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FL’s guide to Glastonbury

Thinking of making the Glastonbury pilgrimage in 2013? Here’s our guide to the world’s biggest festival – from the draconian ticketing system to the best place to camp. Words by ALBERT SANTOS, who attended the hottest Glastonbury on record in 2010.

Unless you recently re-joined society after living as a forest hermit, you may have noticed that the international school carnival known as the Olympics wrapped up last month in London. While for Australians it mostly meant having an Olympic team that kind of sucks, for the Poms it meant that this year they had to miss out on Glastonbury.

Festival organiser Michael Eavis cited the need for the festival grounds to recuperate, as well as the problems with sharing necessities like security and portaloos with London. He also made the promise that next year’s headliners are all but locked in. Fair enough. Hey, some of our best festivals have taken the year off and come back with a better, fresher face, right?

Wrong.

Glastonbury isn’t just a festival. The Glastonbury Festival is the closest thing to Mecca that exists for the music fan, right down to the towering main Pyramid stage acting as the Kaaba. Bands become legends after a single set. Friends are made, and lost, and made again. Secret performances happen at a whim, anywhere, anytime. Flags of every nation, religion, creed, colour and club are waved.

But who’s playing?

If you’re worried about the line-up: Don’t be. While even some of the biggest festivals in Australia and the world over have around six or seven stages, Glastonbury has five stages in their dance village alone. Music news articles quip about how the festival appears to book every act ever, and they are very close to right. As you venture through the dairy farms that make up the festival site, you soon notice that there is almost too much choice. It is virtually impossible for there be nothing on that you want to see.

After a few moments digesting this fact, your brain reaches a point of sensory overload that used to come often to you as a child visiting an ice cream parlour. Your usual ways of breaking festival clash deadlocks start to fail as you notice you’re ultimately choosing between four headline-worthy acts to see at the surprisingly early time of 6pm.

The stages

Just as you may habitually go for chocolate or vanilla at said ice cream parlour, instinct will draw you to the Pyramid and Other Stages in the middle of the field. If anything, it’s the place where some of the world’s biggest acts have had both their greatest (Radiohead in 1997, often cited as the greatest festival set ever) and lowest (Amy Winehouse punching a spectator in 2008) moments. Or you might soon find yourself at the jazzier, hip-hop inspired West Holts Stage? Or maybe at the John Peel Stage, named after the late DJ renown for giving some of the most iconic British bands their big break? Or The Left Field stage, with bands often interspersed between political talks and comedy acts?

Anything else?

Sick of over-hyped acts for the day, week, or possibly forever? Glastonbury is about so much more than just live bands that it is entirely possible (though not recommended) to go the whole weekend without seeing a single one. The south-east corner of the festival is exclusively made up of bars and clubs built into overarching artistic themes, featuring everything from a replica 1970 New York gay bar (entry with fake moustache only) to a Karaoke bar that auto-tunes your voices to match U2’s Bono. They have a cinema on site that doesn’t just screen student short films, and in 2010 they hosted the British premiere of Toy Story 3. You can compete in the hilariously amateur sporting events. There are whole areas reserved for families (kids under 12 also get free entry to the whole festival). You can even just lay until sunrise at Stone Circle; the one location more than any other where it’s totally normal to be accosted by a guy dressed as a wizard for ganja.

It’s not all roses and dandelions, though…

Flags everywhere mean that it isn’t the friendliest of fests for the vertically challenged. If you are keen on personal hygiene, beware that the festival has limited shower facilities. Toilet paper and wet wipes become a second currency and the portaloos have a history of blowing up. Nine times out of 10, however, the whole site will become the worst type of mudbath imaginable. It goes without saying: Bring wellies.

*NB: I last attended in 2010, the hottest Glastonbury on record and very mud-less. All my information in regards to mud is second-hand.

How to camp, Glastonbury style

If you want a good camping spot, either pony up the extra cash for a campervan or Tipi or get there early and expect to line up for at least six hours. Once you are in, aim to camp in Pennards Hill, Park Grounds or as far away from the dance village as humanly possible. The slight advantage here comes from the festival being BYO throughout. This means that even if there is not a single drop you don’t like on-site – again, near-impossible – you can bring your own all the way up to the stage with you.

Do: Prepare for the hardest ticketing experience of your life

But above all of this is the draconian ticketing system. It’s why you need to make up your mind now – 10 months prior to the festival. Pre-purchase registration is now open until September 30: this involves handing pages of personal details over, including a passport-quality headshot. They’ll then send you a unique registration code, which is valid for a single ticket.

Once that’s done, you’ll have to be on a computer at exactly 7pm AEST (9am GMT) on Sunday, October 7. You can “buy” tickets for up to eight registration codes. This is the hard bit: Since 2009, the festival’s 150000 tickets have sold out in hours. So your best bet is to get all your friends registered and on a computer come sale day. If you know an expat or relative in Europe, get them on at least three; their chances of getting through are 10 times better than ours.

You “buy” the ticket because till now it still isn’t yours. Starting from next year’s festival, all tickets are sold on a lay-away basis only, with the initial deposit being £50 (roughly $75). The ticketing system reopens again in February so that you can pay off the rest of the £216 price tag, which equates to just over $330. A very small allocation of cancelled orders goes on sale closer to the festival date. On the bright side, it’s about $20 less than this year’s Splendour, and you get camping thrown in for free!

Don’t: know a guy who know’s a guy

And while this all seems much, don’t be tempted by ticket resellers or blokes with the promise to get you in through the back of a windowless van. One poor sod in 2010 was caught with another person’s ticket. He ended up being immediately thrown out of the festival, with no chance to return to collect his gear. The last that was heard of him was that he was being held indefinitely at a local police station. And let’s not even mention the two-layered superfence.

Just fucking go

Bringing the Mecca analogy back, to go is to complete a type of rock music Hajj. Glastonbury really is unlike any musical experience you’ll ever go to. Whether you love festivals, loathe festivals, or just inexplicably end up at festivals, you have to make the pilgrimage to Pilton at least once in your lifetime.

Click here to register for tickets.

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Comments

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01seb

01seb said on the 23rd Sep, 2012

Praying that I get tickets this year.

Oh, and I'm pretty sure it goes on sale at 6pm Aussie time, not 7pm.

monokhrome_nite

monokhrome_nite said on the 23rd Sep, 2012

I always thought Radiohead's 2003 set was a lot better than the 1997 one, but that's just me.

batdan

batdan said on the 23rd Sep, 2012



Since you were not any any of these gigs who really gives a toss?

01seb

01seb said on the 23rd Sep, 2012

Just saw on the Facebook comments that Cr1zZ is going to this. Yes! finally my chance to meet him

ThatDude123

ThatDude123 said on the 23rd Sep, 2012

Praying that I get tickets this year.

Oh, and I'm pretty sure it goes on sale at 6pm Aussie time, not 7pm.

I think daylight savings starts that weekend? Anyways, I got the time off of [URL="http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?msg=Glastonbury+Festival+2013+Tickets+On+Sale&iso=20121007T09&p1=136"]here, which was the link supplied by the Glastonbury email I got.

01seb

01seb said on the 23rd Sep, 2012



Oh true, you are correct. I'm in QLD though, so it's still 6pm here.

MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 23rd Sep, 2012

See, this is great! Not only a great mix of the factual and the light-hearted, but far and away the best thing Santos has written in years. THIS is what I like to see - original, interesting content. It CAN happen.

burgaa

burgaa said on the 23rd Sep, 2012

anyone know cheap flight websites?

ThatDude123

ThatDude123 said on the 23rd Sep, 2012

PROTIP: open up bestflights.com.au, then take it to a travel agent and price-match.

Jose Cuervo

Jose Cuervo said on the 23rd Sep, 2012

The Ganja Wizard was a pretty fantastic dude

ThatDude123

ThatDude123 said on the 23rd Sep, 2012

The Wizards

http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m3os85vUZX1rv6skio1_400.gif



These two posts were made for each other

Changa

Changa said on the 24th Sep, 2012

praying that i get tickets this year.

oh, and i'm pretty sure it goes on sale at 6pm aussie time, not 7pm.

is it really that hard to get tickets? i thought it sold out in 4 hours last time. for purchasing tickets thats a decent time slot

Sir Toire

Sir Toire said on the 24th Sep, 2012

Might've been four hours since there was a fuckload of computers all around the world on the same website.

01seb

01seb said on the 24th Sep, 2012

Yeah. the servers can't handle everyone buying tickets at the same time so they only let a certain amount of people through at a time and the rest are put into an online queue. They then have to refresh constantly in order to try and get out of the queue and into one of the spots to buy tickets when a spot becomes available.

lanesra23

lanesra23 said on the 24th Sep, 2012

2010 (same one Santos went too) was really easy, I thought. Just jumped on around the time I thought the time-zones would match up and was in and out in minutes. Hardest part was remembering that 'post code' for international buyers is actually the name of your suburb.

The next year was definitely much harder (checked out of interest).

Tomorrowland is much harder, though. Miss clicking within the first second and you've missed out.

crob

crob said on the 25th Sep, 2012

was thinking of doing a Europe trip next year... would love to try incorporate Glastonbury

p1owz0r

p1owz0r said on the 25th Sep, 2012



I was at 2003, not 1997. It wasn't bad.

I am from a stones throw (well a stone thrown in a moving car) from Glasto, I have been half a dozen times, first in 98, last in 04 (i think it was).

Great festival, nothing comes close.

BennyBoop

BennyBoop said on the 26th Sep, 2012

i went in 2010 as well. spent maybe an hour on computer hitting refresh button. i got to glasto in the back of a kombi,vip style with two english lads/dudes/chaps who i had never met before,friend of a friend scenario.
we camped up high,probably the best way to beat the mud,even though there wasn't that year -yay! (about a 10-15 min walk to the pyramid stage), and gotta say despite not being rite near the stages,the view was worth it! after 5 days of partying,hectic timetable clash decisions,& too many tuborgs,i was flat broke,with not a cent to my name to get out of there. so i stayed back & got payed to pick up litter,& also fed 3 times a day,with free camping. the amount of stuff people leave behind is flabbergasting! everyone ended up making up a whole new campsite out of other peoples left behind gear.a hoarders paradise! picking up litter was about 200-300 people,they culled the numbers each day,whoever wasn't working/being lazy got laid off. guys in a 4x4 handing & yelling out baaaagsss & gluvs in thick cockney accents-classic. after 2 days,had enough $$ to get outta there,last thing i did was roll a jazz ciggarette, & climbed up & stood on the pyramid stage,staring out at a massive empty hill/field,& imagining how much of a rush it would be to play to 120,000 punters at one of the world's finest festivals! :)

neuroticwill

neuroticwill said on the 7th Oct, 2012

Is anyone else attempting to get a ticket?

lanesra23

lanesra23 said on the 7th Oct, 2012

Ticket buying was hard this year!

But I still won.

01seb

01seb said on the 7th Oct, 2012

Finally got through and booked for me + 6 Aussie friends. So relieved/excited!

lanesra23

lanesra23 said on the 7th Oct, 2012

In-and-out in 5 minutes but it was dodgy.

sarcasm_mister

sarcasm_mister said on the 7th Oct, 2012

about 80 000 tickets gone in the first hour. with triple that number complaining about it being too slow.

neuroticwill

neuroticwill said on the 7th Oct, 2012

I only just got mine.

Tremendous.

sarcasm_mister

sarcasm_mister said on the 7th Oct, 2012

gone in 100mins!! that means they were processing 1400 tickets per minute. wow!

Jose Cuervo

Jose Cuervo said on the 7th Oct, 2012

I got to the payment screen twice and it fucked up

last time I put the card details in and then when it was processing that, it told me it was sold out.....worst

Changa

Changa said on the 7th Oct, 2012

I got to the payment screen twice and it fucked up

last time I put the card details in and then when it was processing that, it told me it was sold out.....worst

Dude same.. fucking guttered, but I'm still going to hit up both Rock Wretcher and one of either Open'er/Vieilles/Optmus gonna be a good year!

lanesra23

lanesra23 said on the 7th Oct, 2012

Rock Werchter is a good choice. Been twice and would love to get back there next year if all things permit (would be 3rd time in 4 years).

By far the cleanest festival in a field / farm / park / vineyard / fortress I've been too. Hit me up for some tips when it gets close (before the festival, best camp-grounds, when to arrive, etc).

Jose Cuervo

Jose Cuervo said on the 7th Oct, 2012

Im really not that gutted because I will just head to the US and do outside lands instead.....and possibly lollapalooza too actually

ThatDude123

ThatDude123 said on the 7th Oct, 2012

So according to efestivals, seetickets fucked up the DNS servers, meaning that a quick hack of your computer's hosts file could get you into the ticket-buying page from 7amGMT onwards. It ended up all over twitter and they suspect anywhere between a quarter to a half of the tickets went out the door this way.

lanesra23

lanesra23 said on the 9th Oct, 2012

Need to try this Twitter.