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Glastonbury: More Than Music

Photo Credit: Emma Harrison

Getting your hands on Glastonbury tickets is as elusive and anxiety-inducing as they say. The night before the tickets went on sale, my flatmate and I went to bed early in preparation; but only after putting all our devices on charge as well as a detailed discussion on how many devices and open tabs we would each maximise our chances. Early the next morning, we both sat surrounded by four devices in silence, tired and tense; our fingertips ready on the refresh button of See Tickets. As the clock turned 9:00, we manically pressed refresh, only for the website to crash as soon as we tried to pay.

Every minute that ticked by, it became clearer that we would not be attending, which was eventually confirmed by Glastonbury’s official Twitter page which had posted that they had sold out of all of their tickets in only six minutes. Defeated but still in denial, we sat quietly with our tabs still open in hope that something would change. After fifteen minutes of staring at our screens in blind faith, my flatmate's screen refreshed and went to the next stage. She silently and without expression put in our details, as if any hint of excitement would make it crash again. We proceeded to jump around the room and call anyone who would listen, wide eyed and in disbelief.

Now that we had the tickets, we just had to attempt to forget about it for half a year so that June would come quicker.

We arrived on Wednesday 21st June, after waiting in a queue for the shuttle bus to the farm for two hours under the beaming sun. Even though we arrived just three hours after the festival gates had opened, the grounds were already bustling and had tents everywhere, even though not even half of the ticket holders were in yet. We managed to squeeze our small tent in a convenient gap, close to ‘The Other Stage’ and only a short walk away from ‘The Pyramid Stage.’

The festival lasts five days, but the main acts only came on the third day onwards. Admittedly, two days at a music festival without any music sounds incredibly dull but Glastonbury has so much more to offer than just music so we spent those days exploring the grounds which were sectioned into different themed areas, all unique from the last and all with so much detail in them.

The abundant activities made me feel like a child in an adventure park; there would be something unpredictable and interesting around every corner. On one hand, there was a circus area where there were mimes and clowns that roamed the striped big top tent and on the other hand, there was a Ferris wheel where you could see the whole festival and thousands of festival-goers running around like ants. You could go to the raves in Block 9, which were hosted inside derelict, hotel-like buildings with the windows glowing orange, surrounded with smoke and green, flashing strobe lights outside. You could find yourself in Woodsies, walking up the stairs to a large tree house with wobbly rope bridges from tree to tree. You could relax and take yourself to watch a film in the theatre tent, or sit in the sun listening to someone strum a guitar on the Acoustic Stage, or just swing in a hammock in Avalon Fields. Or, you could even go to the postcard tent and write home as the signal is so bad it is near impossible to send even one text.

The best place we had explored was Greenpeace; we stumbled upon it on Wednesday evening, just after the sun had set and it began to grow dark. It happened to be the summer solstice, so people sat on the hill, next to the Glastonbury sign, clapping as the shades of orange glowed across the sky. To get to Greenpeace, we walked through a wooden path built around trees with fairy lights hung upon them and fog surrounding us throughout. It felt almost ethereal as we walked out and saw a stage with a fake, metal willow tree in the middle of the crowd. This tree was around twenty metres tall and the leaves were lights that dangled down and changed colour. The DJ played his set above ground, from a nook in the tree and we sat on a bench in another small hole at the bottom of the tree for at least two hours, listening to the music and watching the lights change colour.

There is definitely something for everyone to enjoy at Glastonbury Festival, and the same goes for the music. There was a variety of acts playing on many different stages so if you didn’t want to watch Axel Rose sing ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ on the Pyramid stage, you could walk ten minutes to the Other Stage and watch Lana Del Rey sing a more mellow with her hair done and surrounded by dancers. You could see Lizzo, Slowdive or Rick Astley’s uncanny impersonation of Morrissey’s songs from The Smiths.

An unmissable headline act was Elton John, supposedly, his last UK show- though he’s already had three Farwell Tours by now. The Pyramid Stage was packed on Sunday, with over a hundred thousand people standing together, shoulders touching, waiting in anticipation for Elton John to play the hits that he created during his long career: ‘Bennie and the Jets,’ ‘Tiny Dancer,’ or ‘I’m Still Standing ‘. Although his stage presence wasn’t as lively as it was when younger and jumping on the piano, the sensitivity of his touch and virtuosity of his playing made it clear that he had not aged.

My personal highlight of the festival had to be Friday evening on the Pyramid Stage. After Arctic Monkeys had cancelled a couple of dates on their tour the week before due to Alex Turner falling ill with Laryngitis, there was a lot of anticipation and talk on whether they would cancel their headline spot at Glastonbury. Luckily, Alex Turner made a full recovery and he began his set with quite a menacing rendition of ‘Sculpture of Anything Goes.’ He came out silently, red lights flashing around him and sang it unmoving. Tens of thousands of people had flocked to the pyramid stage to watch their set and sing along to their hits like ‘Snap Out of it’ and ‘Mardy Bum.’

Though the ordeal of trying to get a hold of a ticket is stressful and usually fruitless, and the mornings in the tent are sweaty and stuffy and there aren’t any showers to use for five days, unless you want to queue for over an hour, it was all worth it. I almost felt like I had reverted back into a child again, with the amount of excitement there was to be had in the best aspects of a festival packed in one bewildering bundle. More than music, the festival provided a thrilling atmosphere and a legacy of being a cultural melting-pot : every year in November, you can be sure to see me refreshing See Tickets in an attempt to experience it again and again.

To find out more about Glastonbury festival check out their Website, Twitter and SeeTickets


Edited by Akane Hayashi, Music Editor


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