I’m not sure if you’ve heard but Glastonbury’s around the corner. Whether it’s your first time going or you’re a regular getting back into the swing of things, five days at what many describe as ‘the best place on Earth’ can still feel daunting to the best of us. More than 210,000 pour into the world’s largest greenfield festival and every square metre feels filled with endless chaos, fun and possibilities. Dotted with every single strand of the performing arts, hidden gems, crowd favourites, many a myth and legend, it can be hard to know where to start when tackling such a cultural beast. But with the right tools, a game plan and a few pointers from Mixmag DJ favourites, we’re here to help you not just survive but thrive as you take on Worthy Farm this summer. This is our nine step guide to success when conquering Glastonbury 2023:
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PREP LIKE AN ATHLETE:
The first step is a boring one that I’m sure you’ve heard before. At this West Country dairy farm, you will walk like you’ve never walked before, clocking tens of thousands of steps a day as you explore every corner and traverse the site’s highways like an ant in a colony of seshheads. While there are a bunch of ways to mitigate the shock to your system during the festival, there’s no reason you can’t start in advance. If you’re still on that WFH grind or just more of an indoor-type, one way to ease into it is by just getting a bit more active in the lead up and start warming up those hamstrings. Save yourself a sweaty packed train home and opt for a breezy stroll, grab dinner from the big Sainos that’s a little further past the Tesco Express round the corner. If you’re feeling extra, you could even try doing it with a heavy backpack or shopping to prepare for the initial pilgrimage to set up camp when you get there - a journey that’s broken many a man before.
DON’T SKIMP ON THE SLEEP SET UP:
Now, when it comes to said journey, your instincts will tell you to pack light, save coins and lean into the chaos of “roughing it” in the wild. Blankets are pretty soft, right? When placed directly onto rock hard grassy hills? Don’t listen to those instincts. Between the lively late nights and the early - hopefully scorching - mornings, your sleeping situation is an essential key to ensuring a well rested and emotionally/physically stable Glastonbury experience. So treat it like the priority that it is. We’re talking air mattress, eye mask, ear plugs, bed sheet, heck, even a feather down pillow and duvet if you’re serious about this life. While it won’t stop the sun from beating down on you at silly o’clock or your rowdy camp neighbours from arguing outside your tent about who lost who in the crowd at Arcadia, making your shut eye feel as luxurious as possible is your best chance of getting any rest when you get back to your tent in the small hours.
An honourable mention here goes to skipping the shower queues and sneaking one in before you crash out in bed. And never knowingly camping next to a toilet, food stall or walkway.
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THE FIT DOES NOT COME FIRST:
We all approach these festivals with big sartorial dreams, of assembling outfits so impressive that they’ll write entire Twitter threads in praise of you. But alas, my friend, this is not the Met Gala. And you are not a 22-year-old nepo baby trying to break into the world of fashion. Meaning, as electronic DJ Charisse C puts it in short, “wear. suitable. shoes.” No fit pic is worth the pain of the inevitable blisters and cramps that festivals threaten in general, but with a site the size of a small town, and attendees from every walk of life, Glastonbury in particular is known for its down-to-earth, practical dress code, just as much as it is for sequins and biodegradable glitter. Whether it’s a walking boot, a wellie that you’ve broken in prior to arriving or a particularly cushioned trainer like an ASICS or a Salomon, find a shoe that works for you first and foremost. Especially if you’re planning to venture into the depths of the South East corner and dance the night away for days on end.
HUEL FOR FUEL?
As sad as it is to say this, with all that’s going at Glastonbury, our inner gourmandise can end up taking a bit of a backseat amongst all the carnage. Between the often eye-watering price points to hangover choice paralysis, there’s an argument for cutting out the risk factor and process for at least some of your essential meals and leaving the taste buds at home. One way to do that is via quasi-meals like Huel that allow you to receive all of the vital things you need to feel good and human with relative ease and no hopes to let down. If however, you prefer to chew your meals like I do, stacking up on some mega protein bars and vitamin drops to pop in your water will do the same job. Just make sure you bring some fuss-free nutrient-packed backup material to keep you strong and healthy on your feet when you don’t feel like spending £20 on a roast dinner stuffed inside of a Yorkshire pudding.
BE YOUR OWN NIGHT CZAR:
Whatever your strategy is for the festival and the dilemma of which nights should be ‘big nights’ just make sure you have one. It could be alternating nights, designated rest days, a gradual crescendo, you name it, but coming in with a play will save you a lot of chaos. Whether it’s your first time or your fifth, it’s super easy to get swept into the excitement and spontaneity of every single night - which is of course encouraged. But knowing how you want to structure your time there can at least ensure that you’re not caught off guard by the rhythm of your weekend, and it allows you and your friends to maximise good vibes and coordinate too. Five days on the trot is a tall ask for even the most seasoned veterans among us and there’s no worse fate than peaking too soon. The FOMO you’ll feel after overextending yourself and now having to miss something you were really looking forward to will be a lot more painful than the small what ifs of calling it an hour early or taking it slowly on Wednesday so that you can conserve your energy for your favourite DJ’s 5:AM set the next day. Even if that last hour of naked drumming at Stone Circle on day one feels essential to you in that moment.
DON’T SLEEP ON DAYTIME FUN:
Post said ‘big night’, it can feel so tempting to rot away in your inferno tent until your favourite bands start in the late afternoon but one of the best ways to bounce back is by getting even further stuck in. There are so many incredibly healing gems weaved around the site to help you on your way too. It could be the 24 hour tea tent for some fresh herbal reviving, gong baths to cleanse your soul by The Park Stage, forgetting your corporeal existence in the black out of the Pilton Palais Cinema or making it to that 12:PM acoustic set of that songwriter you always get recommended on Spotify, even if you just lie down outside the tent and let the sound wash over you. Your body and mind will thank you for the low-key, positive stimulation and you can always crawl back to your tent for a little disco nap before head out for another go.
OPEN MIND, OPEN SCHEDULE:
Fair warning, this one’s a little hard to hear. It’s about that lengthy notes app list you’ve compiled of every artist name you recognised on the line-up and therefore plan to see, on some days starting from 12.15:PM and running through solidly with considerable overlap until approximately 6:AM. Producer and DJ Ahadadream who’s preparing ahead of his third turn at the farm and second time on the bill, states with a laugh, “just don’t bother.” While Glastonbury’s famed for the size of its line-up and there’s a definite pressure to feel like you’re maximising every inch of it, between the 45-minute treks, foot traffic to rival peak-time Oxford Street and life just generally being too short, it’s crucial to keep an open mind and flexible schedule across the weekend. Leave room for breathers, enjoyment and the unexpected. Australian producer and DJ Surusinghe takes it one step further, giving herself the rule of choosing three artists a day as her only requirement. She advises, “pick a daytime act, evening act and a Block9 early morning act and then let everything else happen spontaneously.”
BE NOSEY AS HELL:
Along the similar lines, when you make that room for the adventure with no agenda, Glastonbury is the best place on earth to access your childlike wonder and just explore. What sets this festival apart from so many is what lies beneath the surface, not every life changing experience will come from the plans you make, so always be on the lookout for clues and entertaining detours. If you ever find yourself with a schedule lull, take it as an opportunity to do some digging. Who knows, if you figure out the answer to the Rabbit Hole’s entry riddle - and survive the often winding queue - or you might find yourself crawling through rabbit warren tunnels only to emerge at the other side to an entirely hidden bar full of people dancing to a secret Dermot O’Leary DJ set with bartenders dressed as characters from Alice in Wonderland. That happened. Heading to places like Block9 and Shangri-La ahead of the 11:PM rush hour is always reliably overstimulating in the best way possible. Or maybe you’ll witness one of the festival’s ‘TBA’ secret sets or the sculpture made out of old cars, or maybe you’ll even stumble upon the infamous piano bar hidden underground somewhere on site.
CARE FOR FUTURE YOU:
We spend so long talking about how to conquer the festival, that sometimes we forget the aftermath. You will have just experienced some of the most extreme highs of your life and maybe even some momentary lows if you didn’t listen to my advice and overdid it on Thursday. Your sleep schedule is flipped upside down, your brain is almost entirely serotonin-free and your dogs (read here: feet) are probably absolutely barking. I prescribe 2-3 working days to defrost back into your day-to-day life, at a minimum. And in the lead up to the festival, leave a few silver linings for future you to be welcomed home by. Stockpile episodes of some of your favourite shows you’re watching right now ready for a binge session, cue up your comfort movies so you don’t have to make a single decision you don’t have to, leave your flat in a respectable state on your way to catch the coach and if you can, maybe even leave behind some of your favourite treats or luxuries (bubble bath, a good candle, fresh sheets, massage gun?) to soften the blow of reality as you nurse yourself back to health.
Natty Kasambala is a freelance writer, follow her on Twitter