If you're going, you must be pretty excited about Glastonbury by now. We certainly are. Despite the unmanageable size, extortionate ticket pricing, and shit-filled-green-tin-coffins for toilets, it is still the best farm-side swamp party in the world. By now, you've probably started packing your massive rucksack, inspected the multi-buy lager deals in Morrison's, and begun highlighting a timetable of everybody playing. Good times ahead right? Well, before you get too giddy, I need to tell you about 'Stewart who went to my sixth form'.
'Stewart who went to my sixth form' was just like you or me. Bright-eyed and bushy tailed, riding the crest of youthful exuberance into the greatest festival in the world. On arrival he immediately immersed himself in the million and one things on offer. Cider buses, helter-skelters, face-painting; the site was a merry, fun-time farmland where he and his friends could roam and revel to their heart's content. Then night fell, and Stewart was swallowed whole. To cut a long story short, after a night negotiating the bizarro-landscapes of night-time Glastonbury, and taking an underground pharmacy's worth of experimental substances, Stewart became convinced he was a glass of orange juice. Sit with that for a second; he thought he was a glass of orange juice.
What eventually happened to Stewart varies in different retellings, but most claim he spent the rest of the festival sat rigidly upright in a medical tent for fear of spilling. Whether or not this story is actually 100% true doesn't matter, because, as the Bible taught us, the moral is the important thing here. And that moral is this: Glastonbury after-dark is a perilous proposition.
But it's also probably the most fun you can ever have in one postcode, listening to the best music you've heard, in the most ambitious environment possible. But you need to keep your eye on a few variables, just to make sure it doesn't go all Fear and Loathing in Pilton on you. What the Glastonbury night-time areas of Shangri La, Block9 and the Unfairground provide is a perfect cocktail of costume, spectacle and enough wild music to leave you blissed out and awestruck, but it only takes one wrong apple from the forbidden tree to send you bugging out completely, trying to find phone signal while a massive metal spider taunts you with extremely personal remarks.
DON'T TAKE DRUGS UNTIL YOU NEED TO
You've got the weekend off work, the tent is pitched, you're surrounded by mates you now only see twice a year, the sun is setting and there is a roster of DJs stretching out into the distance. So, surely it's time to go in right? Start as you mean to go on. Well, maybe not. Driving to Glastonbury, carrying six tonnes of possessions on your back, setting up, and then contemplating everything that's ahead can be an unwittingly exhausting first day. It's not unusual, by about 9pm, to feel the aching and slowly growing sting in your eyes that whispers "bed" over and over again. You've got four days - stay calm, and postpone pinger-gate until it's dark at least.
FIND SOME HOUSE MUSIC
Glastonbury is near Bristol, a city with a more crusties than it's got pigeons. These people eat break-beats for breakfast. They are the real lifeblood of Glastonbury after-dark, keeping the riddims rolling so constantly, I'm pretty sure Eavis leaves them going year-round. But understand this: you cannot keep up with them. Do not try. Maybe you are reading this and sneering already, but if you are the sort of person who is "totally hyped" for their first Glastonbury, and "can't wait to see Pharrell", you might want to locate the closest Eats Everything set, before High Contrast soundtracks you, covered in mud, wondering why your ears aren't working properly and where all your denim shirted mates have gone.
MAYBE DON'T TAKE ANY HALLUCINOGENICS
At risk of sounding like your mate who humble brags about "not needing drugs to have a good time", Glastonbury is pretty trippy on its own. There is a flame-throwing spider that the festival themselves describe as, "wreathed in fire and light and emitting a vibrational pulse" adding that, "it shall descend upon the leylines of Glastonbury. Verily shall it connect with our world and look deep inside our souls". There's the "dystopian pleasure city" of Shangri La, a tower block with a derailed tram sticking out of it, a place called "The Unfairground" that promotes itself like this, not to mention the vast swarms of people who will have managed to get their hands on a couple of 2CBs and may be convinced you are a small shrub. Save your mushrooms for when you're in your shit local park with your mates this summer and you need something fun to look at.
STICK WITH YOUR MATES AT ALL COSTS
Trying to find someone at Glastonbury is less like trying to find a needle in a haystack, and more like trying to find one specific needle in a warehouse full of needles, and all the needles are moving around like a swarm of needle shaped wasps, and none of the needles have signal because the needle warehouse is in the middle of butt-fuck nowhere. The needles are also all drunk.
EQUALLY, DON'T PANIC IF YOU DO LOSE THEM
That all being said, if your mates have wandered off during the 8 minutes you spent looking at your own reflection trying to remember the name of the guy who played Trigger in Only Fools and Horses, it isn't the end of the world. You just need to accept you probably won't find them again until the following morning. Luckily, Glastonbury is a bit like fresher's week, and randomly declaring yourself mates with somebody is completely acceptable. Find somebody who looks fucked enough to hang out with somebody they don't know, but not so fucked you might have to take them to the medical tent.
DON'T TRY AND FIND ANY SECRET SETS
Daft Punk are not playing the Croissant Neuf tent in 20 minutes. Prince is not playing topless at the band stand under the artist name Portuguese Omelette. Stay where you are, continue having fun, don't opt to stand in a queue for the next two hours chasing a surprise set that will probably turn out to be the drummer from Franz Ferdinand playing Devo b-sides.
DON'T STARE AT ANYTHING FOR TOO LONG
MEMORISE THE ROUTE BACK TO YOUR TENT
Go Hansel and Gretel if you have to. Leave a trail of filter tips, squashed cereal bars, and socks behind you wherever you go.
DRESS LIKE A FUCKING DICKHEAD
Even though, deep down, it's the worst thing in the world, there is a sort of invincibility that comes with fancy dress. If you do have a complete and utter meltdown at some point, slumped against an ice cream van at 4am trying not to puke on your own feet, why not do it in style? Bug out wearing the same clothes you wear every weekend, and you'll be another crestfallen figure in a Carhartt coat. Slide into madness wearing a blue bandana and body glitter on the other hand, and you'll take on the air of someone who strangely knows what they are doing. A seasoned prangsman, as opposed to a terrified child on his first day of school.
ABOVE ALL REMEMBER: YOU ARE NOT A GLASS OF ORANGE JUICE