We did it.
Just not in the way that we’d set out to do.
I’ve been pacing up and down the hallway scratching my chin about how best to approach this story. It’s one of the most incredible of my life, but it could be a career-ender.
I considered publishing as an anonymous contributor, leaving a review of the festival or skipping loads of details. Still, after days of weighing up the pros and cons, I’ve decided fuck it.
So here you have it, the story of No Taste finally making it to Glastonbury, just not as press… and without any trace of a ticket.
First, let me give you some context to this endeavour. Glastonbury is what conceived No Taste magazine back in 2020 as an extravagant ploy to attend the Festival as press after not being able to grab tickets for five years on the bounce.
We had the logo tattooed on our chest, reviewed gigs, had an army of contributors across the UK shooting gigs – it was happening.
Then covid hit. Our name became a symptom, the tattoo suddenly required much more of an explanation to people and Glastonbury was cancelled two years in a row – it wasn’t happening.
We persisted with album reviews and articles over the lockdowns and emerged three years later with a face-melting 200 followers on Instagram and a phenomenal pitch for our press application.
It was rejected.
But the lovely press office wished ‘Bad Taste’ all the luck in the future. (They actually are very lovely, this just made me laugh.)
So, in bad taste (and all the luck), we knew we’d find another way in. So although we might not have made it in as press, we infiltrated as journalists. How did we do it? How did three people sneak into Glastonbury without a ticket? Well, here’s my own exposé.
It started weeks, maybe even months, before. After a 4 am finish on the Saturday before tickets were released I, naturally, didn’t even set an alarm. I woke up, let my eyes recalibrate after sleeping on opposite sides of the bed, looked at the clock, laughed and went downstairs for dinner.
I’d missed ticket sales by hours, but I still knew I was going. The mindset had been born.
Speak it into existence
Glastonbury Festival has a solid reputation for being the most secure festival in the world. With 12ft super walls, thousands of security guards, and watchtowers every 150 metres around the perimeter, we proceeded to tell everyone we knew that we were going.
Every single person. Our bosses, family, friends, cashiers, heck, I even had my Grandma looking for rope ladders for us at the car boot sale.
Them: “Can I join?”
Them: “What’s your plan?”
Us: “Not entirely sure, I just know we’re getting in.”
Throw your bag over the fence and it leaves you with no other option but to go and get it.
I saw the above quote on another video from someone who snuck in and it resonated.
So I took it literally, launched my bag over a 12ft wall, accidentally thwacked a security guard who was holding keys to the gate which flew back over to our side after being dislodged in the collision and we just opened the gate and walked in…Okay fine.
What actually happened wasn’t too far off (I promise there were no casualties though).
The day before
Our hearts are starting to race at this point. We’d entered every competition we possibly could. Eaten eating-challenge-amounts of Worthy Farm Reserve Cheddar, drank an unfathomable amount of sketchy-tasting cider and turned into Tony Chocoloney himself. We’d exhausted every legitimate entry into the festival.
Time to think bigger picture.
The WhatsApp group was popping off with motivational quotes to keep morale high, but actual solutions were as sparse as female headliners at the festival.
My Ghilli suits and grapple hooks were vetoed, a 2ft decorative ladder for gnomes was obviously canned (morons) and buying an ambulance seemed a bit extreme.
It boiled down to this: we buy three £1.99 Hi-Vis vests, a champagne confetti cannon to use as a distraction and wear shit loads of old wristbands. They served no real purpose other than supplying a little bandage of confidence which was our only genuine ‘tactic’.
Confidence will get us through those gates in a way that not one of us could explain to others… or ourselves. We just had to believe we were getting in and the Glastonbury Gods (or our pal Jammy who joined us in Singapore) would arrange the rest.
We’ve been told to pack light in case we have to swim rivers, clamber through holes or ascend the walls. So Laura packed two fancy outfits for each day and I brought my only tent – a two-person pop-up. The Kardashians do Mission Impossible.
The big day
The three of us took the train from London at 8 am. To get the break-in momentum revving, we tried our chances just sitting in First Class; we were kicked out within minutes and put up zero fight. Thankfully we didn’t read this as a sign, although we didn’t really talk that much for the rest of the journey. It was finally becoming real.
When it comes to tough decisions that have seemingly no backing, you have to rely on your own belief. And when confronted with a 12ft wall, that belief can start to feel awfully small. So we watched hoards of people flood past us as we sat there in disbelief like Frodo and the gang outside the Black Gate of Mordor, except these people were happy and skipping. But the threat to life felt just the same.
Our energy was being sapped by the burning sun for hours and our once joyful and optimistic mindset was now an old tomato you find at the back of your cupboard. We hadn’t even tried to enter and we were already disheartened.
Now, listen in, it’s at these moments in life that you need two things: momentum and stupidity (or courage, depends who you’re talking to). Luckily, we knew the solution to both.
We took the local bus to a little village with a ginormous Tesco. Here we could start moving around a bit, refresh our minds, grab a pub lunch and devise a plan. Stupidity? Beers.
The locals have left for the week, which is fair enough, but it means no pubs are open. Apart from this cafe that has a hand-written sign saying it’s licensed – sketchy, but our only option for food.
We grabbed a table and a £4 pint of lager that says it’s been imported from Portugal but tastes as though it’s travelled no further than their bath. Taking in the astonishing scenery of taxidermy foxes that have been short-changed of their teddy bear filling and faces like the last thing they saw was where the beer actually came from, we overhear a conversation of some festival-goers on a mission.
Someone is doing drop-offs at the festival for £700, but there’s a waitlist- and there’s a £100 deposit. Somehow, we’re intrigued.
We quaff a few more ‘imports’ and nibble at possibly the worst cheesy chips in the world and notice a strange pattern. More people in festival gear keep entering, ordering a can of Fanta and then having a secret conversation with one of the regulars.
Being the detectives we are, we congratulate each other and strut up to the counter and order a can of Fanta with a wink. Nothing.
So we just straight up ask the bloke, we’ll call him Miles because it’s something a Miles would do, who seems to be running the operation. He confirms the prices and says it could take hours for us to get in. The Fanta was nothing other than a refreshing cooler.
Outside, there’s a group of lads. The ones you used to get to go into the shop for you when you were underage and then they’d take all the change and half the crate – only to find them drinking it in the same park as you later.
We got chatting with one of the punters in line for this sketchy operation; we’ll call her Lauren because that was her name. Lauren and her boyfriend had forked out £500 each and had been waiting for hours before we met them and they were ‘next’ in the queue this whole time. When questioning Miles, she was palmed off with multiple excuses. Woof.
This once-hot lead was feeling more and more like an end-of-the-day buffet kind of heat.
Considering we hadn’t even attempted to get in yet, we just took a number and parted ways leaving this as our final reluctant option.
We stock up on beers and snacks at Tesco, completely ignoring any advice to pack light. If we were to scale any wall, there better be a crane there to assist us.
It’s approaching 5 pm, we’re (I’m) steaming, we’ve made no effort to get in and there’s no real sign of progress. Tesco car park is littered with defeated groups of people waiting for a magic van to appear and take them to the promised land.
I do regular check-ins on the team asking for an optimism score out of ten. The answers never fall below eight from either Laura or Mike, but their body language says otherwise. I listen only to the words and we continue strong.
We have a roundtable (our flat pop-up tent) discussion for our actual movements and promise each other that we’re riding the bus back to the site, jumping off the bus and darting straight for the re-entry gate where they won’t be checking tickets and only wristbands. One less hurdle at least.
Waiting for the bus we bump into a lad called Luke and his mate who’ve just arrived and have a guaranteed lift from a security bloke inside who has a break at 8:30 pm for £400. We were sceptical, but we asked if we could join and take Luke’s number. Before we fork out any sum of money, we have to try for free at least once.
We’re back on Glastonbury Festival soil
The last time anyone saw us here we were timid and fearful but full of hope. This time we’re pissed, sunburnt and full of desperation.
With this energy, we blaze trails to the gate. Claire de Lune playing in my head as my chin tilts towards the sky looking up at the enormity of the structure. We stand at the back of the queue, not talking, repeatedly having to readjust the tent in my hand because my palms are so sweaty.
Now listen to this.
A security guard immediately called us. Our heads jolted in his direction in synchronisation like robots trying to blend in as humans.
“Are you staff?”
One of our wristbands that we wore (to distract away from the fact that we didn’t have a legitimate one) must have looked like the staff one.
“Come this way”
And proceeds to direct us past the queue and bag check. The violins in my internal soundtrack are reaching their pinnacle as we stroll through the first checkpoint and see only one steward between us and Disneyland for adults. This is it.
“Ticket stubs please…” – asks the last hurdle
Now, as mentioned, we’re pints deep here, so our patter isn’t great. We stumbled over our excuses and were ultimately laughed at and sent back on our way out. However, we weren’t detained, which means we go again.
For a total of four times. Each one ended with us tangled in an awkward exchange of back and forth trying to explain why we didn’t have ticket stubs.
At one point we rehearsed a speech for the next time it happens. About how rebellion is the ethos of Glastonbury and how we’re not there to cause any trouble, how Micheal Evis used to let in gatecrashers back in the day and the effort we’ve gone through over the years with No Taste.
In the heat of the moment, it came out something like this, “We’re here for a good time”. Never allow me to do the talking.
Luke has also said his route in has let him down, but they’re now going to a hole under the fence for £200. Not appetising right now, we wish them good luck and stay on site.
It’s now 9 pm and discussions about where we’re going to spend the night open. It’s a sorry time. The 8 am train seems like weeks ago, the soles of our feet have six-packs and the sun’s starting to go down.
Y’know the part of most films where the protagonist has nothing left, has just been slapped about by a dragon and had all their treasure fleeced? That’s where we are right now. But like all films, it’s at this point where things pick up in a series of unexpected and unexplainable events. A bit like this.
We’re back at the shuttle bus area where it all began. There’s a coach that takes you to a gate at the opposite end of the site. The VIP entrance. And they’ve just made the final call as the last trip of the day is about to depart.
We ran over and a steward stopped us to see our VIP pass, before we even had time to make an excuse another steward shouted over saying it was fine the coach needs to leave and we hop on for the thirty-minute journey.
Amongst the happy VIPs, our chat is about how this is our last chance. It’s either this or we’re done. All buses to Tesco where the back of the van operations were happening were from the other side of the festival and the last bus had already departed.
The coach doors hissed open, we picked up our bags with our very little remaining energy and plodded to re-entry. Checkpoint one – check.
One last step again. Gulp.
Just as we approached the final steward, our guardian angel/jammy/the Glastonbury Gods appeared in the form of someone leaving and asking him some questions.
We just… walked past.
We… just… walked in.
We didn’t even look at each other. I couldn’t breathe. I was expecting a hand on my shoulder at any second, but… nothing.
We just kept walking.
How. On. Earth.
We’ve just walked into the most secure festival in the world.
With two tents, three huge backpacks and loads of beers. In an area where your tent is already set up for you.
We don’t let ourselves get excited, it seems too surreal.
There it is. In its glistening glory. Glastonbury festival from the view that only VIPs get as we descend over the crest of the hill just in time for the last of the sunset.
You could not have written it.
The music becomes louder, the crowds denser and we’ve just hit the famous ‘Glastonbury’ sign. We share a group hug, laugh hysterically and share a memory that a horse couldn’t kick out of my head.
We did it.
Before I leave you.
Although I don’t recommend trying to break into Glastonbury, I do recommend the overall vibe of the mission. I feel I learned a lot of lessons here. And before I start sounding like a LinkedIn influencer, this isn’t going to end with it being a metaphorical story about how I got my dream job.
It is going to end by saying that with persistence, courage, ‘throwing your bag over the fence’ energy and a good gang, you can get anything you want in life – even if that thing is inside 12ft super walls of the most secure festival in the world.
Luke and his pal made it through their hole under the fence. At 4:00 am.
Lauren and her boyfriend weren’t so lucky and were stuck in the back of Miles’s car for three hours before he bottled it and said it was too risky. They did continue on to enjoy a nice trip in Cornwall though.
PS. Please don’t ban us, Glastonbury. We’ve tried for the last three years to get in legitimately as press and the story had to come from somewhere.