The Big One: Glastonbury Festival 2009

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Ali Ryland | 22 June 2009

What Is It?
The mother of all festivals, Glastonbury is the largest (and some would argue the best) festival in the world. Born into a world of racial and military conflict the day after Jimi Hendrix’s death in 1970, the Somerset giantess integrates the leftovers themes from the legendary Woodstock mixed with the magic of the Stonehenge summer solstice. The result? The cream of the music and arts world coinciding with free spirits, free minds and, of course, free love.

When and where?
The hippy-heaven locks up the cows and opens the gates from 24-28 June, at Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset. The Wednesday and Thursday nights are already a-buzz with fans chomping at the bit, as well as a few sneak performances.

Who to watch


The Britpoppers are back, finally (those gas bills must be piling up). Damon Albarn and Co will make the most anticipated return to Worthy Farm since, well, The Verve last year, bringing a set of hits with them that is likely to include tracks like ‘Song 2’, ‘Beetlebum’ and ‘Coffee And TV’.

The Specials/Madness
So maybe it’s not the original line-up of The Specials, and maybe the boyish Madness are getting a bit crusty in their dotage, but still - it’s ska. Skanking to the new wave-lined tunes with a can of cider in hand is what it’s all about this year and face it, Madness performing the school-boy frolics of ‘Baggy Trousers’ and The Specials pigeon-bobbing the way to ‘Gangsters’ will be hilarious.

Bon Iver
Given the unique setting of The Park Stage, the formidably eloquent Bon Iver will wow crowds with their isolated and haunting folk – probably the most important set of the weekend.

Spinal Tap
Kings of the parodies, Spinal Tap will no doubt be the laughing stock of the festival as they ham it up to such hits as ‘Sex Farm’, ‘Stonehenge’ and ‘Hell Hole’. And who could forget ‘(Listen to the) Flower People’? Fitting.

Nearly everyone else
There is so much on offer it sometimes pays off to just put your head down and walk. We also recommend Unabombers, Fleet Foxes, Regina Spektor, Q-Tip, Steel Pulse, Hot 8 Brass Band, The Horrors, The Big Pink, The Blockheads, Passion Pit, Hockey, Baaba Maal, Horace Andy, Nick Cave, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Roots Manuva, Easy Star All Stars, Linda Lewis and Chase And Status. Phew.

Who to miss

Status Quo

The bobbing in unison was embarrassing in the 80’s; it will now be more nauseating than the sight of the bands’ tight trousers. Where was your ‘No Quo at Glastonbury?’ campaign this year Gallagher?

Tony Christie

Out legend-ed by Tom Jones for that special Sunday slot, Tony ‘Is this the way to Amarillo’ Christie, the cartoon crooner is to be avoided like swine flu.

Lady GaGa
It's hard to know whether her style over substance sound is more off putting than her square glasses and teacup collection. But with both as unpalatable as one another, she's probably one best left for T4 On The Beach.

Playing a rare festival appearance

Tom Jones

The geriatric God will be getting his groove on at the Pyramid Stage, sex bombing his way all over the shop. Get in with all the knicker-throwing action before you realise he’s old enough to be your grandpa.

Insider's Tip
Rest, relax and scrub off the grime in the liberating, uninhibited (yes, that means no clothes!) spa. It’s guaranteed that you won’t be able to move for at least half an hour after immersion.

Be at Glastonbury if you love...
The farm and you want to leave no trace. Glasto’s infamous for its green policies and is one of the few places where you won’t find carbonified skeletons of burned out tents Monday morning. As well as that, there must be a love of open minds, open arms and sheesha.

Avoid if you hate...
Radical thinking, fans dressed as pirates and Greenpeace. Not only that, but the nightly entertainments range from off-your-face raving to heated salsa dancing, so earpluggers and introverts are a no no.

Festival Tactics

Don’t plan your day by the line-up, as it’s always more fulfilling to discover a new African-Polish metal folk-funk band than watch an act you’ve seen three times before. Oh and pace that drinking, if you pass out one end of Glastonbury and you’ve camped at the other – it’s going to be one hell of a hangover hike.

Fashionista Or Folky
This one answers itself as - hello? - did you not get the hippy hints? Not that it’s exclusively for the folky – there will be all types there from the fahsion victims to the hardcore ravers. But with all the mud, it’s not a place for your Sunday best though, to quote a note on a Glasto shop mirror last year: “yes, you all look bloody awful!”

Alcohol of choice
Cider - cool, refreshing and cheap. Plus you can drink gallons of it at the Cider Bus – the legendary bar that’s seen more drunks than the Booze Britain cameras.

Take your mum score - 9/10
A family-fun haven that knocks actual family resort, Haven, out of the park. It would’ve been a full ten, but Mums often don’t appreciate the less than bog-standard loos (more aptly named ‘dumping grounds’) or walking back to the tent to find it has become the centre of a new Sacred Space, complete with chanting, daisy-chained individuals.

Can I still get tickets?
Unfortunately all tickets have now gone, so make sure next time you register in plenty of time, and snap up your tickets as soon as they go on sale!

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