Not much tends to exceed expectations, especially when you're talking about the most well-loved festival on the planet, Glastonbury. But come Monday, I walked away from Worthy Farm with my mind blown at just how peaceful and well organised this festival was.
Over five days, I did not see one fight, far-less people overdosed on drugs and alcohol than ever before, nobody pushing each other out of the way, and nobody shaming another person for being there. I even lost my handbag with passport, cash, bank card and phone in it, and everything was returned to me (lesson learnt, idiotic to have all possessions in one bag!).
I couldn't believe just how well everyone worked together, and yet Glastonbury seemed to break all the rules that most festivals push so hard.
So what is it that Glastonbury does so well, that other music festivals could learn from?
They ease up on drug and alcohol restrictions
I'm not advocating drug use and excessive drinking. Far from it. The liberal approach at Glastonbury actually created the opposite situation. Festival goers were allowed to bring in their own drinks, so long as it was in plastic or cans, strictly no glass. There was no word on limitations to how much you could bring in, and so it seemed to become an after-thought, rather than the first thought when packing. There were also no threats leading up to the festival for people choosing to engage in drug use. There was no heavy presence of police and sniffer dogs awaiting entrants. And so the crowd was far-less boozed and high than I've ever seen.
Most festivals I've gone to have been in my home country of Australia. You can't bring any alcohol in with you, anywhere. Threats are always sent out by police before festivals begin, that should you take drugs, there will be severe consequences. And so often we see passed out festival goers in the first aid tent, far too many drug-related deaths, and boozed-up people fighting.
It's so expensive to drink within the festival that most people prefer to drink all they can before they even arrive. The threat of being caught with drugs means that we see people panic and overdose before walking in the doors.
The fact is, people WILL drink and WILL take drugs. Don't panic them into excessive use. Less rules equals less people trying to break the rules.
They encourage all ages, and all people
There's been a bit of talk this year at just how 'middle-class' Glastonbury has become, but having been there, I couldn't disagree more. I saw all ages, from toddlers to the elderly. I saw celebrities, hippies, families, and your regular 20-30 something festival goers. There were people there purely for the music, and people who were there to enjoy the cultural side (arts and craft, and ballet?!)
I've never been to a festival with such a variety of people, and a variety of activities to cater for them all. Everybody seemed to gel so well in the one space without a side-ways glance, or a cringe. No one was made to feel too old or too young.
At other festivals, there tends to be one-crowd only. Unfortunately where I'm from, it's the singlet-wearing, short-short totting, gym junkie, too drunk and too high 20-somethings. You feel greatly out of place to be outside of this demographic.
There's a variety a facilities and food-stalls
I expected to spend a week waiting in lines at Glastonbury. But it was amazing at just how fast the queues moved, purely because there were toilet facilities at every corner, and a variety of food stalls all over the place.
Not only that, but the food is cheap. You can spend £5 on a decent meal, and you're encouraged to bring your own food and cooking equipment, too. It's simple maths really.
I know Glastonbury isn't the only festival that works like this. In Australia, one of the most popular festivals, Bluesfest, is well-loved for it's all ages and 'all people' atmosphere. But the fact remains that most festivals I've been to, and that of my peers, there's a culture of over-drinking, thuggery and exclusivity, and I'd say from my experience, this tends to be because there's too much focus on controlling people rather than encouraging people to just have a great time.
But I guess this is exactly why Glastonbury has the legendary status that it does.