The guide to Glastonbury

Tomorrow the daddy of all festivals begins. Elisa Bray explains how to enjoy the music, the mood – and even the camping

The world's most famous festival has 177,000 people on site, about 300 bands on 10 main stages (and another dozen smaller ones) across 1,000 acres of land (that's the equivalent of 375 football pitches). That's enough to overwhelm the most seasoned of festival goers, let alone the many first-timers who will be heading for Worthy Farm, Pilton, this weekend.

As there is more happening on the opening day, Thursday, than ever before, it's best to arrive early to make the most of the bands and the films. Maximo Park are kicking off the festival at 4pm on Thursday at the Queen's Head venue – get there early because the capacity is just 1,500.

Between all the bands and the other entertainment on offer, you will be facing many decisions during the festival. But the primary decision will be where to pitch your tent. First, you need to ask yourself if getting sleep over the weekend is a priority, or if being close to main stages is more important. If you fit into the latter category, you can camp close to the main, Pyramid Stage. Between the Park and the Healing Fields, Pennard Hill Ground is a lively area. If you are the sort that needs their eight hours, you might prefer the quieter Limekilns and Hitchin Hill Ground. Avoid facing the Dance Village, the designated dance area which keeps going into the early hours. If you are arriving later and are stuck for a pitch, try to the west of the site near the Park where there is more space. And a little practical tip for the camping novices among you: if rain looks likely (and I don't mean to be negative, but rain is bound to feature at some point during four days in the English countryside), pitch your tent at the top of the hill rather than the bottom. If you own an iPhone, be sure to download "Tent Finder", a new application which comes with a handy flashlight to help guide you back to your canvas shelter. If you don't have an iPhone and you find yourself lost amidst a sea of indistinguishable tents, the Meeting Point (the one with the flowers) near the central Queen's Head Stage is your best bet to join up again with your missing companions. There are also six Information Points dotted around the site.

The next decision to be made – and probably the main reason that you find yourself in Somerset – is which bands to see. Don't limit yourself to a strict timetable. One of the best elements to Glastonbury is the wandering around and stumbling upon bands you might never have heard of. It was at my first Glastonbury that I was on my way to see the Happy Mondays, took a wrong turn, and discovered Muse. Bearing in mind that during the festival's peak flow – from Friday evening onwards – it takes 45 minutes to cross from the John Peel Stage to the Shangri La area, you should plot your band viewings realistically.

On Thursday, at the Queen's Head Stage, see Maximo Park play a ten-song set chosen by their Facebook fans, followed by a clutch of hotly-tipped newer acts, including Liz Green, Ebony Bones, Metronomy and Stornoway. At the Dance Lounge catch the multi-talented Beardyman, the UK beatboxing champion in 2006 and 2007.

On Friday you might find yourself torn between the Pyramid Stage and the John Peel Stage. Neil Young is of course the big highlight of the day, and to bag yourself a good spot at the front you could happily make your way to the Pyramid Stage early to see Fleet Foxes, Lily Allen's homecoming gig, The Specials and then Young. If you're more pop than rock, head for the John Peel Stage to see VV Brown, Metronomy, Little Boots, Jack Peñate and south Londoner Jamie T. Headlining there are Manchester indie-rock favourites Doves, a worthy alternative to the veteran star. Ray Davies headlines the acoustic stage, while younger festival-goers might prefer the Other Stage where The Ting Tings are followed by Bloc Party.

As usual, it's the Park Stage, run by Emily Eavis and her fiancé, Nick Dewey, that has some of the festival's best bands. On the Friday, it boasts Animal Collective as its headliner, preceded by The Horrors, who have been doing a good job of late proving that they are not just about style.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are Saturday's top draw, while Franz Ferdinand on the Other Stage, and Jarvis Cocker on the John Peel Stage are the alternatives, with the wonderful Bon Iver topping the Park Stage. Don't miss the Africa Express Soundsystem at Club Dada in Shangri La on Saturday and of course Blur's first major comeback gig, rounding things off on the Pyramid Stage on Sunday.

Centre stage: 10 acts you shouldn't miss

Bon Iver

From heartbreak and seclusion in a Wisconsin log cabin to last year's top album, For Emma, Forever Ago, Bon Iver brings his haunting folk-rock to Glastonbury. The Park Stage on Saturday, Other Stage on Sunday.

The Low Anthem

With a raft of praise for their new album behind them, US band The Low Anthem bring their compelling harmonies and folk-rock to the festival for the first time. Queen's Head Stage on Friday, The Park Stage on Saturday.


A welcome return for the Mercury Music Prize-winning nu rave quartet who are special guests. The Park Stage on Saturday.

Speech Debelle

The socially conscious rapper, signed to Roots Manuva's record label, Big Dada, is set for big things. BBC Introducing on Saturday


The Eighties-influenced popster performs her irresistibly catchy songs 'My Delirium' and 'Paris is Burning'. John Peel Stage on Sunday.

Broken Records

The Edinburgh seven-piece wanted to stand out from the crowd, so they added violin, accordion, mandolin, pianos, trumpet, glockenspiel, ukulele and a full-time cellist. The result is an intoxicating and exciting blend of instrumental indie rock in the vein of Arcade Fire. Queen's Head Stage on Saturday.

Rumble Strips

With Mark Ronson producing their second album, the Rumble Strips might get the mainstream success they deserve for their stomping, brass-led songs. New single, 'Not The Only Person' will be a highlight. John Peel Stage on Friday.

First Aid Kit

These 16 and 19-year old Swedish sisters sound older than their youth suggests with their 'you've done me wrong' subject matter, playing charming, harmonious pop-folk. The Park Stage on Saturday.

Florence and the Machine

The winner of this year's Brits Critics Choice, Florence Welch has a voice to rival her peers. Hear her perform the exceptional songs of her debut album, 'Lungs'. John Peel Stage on Saturday

Dizzee Rascal

His new single "Bonkers" is in the charts and will be one of the hits of the summer, especially after Dizzee plays his biggest Glastonbury show yet. Pyramid Stage on Saturday.

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003
    Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

    Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

    Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

    Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
    Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

    Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

    Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
    New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

    Dinner through the decades

    A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
    Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

    Philippa Perry interview

    The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

    Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

    Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?