Glastonbury is back. This week, the UK’s biggest music festival returns for another much-anticipated event at Worthy Farm.
For five days, from Wednesday 21st June to Sunday 25th June, the Glastonbury location in Somerset will play host to a range of the world’s biggest music acts, including headliners Arctic Monkeys, Guns N’ Roses and Elton John.
before the festival, The Independent spoke to Niki Green, one of the stewards outside Glastonbury, to get an inside look at what’s going on behind the scenes.
“During the festival you work three shifts, arriving on Tuesday and leaving on Monday,” explains Niki, 57, who is volunteering at the festival for the third time this year. “6 a.m. to 2 p.m., 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. – and the dreaded night shift.
“Early mornings can get really cold regardless of the daytime temperature,” she said, “so layers for this shift are a must.”
“Our tents are built around a trailer which is our base and we become a small community for the long run. Staff bars are also a real bonus if you work here and we have our favorites (usually based on how good the restrooms are, especially on Saturday/Sunday).”
According to Niki, the main duties of the stewards include welcoming and welcoming festival-goers, as well as “sorting” campers as the event progresses. As ticket holders log on, a map is updated with campsite availability and this information is then transmitted over a walkie-talkie to give people the best advice on where to pitch their tents.
Niki believes the organizers do a “great job of scheduling” and are usually able to arrange shift schedules for the artists that the volunteers would most like to see.
When asked about particularly memorable experiences from past festivals, she recalled: “On our night shift in 2019, a girl came to us after spotting someone browsing her tent while she was sleeping. She stayed with us until it was light [during which time she was] provided with tea and biscuits and was then able to return to her friends.
“Under the circumstances, I wish someone would do that for my son.”
The weather for this year’s festival is expected to be warm and generally dry: for the latest Worthy Farm weather forecast click here.
“It was so hot in 2019, the water was running out and everyone went home with ‘Glasto Lip’ (cracked and sore),” recalls Niki. “I had swollen feet and could only wear flip flops for a week afterwards. 2022 was warm, but not to this extent.
“What’s a revelation is the amount of walking you do,” she continued. “Often I’m doing 20,000 or 30,000 steps a day, so I always intensify my steps before I come to prep. Otherwise the stress level is low – the stress is more like hoping you have everything packed before you go in.”
When the gates actually opened, the mood on the site was “exuberant,” she explained.
“Even though I wasn’t on duty in 2022, I still got up to watch [Glastonbury founder] “Michael Eavis is coming to the opening,” she said. “I do not want to miss it. People are calling our map for advice on where to camp (quieter, in the middle of the action, better toilets) and everyone is in high spirits.”
She added: “We end up with a collection of broken trolleys etc just making it past the gate before giving up. We are giving away how many there are this year. The morning shift flies by because there is so much going on.”
Niki also described the “sad” amount of litter taking place at the festival, despite appeals from festival speakers – like David Attenborough in 2019 – to reduce litter on site.
“However, on the Monday before we leave, we still go through the site and it’s amazing how quickly the cleanup is going,” she said.
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Here you can keep up to date with the latest updates from Glastonbury 2023.