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Travel

Never Fear – Glastonbury is Still Here!

There is more to the town than just the festival weekend

Every year the month of October sees music fans all over the country desperately trying to get their hands on what many describe as a “golden ticket”, or in other words, a Glastonbury Festival ticket.

Unfortunately, 2018 will be the first year since 2012 where the festival will not be making its righteous return to Worthy Farm. But do not panic, it is only a “fallow year” for the farmland, village, and festival team to have their well-deserved year off to recover.

Visit the town, and you will discover the whole story.

Despite the lack of live music, extreme mud, and smile from Michael Eavis declaring “this is the best Glastonbury to date”, it is still worth travelling to the cosy, Somerset countryside to visit the town of Glastonbury itself. Come rain or shine, Glastonbury is a big draw at any time of the year, so you don’t have to leave the cider, outrageous outfits or even Michael Eavis behind at the Festival site. It is a guarantee that those things, Eavis included, can be found in the town of Glastonbury.

Credit: Stephanie Lukins

The new slant on the olde-worlde town is no mere coincidence in character, alongside its association with one of the most iconic music festivals in the world. Without the rise of the hippy era in the 60s, Glastonbury would simply link arms with the other typical farmers’ market towns which neighbour the Somerset countryside. The two histories of Glastonbury Festival and Glastonbury Town are intertwined and similarly they are both a vision of an alternative Britain. Despite the 7 miles between the two places, distance is where their differences begin and end.

 

There is struggle to find any commercialised shop or restaurant in the town.

It is a definite must to visit for those who want to discover the place where the festival was inspired and still get to say, “I’ve been to Glastonbury this year” in 2018. Rather than taking home the classic souvenir of muddy boots and sodden remains of a tent, wander through The Gauntlet, just off the vibrantly colourful High Street and discover the independent boutiques, galleries, New-Age shops, chakra-book sellers and cafés, where a souvenir is always guaranteed. Purchase some spiritual development, personal happiness or collective happiness if you can look hard enough as well, although, just the little pot of fairy dust, dream catcher or fairy sculpture ought to do.

Immerse yourself in the authentically fascinating Man, Myth and Majik shop with its behemothic assortment of vintage silver and crystals. Or take a peek inside The Speaking Tree bookshop, filled to the brim with books on chakra to the medieval history of Glastonbury. Not forgetting Dilliway & Dilliway, where shoppers will find upcycled ceramics, furniture and authentic textiles from India. These are only to name but a few of the town’s hidden gems where being classically diverse is what Glastonbury is all about, with the most ‘normal’ of shops being the Post Office and Nationwide bank.

To escape the candles, the sweet aromas of incense and all things yin and yang, The Hundred Monkeys cafe, with its alternative style of a typical fry up and coffee is ideal. For a much more traditional and cosy dining experience, The Abbey Tea Rooms will give you something to talk about over their famous cream teas at only £6, or perhaps a cake favourite such as a victoria sponge, lemon drizzle, caramel shortbread and many more. Glastonbury is proud of its Fairtrade Foundation status and operates on the principles of simple, healthy food. It does not shy away from celebrating its cafés and restaurants which cater for vegan, vegetarian and ‘free from’ ingredients.

Another magnetic hub for locals and visitors is the Bocabar located in between Glastonbury and the next town over, Street. A great arts type venue, it has its own exhibitions and very often there are functions, events and gigs happening as well, where you can find bands being ran as a road-test for the upcoming Festival. It is also a winner with its relaxed ambience and selection of local beers from £3, and locally sourced fresh food with prices starting at £11 for a main.

Credit: Stephanie Lukins

It isn’t just its twist on regular cuisine which Glastonbury is celebrated for; it’s the sight-seeing which is the town’s unique selling point. Ask any local and they will categorically say that Glastonbury Tor is the depiction of a picture perfect postcard for the town. One visit to Glastonbury should not be done without a somewhat refreshing climb to the top of the National Heritage site which overlooks the Somerset Levels, and is also one of the most spiritual sites in the country – apparently.

Glastonbury has always been ‘on the map’ with its rich medieval history, diverse religion and ancient legends.

After the exertion to the top and down again, it isn’t a job well done without finishing up back in the heart of the town. Before enjoying a refreshing cider in one of England’s oldest and haunted inns dating back to the 1400s – the George and Pilgrim, make sure to visit the Chalice Well; one of Britain’s most ancient wells. It nestles in the Vale of Avalon between the Tor and Chalice Hill and being accompanied by gardens and orchards, it is known for its living sanctuary where visitors can experience healings and peacefulness. Admission costs less than £5.

Back in town, layers of history can be found. A visit to the Abbey Ruins is a must with its enticing history and legend that King Arthur’s remains are buried in the grounds. The Abbey is one of the oldest in England and was suppressed under King Henry VIII in his dissolution of all monasteries. Tickets are reasonable; students can expect to pay £6.50 on the door, or £5.76 online.

Glastonbury has always been ‘on the map’ with its rich medieval history, diverse religion and ancient legends and myths. It could, however, be quite possibly ignorant to say the town’s significance is not even more so amplified by the almost Biblical scale tented city of the Festival, where an unimaginable scope of fantasy is packed into just one weekend a year.

Although Glastonbury is not the cheapest place to visit with transport links difficult without access to a car, or simply relying on public transport, it is significantly cheaper than the £240 Festival ticket. One thing is definite though – visit the Festival and find only half of Glastonbury’s history and influential tales – visit the town, and you will discover the whole story.

 

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