So you got your ticket. Well done. That was the easy part (seriously). Now you have to decide what the hell you are going to take to Glastonbury Festival, which is why I have cobbled together this carefully considered Glastonbury Festival Essentials checklist.
It pays to be well-prepared, and certainly prevents a lot of physical pain and suffering.
But it’s harder than you might think, given the nature of the extreme and ever-changing Glastonbury weather. One thing you can be sure of is that it will almost certainly rain, so gearing up for a downpour is a pretty safe bet. However, if fortune favours Glastonbury-goers and there is a timely heatwave (anyone remember 2010?), you may find yourself lamenting those forgotten flip-flops as your feet fester inside foul-smelling wellies / begging the Gods for rain as one sunstroke victim is stretchered off after another.
Generally speaking of course, you would need to be very absent-minded indeed not to bring the obvious Glastonbury festival essentials: a raincoat, wellies, thick socks, jumpers, shorts, plenty of t-shirts, sunglasses, ridiculous hat etc, but mistakes are easily made when it comes to weight.
When queuing to get in to the festival on the first day, this realisation will dawn on you very quickly as you are forced to carry everything you decided to bring (including God knows how much alcohol) all at once. Enduring the great Glastonbury queue twice is simply unthinkable. It’s easy to spot the veterans in the queue – they are smug and irritatingly well-prepared people with loaded shopping trolleys and trailers. “How the fuck did they fit that in the car?” you ask yourself as you lose your grip on your damned crate of Strongbow for the fifteenth time. One does not simply know these things. One must gradually acquire such Glastonbury wisdom over many years.
6am. The Glastonbury queue. pic.twitter.com/xL3EgmrUwO
— Chris Emsell (@Christoph0512) June 25, 2014
But less is so much more in the case of Glastonbury. Think of it like packing for a flight with Ryanair, except don’t actually bring a suitcase – then you really would be a laughing stock. Pack light and do not be extravagant. But more specifically…
Glastonbury Festival Essentials: Keeping Warm and Dry
- A tent. Unless you can afford to stay in the luxurious Tipi Village (trust me, you can’t), you’re going to need a damn good tent. Say nay to dirt cheap ASDA tents and yay to flooding-resistant, well-ventilated ones. A shit-hot tent is a worthwhile investment, which will become immediately clear as soon as it starts pissing it down and you remain bone-dry. This North Gear tent for £39.99 is a very safe bet.
- A raincoat. They don’t have to be fashionable, just good at keeping you dry. A proper raincoat, like this Tresspass Packaway Jacket from Amazon will be more comfortable but likely get very muddy. Alternatively, you can buy rain ponchos for as little as £1 online.
- Wellies. A word with which Glastonbury has become practically synonymous in the English language, you’d be mad not to bring a pair. Funky wellies are fun but not at the expense of feeling your toes. For great quality and awesome designs, you can’t go wrong with Hunter.
- A sleeping bag. Again, best to invest here, not least because a good one will keep you warm, but the lighter the better too. A big, thick sleeping bag that doesn’t fit snugly into a sack will be a bitch to carry. I’d recommend Karrimor’s Travel Sleeping Bag, which I’ve been using for years.
- Easy Dry Towel. A no-brainer. They are cheap, light and dry fast. A regular towel is heavy and will never dry out if it rains. If you don’t already have one, get one! £7 on Amazon.
- 2 jumpers. For when one is soaked and it’s time for bed.
- Long, thick socks. Whether long-johns, stockings or ski socks or even footy socks, take at least 3 pairs to keep your feet alive and prevent nasty welly chaffage.
- Groundsheet. Very useful if you can fit one in to your tent bag. Think horribly muddy ground when you want to watch a band but are desperate to sit down because you can’t feel your legs anymore (due to excessive walking of course). Or just how generally wet camping at Glastonbury can be. Buy one cheap from the likes of Pound Stretcher or on Amazon for better quality.
Glastonbury Festival Essentials: Keeping cool and UV-protected
- Summer clothes. I won’t actually tell you how many t-shirts and pairs of shorts to take to Glastonbury. You can probably make an intelligent guess.
- 2 pairs of sunglasses. One nice, standard pair that will actually protect your eyes (or hide them) and another cheap, wacky pair for when you unleash the crazy raver in you.
- Sun cream. Expensive, sticky and annoyingly necessary. Doing Glasto without sun cream is akin to putting your hand in a fire. You are going to burn.
- Hand-fan. Or just a normal fan. When the heat becomes unbearable this will provide you with a means of instant (though minimal) relief. Just drop it in your day bag.
- Bucket hat. You may argue that this is not an essential packing item – and that they are “soo nineties” – but take it from me, he who cleverly incorporated a bucket hat into his costume for the weekend by dressing as Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing. They keep the sun off your neck and undeniably help spur that fantastic festival feeling.
- Flip-flops. In the event of blistering sunshine you will be ever so grateful of your flip-flops, or – if you plan on spending the day in them (ill-advised if you are liable to go moshing at some later point), perhaps a pair of sturdy Birkenstocks would be more appropriate.
Glastonbury Festival Essentials: Comfort and Sleeping Aids
- Air mattress. Even in the depths of your despair during the forth hour of queuing on Day 1, when bulky items such as an air mattress (and that fucking foot pump) are liable to cause a mental breakdown, do not forget how essential an item it truly is. You will be so, so grateful when bedtime comes, and the nightmare of carrying it inside along with all those led-like crates of cider will be forever gone (if you come better prepared next year that is) as you fall into a deep, amazing sleep within seconds. Camping mats really are inadequate substitutes. My advice is to invest – if you’re going to spend money on an air mattress, you may as well get a good one. In fact, get a double. The bigger the better. Here’s the one I got on Amazon for £15.
- A pillow. It will fit. Somehow. Whether you strap it to the outside of your pack (good for lying on when queuing up), tuck it under your arm or balance it on your head, a pillow must go. You could of course stuff a pillow case with a couple of jumpers but if they are wet then you’re the one whose stuffed (LOL). Again, I stress the importance of getting a good night’s sleep at Glastonbury. This is 5 days and 5 nights of hardcore, non-stop partying people. Take sleeping. Take napping. Take a pillow.
- Blanket. To be used for sitting on rather than sleeping under, though if the temperature suddenly drops you’re going to be glad of the extra layer. You have to realise that Glastonbury Music Festival is absolutely enormous, and will almost certainly involve a lot more walking than usual. You will get tired quickly and be desperate to sit down when you stop to watch a band. Keep your ass dry and reasonably cushioned with a nice blanket. They’re cheap as chips too. This one is just £5.50. Bargain.
- Ear plugs. Anyone who has been to a festival anywhere will surely understand the vital importance that a pair of these carries. Whether it’s screaming drunks, deafening rain or loud sex noises from the tent next door, you’re definitely going to need some ear plugs.
- Eye mask. Well ear plugs without the eye mask to boot is just wrong. At Glastonbury, you need both. Tents are pretty darkened places until the sun abruptly casts its unwelcome rays at around 5am the next morning. Alternatively you could just use the first thing your hand finds and throw it over your face. Best keep your dirty underwear out of arm’s reach though.
- Valium. If you’re planning on doing drugs, get some. Nothing worse than being zipped up in your tent alone and wired to your eyeballs. Not even a comfy air mattress and pillow can save you then.
Glastonbury Festival Essentials: Hygiene
- Wet wipes. Got to be done. Unless you really can be arsed to queue up for the showers for 2-3 hours first thing in the morning, this is your only other alternative if you intend to retain some sort of personal hygiene standards at Glastonbury, which you should.
- Deodrant. Shower in a can.
- Bog roll. Do not leave the tent without some. Glastonbury toilets can never be relied upon.
- Hand sanitiser. 150,000 people = MILLIONS of germs. And trust me, you don’t want to get a stomach bug at Glastonbury.
- Dry Shampoo. But will you actually use it / do you actually care?
- Vitamins. Pop one in the morning, one at night. Your body will need them.
- Paracetamol. If you don’t need them, a friend will.
- Toothpaste and toothbrush. Obviously.
Glastonbury Festival Essentials: Tech
- Phone. To put it simply, without a phone you’ll be missing out and probably be on your own a lot of the time. You need a phone. These days even shit phones are good phones, generally speaking. If it can take decent photos, run 3G and can stay alive for the day, it’s good enough. However, if yours doesn’t/can’t, you might want to think about taking your regular phone, since Glastonbury has now become so high-tech you really would be missing out on some great features without a smartphone, such as…
- Apps. Not that they need ‘packing’ in the literal sense, but it is better to download the best ones at home and figure them out before you go. The Glastonbury official app run by EE is, frankly, amazing. It lets you create your own line-up by adding bands/artists from different stages and there is also an interactive map which tells you where you are, what’s on nearby and lets you share your location with mates. Another useful app to have is the ‘Find my tent’ app, which thankfully I didn’t have to call upon last year but could be reassured of always finding my way home if I really were that lost and inebriated.
- Wireless battery charger. I got me one of these especially for Glastonbury last year and it kept my iPhone alive for the whole 5 days (at least 5 full charges). I was well impressed. Use it any time you are at your tent and you should be good to go. I bought the EasyAcc Classic on Amazon for just £18. Belting purchase. And I’ve since accumulated a smaller, pocket-sized wireless charger that I take with me to any outdoor event now. I get at least two cycles out of it before I need to charge it again. Here’s a similar product I found on Amazon.
- Bluetooth speakers. Pre-arena drinking is much better with some tunes going in the background. And if you are stuck in your tent on a rainy day, you can have your very own mini tent rave. Sorted. You’d be amazed how long some Bluetooth speaker batteries can last these days. I personally recommend the Bose Soundlink Mini Bluetooth Speaker II. It’s pricey but you really get what you pay for. Great investment.
- Solar Powered Shower. Yep, genius. Not got one myself but I may just have to push the boat out. Get your mates to pitch in for the £8 cost on Amazon.
- Walkie-talkies. OLD SCHOOL! And if you ignore point 3 above then you’ll surely need a set of these for when your phone dies. Better than queueing for hours to recharge. And you’ll feel clever/like a badass. Get this twin set for £19 on Amazon.
Glastonbury Festival Essentials: Just for Fun
- A costume. Music festivals are the perfect places for dressing up like a knob and not giving a fuck. It’s funny for you, even funnier for your mates (who should also be dressed like knobs, though not literally of course) and a great costume is a great conversation starter. The better the costume, the more attention you’ll get, which can obviously be a good or bad thing, depending on your patience and/or state of mind. I particularly enjoyed my Fear & Loathing costume last year, since the more intoxicated I became the better the costume got. However, some people did just think I was a random festivalgoer with a pink flowery shirt and a bucket hat. If you want your Glastonbury outfit to stand out, get your whole troupe to dress the same and make it original. This Pinterest board is full of inspiration.
- A sign. Ok, this probably isn’t quite as essential but if you make a good one it’s a surefire way to get on the big screen. Shout-out to the guy with the “Hello, is it pills you’re looking for?” sign at Lionel Ritchie last year. Genius. You could make your sign from discarded beer crates but it probably wouldn’t last long.
- A ridiculous hat or t-shirt. Or both. It’s just got to be done. Festivals shouldn’t be fashion parades, and annoyingly that’s what the majority of them are unsubtly becoming. By ridiculing yourself you are being an anarchist, a role we Brits play so well. The more outrageous the better. Like this tentacle-tastic octopus beanie for £6.
- Festival feet. Your trainers needn’t become mud encrusted with these novelty yet handy festival feet. They are actually just Converse-like bin liners that you tie around your shoes. But for just £2.50 they’re definitely worth having.
Glastonbury Festival Essentials: Food and Booze
- Fruit. Chances are you’ll be surviving on greasy noodles, burgers and burritos for most of the weekend (when hunger strikes – and strike often it does – you’ll need to go for something filling), but breakfast is the time to munch as much fruit as you can manage.
- Sugary snacks. You’ll need to keep your energy levels topped up if you want to see all of Glastonbury. In fact, even half of Glastonbury requires many hours of walking and/or mud-traipsing. One way to battle through is having a never-ending supply of biscuits that you can mindlessly dip into every now and again. My personal favourites are disco flavour. Sherbet dips are also great for later on in the night.
- 2 crates of lager/cider. Open to debate, but after a reasonable number of years of trial and error, I believe 2 crates are enough and the maximum that one person can carry on the way in without doing themselves a nasty back injury (unless you make use of a beer trolley). One of the many good things about Glastonbury is that you are allowed to take your cans into the arena, so the more you bring in the more money you’ll save.
- Bags of wine. If you’re more wine inclined for festivals then wine bags are the way to go. They are dirt cheap and get you smashed in no time. AND they make great pillows when you’ve emptied them. Winning.
- Something stronger. For when you simply can’t take any more beer, cider or wine – or when you just feel the need to go hard – it’s crucial to have something of the stronger alcoholic variety waiting in the wings. The next morning you will feel like a giant steaming pile of turd, but the night before will have been worth it. Best to empty into a plastic bottle before you pack. It will be the most important item in your entire backpack. You will guard it with your life, and savour every drop.
But don’t worry if you arrive at Glastonbury and quickly realise you’ve forgotten something you couldn’t possibly survive a festival without. Shops are aplenty and sell everything from tents to toothpaste. They’ve got all the festival essentials covered so you don’t have to worry about how to survive Glastonbury.
The most important thing is to let loose; accept that things are going to get sticky/muddy; that you will very rarely get a moment’s peace; and have the absolute best time of your life. ‘Cos Glastonbury really is every bit as amazing as people say it is.
Have I forgotten anything? What would you add to the list of things to take to Glastonbury?Psst! The links in this post are affiliate links. We’ve all got to pay the bills, and by buying stuff through this blog you’re helping me out massively. Like always, all opinions are my own…