“Happy fucking Independence Day everybody!” some guy shouted across the packed campsite, waking me up on the first morning of Glastonbury Festival. I clambered out of my tent thinking it was a joke. But the stunned campers, all frantically checking their phones, confirmed it was not – we had voted to leave the EU.
Shocked and unprepared for this result, (and as a passionate remain voter!) things felt pretty bleak as I left the campsite in my wellies and headed to the Pyramid stage to see the opening act, The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians. They kicked off with a sobering tribute to Jo Cox. That did nothing to lift my spirits.
My fellow festival goers, and most of the acts that morning, seemed as downbeat as I felt and I wondered whether Glastonbury wouldn’t quite be as good this year. But, it was. Leaving at 7am on Monday morning to catch my coach back to London, I looked back on what had turned out to be an amazing weekend. Despite the vote, despite the on and off rain and despite the crazy amount of mud, I had the best time.
Only Glastonbury can pull it out the bag like that.
One of the things I love most about the festival is the way it varies so much and always surprises you. Escaping from the rain, we ran into a nearby tent on the Friday where we caught the end of a crazy trapeze act taking place just above our heads.
A few hours later we were being warmed by the huge flame throwers at one of Arcadia’s (a giant metal spider that houses a DJ in its belly) ongoing raves.
Seeing Gary Clark Jr was a highlight, enjoying his smooth effortless blues guitar solos. I couldn’t fault any of the headliners – Muse, Adele and Coldplay – and they were each brilliant and different in their own way.
Some of my favourite acts though were the small artists that I stumbled across as I was on the way to somewhere else – an emotional set played by Dancing Years in the Introducing Stage or that hilarious comedian – I never did catch his name.
What really made the weekend though, was the people. Covered head to toe in mud while drinking beer from a can as you wait for the next act, it somehow breaks down barriers. I chatted and shared so many laughs and experiences with people I would have never otherwise met. Almost everyone is happier and friendlier at Glastonbury.
Sure, even here you can’t escape the politics.
Sure, there was rain and more mud than I had ever seen.
And, sure, you have to camp like sardines and not shower for a week.
But people who let that put them off are missing out on one of the most amazing experiences out there. Glastonbury will always, and still remains, home to some of my most favoured memories.
I’m already thinking of next year…..