You’ll have heard seasoned Glastonbury goers (or just first-year blowhards) telling you, “It’s not all about the music, man. The music’s not the point of Glastonbury,” and of course they’re absolutely wrong. We don’t gossip for months about what stalls we’re going to find in the Greenpeace field, or swap rumours about the colour of the bins this year. But… there’s heaps of spiritually enriching and downright stupid stuff happening when the alternative is boring your own arse off in front of Ben Howard or something. Here are 10 examples.
The real things. They’re endorsed by the Dalai Lama anyway: “The work that the Gyuto Monks do in the West has my full support,” he says. Whether this extends to them recording new album ‘Chants: The Spirit Of Tibet’ with Macca and producer Youth is anybody’s guess, but if you turn up to see them in The Green Fields you can surely expect a spiritual journey of sorts even if it only goes as far as Penny Lane. As well as a bit of chanting, the Gyuto Monks will also be performing a ceremonial Sand Mandala – basically the destruction of a nice piece of art – to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Tibetan Declaration of Independence. So there’s that.
That’s if being caked in mud isn’t enough makeshift insulation. If you’ve any reserves of energy left by Sunday evening, you can head to The Common down in the south-east corner of the site and indulge in a huge tomato fight. But it’s not just needless hi-jinks – this is a recreation of a yearly Spanish ritual that’s supposed to honour the saints. It’s legit. Called the ‘Tomatina’ (that’s “the fight of the tomatoes”), it’s one massive waste of fruit (vegetables?) held in front of the Mayan temple at 6pm.
Also at The Common – not, after all, a haven for dog-walkers and illicit trysts in the gorse – is The Cave, a sort of portal to the Mayan cosmos (man) featuring hieroglyphics, tropical vegetation and all kinds of mysterious sculptures. But, as The Common’s official bumpf says, “is everything as it seems?” Spooky. It’s a small portion of ancient Central America, including ritual, futuristic symbolism and – in all likelihood – people in facepaint.
I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing I like more after a hard first night on the tequila and strawberry cider cocktails than leaping out of my sleeping bag at the crack of dawn, slipping on my spikes and haring around the perimeter fence for 90 minutes. Thankfully, help is at hand. Twitter user @EastLDNRunner is trying to get a group of maniacs together for a run on the Thursday morning, club kits welcome. It’s at 9am at the Meeting Point. See you there!
French artist Olivier Grossetête needs your help. For reasons best known to himself, he’s got a reputation for building massive cardboard constructions – and other flyweight edifices like a bridge held up by balloons – in the name of art, but it involves some mucking in from the public. St Michael’s Tower is perched up on nearby Glastonbury Tor and this year Olivier’s going to recreate it out of, yep, cardboard. Get involved and stand next to him proudly when he unveils the finished masterpiece on Sunday night.
It certainly won’t be all about the music when Sir Bruce Forsyth takes to the Avalon Stage on Sunday afternoon, even if he will be attempting to perform songs from his recent ‘These Are My Favourites’ covers album. Oh no, there’ll be dancing too and even Sir Brucie’s legendary (not legendary) piano-playing. He also promises plenty of laughter and if his monologues on Strictly Come Dancing and any other light entertainment show over the last seven decades are anything to go by, he’ll stay untrue to his word. Bless ‘im.
If you’re deranged enough to bring your pregnant self to Glastonbury – and let’s be honest, that’s better than a few years hence when you’ll be carting your sobbing, mud-spattered infants around in a wheelbarrow – you can join like-minded souls on Sunday morning when Radio 1 DJ Edith Bowman will be hosting her 5 Live Bump Club show direct from the festival. Swap stories of the terrifying tribulations of a sober Glastonbury and tell everyone how you’re definitely going to call your newborn Marcus, Nile, Rita or Emily Eavis.
If you feel like you’re wasting your youth traipsing around the sun-scorched fields/boot-swallowing swamps of Glastonbury, heave your natural-high-addled bones up to the Greencrafts Field where you can learn life skills that’ll see you right when Armageddon comes. There are workshops on willow sculptures, hedgerow art, timber frame building, making fire with a bow drill, bronze casting, Shamanic drum making, wooden horse shafts, clay sculpting and, of course, hula hoop making. Plus about a million more activities. You’ll leave a true polymath.
Or off, in the Jagger Off at the Pyramid Stage’s viewing platform on Thursday at 12pm. It’s a cavalcade of pure zanery in tribute to the Saturday night headliner where wacky punters will be unveiling their best moves like Jagger. Really – there’s a Facebook group for it and everything, with nearly 3,000 sign-ups to date. Obviously it’s the kind of thing that demands the return of National Service – or the stocks at least – but who knows what kind of state you’ll be in by Thursday lunchtime? And sometime in the early hours of Saturday morning there’ll be a silent version in The Park’s Silent Disco. Did we fight in the Punk Wars for this?
Don’t literally die. Come on. Just pretend that you’re dead and go to Shangri-La Afterlife where you can shoot divine cocktails and get lost in the Seven Circles Of Hell. That’s the new, apt name for those alleys that get clogged up during a rainy Glastonbury and see unfortunate adventurers get stuck for three days solid with just the Guardian Guide around their necks for sustenance. But hey, there’s a pole-dancing angel in the Temple of the Blessed Snakepit and a waterfall bar in the Garden of Eaden. And possibly the odd surprise headline act. An essential visit anyway.