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Glastonbury Festival 2013: My Oxfam Stewarding Experience

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Glastonbury

It’s that time of year again when almost 150,000 flock to the green fields of Worthy Farm in Somerset for the festival powerhouse that is Glastonbury.

Instead of battling it out for a ticket with half a million other people I decided I would steward for Oxfam and, luckily, got a place.

My first stewarding experience was Glastonbury 2011 and it was so amazing and enriching that I decided to go back again and return for 2013.

Stewarding for Oxfam brings many perks that regular guests at Glastonbury don’t often get. For example, as a steward we get five meals across the week, tea and coffee available at all times and even the luxury of a hot shower!

As well as this the Oxfam camping field is spacious and secure with parking a mere 200 metres away. 

 Arriving on the festival site a day before the public highlights a different side to the event, and also means you miss the majority of the traffic, which is an added bonus.

We arrived on Tuesday morning and by the time we had set up our tents we were ready to go and explore Worthy Farm without the hoards of people. The hard work put in to making the festival perfect was in full swing as the various staff were putting the finishing touches to the 900+ acre site.

Standing alone on the lush green grass in front of the Pyramid stage was an awesome moment. Knowing that in less than 24 hours these fields would be covered in people and tents made me super excited for the festival beginning.  

Wednesday meant another day of relaxing before the action packed weekend, and thankfully, the sun was shining.

We explored the site again, this time with more and more people rushing through the fields of Worthy Farm to find the best camping spots before they all disappeared.

Wednesday at the festival is the best time to find those places that only appear at Glastonbury. We found the famous Stone Circle and basked in the sun as well as exploring the Green Fields.

With the set of shifts from Oxfam I got a night shift, 21:45pm to 06:00am. Helping people at those ridiculous hours of the morning was a heart-warming experience. Seeing their exhausted faces and knowing that seeing the smiling faces of the Oxfam stewards upon their arrival would lift a little weight off their shoulders was a great feeling.

On my break I went to the Pyramid stage and stood in awe. At that moment it hit me that I was able to attend the best festival in the world knowing that I was also helping people in the process.  

With Thursday came the traditional ‘Thursday rain’. We explored the site again while we could but then took refuge in the Oxfam marquee with all the tea and coffee we could drink (I did swap a few teas for a warm can of Strongbow or two, in true festival-goer style). As the evening drew to a close the rain cleared and we were able to go and find the wonderland that is Shangri-La.

The split of Shangri-Heaven and Shangri-Hell is something you will never experience anywhere else on earth. It was a night that could only ever happen at Glastonbury.

For example, we stumbled upon a Hare Krishna music tent and danced for a good half an hour as well as wandering the site trying to convince people that Dido (remember her) would be the special guest the following day - I don’t think the rumour caught on. 

Slightly hungover we had an amazing fried breakfast from Nuts Cafe in the Oxfam field.

As stewards we got our very own catering and it’s fantastic! Generous portions and free with the meal vouchers provided. One of the many awesome perks of working with Oxfam.

Bellies full we went to The Other Stage to check out the special guest which happened to be Liam Gallagher’s Beady Eye. Also managed to catch uber cool Cali girl-band Haim before my next Oxfam shift at 2pm.

The shift went well, taking people’s tickets and reassuring them that they were going to have an amazing time as the festival comes into its own. I ran over to the Pyramid Stage after my shift and saw an amazing headline set from Arctic Monkeys. Alex Turner looking very suave as he rattled through hit after hit in front of a massive illuminated A.M. Despite missing some of the music throughout the day, I still had a great day at Glastonbury Festival.   

The perks of working for Oxfam mean you only have to work 3 shifts, so I had the whole of Saturday off to enjoy the wonders of the festival. Me and two of my fellow Oxfam stewards positioned ourself on the barrier at The Other Stage to witness a fantastic day of live music including new indie-pop band The 1975, one of my favourite folk-rock bands Dry The River and rap princess Azealia Banks.

Two Door Cinema Club performed a fantastic set just before we head off to The Pyramid Stage to experience The Rolling Stones’ headline set. Slightly sunburnt and a little tipsy I head back to the campsite to sleep before my super early 5:45am start for my next shift.  

The early start was made more bearable as, in true Oxfam style, I made friends with the other people on my shift. When you’re all grouped together at a ridiculous hour of the morning you share a special bond through a communal love for festivals.

Sharing stories of previous festivals and watching the sun come up didn’t feel like work. Upon finishing my shift at two I met some friends and went to enjoy our final meal courtesy of Nuts Cafe before heading down to watch some amazing music. Sunday evening consisted of Vampire Weekend, James Blake, Tyler, The Creator and finishing with a bit of Mumford and Sons and the xx.  

Packing up in the early hours of Monday morning was a sad occasion. I’ll be counting down the days until Glastonbury Festival 2014 where I will steward again. Knowing what an amazing experience it is, I wouldn’t do it any other way. 

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