Fair warning: this is going to be a long post!
I considered splitting it into separate posts for different aspects, but I prefer everything neatly arranged, so this is my huge, mega, bumper Glastonbury blog post! I will have sections describing each day, and if you’re skim reading to find certain things, I will put key locations/bands/artists/bars/food vans in bold so you can find what you’re looking for more easily. Go Glasto!
Where to begin! I’ve been back from Glastonbury 2017 for a couple of weeks now and I’m still feeling a little run down! I think it’s the prolonged #glastoblues. I’m sure writing this will help me smile though, as #Glasto17 was one of, if not the best yet! The sun shone, there was no mud to be seen, glitter was flowing and the music was perfection. Here’s how my Glasto went for me…
If you read my Glastonbury Resales post, you’ll know a lot of preparation goes into getting tickets. The same is true for the arrival day, as I organise our group of 15-20 people arriving and camping together aiming for a spot in Big Ground (one of the most popular camping grounds). Our two cars set off from London around 12.30am, arriving at our rendezvous point on the A303, a 24hr Esso garage, at about 3am. After a small amount of ticket drama, the third car joined us and we continued to Worthy Farm, arriving on site at about 4.30am.
We stood in the queue at Gate C as the sun came up until gates opened at 8. Everyone was talking about how security was a lot stricter and had been separated from the ticketing/wristbanding area. This meant they had been getting people through security overnight, so when the gates opened those who had already been checked had a very smooth entry! The only downside was that for the 3 hours we queued before gates opened, we couldn’t sit down and relax, as the queue was shuffling forwards every few minutes as people were going through security. It meant having our bags on our backs for the whole 3 hours, rather than being able to stay still and just wait. Still, we managed to get our wristbands at about half 8, only 30 minutes after gates had officially opened, which is not bad at all. Security had definitely been a lot tighter, checking every bag for weapons and glass mainly.
We made it to Big Ground, were able to get our ‘usual spot’ and I was happy to see my favourite the Cheese Truck at the top of the hill! Even though it was only 9am, it was already 26 degrees, and putting up our 12 tents (we were carrying tents for those in our group arriving by coach & train) in the heat having not slept the night before was sweaty and tiring! The plan was to have a nap post-tent erection and wait for the others to arrive but it was just too hot. The temperature rose to 34 degrees in the afternoon with not much of a breeze, which for a redhead like me was utterly draining. We couldn’t even do our second run to the car until after 7pm, so I was a little down about having to sit out on the Wednesday daytime of Glasto; it’s usually one of my favourite afternoons, traditionally spent at the Brothers Bar!
Things soon looked up in the evening once we’d done the run to the car and it had cooled down a little. I made it to the opening night fireworks for the first time in my 10 years of attending the festival, and we really enjoyed the display and the burning phoenix! The Stone Circle was pretty packed but as always had a fab atmosphere. Despite having personally been awake for over 30 hours by this point, 6 of my friends and I carried on from Stone Circle to Block 9 and spent the first night dancing to Rhi Spect in the London Underground. In previous years we’ve tended to go to NYC Downlow on the first night but the queue was too long when we arrived, so this was a new venue for me. It was an incredible night, despite it being the hottest club I’ve possibly ever been in! The boys, Luisa and I took a few minutes when we first arrived to come to terms with the fact we were all dripping with sweat (sorry, delicious I know), then just succumbed to it and joined the packed dance floor, where everyone was shirtless, sweaty, and consistently but not necessarily purposefully rubbing bodies. It was quite liberating in a way!
I think we called it a night about 3am, and made our way across site back to our tents, stopping on the way for munchies.
Thom and I somehow woke up at 7am despite having got into bed less than 3 hours before, and with Amanda, decided to join the Kidz Field shower queue nice and early. We got a cheese toastie to eat while waiting, and despite it taking over an hour, that shower was oh so worth it after the heat of the day before and the sweat of Block 9. We started Thursday feeling fresh, which was good because we had big plans!
Back at the tents it was time to don our fancy dress; the theme for our group this year had been chosen as Pokémon (previous year’s themes have been Star Trek and Adventure Time). I was going as Jessie from Team Rocket, with Thom as my partner in crime James, and Luisa as Meowth. We had all made a sterling effort with our costumes for 2017, and our plan was to complete the Somerset Live Glastonbury Festival Pub Crawl – 10 bars around the site over the afternoon. Let’s just say drunk plans don’t always come together! I’ll explain shortly. First, here’s a photo we took in front of the Pyramid stage before the crawl commenced:
The Beat Hotel is the first stop on the pub crawl, and by this point it had gone 2pm. For the past 7 or 8 years, I’ve used Twitter to talk to other Glasto lovers using the hashtag #twisto, and every year we meet up on the Thursday afternoon of the festival. I had always planned to break off from the pub crawl to meet the Twisto crew at West Holts, but as we started so late, I decided to miss the first stop and meet them further down the list. Mathew, Thom, and Luisa joined me and off we went.
The Twisto meet is always carnage, because we spend a few hours swapping homemade flavoured vodka. I’d made a very lazy concoction of Fruit Salad vodka (the classic pink and yellow chewy sweets) which I didn’t personally like at all, but it got a lot of good feedback from others! I know a lot of people find ‘internet friends’ a weird sentiment, but I honestly loved first meeting the Twisto gang all those years ago, and despite seeing most of them only once a year at the festival itself, I always look forward to it having kept in touch through the rest of the year online. There’s always new faces to meet too, and the medium of vodka for use as a conversation starter works perfectly! “Oooo what flavour do you have there?” “Strawberry sherbert! Want to try? I’m @jessiginfox on twitter by the way!” – and off you go.
Needless to say we were all pretty tipsy by the time we left to rejoin the pub crawl about 2 hours later, and after a couple of phone calls we were surprised to learn that they had made it all the way down the list to stop number… two. Two whole stops in 2.5hrs. The second location on the ten pub list, which was the Cider Bus. We rejoined them to discover they were as drunk if not more so than us, and were enjoying the sunshine, drinks and benches outside the Cider Bus so much, they’d decided to stay and the crawl was abandoned. We had a great few hours drinking and having our costumes admired there, and I even found lots of my Oxfam Stewarding friends were gathered in the same area so I got to catch up with them too.
We nipped back to the tent to pick up more booze and some of us (myself included) changed out of our fancy dress for comfort and warmth purposes. Thursday evening’s line up led us to the newly redesigned Temple for Noisia, stopping off for food along the way. I had some of my favourite potatoes from The Roaming Rotisserie (see my post on the best festival food vendors to hear more about those) and also had crispy squid from South Street Kitchen, a new vendor for 2017. The flavours were amazing and the squid was perfectly cooked. My only criticism would be it was quite a luxury, as for £7 at a festival some may expect to be sufficiently full up, but the portions were more starter size rather than full meal. I still went back for more on a different day though, they were that good! And they took contactless card – result!
Night number two and our second trip to the Naughty Corner saw us make it to the Temple in time for Noisia. The Temple venue had an awesome new look and was distinctly bigger than the 2016 model; a good thing as it’s always been notoriously difficult to get in when a bigger act is playing! Michael Eavis came on stage before Noisia to welcome us into the festival, meaning I got an Eavis-spotting point before the Pyramid stage had even opened! The Temple is based on an Aztec amphitheatre, and we danced to Noisia’s whole set on the floor in the middle, in the pit you might say! My friends and I were all quite drunk and had play fights with people on our shoulders, lots of silliness whilst raving! It was an incredible set and the sound volume/quality in the venue was insane. We left with our ears ringing and with huge smiles on our faces!
We were all buzzing after Noisia and the night was still fairly young (midnight). One of my friends suggested we head to The Blues in Silver Hayes (aka Dance Village for us Glasto veterans) to see Kölsch, and then Shy FX at Wow! stage. Walking from the South East Corner to Silver Hayes is one of the longest treks you will make at Glastonbury and it takes all the longer when you’re all a bit tipsy! We made it, just, however The Blues area was super busy; people squashed together like sardines all trying to push past each other in different directions. I’ve always found The Blues to be like this, they tend to put huge EDM artists on this stage yet the sound is very quiet unless you’re in front of the speakers, which face “backwards” back towards the stage rather than out to the crowd. I tried to enjoy myself for half an hour or so but at about 2am Niamh, Thom and I decided we’d had enough of the jostling and headed back to the tents to get some sleep before the music truly began the next day.
Amanda, Luisa and I had booked a hair wash for Friday morning, so we made our way to the Glamour and Grooming Bar in the Theatre & Circus field for our 11am appointments. It was the first time we’d done something like this, but we thought it would be a nice treat especially after all the hairspray and glitter of the fancy dress the day before! We’d prepaid before the festival as well so it was great to just rock up and have someone wash our hair. Amanda and Luisa had booked 15 minutes DIY styling for after the wash, and I’d booked to have two plaits put in my hair. My stylist was lovely, and we all left feeling revitalised and ready for the start of the main three days of music.
I didn’t have any must-see bands on my list until Friday evening, so when Mat suggested I join him and some others for an afternoon in Shangri-La for Craig Charles‘ 3 hour Funk & Soul set, I jumped at the chance to see the Naughty Corner in daylight and have a dance. I’d seen Craig Charles a number of times before and I love his style of taking classic funk tracks and mixing them with a modern, fast beat. He’s playing a lot of festivals this summer and I implore you to catch him if you can! We were there for the most part of his 3 hour set and we loved every minute. It was also my first time in Shangri-La in the daytime, and though it’s a whole different vibe, it was great to see the complexity of the artwork that is in every corner.
On our way back to the tents for a quick pit stop I treated myself to the first of two Happy Maki sushi rolls I would eat over the weekend. I’ve written about Happy Maki in my Best Festival Food Vendors post, and I was really excited for my Fully Loaded – vegan crispy “chicken”, avocado, cucumber, sweet potato wedges, red pepper and teriyaki sauce in a sushi wrap. It was every bit as delicious as I’d remembered from last summer.
Our plan for Friday evening was to watch Royal Blood on the Pyramid Stage, followed by the XX, then Lorde & Major Lazer on the Other Stage. I donned my best shiny disco mermaid outfit and we got a good spot next to the sound desk at the Pyramid in time for Royal Blood. We passed the time before the band came on playing a favourite game of ours, the Peg Game. We had 3 packs of miniature pegs, and the game is to try and peg them onto someone’s outfit or hair without them noticing. What I love about the game is that it requires some skill and patience, and is hilarious, but you’re not hurting/bothering anyone and people tend to laugh when they find the pegs later. It’s also a great way to get talking to people stood around you in the crowd.
Royal Blood were incredible; I wasn’t sure how they’d work in a live performance with just the two of them but their punchy rock set was excellently executed, and exactly what I needed to kick off my Friday evening. You could feel the energy between them and the crowd loved it. It was a great Glasto moment when they were told while on stage that their album had just reached number 1 in the charts and they shared/sprayed some champagne. Between bands we had another round of the Peg Game until we ran out of pegs. Then came the XX, who of course were a lot more chilled and melodic, yet were still absolutely spectacular as the sun was starting to set and the whole crowd succumbed to the beautiful voices of Oliver and Romy. I’m still getting whole body shivers as I think about it while writing this!
We had to hot foot it over to the Other Stage quickly in time to catch the start of Lorde. She graced the stage in a printed catsuit, and quickly showed that despite her young age she is an established performer with an incredibly powerful voice. I really enjoyed the finale of Green Light with everyone singing along. When Lorde had finished, we pushed forward to be at the front for Major Lazer, made easier because a lot of people were of course headed in the opposite direction for Radiohead. We’d decided to pass on Radiohead, as we wanted something a bit more upbeat for the Friday night headliner, and I’d seen them live a few times before anyway. By the time Major Lazer started, we were all quite drunk, and had managed to get less than 10 metres from the front barrier. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the combo of Diplo, Jillionaire and Walshy Fire absolutely smashed it! Definitely one of my highlights of the whole festival, the on stage visuals were second to none and their crowd interaction was great too. At one point they did the classic “I want everybody to get down on the floor! Then in 3, 2, 1, jump up!”. This was when I realised I was really rather gone, as when everyone else jumped up, my legs failed to comply! Luckily Thom noticed I was absent and pushed the crowd apart to pull me up while I burst into hysterical laughter. Needless to say I was reminded of this hilarious moment numerous times by my friends over the weekend.
None of us wanted Major Lazer to finish as we were having the best time, but all things have to end, and we left with huge smiles on our faces, walking like zombies on a serious high. Of course we had to carry on the evening and the obvious place to do that was Arcadia – the giant metal spider up towards The Park. It was super busy by the time we arrived but we managed to catch the end of the Metamorphosis show from the outer part of the field. It’s so hard to describe this spectacle, but here’s their official video from 2015 to give you an idea:
We had a bit of a lull, as Arcadia was so full we were on the outskirts where the sound isn’t as loud, so we tried going to Dance Village, but again couldn’t find the sort of music we wanted. At present it was only Thom, me, Gem, Kat, Oliver and Eldon, so we headed back to Arcadia with the aim of finding the other, larger part of our camping group. Trying to find people at 1am when not exactly sober is difficult at the best of times, on the huge Glasto site it becomes an almost impossible task. We were on the verge of giving up and heading “home” when somehow we managed to locate them. I’m so glad we did because our night got even better; Arcadia had emptied out a little and our large group had a great time running around and dancing under the spider until it closed at 3am, then we continued our dance party at Stonebridge Bar in the Park with Toddla T and Joe Goddard until 5am. Walking back through the site in the daylight with not many people around is it’s own kind of magical! It took around an hour to stroll home, and we fell asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.
Naturally I didn’t exactly rise early on Saturday… I think I first made it out of the tent at about midday, and it took us all a little while to psych ourselves up to start the day. Having breakfast certainly helped, and this morning I’d decided to get something different from my usual morning mozzarella & tomato toastie from the Cheese Truck. A few stalls along was Eat Like A Greek, and I chose their chicken and halloumi souvlaki wrap, which was exquisite! Especially the homemade tzatziki. After we’d fed ourselves, had a quick camp shower (get in a swimming costume and have a friend hold a solar shower up for me), and fresh glitter application, our first act of the day was Busted at 3.45pm at the Avalon stage.
We arrived about an hour early to get a good spot in the tent as we anticipated it to be busy, which was definitely a smart move! It meant we had time to crack open our first few cider cans of the day while we waited to ease ourselves in. Busted were fantastic, opening with Crashed the Wedding, and playing a mix of old songs and new. We’d gone to see them for the nostalgia hit of our early teens, singing along to Air Hostess, What I Go To School For, etc, but I must admit I was impressed with their new stuff. The lyrics and melodies were sophisticated, and I do feel a little sorry for them wanting to be taken as serious musicians with new, pretty great tracks, yet people just want to hear the songs they belted out of their CD player in their bedroom as a preteen.
Choosing to see Busted meant missing out on seeing Jeremy Corbyn introduce Run The Jewels on the Pyramid stage, however I did get to stop and listen to 10 minutes of his talk outside the Leftfield stage straight afterwards. I couldn’t get anywhere near the tent as it was rammed, but I did catch a glimpse of him and was able to hear his speech from outside. Throughout the festival chants of “Oh Jeremy Corbyn!” broke out regularly, and it was such a great feeling of optimism for the future despite the current state of the government. I won’t dwell on politics anymore…
We carried on with the theme of pop music, and saw Katy Perry dazzle the Pyramid Stage crowd with an incredible rhinestone catsuit and giant pink eye as a backdrop. I’d heard pretty bad things about Katy’s live performances, but she sang brilliantly and had the whole crowd joining in with her biggest songs. I was especially impressed when she crowd surfed at the end of her set really deep into the crowd… Security obviously had no idea she was going to do it as they were panicking a little! Katy travelled so far that the crowd thinned to the point where she could go no further, and she landed amongst the people meaning she then had to walk back to the front. Credit where credit’s due, considering she is a huge international pop star, that was a bold move!
Next up, Luisa, myself, Trev & Monica moved round to the Other Stage for the end of Wiley and in good time for Stormzy. It’s been widely talked about how grime has surged in popularity and it was amazing to see that reflected at this year’s Glasto. Both artists were incredible live, and had huge crowds filling the Other Stage field. I’m pretty confident that in 2019, grime’s popularity with have expanded enough to ensure the biggest artists will be seen on the Pyramid Stage, maybe even a grime headliner in two years time?
Almost our whole group of 20 were going to watch Foo Fighters, so we had to attempt to rendezvous beforehand. We met at the Cider Bus, then immediately headed in to get a spot, but sadly we didn’t get as close as we wanted as it had taken a while for everyone to arrive. Despite this, the Foos blew me away, and it was great experiencing their headline set with our whole gang together, shouting out the words to Best of You with group hugs all round. This was my first time seeing the Foos live, and I’m already desperate to see them again. Dave Grohl is such a wonderful human, and I love that he dedicated Everlong to a lady called Laura from Devon who sadly passed away just before the festival, after a social media campaign by her husband Jon. The two hours they played for flew by with everyone gasping for more, but our group were aiming to get to Shangri-La afterwards, and we didn’t want to queue for hours so we made our way out during Everlong and half ran once we’d broken out of the Pyramid field towards the SE corner entrance at the back of Theatre & Circus.
I will admit that the rest of Saturday night (into Sunday morning) is a bit of a blur! I know we pinballed around Shangri-La trying out different venues, spending quite a while in the Clash for Critical Sound System where I remember bumping into Helen Wyatt, the lovely lady who drew the sketch for my Glastonbury tattoo! At some point we moved to the Truth Stage for London Elektricity Big Band who were awesome, but halfway through I started to feel tired. I was going to call it a night when they finished, until I saw the name “A Skillz” flash up behind the stage. A Skillz is one of my favourite DJs, the king of mash ups, and I got a new lease of life! A few cocktails from the bar helped, and my friends and I jumped around for his whole set as the sun came up. Yet another night we returned to the tents after 5am!
Repeating the trend of Saturday, I didn’t manage to get up until after midday, and we spent some time chatting and chilling at our tents in the sunny early afternoon. This is something I love about festivals, though some may call it boring. It’s almost a ritual; you and your friends all sat in a circle discussing the antics of the night before and summoning the courage to crack open your first beer of the day. It’s a necessary ‘warm up’ to the day ahead.
I had another toastie from the Cheese Truck which got me motivated enough to get glittered up and pop on some beautiful Face Florals, and we watched Barry Gibb from the back of the Pyramid field. I loved that he put on one of the gold jackets of the guys in the front of the crowd. After Barry came Nile Rodgers and Chic who I was really looking forward to! I’d seen them a few times before but still, you can’t beat a bit of disco in the afternoon sunshine! I wore my shiniest disco jacket from Couture Costumes and my whole squad were pulling some fantastic moves to all the classics: I’m Coming Out, Le Freak, Upside Down, Everybody Dance… And the whole crowd went wild when they did Get Lucky; a Daft Punk song that Nile helped co-write.
We moved closer to the stage in preparation for Biffy Clyro, who were incredible. Even though I’d never seen them live before, I knew they were long haired Scotsmen who played topless which was always going to be enjoyable, but they really exceeded my expectations. Even the security guards were singing along and the atmosphere with the sun setting behind the Pyramid on the last day of the festival was simply electric. I always start to feel a little sad around this time as it dawns on me that it’s almost over. We left the Pyramid Stage for the final time and walked through Williams Green towards West Holts. We’d chosen to skip Ed Sheeran to have Justice as our final headliner. On the way Thom and I had Happy Maki again and shared some garlic mushrooms from the Garlic Farm next door.
Justice were just the tonic I needed to help stave off the early onset of the Glasto blues. We managed to coordinate getting most of my camping crew to the same place to watch the set, and were all sufficiently tipsy. They played D.A.N.C.E early on and we all obliged, jumping and dancing around using the dregs of our energy reserves. The lighting set up on stage was awesome, and enhanced the French duo’s epic mixing skills perfectly. After a spectacular crescendo into We Are Your Friends, my crew swiftly moved towards the South East Corner entrance for the last time. I personally knew that I didn’t have the energy to have another 6am bed time, but I sure as hell didn’t want to miss Gentleman’s Dub Club at the Truth Stage in Shangri-La.
We made it there in plenty of time, and got a spot towards the front centre. I had two more yummy gin cocktails from the great bar in Shangri-La while waiting for GDC. Their tunes were a lot slower than I remembered from seeing them before, but we felt that was fitting for the final night. They still played a fantastic set that had everyone singing and swaying.
Afterwards we spent a while wandering around debating whether or not to continue the evening. The Temple had a huge queue, and nowhere else enticed us enough. So we decided to take a long, slow walk through the site back to the tents for the final time. I always get emotional thinking about Worthy Farm and it’s always so hard to think about leaving. You’ve spent weeks preparing, and 5 days having the time of your life… when it comes to an end it hits me pretty hard. There really is something magical about those grounds.
My friends and I stayed awake at the tents for a little while, sat outside looking at the lights of the site and taking it all in for the last time. Our exit plan for the Monday involved waiting for a few hours for it all to blow over and calm to return to the car parks, so we weren’t in a hurry to sleep. Glastonbury 2017 has claimed the joint top spot for my best one ever (tied with 2013), and it was a combination of the group of friends I camped with, the weather (bar the first boiling hot day) and the music/late night antics.
If you’ve read all the way to here, then thank you! I don’t think I’ve written this many words in one go since I left university, but with a festival so rich, so huge, and that means so much to me, I couldn’t bear to trim it down at all. I wanted this to be a chronological account of my festival in full. When the season is over, I’ll definitely be writing some smaller posts broken down into different topics all to do with Glasto. But until then, and until 2019, I have to end this post by saying;
Thank you Glasto for being my pilgrimage, my inspiration, and my dream.
Two years is a long time to wait but you’re worth it!