, I had a holiday to Devon and then a 6-month stint in Africa to look forward to, so my Glastonbury blues were pretty short-lived.
This year I’m straight off to Africa again (you can come too if you want). 🙂
I hope you have an AMAZING Glasto! Any questions? Write ’em in the comments below. See you down on the farm you gorgeous bunch of weirdos!