The big one: Glastonbury Festival

Get set for the biggest of them all

The big one: Glastonbury Festival

25 June 2008

What is it?

The Godzilla of festivals. Well, if you can imagine Godzilla wearing a kaftan whilst  meditating in the Stone Circle at sunrise. Glastonbury Festival transforms a thousand acres of Somerset countryside into a utopian city of counter-culture, playing host to some of the world's greatest music and the kind of eclectic sights and sounds usually only found in a warped Charlie Kaufman script.

When and where?

Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset. From 27-29 June. You can arrive on site from the Wednesday morning, when you'll find quite a lot happening already. While the main stages don't kicks off until the Friday, some of the stages open the day before - including the Leftfield Stage which hosts the Rascals and the Levellers.

Five to watch

The Verve - (Pyramid Stage, Sunday) - Glastonbury is renowned for special moments (Pulp in '95, Radiohead in '97, Chemical Brothers in 2000) and the return of The Verve has legendary performance written all over it. Expect gushes of collectives excitement rippling through the crowd as Ashcroft and co knock out 'Lucky Man', 'Bittersweet Symphony' and 'History'.

Jay-Z - (Pyramid Stage, Saturday) - Forget the naysayer's, put away your indie purism and embrace the massive party that will be Jay-Z's Saturday headline slot. An inspired booking, Jay-Z will bring on the party like Glastonbury has never seen before, while the possibility of star-studded guests (Chris Martin/Beyoncé?) is mouthwatering.

The Teenagers - (John Peel Stage, Saturday) - Three gorgeous-looking scruff-bags from Paris via East London, the Teenagers wrap sleaze-ridden sullen monotones in Gallic swagger and utterly contagious dirty pop music. They are swoon-tastic and deserve secret crushes from girls and boys alike.

Manu Chao - (Pyramid Stage, Saturday) Finding inspiration in everything from the Clash and Bob Marley to street sounds and Algerian Rai, Manu Chao is a true global music phenomenon. He sings in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Italian and English, and delivers his incendiary, radical music with the conviction of Springsteen, the fire of Strummer and the passion of Marley.

Battles - (Park Stage, Saturday) - Technical, monstrous, wonderful, complex, inspired. Battle's fierce, angular music might not please everyone, but the lucky ones who see this special Park Stage show will stand in awe at the twisting crescendos and bone-eating bass.

One to miss

Newton Faulkner - (Other Stage, Sunday) - What do you do with someone who conjures up all that is cringe-worthy about Snow Patrol, James Blunt and Paulo Nutini? You ignore him, of course. He isn't playing. And he definitely isn't playing three times (be careful).

Playing a rare festival date

Leonard Cohen - (Sunday, Pyramid Stage) - A voice that picks you up from melancholy and drifts you off into comfort. A hand that has crafted such gems as 'Hallelujah', 'Chelsea Hotel #2' and 'Everybody Knows'. It's not often you get to see such a true maverick in the flesh.

Inside tip

The Guardian Lounge. Pick up a quality newspaper and watch exclusive sets by Estelle, Lightspeed Champion, Annie, British Sea Power, Lykke Li, the Wombats, Billy Bragg and Young Knives.

Worst clash

With so much going the weekend will be complete clasheroo, but Friday night's dilemma of The Cribs (John Peel Stage) or Kings of Leon (Pyramid Stage) is a complete nightmare.

Be at Glastonbury if you like

Discovering exotic new sights, sounds and tastes. Glastonbury is literally like God ripped up the world and let the pieces flutter down over Pilton.

Avoid if you hate

Hippies, naked people, mud, walking. Or naked hippies covered in mud walking towards you.

Festival tactics

Don't allow the line-up to rule your festival and don't underestimate the time it takes to move between stages. With over 600 acts it's impossible to see everyone. It's far better to see a few favourites and a few interesting new acts every day and spend the rest of the time getting lost in the beautiful, crazy wilderness.

Fashionista or folky?

It's Glastonbury! The place sucks up folkies like a starving anteater. But in typical Glastonbury melting-pot fashion you'll find an equal amount of old punks, young indie kids and city types going crazy for the weekend. Thankfully you won't have to worry about the Fashionista - the Primrose Hill set will be safely tucked away in the backstage area stalking the paparazzi.

Alcohol of choice

Pear Cider. An incredible cider that goes down so easy you'll be battered and naked in the Green Fields before you notice it's 7%. There's a bar by the Jazz Stage so you can enjoy some while watching the incredible Balkan Beat Box.

Take your mum score

10/10. Glastonbury is family-friendly - there's even a kids field. With Shakin Stevens, Katie Melua, Leonard Cohen and Joan Baez, there's enough to keep mum happy. But if she was at the original festivals in the 70s she might find equal solace in the Green Fields dropping legal highs.

Can I still get tickets?

Glastonbury genius Michael Eavis said at the beginning of this week there were only 7,000 tickets left, so hurry up! Buy them HERE (or in HMV or Millets). You don't even need to register anymore.

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