There once was a time, not so long ago, that the only type of bath you’d get at Glastonbury would be a mud bath.
Over five or six days, the best the average hygienic camper might hope for was a tap rinse or wet-wipe wash and a hide-all bucket hat – but really, anyone getting the true Worthy Farm festival experience had to leave grand notions of looking glamorous back at home.
Photographs of particularly wet and grimy years – such as 2005, when some tents were submerged – were part and parcel of the Glastonbury experience, as were sensible waterproofs, sturdy boots, and long-drop toilet horror stories.
Now, however, while the toilets might still be an ordeal, the festival looks very different. Thank Kate Moss and her micro shorts. And Sienna Miller and her boho belts, Alexa Chung and her PVC skinnies. It started with the celebs, and filtered out to the 200,000-ish non-famouses who now attend each year.
Glastonbury has moved with the times, and it’s not just about the outfits. In 2023, festival-goers might be sleeping in tents, but are able to look like they just stepped out of a salon, thanks to hairdressing and beauty pop-ups on site.
At the Blowfest stall, not far from the Pyramid stage, you can treat yourself to anything from a simple hair wash for £15 to a creative blow-dry and styling for £60. Bookings opened in March – and just like the sale for tickets for the festival itself, demand was so high that the website crashed.
On site, the queue had started to build by 8.30am on Friday.
Natalie Walton, 29, from Kent, joined the line snaking outside to get her hair washed.
“There’s no better feeling as a girl,” she told Sky News. “I just hate the feeling of sweat in my hair… there should be more tents [like this], I think, personally. There’s so many girls here that need their hair done.”
At home, Natalie straightens her hair every day – and sleeping in a tent means too many kinks.
“I’ve been once before and I got it last year as well,” she said. “I appreciate it.”
Because of social media, festival-goers want to look their best. Gone are the mobile phone-less days, when what went on at Glastonbury stayed at Glastonbury.
But it’s partly down to the changing weather, too. It’s been a few years since Glastonbury has seen the torrential downpours and mud-wading of particularly rain years such as 1997 and 2005. Sunshine equals summer clothes and, for most, better hair.
For Amy Roberts, 27, from Liverpool, this is her fifth time at the festival. At home, she only washes her hair once a week – but Glastonbury requires more effort.
“I woke up this morning and there were spiders in it and everything,” she said. “I’m not really a glamour person, but… I want to look nice. I don’t want to look a mess.
“The first time I came here I was only 19, I didn’t wash my hair… it was on and off raining, [my hair] was awful.”
Rachel Bacon, who runs the stall, is here for the second year after huge demand in 2022. The salon offers mainly washes and blow-drying, but can include trims as well and a barber’s service.
“Friday and Saturday will always be fairly busy,” she said. “I think last Saturday [in 2022], people waited about up to three hours just to get a hair wash.
“I think with the way that life is changing, with social media and camera phones and the technology that we’ve got now, everybody wants to look good all the time to be able to take photos and post them online. So if that includes being at a festival and having fabulous hair you just just go with it.”
Blowfest even had clients on the first official day of the festival on Wednesday – when music fans had only just left their homes and clean bathrooms – after rain earlier in the day.
“People just wanted to come in and dry their hair off or restraighten it,” Rachel said, “even on Wednesday”.
While some may say hair washing and blow-dries are a world away from the Glastonbury of old, the demand is there – and what’s wrong with looking your best?
“There’s a bit of a mixed feeling towards, you know, ‘oh, it’s not a hippie festival anymore if people are going to get hair washed’,” Rachel said. “But everybody’s individual and everybody wants their own thing.”