2 Festival Giants, 2 Very Different Events
Most people in the U.K. will know Glastonbury. It’s the biggest festival there. Most Americans will know Coachella, ongoing since 1999.
I’ve had the luck of getting Glastonbury tickets 3 out of the 3 years I’ve attempted. It was my first music festival and will remain one of the most iconic. For a festival virgin, it’s not a bad one to choose, although for some it can be very overwhelming. With over 100 performing stages it takes some planning to see what you want. Sometimes it can take an hour to get from one place on site to the other depending on crowds, mud and unplanned distractions. Epic headliners such as David Bowie, Rolling Stones, and The Who have graced the Pyramid stage.
The arrival at Glastonbury is never smooth. You sit in a queue in car, a queue at the bracelet/security gate and then have to carry whatever camping gear you have across fields and fields to whatever precious plot you’ve chosen to meet your friends at. And yet it’s the most fun you’ll have without taking your clothes off. After setting up your tent your reward is a can of warm cider and it’s pure liquid gold.
Have you ever throught of attending Coachella, a festival in the middle of the California desert? I’m used to festivals in the U.K. Like Glastonbury, Fieldview Festival or Bestival usually consisting of wellies, fancy dress and drinking a cider while listening to a world famous act on one stage or an act you’ve maybe never heard of on the next. I thought I could use a change and try out something different so I booked my Coachella ticket along with a car camping space which all seemed like a great idea.
The plan was to rent a car and sleep on top of the fold down seats, I thought it would be better than buying a bunch of camping equipment that I would just have to chuck away. We picked up drinks, snacks and a cooler full of ice on the way. The main festival opens Friday, but we thought we would head in Thursday evening since we hadn’t booked accommodation anywhere else anyway. On Wednesday we stayed in Palm Springs, about 45 minutes away from the site so we would have easy access. As we headed in Thursday evening we prepared for traffic, a minimum queue of some kind. But to our surprise, nothing. We drove our car straight in to the security check point where they thoroughly inspect everything you’ve so meticulously packed in the vehicle. Then we continued to drive to our camping spot and set the base up behind the vehicle. So far, so good.
I woke up Friday morning about 9, due to the already pounding sun that didn’t start to let up until about 5. I knew it would be hot, but damn was it difficult to drink anything except water or Gatorade. We went into the festival about 3pm to have a look around the site, grab a drink and chill in the shade. Since I was not about to pay $10 for a standard lager, I skipped the drink. Later on I found out that you needed to have an ID check daily to even get into the beer gardens that you weren’t allowed to leave until your overpriced drink was finished. So yes, you heard right, no drinking goes on at the stages, unless you happen to be at a beer garden which you can see a stage from.
As for music, it only went on until about 1am with the exception of 2 small stages in the camping area. The headliners didn’t really excite too much but getting to see Jack Garratt, Stormzy, Sofi Tukker and Bon Iver was amazing. It was also nice not having to worry about layering up as it stayed warm well into the night.
So here’s the breakdown:
|Number of tickets||Approx. 135,000||Approx. 99,000 x 2 weekends|
|Camping||Must hall your supplies from parking to your campsite||Can book car camping for an extra $100. You can have as money people as you'd like stay on the pitch|
|Drinks||No boundaries, Can bring your own alcohol|
|Can only drink in designated beer gardens what you purchase there
|Food||Really Good Variety-Just have to be able to find it|
|Decent variety-seems the really good stuff is in VIP
|Fashion||Wellies/rainboots and hippy or whatever you want||Festival glam-- yes it's a thing, get ready for the show.|
|Showers||Too far to be worth it||Free showers in most campsite|
|Music||most genres present, music only really unavailable between 4am-11am||Pop, Rap, EDM, music pretty much over by 1am, 2 small stages in the camping area go until 4ish|
|Weather||Can get very wet and muddy||Sunburn guaranteed if you're out all day, dust storms possible|
|Activities||Countless activities such as yoga, games, circus, poetry slams||yoga, ferris wheel, Imax mini movie|
For now, for me the winner is Glastonbury. It just fits me better, I like the laid back vibe and not being told where I can and can not drink my beer. Not that I wouldn’t go back to Coachella, but I think I would stay off site at a house or resort and come in just for the evenings. Lots of people do this and I can see why. I couldn’t bear the heat hanging at the campsite all day and there’s not too much going on then anyway so you wouldn’t be missing out.
Overall, Coachella was beautiful, it had back drops of palm trees and mountains in the distance. We experienced very little queuing and the camping was about a 20 minutes walk from the festival. It just felt more like going to an outdoor concert than a music festival. I guess I’ll just have to check them both out again and let you know how it goes.