Tort's Glastonbury FAQ Part 5


Part 5


Can I work at the Festival?

Yes there are lots of opportunities to work at the festival and many people do stewarding, litter picking, recycling and other work in order to fund their enjoyment. The majority of “ticket workers” are expected to put in a total of between 20 and 24 hours over the course of 5 days but they are otherwise free to enjoy the festival at all other times. Most still have to pay a deposit which is generally equal to the face value of a standard ticket but this is refunded once you have completed your allotted shifts.  Some organisations also supply you with food and private toilets and showers.  You can also apply to do paid work for one of the contractors who provide security for the festival but you will find that working hours will be considerably longer and often very unsociable.


You do have to apply early however. People who have proved to be reliable in the past tend to get first dibs and anybody who doesn't complete their shifts allegedly gets placed on a blacklist to ensure that they are unable to apply to work at the festival in future years. But it is a great way of getting involved, meeting new people and feeling part of the festival. Having worked on one of the information points myself a few years ago I can certainly recommend the experience.

More details on working at Glastonbury can be found HERE.

 


Is there much litter?

 

OK, put on your hard hats because this is the point where I get on my soapbox and have a bit of a rant!
 
Worthy Farm and the surrounding Vale of Avalon is an incredibly beautiful place. And yet far too many people who come to Glastonbury are just too damn lazy to put their rubbish in a bin or to bag up all their crap around their campsite, and as a result the whole site just degenerates into a huge tip. There are about 40,000 bins distributed across the site. That’s more than 1 bin for every 5 people. You can't miss them. They're all brightly painted. Please use them.

Don't drop cigarette butts! They are non-biodegradable and every single one has to be picked up before the site can revert to being a dairy farm. Portable ashtrays are readily available these days. If you are a smoker then please add one of these to your kit list essentials and deposit your butts in the special bins provided.

And when you leave on the Monday, bag up your rubbish and make life a little easier for the litter and recycling crews who have to clear up after you. If you don't do it then somebody else has to! Green (recycling) and Black (landfill) bin bags are handed out by the stewards near the gates and are also available from Camp Site Stewards and Info Points so there really is no excuse for leaving your camp site litter lying around when you go home.

A lot of people seem to be under the impression that if they leave their tent standing it will be recycled by charities for use in war and famine affected areas of the World.  Although the festival did try to initiate such a programme a few years ago, this does not happen and the vast majority of tents left at the end of the festival simply end up in landfill.

It costs approximately £1,000,000 to clean up after the festival each year.  That’s about £7:50 from the cost of every ticket sold that could have been donated to the festival’s chosen charities if it weren’t for people’s laziness and ignorance. ”Love The Farm – Leave No Trace”. It’s not just a nice slogan, it’s a very real problem which could so easily be overcome if people were just a little more thoughtful about their surroundings.  So please people - let’s SORT IT OUT!!

 

Does it get very crowded?

 

Even with nearly 200,000 people on site there is generally plenty of space for everybody. However there are times when large crowds are on the move, especially in the evenings when people are moving between stages, or after the headline acts finish when people are heading in and out of the late night area in the South Eastern corner of the site. Most of the "pinch points" such as gates and bridges have been widened over the years but nevertheless it can be scary for those who aren't comfortable in large crowds. So please be careful, think of others, and don't add unnecessarily to any crowd situation.

 


What times do the bands start and finish?

The first acts hit the stage at around 11 O’Clock each morning and there is a curfew on the main stages of midnight on the Friday and Saturday and at 11:30pm on the Sunday. The headline acts used to continue for a further 30 minutes each evening but this was amended in the 2010 license conditions as a compromise for allowing an increase in volume. However, many of the other stages continue after midnight and a number of the smaller venues carry right on going all through the night.


Which stages should I spend my time at?

The simple answer is to try to experience as many of them as you possibly can. Different teams are responsible for running each of the stages and as a result they are all individual and all have their own unique atmospheres.


 

With so many stages spread over such a large area it is pointless trying to decide on all of the bands you want to see in advance because you will find that there are so many other things going on that you will be constantly distracted. Please don't restrict your Glastonbury experience by just staying at the main stages. By all means make a rough plan by picking two or three "must see" performances each day but then broaden your horizons by spending the rest of the time simply wandering and discovering new things. There is always a surprise waiting around every corner.

Once you've been to Glastonbury a few times you will find that changes to the locations and set up of the various stages are regular occurrences and this is symptomatic of the continual evolution that we see at the festival where old favourites disappear to be replaced by new surprises every year. However, to give you an idea of what goes on where, here is a quick run down of how the stages lined up in 2016.


 

If you’ve seen footage of Glastonbury on the telly before you won't have any trouble recognising this as the main Pyramid Stage. The Pyramid Field slopes gently uphill away from the Stage. There are also large screens on either side of the stage so it is possible to have a good view of what is going on well away from the stage itself, even with a crowd of 100,000 or more in the field. Some of the headline acts also benefit from having some of the best lighting and pyrotechnic displays you are likely to see in this country.



Since the Rolling Stones' headline appearance in 2013 the top of the Pyramid has been adorned each year with a different sculpture created by Joe Rush and his Mutoid Waste Company.  Joe has been a big part of the Glastonbury scene since the 1980s and his customised vehicles and other artwork can often be seen in various places around the site.  In 2016 Joe's Pyramid Stage piece was a tribute to David Bowie who passed away earlier in the year.  Bowie played on the very first Pyramid Stage in 1971 and also headlined in 2000. 

In 2016 Muse made a return appearance in the Friday headline slot.  Adele made her Pyramid Stage debut on the Saturday while Glastonbury regulars Coldplay closed things on the Sunday, ably accompanied by Michael Eavis and his rendition of "My Way".  Other acts who played the Pyramid Stage last year included Foals, ZZ Top, Tame Impala, Madness & Beck. 


On the Sunday things tend to get a little more cultural. There is often a lunchtime session of brass bands, choral or orchestral music. In 2014 we were treated to a performance by the English National Ballet. The English National Opera have also appeared in the past.  Sunday afternoon also usually includes a golden oldies slot. In 2016 Jeff Lynne's ELO rolled back the years (see the photo above).  We didn't see any sign of Mr Blue Sky but it did at least stop raining for a few minutes while they performed their best known tune.  In the past iconic names such as Dolly Parton, Shirley Bassey, Johnny Cash, James Brown, Tom Jones and Leonard Cohen have all trodden the Pyramid Stage boards.


 

This is the second or "Other" Stage, which undertook a major facelift in 2015.  Some people still refer to it as the “NME Stage” even though it hasn’t officially been called that for many years. The field here is flatter and, unless you got fairly close to the stage, it used to be quite difficult to see the bands until they provided screens for the first time in 2007. Acts on the Other Stage tend to be primarily indie orientated although major dance acts have also appeared here over the last few years.



At the last couple of festivals the Other Stage has also been adorned with Joe Rush creations.  This one in 2016 was in honour of Lemmy from Motorhead who also passed away just a few months after the band's Pyramid Stage performance the previous year.


The lineup on the Other Stage in 2016 included New Order, Disclosure, LCD Soundsystem, PJ Harvey, Bastille and Chvrches.


This is West Holts, which prior to 2010 was known as "Jazz World". It's my personal favourite of the 3 large outdoor arenas, as it has far more of the small festival vibe and atmosphere which I tend to prefer. This was the first area to benefit from the addition of dozens of the giant flags, which have gradually spread around the rest of the festival site in subsequent years.

The screens to either side of the West Holts Stage were only added for the first time in 2016.


The diverse array of performers who played on this stage in 2016 included Earth Wind & Fire, Underworld, James Blake, Roisin Murphy and Santigold.  The photo above is of Gary Clark Jnr sub-headlining on the Sunday evening.

 


For many years, Glastonbury had one huge 6,000 capacity Dance Tent. This was the venue for historic sets by the likes of Fat Boy Slim, The Chemical Brothers and Scissor Sisters, and was also the scene of the infamous Toilet Truck incident in 1998 when one of the sludge gulper lorries was brought in to pump out mud and was accidentally set to blow instead of suck!

In 2005 the one big Dance Tent was replaced by a number of smaller stages to create a Dance Village which in some years was home to as many as 7 different dance music venues.  And then in 2013 the area completely reinvented itself again with several new venues, all collectively grouped under the title of Silver Hayes.


The main flagship venue in Silver Hayes is an absolutely vast 3-winged alien spacecraft of a tent which houses the Sonic Stage. Kano, Oliver Heldens and DJ Premier provided headline sets of beats & bleeps here in 2016.

 
Close by you can find WOW! which has an absolutely banging PA. WOW! has been around for a number of years in one form or another. This is how it looked in 2016 with DJ's playing al-fresco sets at the front of the tent during the afternoon before the action moves inside the venue itself later in the day.


The Gulley is an open air venue where live dub, reggae and dance acts like Slamboree, Protoje & Lee Scratch Perry provided the bulk of the entertainment in 2016.  There is a tiered grandstand area facing the stage for resting over-skanked limbs between sets or just sitting in the sunshine.



Continuing with the Caribbean theme The Blues is designed to look like a Jamaican shanty town and a selection of authentic West Indian food outlets combines with the reggae sound systems to complete the calypso vibe. 



The "Pussy Parlure" used to be housed inside a beautiful old wooden "spiegeltent".  But I guess it was just too small to be able to cope with the number of people wanting to see the acts in there and so in 2013 its much larger big brother, the Pussy Parlure Nouveau, was introduced to the Glastonbury public.  On passing through the grandiose Art Deco facade one enters a wonderful colourfully decorated lounge bar atmosphere.



Although not exactly a dance venue, Silver Hayes also plays host to the BBC Introducing stage, where up and coming bands from around the country are invited to play, having been chosen for the honour by local BBC Radio stations.  Ed Sheeran played his first Glastonbury gig on this stage in 2011.  And just 6 years later he's headlining on the Pyramid.



Beyond the Silver Hayes dance area, in the north western portion of the site, you will find a huge red and blue striped marquee which hosts the John Peel Stage. This was previously known as the “New Bands Tent” but was renamed in memory of the legendary DJ in 2005. The John Peel tent gets bigger and more popular with every passing year and often has appearances from well established performers as well as the more cutting edge up and coming stars of the future.

Well known names who played the John Peel Stage in 2016 included Sigur Ros, M83, Fatboy Slim and Jake Bugg.

In 2016 the John Peel moved to a new location a little further to the north of its previous site and into an adjacent field which veterans will remember was once the location of the outdoor cinema.  And thank goodness it did because the area in which it was previously positioned was flooded under several inches of water just a few days before the gates opened.


The pointed roof of the impressively proportioned Acoustic Tent is visible from around the Festival site. This is where some fairly big name rock acts play acoustic sets as well as the more folky regulars. It also benefits from having the Cockmill Arms Real Ale Bar right next door.  There is always a really friendly atmosphere and a really crisp sound system in this tent but one thing I would point out is that the stage is on a slightly uphill slope and so if you are of less than average height and want to see what is going on I suggest you get there early for a front row spot.

The stellar line up of acts who played the Acoustic Tent in 2016 included Barclay James Harvest, Hothouse Flowers, Art Garfunkel, Paul Carrack & Cyndi Lauper.


 

2007 saw the introduction of a completely new entertainment area which was positioned at the top of the Park Home Ground camping field. Simply entitled The Park the area was initially programmed by Emily Eavis so that she could hone her skills before assuming more of the overall responsibility for the festival from her father Michael.  The Park includes several venues and the diversity and quality of entertainment here almost sets it aside as being a mini-festival all of its own which many smaller events would struggle to match.

 

The main Park Stage is positioned in a natural amphitheatre with impressive flaming columns to either side.  The line up here often used to include a number of mystery “special guests” and rumours were always rife at the festival as to who these might turn out to be.  Radiohead and Pulp both turned up unexpectedly in 2011 but word got out and there were serious safety concerns with the number of people who turned up to see these acts and as a result the big name mystery guests had to stop.

In 2016 The Park attracted headliners Grimes and Richard Hawley along with an incredibly strong undercard.  On the Saturday night Philip Glass performed his "Heroes Symphony" in honour of David Bowie. 


The Avalon Stage is one of my personal favourites.  It’s only a short walk from West Holts and has a nice friendly club-like atmosphere.  Acts who played the Avalon Stage in 2016 included The Feeling, Corinne Bailey Rae, Turin Brakes, Will Young, Newton Faulkner and KT Tunstall.

In the same field you will find the Avalon Café which has bands playing long after the main venue has shut up shop for the evening.
 
This short film was shot in and around the Avalon Field in 2013.  It gives you a great idea of the special atmosphere here and also includes some footage of my very good friends Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs who traditionally play the opening set on this stage each year on the Friday lunchtime. 

 


The central area known as William's Green has gone through a number of different incarnations in recent years.  For the last few festivals, as well as the aforementioned food court, there has been a proper indoor venue here.  In fact the William's Green Stage could probably do with being in a somewhat bigger tent as a lot of the acts who play here see the venue bursting at the seams, especially on the Thursday when there is not so much going on at the larger stages.

Leftfield is where you can listen to & get involved in political debate and educational films & lectures. Tony Benn famously made several appearances here and this is also where politically motivated musicians like Billy Bragg (see picture) do their thing as well as hosting late night DJ sets. For a number of years Leftfield was located at what is now known as William's Green next to the iconic tug-of-war tower, which still remains in its position due to the fact they would have to dig new foundations in order to relocate it.  

However, Leftfield was absent from the festival in 2009 and when it returned in 2010 it was moved to the Holts Field, which is actually where it originated way back in 2000.  Following Tony Benn's death in 2014 the Leftfield tower was renamed in honour of the great man and you can see a video of him speaking and being interviewed at Glastonbury here

In 2016 Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was due to take part in a debate at Leftfield but unfortunately in the aftermath of Brexit and with ongoing challenges to his party leadership he was forced to cancel. 

 

Until 2000 The Glade was just a bunch of trees and a very smelly toilet.  From then until 2005 it was an outdoor dance venue which changed in format pretty much every year and spawned the now sadly defunct electronic music festival of the same name.  For the first time in 2007 the main stage area was fully covered with less dance acts and more live music being played than had been the case in the past.  In 2013 the Glade disappeared altogether and the structure was used to house the nearby "Spirit of '71" stage. But thankfully it has been back among the trees in all its glory since 2014.

 


Very close by you will also find the Glade Lounge, as well as two venues which appeared for the first time in 2014.  The Spaceport will be familiar to anybody who has attended the Boomtown Fair festival over the last few years and there is also an interesting space called The Spike which has been created on several interlinked levels of wooden platforms among the trees.  All 3 of these venues have DJs spinning tunes and the occasional live band well into the early hours of the morning.

 

 

Croissant Neuf is the biggest of the Greenfield venues and usually has a mix of the acts you will regularly see if you frequent the smaller festival circuit. It is powered entirely by natural energy resources. As well as the main 2,000 capacity tent there is also a small bandstand situated nearby.

 


There are several other smaller and very intimate venues to be found in the Greenfields area. If you look hard enough you’ll find live music playing from Wednesday afternoon all through the weekend at Toad Hall, the Small World Stage, the Lizard Stage, the pedal powered Mandala Stage (above) and also the famous mobile Rinky Dink Sound System, which you will often see pedaling its way around the Greenfields and elsewhere around the site.


The Bandstand is situated in the middle of the main "Babylon" market area and is a great place to get away from the crowds and sit and listen to some of the unknown gems who play there through all 5 days of the festival. This is Elle and The Pocket Belles hypnotising us with their 40's swing tunes in 2015.


On the track which leads from the Pyramid Stage to the John Peel tent you can find the Beat Hotel.  There have been several venues here over the years.  In 2010 it was the “Cocktail & Dreams” karaoke bar and prior to that it was the “Guardian Lounge”, where some of the big name bands appearing on the main stages over the weekend played more intimate sets.  The line up at the Beat Hotel included a good mixture of live acts and DJs right through to 3am each night from Thursday to Sunday in 2016.


In the South East corner you can find the Glasto Latino area. Live salsa music is played here from Wednesday evening onwards and experts and beginners alike can hit the dancefloor and join in the free classes during the daytime.  They also do a very quaffable Mojito here and not unreasonably priced too.


Positioned on Pennard Hill, way up beyond the Tipi Field, you can find a small area called Strummerville.  These guys are a co-operative who tour various festivals promoting grass roots music in memory of Joe Strummer, the legendary leader of The Clash.  You can snuggle down in the comfy sofas next to a roaring fire while you enjoy the acts playing on what must surely be the smallest stage at Glastonbury.  However the miniscule scale didn't prevent Mumford & Sons playing a secret gig on the stage in 2011 when it was positioned in one of its previous homes in the Unfair Ground.  You can read more about Strummerville and what they stand for on their website here.


Even the Tipi Field has its own Ancient Futures Stage.  What better way could there possibly be of spending a Sunday night than dancing to festival legends Kangaroo Moon in a big old wigwam?

As well as all of the above, several of the bars, cafes and stalls dotted around the site have small stages where acts will entertain you while you glug your cider and munch your falafels. You are unlikely to find any details of who is playing or even where these venues are in the programme. You'll just have to wander and discover them for yourselves.


How long does it take to walk between the stages?

The answer to this is very much dependant on several factors.  For a start you need to consider how many people are likely to be on the move at the same time and whether you are going to be moving with or against the flow of traffic.  Then you have to allow for the ground conditions because if it’s muddy then everybody tends to stick to the paths and metal trackways and it all becomes very congested as a result. 

In dry conditions with relatively few people about it is easily possible to stroll from the front of the Pyramid to the Other Stage in less than 10 minutes but when it’s crowded and muddy the same journey can take half an hour or more at an excruciatingly slow shuffle.

You’ve also got to remember to factor in the dietary & toilet requirements of all your mates and the possibility of being waylaid by a massive articulated polar bear or a 9ft unicycling grasshopper en-route! 

 

 

I would suggest that it would be more useful to give you a rough idea of how far it is between the various stages and then you can work out how long these journeys are likely to take accounting for the conditions at the time.  So based on the highly technical “ruler-&-piece-of-string” method I reckon the following distances in metres from the Pyramid Stage are reasonably accurate:-

 

  • Other Stage 600m
  • Acoustic 600m
  • West Holts 700m
  • Silver Hayes 700m
  • John Peel 800m
  • Cabaret 800m
  • Avalon 900m
  • Croissant Neuf 900m
  • Shangri-La 1100m
  • The Park 1200m
  • Stone Circle 1300m


Go to Part 6

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