Like cab drivers earning The Knowledge, there’s a sense of pride, achievement and, yes, sneery superiority to knowing Glastonbury like the back of your hand. So there’s nothing more frustrating for the hardened veteran than turning up at your favourite secret cocktail cinema to find it’s turned into a Terry Wogan Memorial Aztec Salsa Emporium. So, after the stone circle elders branded the ancient sign of the great pagan buttercup god Hgarcgth onto my buttock to mark my twenty-first Glastonbury, I performed a ceremonial circuit of the site to let my fellow long-tooths know exactly what’s changed for 2016…
The John Peel Stage
Turn up at the corner of the site where the John Peel Stage has stood since time immemorial and instead you’ll be faced with a giant green wall stopping the great unwashed from ruining the fragrant vibes of the hospitality camping area, where Kate Moss sips gold-leaf daiquiris with Prince Harry and Adele in saunas of golden eagle tears. The John Peel Stage has been shifted a field up the hill, causing a seismic headfuck to anyone staggering back towards Bronze Gate after a night on the jazz bladders at the Beat Hotel. Which has also moved a hundred feet West. Gah!
Enviously eying Bestival’s Ambient Forest, the woodland right next to the John Peel Stage’s new location has been festooned with glowing neon balls, wicker archways and a glade bar and dubbed The Wood, so that Glastonbury’s wasted teenagers finally have somewhere to go for dubiously consensual sex. Deep in The Wood, you’ll find two giant wicker badgers, which certain festival-goers from the West Country have already begun worshiping as badger gods, and heavily intoxicated punters have mistaken for a secret gig by Brian May.
Memorial Stage Adornments
Bowies are everywhere at Glastonbury this year, the most touching tribute emblazoned across the top of the Pyramid Stage, where the phoenix in the rafters has been given an Aladdin Sane face slash. Over on the Other Stage, meanwhile, a gigantic ace of spades has been hoisted atop the stage in memory of Lemmy. And out at The Park, a Prince squiggle has been hoisted on a hand beneath the ribbon tower. Now where’s the procession of keytarists playing Victoria Wood’s ‘Let’s Do It’?
Once a humble campfire in the corner of the Unfairground, then its own section of the Glasto Latino field, this year the 24-hour Joe Strummer celebration that is Strummerville has blossomed into its own mini-village, complete with a London Calling Café, a Casbah and a proper stage. You’ll find it at the very top of the hill behind the Tipi Field and the Stone Circle, a bonus for those of you who’ve always felt that Glastonbury didn’t cater for those with a love of altitude sickness, hamstring failure and crampons.
The Cider Bus
Do not adjust your internet, the cider bus is still there. Worthy Farm would have to be sucked out of the ground by an Independence Day spaceship and dumped on Dorset for that thing not to sit scrumpily by the Pyramid Stage field. But we’re sure it didn’t have a gigantic sculpture of a broken warhead dripping nuclear waste in front of it before. A sign of Corbynomics taking hold of Pilton 2016?
The Salon Carousel
The many new bits of Shangri-La are covered in a separate blog from NME’s Glasto glam queen Leonie Cooper, and it would take a deranged mind indeed to keep track of all the changes in the Unfairground, home of the enormous devil dolls, Mad Max’s motorbike graveyard and, this year, a telephone-headed robot drug dealer and his handbag-headed dog. But standing out this year is the Salon Carousel, a bar full of antique fairground games that feels like having a cocktail inside a 1920s pinball machine.
The Avalaon Inn
No you haven’t smoked so much cheebs you’ve entered an inverted mirror-image universe. They’ve simply moved the Avalon Inn to the other side of the field. You still can’t miss it though – it’s a massive pub made of trees, mate.
The ‘Was That There Before?’ Moments
None of us have photographic memories of every Glastonbury lay-out ever – psychotropic memories maybe, but not photographic – so I had several double-takes at things that may well have been unchanged for a year or two. Like has the Pilton Palais cinema always been in the Acoustic Field? How long has the Green Futures field had its own pond area complete with grassy relaxation pods? And was the Temple in The Common Aztec themed last year? Answers on a postcard addressed to Pedantics Anonymous, Argue Amongst Yourselves Avenue, Whevsville.