Glastonbury Festival 2016 Review Posted on Thu 30th June 2016
Another wonderful year
For 7 days we had the honour to work, rest and party at Glastonbury, here is what we got up to, and very little involved the Pyramid Stage.
We started our Glastonbury Festival the Saturday before with a nine hour overnight drive from Scotland to Pilton, where we then joined a two hour queue to get onto the already waterlogged and treacherous Glastonbury fields. We worked in the Healing fields over the next three days under interchangeable weather of either scorching sunshine or torrential rain. But we were never disheartened or completely beaten by the challenges when we had the comfort of our colourful base camp to return to.
Our hemp rope design fence covered in material, our pouting Bumblers, our pyrography heart shaped wood and our bumble bee solar lights soon went up and looked fantastic. Nice and sturdy too to help the wandering crowds pull their way through our gateway.
As if in perfect symmetry our Save the Bee’s fence was complete with archway flowers contributed from the other half of our team without any pre-planning or design discussion. It all came together beautifully, as is often the way in these beautiful fields.
We even had help from many other generous staff crew this year which was an honour and a delight, everyone at Glastonbury just wants to contribute and be part of something, something epic and meaningful. So thanks out, to all those extra helping hands.
By Wednesday the weather was better but the site was water logged, muddy, slippy, sticky, slidey and ready to have you over on your butt at any given moment. Walking required concentration and a lot of effort. Just when you thought you had it sussed, with cider in hand, idly chatting to friends and pointing out fantastic structures and artistic installations, then WHOOOOOOOOSH and a bang and you were down. To be fair, the festival organisers do a lot to combat the worst of it by putting down runner tracks, scooping out the worst of it and throwing lashings of wood chippings around, but they cannot keep up with the 360,000 wellie feet tramping it about into new and exciting consistencies.
To try and prevent the deluge of thousands of people all trying to exit the stone circle field via the same gates after the opening ceremony, this years Phoenix fires and fireworks were displayed in triplicate. This helped to disperse the crowds over three of the Pennard Hill fields.
So Wednesday night under a beautiful pink kissed sunset, I was surprised to find I was able to wander right up through the crowds congregating in the stone circle field and get a front row spot for the opening ceremony. It started with a large group of Chinese holders and a blessing song sung out over the speakers, but still, with the size of the chatting and cheering crowds it was impossible to hear what was happening. But once the fireworks started, the atmosphere picked up to a level of mass excitement.
Watching the three sets of incredible fireworks exploding across the hills was an awesome sight and kicked off my Glastonbury in quite an exhilarating and emotional way. I cannot begin to explain the gravity of just how absolutely immense the fireworks were.
There were many new fantastic types of which I and others had never seen before. As the dynamite rockets lit up the night sky the crowd went wild, the fire works banged and boomed as they exploded in brazen displays of colour, sparkles and earth shaking explosions. Everything felt really impressive. Three times as impressive.
And then when the fires went up, the roar of the crowd was awesome and brought tears to my eyes. As each Phoenix burnt down to the lower half of its pyre more white streamer fireworks created a flaring skirt around its base and the final roar of the crowds died down along with the last of the whoops and bangs. Everyone left the fields with a sense of austerity. Impressed and ready to start an epic weekend.
Thursday was a bit of a bamboozled brilliant blur. Our friends started arriving on site and finding their weary way to our base camp haven. It was a day for chilling in the on off sunshine, for drinking Pims and for toasting long lost friends and to the health of those who are with us.
We wandered around taking in the sights, listening to the fantastic bands that were on in a few areas such as Williams Green and then the Stonebridge Bar. And there is always the wonderful sounds drifting over to us from the Small World stage which our camp backs onto. All day long fantastic music, our favourite being Carnival Collective, which we all rushed around to. An amazing million piece band from Brighton that do an incredible medley mash up of a number of Prodigy bands. I have seen this band at Glastonbury for a number of year’s now and they just get better. Ever in Brighton, go and see them!
We joined rather a large crowd enjoying the last of the afternoon sunshine in the Avalon fields at the grand old Avalon Inn, all built on site in one week. We had a couple of delicious ales.
Then went on to the always impressive Green Fields. This year there massive structure was partly recycled from last year’s Tuna Fish Trawler (which was to campaign for safe tuna fishing) to this year’s Space Rocket, which was campaigning to save the planet, after all we don’t have another one to go to?
The back of the Rocket was a mental death slide which crazy people were throwing themselves done, for fun!
Also in the field was a demonstration of how we can turn all our own waste into fuel and electricity. One has to consider this and ask the question...why are we not doing this? A great campaign, that everyone should agree with, if we want to stop the destruction of the beautiful planet we live upon. Please go onto the Greenpeace website and sign up, it takes seconds and will make a difference.
The whole Greenpeace field area was fantastic, with a tremendous kids area, sporting so much to do that it took a journey there every day to satisfy the play energy of the young one with us. There was also a long wooden walkway around the area with pipes running above it. The LED lights on the pipes were out but if a few people collectively placed their hands on the connection points, the lights came on. Working as one! So much interaction in the field it was great meandering fun.
There was a row of vegan farmers market with beautiful fresh food stalls, cafes and even a seated restaurant with tables and chairs on a wooden platform. There were cute little time travel pods that had group seats inside and The David Attenborough experience which was awesome! The exhibition was inside a state of the art CliMAX Dome with 3D screens inside. The films included as yet unseen footage of the wildlife presenter’s international journeys, as well as a few clips from new footage yet to be shown.
Further down the main track we had scrummy chips from the particularly well named festival chip shop, The Hippy Chippy.
We grabbed a few more beers and went up to the stone circle field to admire the Peace Garden as the sun began to set and another successful day of fun and frolics ended. There was nothing left to do than enjoy the evening with some wonderful friends.
The next day this was the incoming sky over the Pennard campers. But the campers were in great spirits and flags-a-kimbo!
We took the kids right across site to the Kids Field, watching a few walk about acts along the way but getting wetter and wetter each minute as the showers came down in force. These dancing choreographed grannies stopped us for quite a while thought with their hilarity.
And once we got to the kids field, it was something else to feast your eyes on with just about every activity you could think of for the under 12’s.
We even managed to find a seat......and have another Pimms or two!
We all went different ways once 4pm arrived, so that everyone could head off to their must see bands for the day. The kids and entourage went to see Foals and then Muse while we started off our pre-evening with the lively and energetic Dub Pistols at the Glade Stage. A beautiful stage nestled some trees in the corner of the Other Stage Field. We managed to squeeze in down stage right and fairly near the front so were witness to Barry ‘2 crowd surfs’ Ashworth’s legendary antics and an immensely bass pumping set.
Packed full of old tracks, new album tracks and even a brand new track. They ended on the necessary and crowd jumping messy weekend. All of which left us exhilarated, with soaked hair stuck to our faces and smiles all over them too.
We regrouped with some of the gang and made our slow exhausted but excited wander over to the West Holts stage and got a fabulous position in front of the sound booth, absolute middle stage but thankfully behind a huge slurry of sloppy mud. Position was perfect for sound and sight, we were ready for Underworld. Everything was just everything, everything, everything! And boy were they absolutely brilliant. I have so many old fond memories of various different Underworld gigs and this kicked them all out of the park. They were civilised in their old age too, by putting the name of each track up on the big screen behind them. Thank you boys, that was helpful.
They played all their best oldies, all the best news and a whole bunch of greatness. Immense lasers, incredible dance extensions. It was epic, iconic and fabulous.
Naturally they saved Born Slippy until last, the crowd went ballistic and so did we. We danced our selves silly. Which was quite a mean feat considering our feet were truly stuck in the mud, in one place. But we made up for it with our torsos and our arms, let me assure you! I danced so hard, sing along and grinned so much, I felt like I had gone back in time twenty years and was my younger self back at any other Underworld gig, flying high and smiling wide. We loved them. Absolute highlight of the whole weekend.
After Underworld we went for a celebratory cider beside the Pyramid stage and sat and talked about how incredible Underworld were.
We then went on a night sight seeing mission around Block Nine, Shagri-La, Unfairground and The Common and visited every single venue in the south east corner of the site. At times it was scary because it was too busy and other times it was scary because it was meant to be. We nodded in agreement with Hip Hop MC’s and beat boxers, danced a little on indoor surfaces to Latino music, ogled the queues to get into other indoor venues we were not prepared to queue for, jumped out of our skin at the scary people in the Unfairground and generally slowly found ourselves looking back to the sanctuary at the Croissant Neuf Gardens. We sat on oversized wooden benches and chairs which looked over the beautiful Green Futures garden until the sun came up and then the ominous crowds and the splatters of imminent rain sent us running for our beds.
After such a late night and such a beautiful sunny morning, we all found ourselves languishing in the healing fields and enjoying some much needed leg resting time. We enjoyed the calmness of the beautiful water garden.
We enjoyed many seats around the water snake.
We ventured a little to the shops for food and for gifts and crafts.
We listened to the bands drifting across the fields to us from the stage in The Park, the most impressive being Jagwar Ma, they made us get off our bums and boogie in front of the van.
Then it was time for the kids and the rest of the gang to head off to get their places for Adele while we ventured over to the Other Stage for New Order. After a last minute dash for the toilet and then getting lost from my gang because the field had got more crowded and someone turned the sun out, I ended up being a bit distracted for the beginning of their set, positively distressed as they played Tutti Frutti from their new album as I walked around and around the set of flags I had left my friends beside. However a few texts later and some frantic waving from the nearest flag owner we were soon reunited and as a trio danced the rest of the marvellous set away. It was flawless. Their sound was impressive from golden oldies through to the live versions from their new album. We all loved it and so did the crowd.
We then clambered through the crowds home and chatted away a few more hours listening to the stories of our friends around the camp fire of the healing fields, very glad of the heat and the warmth.
Sunday we chilled out at camp with the kids, ate falafels and ice creams. Had a few more Pimms and rebooted our energy ready for our final big night.
Everyone else went off to see Coldplay who were incredible by all accounts. We went to see the Basement Jaxx DJ set in the spider of Arcadia who were brilliant but really it was just the precursor to our awesome finale, the Arcadia Metamorphosis show. And what a finale it was. Flying acrobatic terminator style monsters that grabbed people out of the crowd, spun them in webbing and planted them in clear spheres to be picked up by three hanging wire walking giant spiders. Long half butterfly, half octopus dangling creatures with fantastic spiralling led lights dancing over the crowds.
Then all the flying creepy crawly acrobats joined onto the three movable arms of the spider and spun round and round with fireworks exploding from their feet. Even the hanging wire spider drivers dropped out of their seats and propelled themselves in fast winding circles using fire extinguishers. It was epic. Incredible. Exploding, engaging and so much big boy fun!
And so it was that the festivities of our Glastonbury 2016 ended for us. With whopping great big ground shaking booms of dance and flames of happiness. The last of the blazes we caught bursting through the shadows of the majestic tissue paper birds in the tranquil spaces of the water garden nestled in the healing fields, where all good things come to rest.
We still had the next day to take all our creations down and pack up for home. But we had a week’s worth of memories to keep us smiling through all the work to do. Glastonbury, we love you.
Review and Photo's by Lou Hyland