Whether this month marks your first or your 31st visit to Glastonbury, let our guide to every single nook and cranny of the massive festival lead the way. WORDS: MARK BEAUMONT AND EL HUNT
The clock is ticking quickly down to Glastonbury, and if you’re lucky enough to be headed to the greatest festival on earth, then the call of Worthy Farm is probably strong right now. Transforming from a West Country dairy farm into a trove of music, surrealism and silliness – and headed up by festival organising super-duo Michael and Emily Eavis – there’s no other place like it.
The great thing about Glastonbury is how sprawling and vast the site is; there’s always a new corner to discover, and it’s nigh on impossible to get to know every last inch of the festival.
Whether this year marks your first or 31st visit to Glastonbury, let this guide – outlining everything from key stages and camping areas to secret tips and tricks of the trade – help show you the way.
Main stages and festival areas:
The Pyramid Stage
Who it’s for: Picnic chair campers by day, flag-waving hordes by night
Where to find it: Tricky to miss. Look for the gigantic open space to the north of the site beside the marketplace, or just follow everybody else when Kylie’s due on.
What’s happening there: Gigs by major bands from around 10am. Some opera, brass band music and political rallies.
Main attractions: You might notice the bloody great pyramid thing over there? Massive wind turbine helping power it? Danger-to-aircraft beam of light shooting out of the top? That’s where The Killers live. The field is also home to a Greenpeace, Oxfam and WaterAid tent, and the site’s most famous milk bar, home of the lightweight.
Bars: There are standard bars on either side of the field, and a short way into the marketplace you’ll find the legendary psychedelic Cider Bus, the pre-headliner meeting place for Glastonbury veterans and somewhere to get a nice warm pint of Scrumpy Headfuck after hours.
When to get there: Ten minutes before the band you want to watch is on. Don’t make the rookie mistake of camping out here all day to reserve your space for a band on at 5pm, you’ll be able to get plenty close enough just by turning up at ten to and you’re missing the goddamn festival. Only get here early for popular headliners.
Insider tips: If it’s sunny (yeah, right), there’s a handy line of trees on the right hand side of the field (as you face the stage) for shade, and always enter and leave the field on the right hand side too – the vast majority of the crowds crush in from the marketplace end. If you want to watch a popular act in relative comfort, get inside the first crowd barrier and stand right in front of it. Bliss.
Don’t miss: The Sunday specials – town bands playing covers songs, guilty pleasure acts, etc.
Who it’s for: Families, fancy dress freaks and considerate ravers
Where to find it: Beside the tipi village on the hill to the south of the site; coming from the Other Stage field keep going past Arcadia, you can make it!
What’s happening there: Leftfield music, secret gigs, massive maypole action, general Alice In Wonderland sort of stuff. A village fete gone rogue sort of vibe.
Main attractions: First off, you can’t miss the huge Ribbon Tower at the top of the Park, where people go when they misunderstand their friends saying they want to get high. Then you have the Park Stage, where some of the coolest acts on site come to play and many a secret set has cropped up, from Radiohead to Pulp and, at the entirely opposite end of the industry spectrum, the Big Easy Jam is a space full of instruments that any old bozo can have a crack on, and watch the tent fill with people thinking they’ve stumbled on a secret gig by King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard. Across the field, Humblewell is a yoga and wellness centre by day and a hub of UK jazz called The Wormhole come nightfall, and after hours, if you can find it, the Rabbit Hole opens its hidden door; if you can answer the rabbit’s riddle you’ll gain entrance to a maze of tunnels and hunt out a gig at the warren’s centre.
Bars: The Stonebridge Bar at the bottom of the field hosts live acts and Hip-Hop Karaoke, and the Bimble Inn is now above the Ribbon Tower, with the best beer garden views on site. The Park Bar has a Bollywood theme, and DJ bar HMS Sweet Charity has gone all Richard Branson – no, it’s not suing the NHS, it’s shot itself into space. More like the USS Sweet Charity, then.
When to get there: About half an hour before sunset, to give yourself time to queue for the tower, then back again for 1am, when the Rabbit Hole really gets twitching.
Insider tips: If there’s a massive band playing a secret set and the entire field is rammed, try sneaking into the Tipi field next door; you can just about glimpse the Park stage from the fence.
Don’t miss: Behind the Park field is a large, steep hill. At the top is the appropriately-named Crows Nest bar, the highest bar on site and scene of talks by stars and celebrities acting as impromptu lecturers at the Free University Of Glastonbury, plus the odd ultra-secret big name acoustic set.
Who it’s for: Druids, warlocks, leyline diviners and shitloads of people on drugs
Where to find it: Both everywhere and nowhere. But if it’s not drawing you mystically towards its throbbing spiritual earth energy, take some more of this, then follow the central path up through the Green Fields from West Holts to the end.
Main attractions: Ancient clock? Sacrificial altar? Hyper-physical station on the Leyline Express? Odin’s spiked cock-ring? Nobody truly knows the origin or meaning of the stone circle atop Worthy Farm, but it sure is a brilliant place to get stoned off your milkshake and shout “Shalom Jackie!” until dawn.
Bars: This is a bring-your-own zone. There’s nothing like a shining Stella pump to ruin a good commune with the ancients.
When to get there: 4am, in time to smoke the rest of your stash before the ecstatic release of watching the sun rise over the Vale Of Avalon and this wondrous city of music and love, to the sound of a thousand squeaking balloons.
Insider tips: If you leave the Sacred Space to the right hand side as you look down the hill, you’ll come across two huge holes in the hillside. These are the entrance and exit of the secret underground piano bar where Michael Eavis himself often carouses the small hours away. If the queue seems too long, you can often gain instant entry by succeeding in a bout of ‘table wrestling’ – the fine art of being on top of a table, then clambering around the underside without touching the ground and ending up on top again. Note: it’s rumoured that the underground piano bar changes location every year, so keep your ears to the (under)ground.
Don’t miss: The dragons. Whether sculpted from sand or hidden in the nearby stream, it’s like Game Of Thrones never ended disappointingly in the undergrowth of the Sacred Space.
The Acoustic Stage
Who it’s for: Bearded folkies with those walking sticks you can sit on, who wish the cider bus was a bit closer.
Where to find it: Tucked away on the north east edge of the site, above the Theatre Field.
Main attractions: You come for the gently lilting sounds emanating from the stage in the large circus tent. You stay for the screenings of up-to-the-minute leftfield movies and stone cold classics in the Pilton Palais cinema tent at the bottom of the field, complete with popcorn/amazing waffle kiosk.
Bars: Real ale (obviously) is a speciality at the rustic Cockmill, in the middle of the field.
When to get there: About 8:30pm. The Acoustic Stage is one of the havens of relative tranquillity you can most easily get to from the Pyramid Stage between acts (see also: The Wood), so here’s a lovely place to fuel up before the headliners. Also a good spot to retreat to from the heaving marketplace, or if you’re being harassed by men dressed as giant pigeons in the Theatre Field.
Insider tips: On muddy years, this is the place you’re most likely to find a patch of actual grass to sit on, if you’re lucky.
Don’t miss: The late-night Palais screenings of music-heavy movies like Rocketman and Mamma Mia. Sing-along central.
Who it’s for: Kidz.
Where to find it: Beside the Acoustic Stage, north of the marketplace. Follow the sound of shrill screaming, or the Noah’s Ark parade of face-painted animals.
Main attractions: The Kidzfield is basically an explosion in Mr Tumble’s house. Party parades, magicians, TV puppets, helter skelters, climbing walls and music workshops – hang around long enough and you might even see Iggle Piggle take Upsy Daisy in the Pinky Ponk (parent joke).
Bars: None. You can’t give a baby booze!
When to get there: 9am. Things happen early at the Kidzfield and trail off towards bedtime, so if you want to dance in a shower of bubbles, best lay off the 4am ‘shrooms.
Insider tips: If you don’t have any kids with you, best be passing swiftly through here. Although if your hallucinogenics are kicking in hard, this is the best place on earth.
Don’t miss: Years ago there was a wizened, white-haired old storyteller who roamed the Kidzfield telling tales of heroes the size of your thumb. We don’t know if he’s still around or if he’s been Yewtree’d or anything, but if you see him wandering the marketplace, stop him and ask for a story.
Where to find it: On the outskirts of the John Peel Stage. You’ll probably stumble on it looking for a quiet spot to have a crafty piss between neo-punk bands.
Main attractions: Ever a home from home (well, ditch from ditch) for the nation’s tree-huggers, it’s only recently that Glastonbury has provided them with somewhere to actually hug a tree in the privacy of your own glade. The Wood doesn’t really compare to the magical forests of Latitude, Bestival or any other boutique fest worth mentioning, but it does have a couple of pleasant trails dotted with psychedelic bird-watching huts, lounges made entirely from log and a platform giving you a treetop view over the Tor.
Bars: There’s a cafe bar hidden away in there, if you can find it. Clue: it’s really easy to find.
When to get there: Sunset, when the campfire gets lit and you can try to start a sing-along of traditional 17th Century folk songs. Until someone with a louder guitar starts playing ‘The Shape Of You’ by Ed Sheeran.
Insider tips: Because, if we’re honest, there isn’t much to do in The Wood, it’s useful as a crowd-dodging short-cut from John Peel to the Pyramid Stage.
Don’t miss: The art installations tucked away in the canopy, or lining the trails. Who remembers the ‘invisible’ deer?
John Peel Stage
Who it’s for: Hip young gunslingers
Where to find it: The north-west corner, north of Silver Hayes and near the exit to the bus station.
Main attractions: As Glastonbury’s hub of new music, the John Peel Stage is basically an entire SXSW crammed into one massive tent.
Bars: One, unremarkable. You’re not here to sit around in hammocks eulogising over hemp cocktails, you’re here to discover the future of music. Get a beer and get on with it.
When to get there: Whenever Fontaines DC* are on (*insert name of your new favourite band here).
Insider tips: At the start of the weekend, scour the schedule on the John Peel Stage looking for suspiciously large between-act gaps of about an hour to 90 minutes. Here be major band secret sets.
Don’t miss: See above.
Who it’s for: Ravers, be-stilted cyber-punks, people acting surprisingly over-protective of that balloon
Where to find it: It’ll be rattling the ground and making burger stalls pulsate to the west of the Other Stage.
Main attractions: Having grown from a 1,500 capacity tent in the early ‘90s to an entire dance village, Silver Hayes has a range of six stages to cater for all your box-making needs. The main stage here is called Sonic, which is like dancing inside God’s fidget-spinner, while the bmm-tssh tugboat that is the Wow showcases the new talent, Gully-Blues hosts a global mash-up covering Bristol to Bogota, the Pussy Parlure covers the jazz and hip-hop end of the dance metaverse and No Average Groove is a new micro-venue promising underground acts. How the BBC Introducing Stage manages to be heard above that lot we’ll never know.
Bars: There’s one to the right of the Sonic stage. Take off those bug-eyed glasses and you might be able to see it.
When to get there: After you’ve been everywhere else, but before dawn in the Sacred Space. So about 4.30am.
Insider tips: Just outside Silver Hayes, en route to the Pyramid Stage, there’s a kind of raver’s chill-out zone known as the Beat Hotel – still lively but not full-on hammer-to-the-head. It’s a great spot for a bit of relatively slow-grooving respite, and should really be marked on the map as a balloon refill point.
Don’t miss: Silver Saturday, when everyone dresses up like Charli XCX being eaten by sequins and the whole place turns into a giant human glitterball.
The Other Stage
Who it’s for: People who like their big-name alt-rock and leftfield pop with a smigeon of ‘underground’ attached.
Where to find it: Back to back with the Pyramid Stage, to the south–west of the market. Or you can just roll down the hill from The Park and you can’t miss it.
Main attractions: Massive stage, with arguably the cooler acts of most Glastonburys playing.
Bars: Two, either side of the stage.
When to get there: Whenever there’s some dad-folk guff on the Pyramid.
Insider tips: That gate to the left of the stage is the entrance to the backstage area. So if you want to hassle any minor celebrities and slumming-in Love Island contestants, hang around there.
Don’t miss: The very first set of the weekend. It’s become something of a tradition for a surprise monster act to open The Other Stage on Friday morning (about 10.30am), so either be there or wander by an hour or so before – they’ll have often put up the surprise act’s banner on the back of the stage already so you can Tweet the exclusive to buggery.
Who it’s for: People who wish A Midsummer Night’s Dream had been a bit more ‘on one’.
Where to find it: At the back of the Other Stage field, and to the left.
Main attractions: Once this tiny wooded enclave in the heart of the site was the best place to camp, protected from the elements and with a dozen or so dealers on your doorstep. Now it’s a hub of sun-dappled (or at least vaguely under-cover) DJ delights, with big-name Balearic spinners crushing the decks on the Glade Stage and at the Spaceport just across the pathway, and the likes of Dave Seaman (the DJ, not the swarthy, moustachiod king of the net) topping the bill at the Glade Lounge tent.
Bars: The Glade Bar is a pyramid of sound allegedly constructed by the ancient techo-gyptians, and if you follow the wooden pathway into the tree-line and you’ll come across the Spike Bar, often ranked among the best bars at Glastonbury and scene of the odd kids comedy club and cabaret turn between the DJs.
When to get there: As with most of the idyllic parts of Glastonbury, sundown in the Glade is pretty cosmic.
Insider tips: Don’t be put off by the gathering of bodies here; the Glade is a great short-cut from the main stages through to Shangri-La or the Green Fields.
Don’t miss: The Glade Bar has blacklight Day Of The Dead tequila nights of a Thursday. Skeleton face-paint all round.
Who it’s for: Those with a hunger for a juicy slab of ostrich, or who just can’t have enough fairy wings and dreamcatchers.
Where to find it: At the centre of the site, between Pyramid, Other and West Holts stages, all roads lead here. If in doubt, head downhill.
Main attractions: A rudimentary city centre of stalls, shops and eateries selling all the exotic vegan fare, hand-crafted decoration, fluffy headpiece and drug-imbibing material you’ll ever need. There are also a couple of stages dotted around – The Bandstand marks the centre of the market showcasing rising bands, and the Left Field tent, on the corner of The Glade and The Other Stage, holds political and environmental debates and a whole lot of Billy Bragg.
Bars: Plenty. There’s a brew bar by the bandstand, the Cornish Arms ale pub by the Left Field tent and the Moroccan themed chill-out gaff Rock The Kasbah over towards West Holts from there. Then over on the strip on the far side of The Other Stage you’ll come across The Chameleon, famed for its Wednesday night silent discos.
When to get there: Wander through any time, but it’s always amusing around 3am as you watch the drunkest people on site try to hunt down the ‘massive party’ with the spinning lights outside that you can see from anywhere on site (they’re usually coming from a deserted blanket stall).
Insider tips: If you see a wine bar with a large inflatable wine bottle on top, head there after hours – they blast out cracking Beatles, punk and indie rock all night; it’s traditional to replace some lyrics with the words ‘wine bar’. ‘Rock The Wine Bar’, and so forth. You’ll get the hang of it.
Don’t miss: The new kid in town. A bit further out opposite the Greenpeace field is the relatively new The Open Arms, offering open mike slots for anyone that turns up. We eagerly await your online reviews.
Who it’s for: The secret set hunter.
Where to find it: Attached to the east side of the marketplace, by the entrance to the Kidzfield
Main attractions: The Williams Green stage arrived next door to the meeting point in 2009, presumably based on the logic that if there’s hundreds of people meeting somewhere, best give them something to watch while they wait. It acts as a kind of mini-John Peel Stage, hosting the smaller rising bands, but is also the hub of the Glastonbury secret set scene. Wolf Alice and Alt-J are amongst the big names who’ve crammed in for an up-close-and-perspirational unannounced set here.
Bars: There’s a Craft Cider bar here, plus the beach’n’cocktail themed Meeting Place bar.
When to get there: Whenever the schedule says ‘TBA’.
Insider tips: Aim to arrive before the end of the previous band so you can slip in when the more clueless punters leave.
Don’t miss: The rotisserie chicken stall by Williams Green is among the best places to eat on site. And it’s worth heading to the bar here after hours, parties are liable to break out.
Who it’s for: Budding luvvies, acid heads
Where to find it: Leave the marketplace to the north east, through the Circus Field, and turn left. It’s at the entrance to the Acoustic Stage. You’ll know you’re there when you look around and find you’ve wandered into an impromptu all-dog performance of Death Of A Salesman.
Main attractions: There’s a small stage for poets and singers in the south west corner of the field, an open-air stage at the north end for livelier acts and indoor tents hosting family-friendly performances all day, but as troupes develop their wandering shows and installation pieces, the make-up of the Theatre Field changes. Some years you’ll find a gorilla enclosure in one corner, other years it might be a caravan-based radio roadshow. You might be accosted by gangs of man-sized seagulls wandering the field, engulfed by a kazoo marching band or dragged into an improv scene by the Minstry Of Happy. It’s Glastonbury’s epicentre of surreal – definitely the place to head when the hallucinogens kick in.
Bars: The Theatre Bar has DJs until 3am, and next door is the new Craft Tavern, for the craft ale enthusiast.
When to get there: 11am. The Theatre Field should be an early stop most days, as many of the most entertaining performances take place throughout the day, so scout around the most fun-looking stage set-ups and check the performance times for them. There’s nothing worse than getting there at 5pm to find a ‘closed’ sign on the maddest looking shit.
Insider tips: If you’re canny enough, blag your way into the backstage Green Room bar in the Theatre and Circus fields. It’s open all night and as for the clientele, let’s just say that ‘outgoing’ is an understatement.
Don’t miss: The big Event moments. Giant Twister, say, or the toppling of a full-sized cardboard church tower.
Who it’s for: Non-coulrophobiacs
Where to find it: South of the Theatre Field, east of the marketplace. Follow the smell of singed jester’s hat.
Main attractions: The huge outdoor frame of high wires, trapezes and rope swings dominates the field, home to some of the most spectacular acrobatic performances outside of the people trying to stay upright while dancing in the slimepit outside the Beat Hotel. Entire building facades have been erected here to act as backdrops for flying acrobat acts, and there’s also a hi-tech Big Top for when it’s too torrential to keep the fire torches alight. There’s a smaller Outdoor Circus Stage by the south east exit too, where interactive street performers do their Covent Garden stuff – escapology, street magic, puppetry or the feller who walks a tightrope in wellies, playing a fiddle.
Bars: No major bars here, alcohol and fire jugglers don’t mix very well.
When to get there: Like the next door Theatre Field, wander by early on to make sure you don’t miss anything eye-catching.
Insider tips: Historically, this has been the home of the Miniscule Of Sound, a tiny cupboard of a club that only holds six people at a time. Easily the best way to make new friends at Glastonbury, even if you only ever communicate with them via coded whistle.
Don’t miss: The workshops – you can get a lesson on the trapeze or brush up on your chainsaw-tossing skills. And this is the place to join a flash mob, if you’ve got an ounce of Glee in your soul.
Who it’s for: Funk, soul and world music groovers
Where to find it: Beside the south-east side of the marketplace, or you can follow the path from the Sacred Space straight down the hill.
Main attractions: Come down with a crippling case of the funk? Head to The West Holts Stage, where your symptoms can be soothed by rump-shaking sounds from across the globe. To the right of the West Holts stage, you’ll also find the bigger, brassier new Glasto Latino tent where, just for a while, the South American samba vibes will make you believe you’re not covered in Somerset sewage. Salsa, tango and reggaeton dance classes by day, Cuban orchestras by night, you’ll be decked out in a peacock-feathered leotard before you know it.
Bars: There’s the ever-busy Brothers Cider Bar, and the West Holts bar is a plush sort of boozer, where many a late-night disco inferno has got dangerously out of control.
When to get there: If you suddenly start feeling like a room without a roof, get your ass down there quick-smart.
Insider tips: The Goan Fish Curry stall to the right of the stage is renowned as one of the finest curry outlets on site.
Don’t miss: The Cuban carnivals into Glasto Latino on Wednesday and Thursday nights.
Who it’s for: Chortlemongers, laffseekers, Roflcopter pilots, etc.
Where to find it: Behind the West Holts stage.
Main attractions: The giant tent here is the comedy tent, where major names like Jo Brand and Nish Kumar roll up; it’s virtually a home from home for Bill Bailey. Two other stages here host cabaret acts but the field itself is a hotbed of creative madness – you might come across clay renditions of the entire site, installations of musical monoliths, surreal mazes or amateur film companies remaking blockbusters with volunteer stars.
Bars: The Ridge And Furrow is a wooden-beamed monstrosity that’s as close to a Dickensian tavern as you’ll find this side of, well, Pilton at least.
When to get there: The Cabaret is the perfect pit-stop; whenever there’s nothing grabbing your fancy on the main stages, chilling out in the comedy tent is our idea of the perfect wind-down. Plus, after the headliners, you’ll often find major TV acts popping up here.
Insider tips: Don’t sit at the front, unless you want your life microscopically torn to pieces in front of an audience of thousands.
Don’t miss: Be sure to peer over the edge of the stone bridge that leads out of here into the Circus Field – there might be actual boating going on down there.
Who’s it for: Craft ale enthusiasts, morris dancers, folkies and nostalgia addicts
Where to find it: Due south of the Cabaret Field, or if you’re heading out of the marketplace, dead east from the path to the stone circle
Main attractions: A kind of halfway house between the main stages and the Green Fields, the Field Of Avalon has a kind of rural village fayre vibe. There are craft stalls, a helter skelter, tea and cake cafes aplenty and a traditional wood-beamed inn (of which more later). Fittingly, the Avalon Stage plays host to traditional folk bands and their modern-day equivalents. This is also where you’ll find a spot of ‘80s nostalgia fun and Glasto favourites of yore like The Levellers and The Wonder Stuff trying to forget they ever headlined the Pyramid.
Bars: The Avalon Inn is far and away the best proper pub on site, a feat of log-based engineering that feels so quaint and medieval you’ll start using words like “quaffing” and almost vote Brexit.
When to get there: Avalon is very much an afternoon sort of place – think of it like visiting a fete.
Insider tips: Once, Avalon’s peaceful idyll was destroyed by the fact that swarms of ravers realised it was an easy short-cut into the Naughty Corner. Inherently NIMBY – frankly, it’s amazing this field hasn’t petitioned Michael Eavis to get Block 9 shut down – the linking bridge was restricted, but you can still sneak in from here occasionally, if you can duck under a security guard’s arm.
Don’t miss: The Avalon Cafe Stage is the ultimate in chilled out Battenberg folk.
Who it’s for: Techno nuts, now including those with morbid fears of spiders
Where to find it: Just down the hill from The Park on the left, or up the hill at the back of The Other Stage.
Main attractions: You tell us. Pangea is the new area replacing the giant flame-spewing, acrobat-festooned wonder-spider of Arcadia in 2019, so it’s all under wraps until the gates open. The theme is the “primordial world” and a 50ft crane has been brought in from Avondale Docks to help create the spectacular centrepiece, so we’re not exactly expecting a stripped-down acoustic stage.
When to get there: We’re guessing midnight-5am
Insider tips: Smear your eyebrows in flame retardant before going anywhere near this.
Don’t miss: There’s an Extinction Rebellion parade on Thursday, and you see that truck rolling around looking like a flea that’s fallen from the leg of a Cloverfield? That’s The Bug and when its wings open, the party starts.
Who it’s for: Mad Max cinephiles
Where to find it: Up on the hill behind The Park and Pangea.
Main attractions: Imagine Cannes 2186. Cineramageddon is a kind of Blade Runner drive-in made up of wrecks of classic cars, fairground rides and a Lear jet set before the biggest screen in the UK, showing a five-day film festival full of cult classics. And in the nearby Black Lamp Cinema there are pre-release screenings.
Bars: Sneak in a tinny – they call it Doing A Diane now.
When to get there: Anytime, dusk til dawn.
Insider tips: You need to book in advance to get a prime chunk of car.
Don’t miss: The A-list Q&As in the Black Lamp – Johnny Depp’s been known to turn up.
Who it’s for: Environmentalists who want to let their dreadlocks down
Where to find it: You can duck into the Greenpeace Field off of the old railway line that runs across the site, or from the path up to the Sacred Space, just before you reach the Green Fields.
Main attractions: The Greenpeace Field’s time has come, with climate change and Extinction Rebellion dominating headlines, and what was once a fun place to go and slide off a beached trawler is now the epicentre of environmental action onsite.
Bars: Bring your own, but preferably not in a plastic bottle unless you want to get serious evils.
When to get there: Whenever the queue for the slide – one of the steepest you’ll ever see, you might as well be throwing yourself out of a second floor window for fun – is short.
Insider tips: When it’s raining, the Greenpeace Field has some little-known covered seating areas to hide in. They’re like a little nod of thanks from the elements.
Don’t miss: 2019 sees the arrival of a new sculpture designed by Wolfgang Buttress, the man behind Kew Garden’s Hive.
Who it’s for: Gender-exploding drag warriors, pan-curious clubbers and contortionists who are able to dance in less space than the human body can fit into.
Where to find it: Block 9 is the core of the Naughty Corner in the south-east of the site and crowd control systems are in place to funnel revellers in at ‘rush hour’ (I.e. after the headliners finish). At quieter times of day – when everything’s closed, basically – you can get in from Shangri-La and the railway line pathway, but there’ll only really be an Insta selfie in it for you.
Main attractions: Things change fast in Block9, Glastonbury’s surreal clubbing quarter. But the mainstays of the past decade have been NYC Downlow, the pan-sexual film-set of downtown New York’s gay scene rammed with go-go-butchers; Genosys, a climbing futuristic ecosystem that doubles as the leafiest DJ booth on earth; and Block9 itself, the club inside a ruined tower block with a tube carriage stuck in the side of it. The latest addition is a gigantic, featureless head called IICON, video-mapped with images and pumping out 3D surround sound abisonic nuttiness.
Bars: The whole place is one big bar.
When to get there: 10.30pm on the dot. Block9 runs from 10.30pm-3am but as soon as the headliners show any sign of wrapping up, the flood to Block9 is visible from the moon. So get to the field before the crush and avoid having to wait two hours to get in anywhere.
Insider tips: Somewhere in the dark far reaches of NYC Downlow there’s a ‘black room’ where all manner of unmentionables go on. Ahem, we hear.
Don’t miss: NYC Downlow’s Thursday night fetish party. Really, there’s not enough lube in Somerset.
Who it’s for: Freaks, psychos, anarchist artists and, every Thursday night, the NME team
Where to find it: Adjoining Shangri-La, it’s the first of the otherworldly areas you come to as you head along the train track from The Other Stage, heading south-east.
Main attractions: Decked out like an extremely evil funfair, you come for the sculptures – giant haunted angel dolls, wreckages of crashed planes, motorcycle pile-ups – and stay for the twisted sideshow games, foul costumery and the macabre tents and stages. The Flying Bus Stage consists of two convoy buses on a one-way detour to heaven, The Blind Tiger is a “dystopian Deco” ‘20s themed haunt found inside Elvis’s mouth and the Salon Carousel is home to all sort of carnival horrors.
Bars: The main bar is a big top affair where you’re liable to find Bez manning the decks.
When to get there: As with all of the Naughty Corner, get there between gates opening (10.30pm) and the arrival of the masses (11.15pm onwards).
Insider tips: The ‘50s Deluxe Diner bar here, with its plane cockpit DJ booth, is one of Glastonbury’s kitschest hang-outs and a real retro rock’n’roll riot – you’ll find the NME team there around 1am most Thursdays. Come and say hi.
Don’t miss: The Deluxe Diner restaurant is one of Glastonbury’s finest dining experiences. Try the lobster.
Who it’s for: Devils, gods, revolutionaries and dreamers
Where to find it: The end of the road; Shangri-La is in the very furthest south-east corner of the nightlife area – follow the rail track to the very end.
Main attractions: Your guess is as good as ours. Every year Shangri-La and it’s central main stage become a whole new world – it’s been a slowly crumbling sci-fi cityscape and a limbo between heaven and hell; every year it’s like Noel Fielding’s brain has spilled out in some unhinged new form. This year’s title is Junkstaposition: Re-Use – Re-Cycle – Re-Sist. Make of that what you will.
Bars: There’s a bar beside the main stage, in keeping with the theme.
When to get there: Before everyone else. Shangri-La is a must-visit on Thursday night too; it’s mostly up and running and you’ll want to check out this dark, demented wonderland early in the weekend.
Insider tips: Whatever the theme, Shangri-La is always full of hidden treats, shocks and surprises. Try all the doors.
Don’t miss: The Experience.
Who it’s for: Tropical explorers and voodoo priests
Where to find it: On the opposite side of the train path from Shangri-La or beyond the second field of Block9.
Main attractions: Somerset’s only known Incan jungle glade, The Common’s centrepiece is the Temple, a wooden colosseum of rave. In its shadow you’ll find a working waterfall hiding the Cave bar and, in previous years, a voodoo enclave where the Day Of The Dead lasts all night long. That may have given way to a promised new venue, still under wraps, mind. Bloody gentrification.
Bars: The Rum Shack is a legendary slice of Havana dropped on Pilton and The Mezcal Yard claims to be “a cactus needle into the vein of your partying spirit”. We’re tying off already.
When to get there: 10.30pm. Honestly. Sack off Stormzy and save yourself the queue of your life.
Insider tips: During the day, The Temple becomes a forum for environmental talks, drug law discussions and spiritual contemplation with a host of shamen – get there at the right time and there are even life drawing classes and water ceremonies conducted by the Wisdom Keepers. Having that.
Don’t miss: The Temple opening. You’ve never seen a party start faster.
Who’s it for: Late-night beat-seekers.
Where to find it: It’s in The Common, in the South East Corner. “Where The Cave once was,” say festival organisers, “SAMULA: The Portal now rises.” Sounds dramatic.
Main attractions: The Cave has been given a a shiny, technicoloured upgrade. A watery haven of crystal shards and stalactite-shuddering basslines, SAMULA is dedicated to the late-night electronic side of proceedings. Dub and roots crew Channel One Sound, jungle producers Serial Killaz, and drum n’ bass DJ Aphrodite feature on the bill, while South London drum n’ bass label Hospitality will take over the entire place on Sunday night.
Who it’s for: Strummers, hikers and campfire troubadours
Where to find it: No longer is the Sacred Space the highest you can get at Glastonbury (physically, that is). Keep following the hill up to the right and you’ll reach Strummerville.
Main attractions: Strummerville is the campfire singalong in honour of The Clash’s Joe Strummer that got rather brilliantly out of hand. So beside the stage for rising underground acts, you’ll come here for the huge campfire in a clearing in the woods, where all are welcome to bash out a tune for the assembled blanket-huggers.
Bars: Punky’s Casbar dishes up the beverages up here, and the Strummerville Cafe will serve you all the best buns of Brixton.
When to get there: Sunset; good vibes, amazing views.
Insider tips: If you happen to spot a famous face amongst the loiterers at Strummerville, hang around. Some big names have been cajoled into giving the throng a tune.
Don’t miss: Someone trying to do a mournful ‘White Riot’.
Who it’s for: Medium-to-industrial-strength hippies
Where to find it: South of the marketplace and West Holts – the main drag takes you right through it.
Main attractions: The Green Fields consist of four areas, each a progression along your road to full naked enlightenment. Level one hippies will start off in Croissant Neuf, where the Green Fields still pretends to be a festival, with a tented stage and bandstand for local folk and brass band acts (all solar-powered, natch) between the sustainability stalls.
You reach level two when you wander across the pathway into Green Futures to learn about environmental technologies, listen to Extinction Rebellion talks at the Speaker’s Forum and wow at the Permaculture (basically a free-love sort of compost heap).
Before you know it you’re at level three, whittling your own magic twig in the Craft Field and then, bang, you’re level four, bollock-arse naked in the Healing Field getting hand-fasted to someone called Moonbeam in a gong ceremony conducted by someone out of The Wicker Man.
Bars: We drink of the spirit here.
When to get there: When your chakras are giving you gyp something chronic.
Insider tips: Around the back of the Croissant Neuf field are some of the best veggie curry stalls on site.
Don’t miss: The Lost Horizon Sauna, Glastonbury’s legendary naked sauna, complete with naked bands on the solar powered stage. Currently in financial difficulties though, so head to losthorizon.org.uk to donate and keep Glastonbury naked.
Navigation tricks, cheap eats, and other top tips:
All tracks lead to the railway line
As the locals in any West Country pub will gleefully tell you, yer not in the big smoke now, me lover. Google Maps can’t save you when it comes to getting around a festival roughly the size of Bristol city centre, so you’ll need to get creative. Getting lost and stumbling across two Mr Blobbies wrestling in a puddle of liquid mud is all part of the experience, but if it’s speedy navigation you’re looking for, there is one thing to bear in mind.
In a muddled land where chaos reigns supreme, a walkway known as ‘the old railway line’ is your very best friend. Cutting across the middle of the entire site like a benevolent equator, the track run from Park Farm all the way down to the South East Corner. Traversing its length, you can easily hop off at the likes of The Glade, Pangea, Green Futures, Avalon and Block 9 – and it’s a sure-fire method of ensuring that you’re stumbling in roughly the right direction.
One thing to bear in mind: between 10.30pm-3am each night, the railroad to the Naughty Corner (aka, SE Corner, Shangri-La, The Common, Unfairground and Block9) switches to an alternative late-night route, which passes through the South East of Bella’s Field. Once the headliners finish, there’s likely to be a big queue to get in – to dodge the crowds, arrive before 10pm, or after 4am.
The lock-ups are your friend
So you’ve lugged six boxes of red wine to Glastonbury. Fabulous work. Not so fantastic? Heaving one of those weighty fuckers around all day in fervent anticipation, ready to down the moment that James Blunt/James Morrison/one of the other nostalgia Jameses takes to the Avalon stage and drops the Famous Pop Banger.
The secret? Think like the Scouts, be prepared, and deposit one of your wine boxes in one of the free festival lock-ups over the other side of the site in advance (there are 14 of them across the festival, marked on the map with black key-holes). That way, when everyone runs out of alcohol on the way to NYC Downlow, you can stroll over to your chosen stash site in the evening, and recover bountiful booze. Goodbye, hour-long trek back to the tent.
You can also use the lock-ups to store phones, money, car keys and other valuables – they also give out free loo roll because they are actual real-life saints. Plus, the lock-ups are completely free. Be sure to chuck a few quid in the charity pot as thanks; they’re raising money for Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament groups, Birmingham Friends of the Earth and Brighton Peace and Environment Centre.
On a budget? Glastonbury introduced an affordable grub scheme back in 2015, and around 75% of the food stalls on-site sell meals that cost less than five quid. Keep a look-out for ‘Food Under A Fiver’ stickers on menu boards for a relative bargain.
For a completely free meal, you can also pay a visit to the Hare Krishnas, who dish out vegetarian food to anybody who pops by. They’re based in Holts camping field, near Oxylers Bridge.
Unless you’re shelling out for glamping (or end up camping in hospitality with the minor celebs) showers are thin on the ground at Glastonbury. For anybody longing for a ‘conventional’ shower – that is to say, a private shower, with a locking door – there are a few at the bottom of Kidzfield and in the Greenpeace field. Expect a pretty long wait – though afternoons are typically a bit quieter.
That said, if you don’t mind a bit of festive nudity (it’s not mandatory, but there will be loads of naked people doing very flexible forms of yoga, be aware) there are a couple of saunas dotted around the festival. Lost Horizons (in the corner of the Tipi Field) has those vital showers (cold, bear in mind) along with a wood-burning sauna, and open fires – just be careful not to burn your bum. There’s also Sam’s Magic Hat (in the top corner of Green Fields, behind Block 9) for more sauna/cold shower action.
Alternatively, cycle to the festival to bag exclusive access to showers in the bike camping zone. Essentially, it’s a form of bribery – but an effective one. Rumour has it that non-bikers can also use the cyclists’ showers in the Darble camping area for a small donation during quiet periods – give it a whirl if you get desperate for a wash.
For the first time, there will be an on-site Co-Op at Glastonbury. The exact location isn’t yet confirmed, but the mini-supermarket will definitely sell various festival essentials like bacon, eggs, bread, sun cream, every single drink mixer you could ever desire, along with the game-changer – ICE. Unfortunately they won’t be flogging alcohol (boo, hiss) but at least you can buy your ciggies there (or, don’t!).
Everyone in their right mind loves a freebie. There’s next to no corporate presence at Glastonbury, so nobody will be flinging free sunglasses at you – but there are still a few things to know about anyway.
All of the information points across the site dispense sun cream, while the lock-up sites dish out free bog roll. Don’t waste money on bottled water, either – take a reusable bottle instead to refill at one of the hundreds of taps across Glastonbury.
Your ticket price also includes free phone charging (located near The Other Stage), a daily newspaper from the Glastonbury Free Press and free firewood. Grand!
Now, where do I camp?!
You’ve meticulously annotated your clashfinder, sorted out transport to the festival, ordered your heavy-duty trolley for a five day supply of tinnies… and now what? Well, you’re now faced with the mighty task of working out where to camp on Glastonbury’s sprawling site. And with so many potential pitch-up spots – and around 150,000 revellers all jostling for the best spaces – it’s probably worth doing a bit of advance planning…
Here’s a summary of the crème de la camping crème – check out NME’s interactive camping map for a full rundown.
Who it’s for: Headliner super-fans with a bonus penchant for festival luxury.
Where to find it: To the east of the Pyramid stage, Big Ground overlooks most of the festival.
Main attractions: This isn’t just a prime slice of camping estate thanks to its proximity to Glastonbury’s biggest stages – though that’s certainly one of the major bonuses. Big Ground is also home to the only proper flushing toilets outside of the backstage and hospitality camping areas. Party poopers, assemble!
Insider tips: Get here early. If you’re thinking about rocking up on Thursday evening, you’ll have trouble securing a spot, and end up next to the Pyramid Stage portaloos instead. Blearghhhhh.
Pennard Hill Ground
Who it’s for: Intrepid vibes explorers
Where to find it: Sandwiched in between The Park, Healing Fields, Sacred Space and Pangea (formerly Arcadia), PHG is right in the thick of things.
Main attractions: If you plan on roaming the entire festival site, and don’t fancy going through four packs of blister plasters in the process, this is the place for you. It’s also relatively close to the late-night debauchery of South East corner; stumbling back from NYC Downlow as a trail of residual glitter cascades onto the floor behind you will be a relative doddle, here.
Insider tips: Pennard Hill has something of a cult following, and campers return here year after year; if you fancy joining the centrally located throngs, get the tent set up in decent time on Wednesday.
Who it’s for: Not for the faint-hearted, put it that way.
Where to find it: In between The Other Stage and the dance hub, Silver Hayes.
Main attractions: Play your cards right, and your tent porch could end up with a ringside view of the Other Stage. Thanks to being within stumbling distance of… pretty much everything, it’s a bit of a hedonistic spot, too. Prepare to chew your own mouth off with your brand new best mates for life all weekend (PS. you’ll never message them again after the festival)
Insider tips: Stake a claim over your spot as early as possible – this area quickly turns into a game of tent tetris. And bring wellies. If it rains, Oxylers has a tendency to turn into a mudbath.
Who it’s for: If your idea of heaven is brewing up a cuppa on your lightweight titanium cooking stove while the chirrup of birdsong sounds sweetly from the surrounding hedgerows, you’re gonna be all over this place.
Where to find it: Clue’s in the name – kind of. It’s in the South West corner of the site, up the top of the hill.
Main attractions: Just like The Park, its south-westerly counterpart catches some pretty Instagrammable views over the festival site. And sure, while it’s a major uphill trudge back to the tent – particularly from the Naughty Corner over in the South East – this place could end up being your wholesome oasis.
Insider tips: It’s a brisk 25 minute walk from South Park to the Pyramid Stage, so don’t dither when it comes to setting off.
Lower Mead and Woodsies
Who it’s for: Avid secret set hunters – and anyone with a profound hatred for lugging rucksacks and tinny trolleys for miles upon arrival.
Where to find it: Tucked right next to the John Peel stage, and mere seconds from the Bus and Coach station.
Main attractions: If you’ve got your eye on that glaringly empty ‘TBC’ slot at the top of the John Peel line-up, Lower Mead and Woodsies is the ideal position for a brisk sprint to the front barrier. And if you’re planning on getting battered on Sunday night, it’s a deliciously short distance to the buses and coaches. Your hungover husk of a body will thank you later.
Insider tips: If you’re after a tranquil night’s kip, this place may not be for you. It’s near an access road to the festival which runs all day and all night. You’ll also be able to hear every gigantic bass drop from Silver Hayes in the early hours.
Darble/ Pylon Ground
Who it’s for: Aspiring Tour De France victors and the ultra lazy; a true meeting ground for sports freaks and super sloths.
Where to find it: Just step through the doors of the festival – Gate A, to be precise – and you’re here.
Main attractions: If you cycled to Glastonbury, you’re in luck – part of this area is exclusively reserved for two-wheeled spandex warriors. And if you’re of less active disposition, this is the dream; simply trudge through the gates and chuck your pop-up tent at the nearest patch of grass.
Insider tips: Pylon takes its name from the electricity that gently buzzes overhead. If that sounds like the perfect ready-built ASMR facility, then crack on. Oh, and there are compost loos, for poop and (sawdust) scoop fans.
Michael’s Mead & Hawkwell
Who it’s for: Anyone who fancies – quite literally – rolling down to the Pyramid stage
Where to find it: It’s t’North of the Pyramid and John Peel
Main attractions: Boasting some pretty scenic views, this area’s also within chucking distance of some of Glastonbury’s biggest stages; along with all-important transport links in and out of the festival.
Insider tips: Hawksmill is on a fairly steep incline – 45 degrees in places – so avoid unless you fancy recreating Somerset’s infamous cheese rolling festival when you take an inevitable tumble.
Who it’s for: If you lost your shit when Katy Perry played ‘Dark Horse’ in 2017, the underrated Bushy Ground might speak to your sensibilities – one for the camping underdogs.
Where to find it: As the Pet Shop Boys once sang, go West. It’s just beyond Park Farm.
Main attractions: Despite sounding like a location from a Beatrix Potter story, Bushy Ground is a bit of an underrated gem. It might not have the geographical gravitas of other, more central camping spots, but it’s still within easy reach of most main stages.
Insider tips: Head for higher ground; if it chucks itself down with rain, you’ll be grateful for your relatively dry haven – and in prime position for looking down on the chaos elsewhere. And if you’re planning on paying a visit to Block 9 or Shangri La in the twilight hours, either pack walking boots, or get so mashed that you won’t even notice the never-ending hike back to camp.
Who it’s for: Got a spare grand floating around and burning a hole in your pocket? Recoil at the thought of sleeping in a tent with roughly the dimensions of a coffin, surrounded by snoring piss-heads and some bloke called Keith with a megaphone? Fancy access to cordoned off showers and loos? The bougie Tipi Field – famously referred to as “those hotels over there” by Katy Perry when she played at Glastonbury in 2017 – is the place for you.
Where to find it: On the southern slope of the festival, underneath The Park.
Main attractions: The ability to stand up in your own lodgings and get changed without stooping over like a stinking festival Gollum surely wins out, but the thoughtful addition of a communal campfire for everybody to sing along to ‘Wonderwall’ is a bonus.
Insider tips: Make friends with a rich person.
Other notable attractions: from the Eavis’ house, to the best meeting points
Who it’s for: Michael Eavis! Emily Eavis! And off-limits for everyone else, unless you’re lucky enough to get an invite from the festival’s very own royal family.
Where to find it: Behind Hawkswell, Row Mead and Big Ground camping areas – you’ll also find the medical centre and lost property nearby.
What’s the deal? Sort of like Glastonbury’s equivalent to Buckingham Palace. Back in the 80s when health and safety really didn’t exist, Worthy Farmhouse functioned as the on-site A&E (it’s now next door). “We had our medical facility in the sitting room so we used to have people queuing in the halls with sprained ankles and broken legs and stuff like that on stretchers,” Emily Eavis recounted cheerily to local paper Somerset Live. “We used to give away free milk!” Now that around 200,000 people descend on the festival every year, the Farmhouse is out of bounds, but true history nerds can always get a selfie from afar.
Bars: No, you can’t hassle Mikey Eavis for a wee dram from his drinks cabinet, the man’s done enough for you already.
The Cider Bus
Who it’s for: Combine harvester owners, West Country folks and anyone else who’s partial to a pint o’ scrumpy while knocking blackbirds out of Wurzel trees with a gert big stick (and that’s exactly the sort of niche reference that a true cider bus devotee will recognise immediately).
Where to find it: To the left of the Pyramid Stage. It’s literally a giant bus that says ‘CIDER’ on the side – so if you miss it, God help you.
What’s the deal? Clue’s in the name, hun – this place sells every kind of cider you could ever dream up. Whether you prefer your fermented apple bevvies cold, mulled, dry, cloudy, dry, sweet, or churned up in all manner of cocktails, this lot have been serving the golden nectar here for 30 years. It’s also a pretty good shout for a pre-Pyramid meeting place.
Who it’s for: 24-hour party people
Where to find it: Another prime meeting spot for anybody camping over on the North West side of the festival, you’ll find it to the right-hand side of the Pyramid Stage, and below John Peel. Look out for a gigantic motel sign.
What’s the deal? This place is destination DJ – and this year marks the last-ever appearance of the Beat Hotel at Glastonbury. Get down there, order one of the venue’s famous lageritas (beer, tequila, Cointreau and lime juice) and pour a drop out for a long-standing institution.