Glastonbury by night is a completely different beast from its daytime programme. When the sun sets over Pilton and you’ve ended up in god knows what state, sometimes the last thing you want to do is stand at the Pyramid Stage watching Slash embody an ‘80s punk film character. Not without the onset of a panic attack, anyway. There’s plenty more to do at Glastonbury than just listen to live music, and I’m sure you’ve been told that a thousand times. And don’t get me wrong, I love a good boogie, but I’d quite happily spend a full Glasto weekend exploring the weird and wonderful goings-on without the worry of trekking a mile to the South East Corner to catch the same DJ I could see on a Saturday night at FOLD.
You see, the unusual shenanigans always have the best stories. How many times have you heard your mates come back from five days at Glasto with tales of robot strippers, Power Ranger-themed karaoke, or even being asked to deliver crystals by a man in the driver’s seat of a New York taxi cab? Glastonbury’s unusual night-time spots really are the key to a good time, and you don’t even have to be heavily intoxicated to enjoy it. Although, it helps.
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So here’s a list of just a few of those hidden gems you might stumble across eight tins deep — a guide to your next post-midnight Glastonbury outing.
There’s a mythical place deep in the depths of unknown Shepton Mallet most Glastonbury-goers know of, despite its legacy as a ‘secret spot’. It has previously entertained an 80-something Michael Eavis doing karaoke, and plays host to the occasional celebrity – a cabaret of sorts, if you will. The thing is, it’s tucked underground, so it’s a little tricky to find if you’re not in the know. Legend has it you once had to take part in an arm wrestle to bid your way in. Inside though, you’ll find plenty of unusual shenanigans and costumes, spoken word poetry, jam sessions, and glasses of Irish delicacy Poitín.
Speaking of secret bars, there are actually tons. Shangri-La is the hotspot if you’re looking – knock on doors, pull back curtains, and join the queues to who-knows-where and you’ll be in for a treat. These secret pockets are home to masked actors looking to pull you in for a quick shot, themed parties, and probably a few naked people because, where else? For a slightly lesser secret, head up to Strummerville atop the big hill tucked inside the woods, sit by the campfire, and enjoy a cold pint. There’s also a late-night pub serving tea and coffee in the Avalon Field if that’s more your jam, but you’ll have to put up with the ruckus of festivalgoers playing random instruments out of time.
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The theatre and circus area is an immersive playground where you’ll find stilt walkers and tightrope jumpers alike. No Glastonbury-goer has ever come back from this area without asking themselves what the fuck they just witnessed – by night, the weirdest things just naturally gravitate here. You can have your fortune told by two adults dressed as magpies, play around with hula hoops and diablos, see a contortionist bend out of shape, or watch a man balance pots on his head while telling jokes. The world is your oyster.
There are a few different woodland areas all around Glastonbury, and each is pretty unique. Over by the Woodsies you’ll find an enchanted aerial walkway leading to the Union Castle – a ship-shaped platform amongst the woods – the Mexican travelling troupe Xicome, or the circus group Caravan Of Lost Souls performing fire shows and burlesque performances by the Tolpuddle fire. Meanwhile, in the Glade area, you might stumble across the Spike Treehouse – a very hidden bar tucked up into the trees.
No Glastonbury is complete without a trip to the Stone Circle. It’s the crustiest place this side of Bristol, home to every variation of dreadlocked and shoeless bloke imaginable. Come here for the opening ceremony if you want to witness some really strange stuff as people parade around giant paper dragons, set off fireworks, and light things on fire – Wicker Man style.
If you want to relive the earliest iterations of Glastonbury where hippies took acid for four days straight, Green Fields is probably your best bet. By day you can catch costumed people dropping down the death slide or dropping an ollie at the skatepark, but by night you’ll find it’s a little more uncouth. Take part in arts & crafts, find the secret underground tunnel, have your tarot cards read, try sound healing, or get involved in some interactive art installations. It’s all here.
Step right up! Glastonbury’s Unfairground will certainly take you for a ride – unexpected amusements and world-class actors litter this area. Prepare to meet the clowns and take part in a tombola or the coconut shy, and maybe play a couple of arcade games or spray some graffiti in the most colourful and curious corner of Glastonbury.
Behind the Rabbit Hole is a secret area only accessible by answering the White Rabbit’s riddle and working your way through a maze of rooms where bunny-suited actors will ask you to parade around like a horse or some other humiliating activity to grant your entry. There’s even a rumour that you can plead your way in if you bring a carrot to the tiny door, but that one is definitely an old Glasto tale. Granted, there is music inside at the secret Funkingham Palace stage, but it also offers some quirky goings-on including ping-pong tables and a naked jacuzzi.
Written by: Tim Hopkins