Cycling to and from Glastonbury festival

Four cyclists standing with their bikes next to the a bridge on their way to Glastonbury
Cycling to festivals has become a much more popular mode of transport over the years, to help beat the ever present traffic and queues. Our multimedia content producer, Robyn, talks us through her experience of cycling to and from the UK's largest music festival Glastonbury

When you picture going to a festival, you perhaps think about dancing in big crowds, beers in the sun and long queues for portaloos.  

What you probably don’t think about is cycling - but last week, I cycled to and from the UK’s biggest festival - and here’s why I think you should try it too.  

Why cycle to a festival?

Last weekend was Glastonbury festival- UK’s oldest, largest music festival, with around 200,000 people descending on the green fields of Somerset. As you can imagine, a festival this large means getting there and away is a big undertaking; most festival goers’ queue for up to five hours to get onto coaches, trains, taxis, or to park their cars in the nearby fields.  

But there is another way- you can take advantage of the BikeToGlasto scheme, and cycle to the festival.

Glastonbury festival is keen to encourage sustainable and green initiatives, and so have set up rewards and benefits for green travellers, including cyclists.  

If you cycle to Glastonbury, not only are your bags couriered for you - so you don’t have to carry them yourself - but you also get to stay in a VIP cyclists’ campsite, which has wood-fired showers and proper sit-down toilets, as well as 24-hour security for your bikes.  

Other festivals offer similar benefits to people arriving by bike - Greenman Festival gives cyclists free beer, early festival access, couriered bags, and fast track passes, while Boomtown offers reduced ticket prices for green travel tickets, as well as guided mass rides from nearby cities to the start of the festival - a good way to meet people and get the party started early.  

These tempting benefits pushed us to decide to jump on our bikes and ride to the festival gates.  

Robyn standing next to her bike overlooking a field

Free wheeling to Glastonbury from Bristol  

On the sunny Wednesday evening of the first day of Glastonbury, we set our out-of-offices, put on our most colourful cycling clothes and climbed onto our gleefully unloaded bikes to ride to the festival.  

There are two options for getting to Glastonbury from Bristol- one is to go the ‘short’ way, at 30 miles - which goes over the Mendips. The longer route, taking the Strawberry line, is pretty much flat the whole way, but around 50 miles.  As we’d had our bags collected and sent to the festival the day before, we decided to tackle to shorter, much hillier route.  

It’s a very pleasant ride, rolling through sunny villages, past pubs advertising the ‘last good meal before Glastonbury festival’, and up towards Cheddar gorge.  

We met a few other groups cycling to the festival along the way - you could identify them easily; they carried flags, played music from bike frame speakers, and were on a very wide assortment of bikes. It felt like a pre-party to the festival; everyone was friendly and excited. We chatted and made friends with a group and cycled much of the way together.  

As we rolled over the Mendips towards Wookey Hole, the sight of Glastonbury festival opened out in front of us - a gigantic, colourful city. Elation filled me - you really get a feel for the sheer size of it!

At the bike entrance, a cheery security guard wanted to talk about our bikes and journeys. We stored our bikes in the secure bike storage and made our way to the bike campsite. There was no queue for us to park our bikes, collect our bags or enter the festival - we could even jump the queue for wrist bands - we were quite smug as we set our tents up in the clean, roomy bike campsite. 

As you might imagine, the bike campsite was filled with friendly and chatty people. We spent the festival enjoying the showers, the company of our friendly tent neighbours (who kept their areas very clean and were considerate to their neighbours at night) and the lovely volunteers at the gates.  

Heading home

After five days, we left the campsite early on Monday morning, much quieter than we’d been coming in. We wheeled past lines of queuing cars, taxis and coaches, leaving the festival for a restorative cycle back home. It felt great to be back on the bike, clearing the head and stretching the legs.  

Cycling to the festival was a great experience - it was such a fun way to meet people, skip the queues, and even fit in something healthy into what is generally considered a weekend of excess.

If anyone plans on attending a festival in the UK next year - make sure to check their green traveller passes to see what benefits you could enjoy too!