'I've been going to Glastonbury for 20 years - this is what you need to know' (2024)

Glastonbury Festival is in full swing, marking its 52nd anniversary since its inception, welcoming familiar faces and newbies to its site. Worthy Farm has become a pilgrimage site for music fans and art lovers, with some veterans going for decades, including Dan Thomas.

Over the past couple of years Dan has cemented himself as a resident Glastonbury expert, going viral on social media for his insider knowledge, top tips and ‘everything-you-need-to-knows’ about the festival. Having started going to the iconic music festival twenty years ago, Dan has experienced its growth into the event we all know today. But you can’t base your opinion on what you see on screen, because only a snippet of the festival is covered via TV and radio.

Dan pointed to his early days at the festival, marking Muse’s headline in 2004, and Paul McCartney’s (which he saw twice at the festival, in 2004 and 2022) sets as his favourite acts, especially as a huge The Beatles fan. “He was fantastic on both occasions,” he said.

A special mention went to Dolly Parton, Miley Cyrus and Stevie Wonder, which Dan explained surprised him the most. He claimed the country music legend attracted the largest crowd ever for the festival’s afternoon ‘Legend’s spot. This year’s slot will be played by Shania Twain.

Despite Glastonbury’s cacophony of musical talent, it’s not all about the music at the Farm, most of which is not seen on screen. Areas like Theatre & Circus, Left Field, South East Corner, and the Healing Fields will be foreign to anyone who exclusively watches the festival from home.

'I've been going to Glastonbury for 20 years - this is what you need to know' (1)

Dan said: “I always get comments saying, ‘Oh I’ll just watch it on TV,’... it’s amazingly well televised, and there’s a huge amount that is on TV, but there’s a huge amount that definitely isn’t on TV.

“You’ve got areas like the Theatre & Circus, you’ve got the comedy tent (known as The Cabaret), there’s poetry, there’s politics in Left Field, there’s whole market and food areas, there’s the Strummerville area which is equipped with sofas, there’s the Park viewing area, Green Fields, the Healing Fields.

“Those are the different bits that make Glastonbury special.”

For Dan there’s a non-negotiable which everyone needs to do. On the first day at the festival - don’t think about arriving on Friday when the main stages start - have a tour of the site, before climbing all the way up to the Stone Circle, but don’t look back. Wait until you reach the top of the hill and then take in the surrounding view.

“You’ll smell smells, you’ll hear sounds, and you’ll see within your field of view 200,000 people seeing over a thousand acts on over a hundred stages,” he said. “And they’ll all come back having had a great time. Where else can you say that about?”

Dan credited the extended fallow year during 2020 and 2021, when the festival takes a break, this time due to Covid, and the “renewed enthusiasm” for his career. His expertise has helped him secure a number of loyal followers who look to him for advice, including how to secure tickets.

Elation and heartbreak characterise Glastonbury’s ticket sales, and Dan acknowledged they're not always a guarantee. To optimise your chances of securing the golden ticket, here’s what he recommends.

A group who will dedicate themselves to being on the sale site from the beginning, an effective syndication system amongst your group to maximise your chances. “So if I get in, I’ll get the rest of the group’s as well,” he said. “If someone else in the six does it, then you’ll get mine. That means for the same amount of effort, you increase your chances.”

Another hot tip? Don’t discount the coach sales. Glastonbury has two separate sales, one for coach travel and tickets, the other for general admission.

“I can understand people wanting to make that stipulation, but at the same time, it means there are thousands of tickets you’re voluntarily shooting yourself out of the running for,” Dan explained. Thirdly, be consistent.

For some new attendees at the festival, Glastonbury can be an overwhelming experience. The size of it covers over 1,000 acres, transforming into its own miniature city for five days, but it shouldn’t put you off - and neither should the toilets.

Toilets can receive bad press, but organisers have put in place a fool-proof (and its own) sewage system. So don’t be afraid of the long drops, it’s all part of the experience, Dan said.

The festival has come far in its technological advancements, but those aren't the biggest differences Dan’s noticed since his incumbent festival in 2004. “The overall festival experience is the same, the atmosphere feels the same to me,” he said. “Some things have changed, one, weirdly, is the quality of the food.

“When I first went it was fried chicken and chips, and sort of equated to the food vans that you get at the corner of a car park, that kind of level. Whereas now the food is a lot more high quality, in some ways not far off being called a ‘food festival’.”

Dan’s even been inspired by The Cheese Truck to make the same dishes he’s had at the festival at home The other biggest differences? The cost and the influence of Gen Z’s fashion.

Even with tickets for 2024’s iteration costing £355 for general admission, taking into account inflation and the Covid-19 pandemic, Dan stands by the festival as being the “best value holiday in the UK”. Despite this, and the public backlash to headline acts, the festival has managed to retain its hippy essence without becoming too commercialised over the years.

Dan explained the lack of popular logos and sponsorship from companies is something you don’t see, even with phone network Vodafone having a tent on-site for charging and eSims. Just look for the big red tent - you can’t miss it.

“I think the best thing in defence of Glastonbury being ‘commercialised’ is that there's not a single big festival, that I know of, in the UK, where you can go and stand in front of the main stage with a drink you’ve bought from the supermarket,” he explained. Unlike most festival’s, attendees at Glastonbury can bring in their own food and alcohol, with many of its campsites inside the festival grounds.

This policy is also what Dan recommended for combatting drinks prices. A number of bars at the festival received backlash for their prices, but really people should be taking advantage of it. “The best way of doing it is bringing in as much as you like,” he said.

If Dan could give one piece of advice to newbies at Glastonbury, it’s to not be strict with an itinerary, because by the end of the five days, you won’t even have covered half of what’s on offer. “Let go of any need to hold yourself to an itinerary, the more fun you’ll have” he said.

Dan added: “There’s hundreds of acres of space here just for you to enjoy and make your own festival out of. Don’t worry on day one that you don’t know what it’s going to look like.”

And if the Glastonbury expert could ask head honcho Emily Eavis one thing? “What are your mental strategies, if there are any?” he said. Dan was emphatic about letting the organisers know just how much the festival has changed people’s lives, including his own.

“It’s a credit to them that doesn’t get mentioned that often,” he said.

You can follow Dan's coverage from Glastonbury and beyond on TikTok and Instagram.

'I've been going to Glastonbury for 20 years - this is what you need to know' (2024)

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