Yesterday, along with thousands of other exhausted campers, I left Glastonbury Festival. For those of you who don’t know, Glastonbury is the world’s greatest 5-day party. It’s a place to forget the outside world and all your woes. You can let yourself go. It’s a place to be free and explore who you are and what you enjoy. But after 5 days of utopia, the outside world hits you like a bus.

The first thing that struck me as we came across regular folk in the surrounding areas was their faces. What I mean is, there was no perma-grin like there was on every festival-goers face. People looked tired, bored or worried. Not all of them, but many. They were just going about their days, but I saw something deeper. I saw a collective unhappiness. I saw a society that didn’t spark joy in its people. This was a dramatic contrast to a festival where attendees are made to feel as if anything is not only possible, but accepted without shame.

En route home we decided to stop by a supermarket to pick up some essentials before facing our sad, bare fridge. I didn’t think to change out of what I was wearing to do so. It never even crossed my mind. (It was a crop top and shorts; nothing offensive or overly revealing.) But once I got inside, I was met with disgusted looks. Granted, that might have been primarily due to a lingering stench from having not showered for a week, but something tells me it was the fact that I wasn’t conforming. I had mud on my feet and grass in my hair. See, at Glastonbury the wackier the better. You can even get your boobs out and cover them with glitter and there’s no need to feel like you’re being preyed upon or looked down on. Self-expression is encouraged. Fun is warmly embraced.

Reality didn’t feel like that. Reality made me feel ashamed of looking a little rough around the edges. Reality told me it didn’t want me. And I’m here to shout back and say that that isn’t OK. Why should I have to plan my footwear based on how quickly I can run in it if I’ll be alone on a night out? Why should I shy away from shorts because it’s just easier to try to walk through life trying to be invisible and not attracting any attention to myself? It’s interesting, because at the festival, most of the women were wearing the most revealing of outfits. But there was nothing sexual about it. It was beautiful. So I’m asking what makes it different within the festival grounds? It really comes down to the sheer number of women dressing that way. It becomes the norm at Glastonbury. No single female stands out because we all go there. We all embrace the extravagant. But we come back to reality and back to our regular wardrobes. We fear the extravagant once more because it attracts attention. It stands out.

How do we redefine ‘the norm’? How is it that we can spread the freedom of creative self-expression from Worthy Farm into all of our cities and towns? And it’s not just the clothes we wear and the way we decorate out faces, but the empathy and the sense of community. Political talk was bold and brash this festival, with many artists criticising the powers that be. They preached love and understanding, with Corbyn himself even making an appearance on the Pyramind Stage to urge us to reunite as a people, rather than support the divide. He spoke of music and poetry and creativity at the core of a happy society. He praised the Eavis family for allowing all of the festival attendees the space to express and enjoy themselves. There is something exquisitely magical that comes from that much togetherness and the hope is that it can come with each of us into our everyday lives now that the festival is over.

Yes this is a rant at wanting everyday life to be just as magical, but it’s also an opportunity for discussion. What are your thoughts on this topic? How do we redefine the norm and create a more loving society where all people are treated equally and allowed to express themselves without fear? Lord knows we’re desperate for it.

 

 

 

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Glastonbury Festiva;

Oh, Glastonbury Festival. There’s nowhere else on the planet like it. I know, that sounds like it’s perhaps exaggerated, but until you’ve been, you can’t quite understand what I mean. If you have been, let’s hug and praise Lord Eavis for its existence.

When I first went to Glastonbury, I was armed with a tribe of veterans. This made it very easy. They knew how to handle the gruelling arrival, the best place to camp, when to go where, where was where, how to get from here to there and every other useful piece of information. I was one of the lucky ones. They told me what to pack. For example, we had been having a good few sunny says prior to the festival, so I casually asked my boyfriend, “do you really think I need to take my wellies?” to which he responded by booping me on the nose and wandering off with, “oh bless you…” (the answer is yes, BTW. WELLIES ALWAYS.)

I knew a bit of what to expect: epic sounds, lots of walking and all the hippies I could ever ask for. But truly, nothing could prepare me for what turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life and continues to be every year I attend.

Resales are this week and here’s why you should try for a ticket:

  1. Life outside the festival ceases to exist. All of your problems get left behind at the gate. Once you’re there, every sense is stimulated and the sheer magic so overwhelming that Glastonbury becomes home. It becomes community. It becomes life. It is sheer nirvana and should be experienced by every human at least once during his or her life.
  2. The music. I mean, this is the obvious one, but I find that Glasto-goers sometimes don’t prioritise it, simply because the festival atmosphere itself is often the highlight. But yes, the music. Having over 150 stages means that there is literally every type of music imaginable on offer. And one of the best things is simply wandering and seeing what you come across. It’s a great place to discover all those sounds that you never even knew you liked (as well as hear some of the greats, obviously).
  3. The environmental policy is on point. I have friends who refuse to go to large festivals like Glastonbury because of the dystopian wasteland the grounds turn into once the giant party comes to an end. I totally respect that. But the Glastonbury ethos is wholesome and pure at heart. Their motto is, ‘Love the Farm, Leave No Trace”. They try to drill into attendees at every possible opportunity that they have the responsibility of clearing up after themselves once it’s time to go home. They want you to enjoy the beautiful Worthy grounds and respect it enough to not leave it in a shambles. Unfortunately this doesn’t yet happen, but I have hope that within the next few years festival-goers will get their shit into gear and stop having a ‘one use’ mentality for their tents and fancy dress outfits. Aside from this, Glastonbury encourages people to travel to the festival by public transport, is using more and more renewable energy to power various areas of the festival, forces all food stalls to provide compostable serving dishes and utensils, explains why peeing on the land is bad for the river system and supports loads of charities including Greenpeace and WaterAid. That gets two excitable, dancing thumbs up from me.
  4. The food is bomb. The festival grounds cover over 1,100 acres. Yes, I know – t’s massive. And one of the best things about a festival that gigantic is the choice of everything. Food is up there. There is every kind of cuisine known to man and plenty of veggie options, of course.
  5. There are so many weird things to see. I don’t just mean on the stages, but as you’re wandering around you might see anything from racing grannies blasting dance anthems from their trolleys to giant aliens that make you do a double-take. Try not to get weirded out; just take it for what it is (and secretly wish life was always like this).
  6. The South-East Corner. The naughty, dirty, hedonistic south-east corner can only be described as Shangri-La – a name reserved for one particular quadrant of the corner. While there’s something happening 24/7 (or should i say 24/5?) at Glastonbury, Block9, The Unfairground and Shangri-La will blow you away. Installations that blow your mind when you consider they are temporary, politically-charged mayhem that makes you ask yourself, “is this kind of stuff even allowed in today’s PC society?!” and sights that you realise you’ll never unsee. Words can’t describe it; you’ve simply got to see it for yourself.
  7. The relaxed vibes of camp. One of the best things about Glastonbury is the policy (or rather, lack of) when it comes to arrival and camp. Bring all the booze you want, set up camp where you want and enjoy a nice campfire, should you wish. I understand the logic behind festivals that allocate camping and do not permit fires or BYOB, but you arrive at Glastonbury and realise that the freedom and respect of letting people have a bit more breathing room creates a kind, peaceful community.
  8. The Secret Sets. If you’re lucky, you just might catch a glimpse of your favourite band on the most minuscule stage: unannounced and with an audience of a handful. Radiohead, Franz Ferdinand and Pulp are just a few of the names who have surprised crowds over the years. I wonder who it’ll be this year? Who would make you just die if you stumbled across them at the bandstand?
  9. The Sacred Space Bonfire. If you’re an early-arriver, do not miss the bonfire over at Stone Circle on the Wednesday night. This kicks off the whole festival and is usually proceeded by something weird and wonderful and followed by a feel-good fireworks display to get you ready to party.
  10. The opportunity to try new things. I’ve left this until last because I think it’s one of the highlights of Glastonbury for me. Something this festival does so well is create opportunities for new experiences. Whether it’s trying out your skills on a giant trapeze or experiencing the powers of reiki, there are so many amazing things to pursue, simply for the fun of it. Make the very most of it.

So yes, you’ve got to at least give it a try. Life’s simply too short not to. Coach tickets go on sale 6pm BST 20/04 and General Admission 9am BST 23/04 and can be purchased ONLY here. Good luck!

Glastonbury Line-up 2017

 

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