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 or just to put something back into the festival. 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 campsites with 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 and the people and animals they have to share the farm with.  So please people - let’s SORT IT OUT!!

 

Does it get very crowded?

 

Even with some 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.


If you find yourself in a position where you are a little overwhelmed by the whole thing there's always plenty of space to sit quietly for a while in the Greenfields and always remember that places like the Sanctuary and the Welfare tents have people on hand to help if it all gets a bit too much. 

 


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.  You'll find out much more about these in Part 6.


Which stages should I spend my time at?

Whilst it is physically impossible to see absolutely everything at Glastonbury I would still suggest that you should try to experience as many of the different stages and areas 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.  Some stages concentrate on a specific genre of music but the majority have an incredibly diverse line up with something for everybody's tastes over the course of the weekend.



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. My advice would always be not to restrict your Glastonbury experience by setting up camp at one of 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 2019.



If you’ve seen the BBC's coverage of Glastonbury on the telly before then 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 2019 Joe's Pyramid Stage blue planet piece was related to the theme of environmental crisis which was prevalent around the site last year.

In 2019 Stormzy completed his meteoric rise to Glastonbury headliner status on the Friday night, having made a huge impression on the audience 2 years previously on the Other Stage.  The Killers made their second headliner appearance on the Saturday having previously had the honour back in 2007, although they did show up surprisingly in the John Peel Tent in 2017.  On the Sunday The Cure ended an even longer wait for a return to the Pyramid having not previously played there since 1995. 

Other acts who appeared on the Pyramid Stage in 2019 included George Ezra, Liam Gallagher and Vampire Weekend.  One of the biggest crowds of the weekend however came along to see veteran Broadcaster David Attenborough who addressed the huge audience in order to thank the festival for its efforts in going plastic free and also to show us a few snippets of his new forthcoming series "Seven Worlds, One Planet".

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 and the English National Opera have also appeared in the past. 


Sunday afternoon also includes a golden oldie Legend's slot.  In 2019 Kylie Minogue (above) had us all dusting off our gold hot pants when she  finally got to play the Pyramid Stage, having had to pull out of her scheduled 2005 headliner appearance due to ill health.  In the past iconic names such as Dolly Parton, Shirley Bassey, Johnny Cash, James Brown, Tom Jones and Leonard Cohen have also 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 also regularly appear here.


For the last few years the Other Stage has had a fairly major name opening proceedings on the Friday morning.  In 2019 The Vaccines were given this honour (see picture above).  The lineup on the Other Stage last year also included headline performances from The Chemical Brothers, Tame Impala and Christine & The Queens together with Two Door Cinema Club, Billie Eilish, and Courteeners.



Much like the Pyramid, at the last few festivals the Other Stage has been adorned with Joe Rush creations, some of which honoured Glastonbury legends such as David Bowie and Lemmy of Motorhead who had passed away during the course of the previous year.  This one in 2019 reflected the environmental theme with a nod to the Extinction Rebellion in the form of an Insect Rebellion.


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 always has an extraordinarily eclectic line up and far more of the smaller festival 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 2019 included Janelle Monae (see above), Jon Hopkins, Wu Tang Clan, Kamasi Washington, Jungle and Jorja Smith.
 


Also in this field is an artist signing tent which is run by Songlines magazine, where you can buy CDs and other merchandise and get them signed by the artists who perform on the stage.  This is the queue of people waiting to meet Hollywood star Jeff Goldblum, who performed here with the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra in 2019.

 


For many years, Glastonbury had one huge Dance Tent with a capacity reckoned to be in excess of 15,000 people.  This was the venue for historic sets by the likes of Daft Punk, 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.  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 used to be an absolutely vast 3-winged alien spacecraft of a tent which housed the Sonic Stage. However despite its impressive appearance there were always issues with acoustics and so in 2019 it was replaced with the slightly more traditional structure shown in the picture above which I have to say did seem to be a great improvement.  Sub Focus, Camelphat and Maverick Sabre headlined the acts providing the beats and bleeps.

Once the Sonic stage shuts down for the night you can still rave on here at the Heds Party silent disco.  You can choose from any one of three different DJ channels and dance all the way through to 7am if you still have the energy.


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 2019 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.


Gully Blues is designed to look like a Jamaican shanty town and a selection of authentic West Indian food outlets combine with the predominantly Caribbean and Latin American line up 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 protégé, the Pussy Parlure Nouveau, was introduced to the Glastonbury public with 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 was headlining on the Pyramid.


This is the hugely impressive Apre from Kent fulfilling their dreams of playing at Glastonbury in 2019.



Finally to complete the choice of attractions in Silver Hayes a vibrantly colourful new micro venue called No Average Groove made it's debut in 2019. 



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 2019 included Interpol, The Streets, Pale Waves, Sean Paul and Friendly Fires. 

In 2016 the John Peel tent 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 more recently a VIP camping area.  And thank goodness it did because the area in which it was previously positioned was flooded under several inches of water that year just a few days before the gates opened.


The pointed roof of the impressively proportioned Acoustic Stage 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 2019 included the legendary Hawkwind as well as Nick Lowe, The Mavericks, Keane and Rickie Lee Jones.


 

2007 saw the introduction of an 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 area remained predominantly unchanged for a decade but in 2019 it received a major facelift with new venues appearing and others being moved around and given fresh new facades.

 


The main Park Stage is positioned in a natural amphitheatre and in 2019 it was bedecked with fairy lights and numerous banners drawing attention to various aspects of environmental crisis.  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 I'm afraid big name mystery guests had to stop.

In 2019 The Park attracted headliners Hot Chip, Rex Orange County and Cat Power, along with an incredibly strong undercard including the wonderful Kate Tempest (see picture above).

There's lots more about the smaller venues in The Park in the "What Happens at Night?" section in Part 6.   


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 2019 included Frank Turner, The Magic Numbers, Cat Empire, and Reef.  Bananarama even made an appearance for some good old 1980s pop nostalgia!
 
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 and philosophical musings from my very good friends Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs, who traditionally play the opening set on the Avalon 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 tent which houses the William's Green Stage could probably do with being a bit bigger, 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

 

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 and quite a few live bands started to appear to compliment the DJs and sound systems.  In 2013 the Glade disappeared altogether and for one year 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 might have attended the Boomtown Fair festival a few years ago and there is also an interesting space called The Spike (shown above) 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 attend the smaller independent & grass roots 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 smaller and very intimate venues to be found in the Green Futures field.  If you look hard enough you’ll find live music playing at these from Wednesday afternoon all through the weekend.  The biggest of these tents is Toad Hall shown above.



The people who run the Small World Stage, actually host their own grassroots festival in Kent twice a year in May and August and you will find lots of folky acoustic stuff going on here together with a vegetarian cafe.  


Nearby you will also find the Lizard Stage as well as the pedal powered Mandala Stage (see above) where somebody has to jump on a bike and pretend to be Chris Froome if you want to hear the bands playing.


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.

Close by you will also find the Babylon Uprising tent blasting out from their soundsystem throughout the day and into the early hours.


On the track which leads from the Pyramid Stage to the John Peel tent you could 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 2019.

However I understand that the Beat Hotel won't be back at Glastonbury in 2020 so we can only assume that there will be yet another new venue to explore in this location. 

Close to the West Holts Stage you can find the Glasto Latino area. Live salsa and tango music is played here from Wednesday evening onwards and experts and beginners alike can hit the dancefloor and also join in the free classes throughout the daytime.  They 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.  The Joe Struummer Foundation are a co-operative who tour various festivals promoting grass roots music in memory of 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 The Joe Strummer Foundation and the projects they are involved in on their website here.

Even the Tipi Field has its own Ancient Futures Stage.  What better way could there possibly be of spending a Saturday 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 question can vary enormously and 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 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 a similar position at 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 therefore 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 1,100m
  • The Park 1,200m
  • Stone Circle 1,300m


Go to Part 6

Comments