It's been 50 years since Michael and Gene Eavis first opened their Worthy Farm fields to a lucky 1,000 music lovers who paid just £1 per ticket, with Marc Bolan’s band T Rex taking that inaugural year by storm.
Glastonbury festival has since evolved to one of the biggest in the world, with a site roughly the same size as Oxford city centre and the infrastructure to match.
Over the past 50 years, it has become a truly global event, reaching a broadcast audience of almost 21 million and attracting some of the world’s biggest stars – Jay-Z, Adele, Beyoncé and David Bowie. Most of them performed on the Pyramid Stage – the main stage – which is built around a tree Eavis’ great grandfather planted when he first bought the land.
The joy of Glastonbury is that you never know where it might take you – you can stumble into a circus tent and learn to trapeze; you can bump into people you’ve not seen in years or make new friends; you can unwind at the Healing Fields and get a massage. And it’s these experiences that stay with you.
While this year’s festival was originally due to take place this weekend (25-29 June), the annual event has been cancelled due to coronavirus, along with other festivals.
And while we’re under no illusion that you can truly recreate the atmosphere at home, unless of course you have a 900-acre farm, if you lower your expectations just a little, there’s still fun to be had.
The anniversary of an event that is so symbolic of British pop culture will not go unmarked. In lieu of fields, organisers Michael and his daughter Emily Eavis have announced a virtual line-up.
The BBC is planning a multi-platform Glastonbury Experience in light of the cancelled festival, with virtual events taking place across the five days when the event was due to go ahead.
But, with a little bit of ingenuity, here’s how you can recreate the festival vibes from the comfort of your own home and garden, without the risk of encountering Worthy Farm’s mud or loos. Really, it’s a VIP experience.
From speakers and garden decorations to food and drink, these are the must-haves you need to mark the occasion and make the most of the weekend.
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"Glasthomebury Festival" launched as an initiative to raise money for charities including Mind, NSPCC and Refuge. It's encouraging people to mark the occasion by setting up a tent from home, raising funds and having some fun. So, pitch up your tent and prepare for a sunny weekend of celebrating in your garden.
If you’ve got ample space in your garden and are planning future camping trips, the Vango stargrove air 600XL (Vango, £725) topped our review of the best family tents thanks to its multiple rooms, spaciousness and dark bedrooms.
If you’re looking for something a little smaller, the Coleman cobra 2 (Amazon, £92.80), came out highly in our backpacking tents round-up. Our reviewer said it was “a durable and comfortable tent at a really reasonable price”. What better way to prepare for next year’s festival season than by giving it a trial run in your garden this weekend?
If you want a real glamping experience, invest in an air bed. This Coleman extra durable double air bed (Amazon, £60.17), topped our guide to air beds, with our reviewer praising its “durability, comfort, price and all-round versatility”.
Choose your line-up
In lieu of fields, Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary will be marked by the BBC pumping out umpteen landmark sets from the festival’s archive across its BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds platforms. Of course, the most essential part of recreating the Glasto experience is the music itself.
To combine sound quality and portability, opt for a Bluetooth speaker. Not only do best ones pack a punch when it comes to sound, but if there’s a speck of rain, you can take it indoors and carry on the party. The Sonos move (Argos, £399) came out best in our review of the best portable speakers.
Sonos is a powerhouse when it comes to wifi streaming audio, so it’s no surprise that this Bluetooth speaker offers powerful sound. Although it is portable, our reviewer noted that it’s also big and fairly heavy, which contributes to the perfectly crisp vocals and solid bass.
For something a little kinder to your pocket, the JBL clip 3 (Amazon, £37.95) was highly regarded, as it offers sound that exceeds what its price point or size would suggest. It also has a strong water resistance, so if the rain does come and you want to really get in the Glasto spirit, you can stay outdoors without the fear of it getting damaged.
Stream the coverage
If you’re planning to watch the Glastonbury Experience line-up outside, then consider a projector for a full-screen display and immersive festival vibe.
For something portable, lightweight and affordable, there’s no better option than this Toptro mini projector (Amazon, £119.99). Delivering clear images in 1080P full HD, it is also equipped with a hifi stereo system and four-way surround sound.
Set up your screen easily with a plain white bed sheet. Tape it to a wall or hang it from a washing line. If the bottom touches the floor, secure it by placing heavy objects to prevent the breeze from distorting Lizzo’s performance from the archive.
When dusk hits, lighting up your outdoor space is essential for keeping festival goers’ spirits up. Whether draped across the length of your garden or alongside an exterior wall, festoon lights are a reliable choice for adding ambience.
The Lights 4 Fun multi coloured LED connectable festoon lights (Lights 4 Fun, £30) were a clear winner in our guide to outdoor lighting. Coming in configurations ranging from 5m to 150m, simply link up each 5m piece to suit your needs.
Our reviewer praised them for being “user-friendly, high quality, versatile and affordable”. And while you might not be in a crowd by the Pyramid Stage watching Paul McCartney, these will bring a festival glow to your garden.
You could even add this Rex London multi coloured spotty washable cotton bunting (Rex London, £5.95) for further festival feels.
If you want to decorate indoors too, Kolpop’s battery-powered indoor fairy lights (Amazon, £11.99) will add just the right amount of glow.
If you don't want your evening to run short when it gets cold, prolong the fun with a chiminea. Not only are they great for warmth, but they will also add an atmospheric glow.
Our reviewer praised the “expansive opening" as it meant that they could "feed the fire with three or four sizeable logs and then sit back and enjoy the heat without having to worry about it going out”. Offering excellent heat output with minimal management, you can’t go wrong.
Another important aspect of a festival’s VIP area (after nice toilets and showers) is the seating.
Recreate the true glamping experience with Outwell casilda XL chairs (Leisure Outlet, £48.99).
This chair was praised for its “sheer luxury” in our guide to camping chairs. The steel frame is strong and stable, and it folds up easily and has a sturdy strap, which keeps it together in its bag.
For a no-frills picnic blanket that has all the elements you need, opt for the Regatta matio picnic rug (Regatta, £7.95). In our round-up of picnic blankets, our tester said: “It’s comfortable and soft with a brushed fleecy polyester top, a thin foam layer to protect against painful stones and has a tough PVA back to guard against damp."
Bring the food truck to you
To get the real festival experience at home, forego making food for the weekend and opt for a takeaway. For the ultimate treat (justify it because you didn’t pay for a ticket) try a fine dining restaurant.
The original buttermilk truffle burger with fried chicken and truffle mayo is not to be missed. And for vegetarians, we’d recommend the cauliflower cheeseburger in golden breadcrumbs with butter pickles.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to fill your time in between acts, recreate your favourite eateries at home with a DIY meal kit. Best-loved burger joint Patty & Bun is offering lockdown DIY kits and they are faultless.
The meat option (Patty & Bun, £25), features four of its signature beef patties, bacon, brioche buns, a squeezy bottle of smokey mayo, cheese slices and homemade pickled and smokey onions. Just buy lettuce and tomato to finish it off.
While the vegan kit (Patty & Bun, £25), contains four plant-based patties with vegan bacon, mayo and cheese along with buns, caramelised and pickled onions. Delivery is £7 and it’s available nationwide for both these options.
If you fancy getting your grill on, our ultimate barbecue guide will tell you everything there is to know – from the best equipment to the recipes to follow.
Keep your bar fully stocked
While nothing screams a festival like a lukewarm tinny or bottle of wine, this is a VIP experience, so don’t fall short by not drinking the best booze.
For a truly great canned cocktail, try Bloody Drinks’ bloody classic (Sainsbury's, £3), of which our reviewer said: “if you think bar-standard tinned cocktails aren’t possible, the bloody classic will defy your expectations”.
It also acts a great hangover cure should you need it, but make sure you serve it over ice.
For the gin fanatics, the joy of hosting Glasto at home means you can make your G&T exactly how you like it. If you want to buy from a local British distiller, there’s no shortage of places to try.
Taking the top spot in our guide to the best British gins is Salcombe Gin’s rose sainte maire, 41.4%, 70cl (Salcombe Gin, £40). It's best served neat over ice or with a premium Indian tonic water (Tesco, £1.91) and a slice of strawberry or lemon peel.
If you’re sundowner of choice is beer – stock up with the Honestbrew party box (Honestbrew, £59.90) and enjoy all weekend. It's a carefully curated case of 24 beers from independent brands, such as India Pale Ale, Wild Beer Co and Northern Monk.
Take a break from the tunes
There’s a wealth of things to do other than listening to music when at Glastonbury. To truly recreate the experience of being at the Healing Fields; the festival’s chill-out field dedicated to mind, body and spirit, try an online meditation session (Headspace, free).
If you and your family usually frequent the “kidzfield” when attending the festival, there’s no reason why your children should miss out on a fun weekend. Keep the whole family entertained with a new set of garden games.
The Decathlon geologic soft archery set (Decathlon, £34.99), won the top spot in our guide to the best outdoor games. Suitable for the whole family, it can easily be adjusted to adapt the difficulty by changing the distances.
Support the charitable spirit of Glastonbury
Each year the festival also raises money for Oxfam, Greenpeace and WaterAid (the Joint Charities teams) – these are not only charity partners, but also major benefactors of the festival.
In 2019, the event raised £3m for good causes. So, this year’s cancellation means there will be shortfalls in charity budgets. To counter this as much as possible, merchandise is being sold on the website for all wishful festival goers.
This “hope shines brightest” charity tote (Glastonbury Festival shop, £8) is particularly lovely and will see you through nicely to next year's festival. All of the profits from the range will support the work of the Join Charities team.
To honour 50 years of activism, Greenpeace hosted a virtual festival on Saturday (20 June) that you can catch up on over the weekend.
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