If you don’t know anything about it by now you’ve probably been living in the Outer Hebrides with no media access for quite some time. Basically, it’s a massive, surreal, legendary music festival which takes place on a dairy farm in Somerset, UK, and draws a crowd of around 175,000 people. Tickets are like gold dust and sell out online within minutes of going on sale. Literally. The festival started off modestly in 1970 and is now in its 44th year. I could tell you more detail about the bands and the countless other things going on around the site (performance art, exhibitions, comedy, ballet, theatre, healing services, crafting areas, cabaret, pyrotechnics, and so on) but that would take forever and is anyway being done to death elsewhere, so I’ll try to give you as concisely as possible a sense of the vibe and the style.
Glastonbury is a huge, buzzing world of its own. A rare space in today’s age where you don’t compulsively look at your computer or your phone (unless it’s to find your friends), where you spend all day, all night, outdoors in the fresh air (bliss) or in a temporary home (tent / teepee / caravan / trailer). A revelrous party city, which magically (the organisers would disagree) appears overnight (or almost) thanks to the hundreds of people involved in the set up. A heaving, atmospheric, hedonistic, hybrid place with a life and vibe of its own, it’s a cross between music venue (or rather a large number of music venues grouped together), street food festival, fancy dress party, circus, mad hatters tea party, country fayre on a grand scale, children’s play park, The Wolf Run, that party in The Matrix, exhibition space, fringe theatre, after club, medieval camp, modern day Woodstock. Are you beginning to get my drift? It’s just kind of special.
Now: the style. Firstly of course, wellies. Essential and ubiquitous. Glastonbury has managed to make the humble, sturdy wellington boot cool and the range in cost is as wide as the demographic at Glasto. i.e. Dunlop (@£9) to Le Chameau (£285). Although saying that the demographic is in fact largely white, British, and middle class. Flower crowns and headdresses are supposed to be passé but I didn’t see any sign of their popularity being on the wane. Skintight, graphic print catsuits by Russian brand Ekat were the latest celebrity trend (a bit impractical for mere mortals who had to negotiate the normal toilets), but the coolest catsuits I saw were leopard print ones on a couple of girls laying blissed out on the ground (see http://nomadthief.com/glasto-2014/ for pictures). Shorts, of course, were everywhere (necessitating less material-drying), rain ponchos, camouflage print, sparkly jackets, spandex, face paint, dungaree shorts, headbands, hairbands, headscarves, rainbow hair, feathers in hats, kimonos, leggings, transparent macs, trucker caps, glitter, bindis, cropped tops, bare midriffs, wide brimmed hats, straw trilbies, all manner of out there sunglasses and at the very least, more colour than people normally wear in their everyday lives. It was great to see a bit of life and personality injected into people’s style and if I had my way everyone would dress like they do to go to Glastonbury all the time – the world would be a much, much cheerier place.
Advice: if you can afford it, get ‘hospitality’ passes which allow you to short cut between stages and areas, and the hospitality area bars provide some respite from the relentless craziness. Go early to get a good pitch and to see the impressive, beautiful, mind blowing site before it gets a bit trampled on and muddy, and before it is at max capacity. And don’t wear anything expensive.