Glade - The epic Glastonbury of dance festivals - takes WikiFestivals on an adventure into some kind of apocalyptic Narnian rave, in the middle of an English country estate in the heart of Norfolk.
We arrive on a vintage pillarbox red double decker routemaster bus to Glade, a non commercial dance festival set in the picturesque surroundings of Houghton Hall, an 18th century stately home first used by Robert Walpole, England’s first Prime Minister!
Eagerly staggering to get off the bus at stop one, the media/backstage/performers/taggers on entrance we are immediately struck that every single other person on this bus is also getting off here.
From Annie-Mac’s-sister’s-husband’s-best-friend who’d scored backstage tickets, to bar staff who’d worked three nine-hour shifts to get the chance to experience some woodland magic, everyone we met was part of this party.
We came expecting torrential storms. We were worried about terrible flooding. We even wore wellingtons (well, silver cowboy boots). But it never rained at Glade, which makes sense for a festival right in the middle of England’s driest dry spot. But boy was it windy..!
Perhaps the wind was the reason why every single nook and cranny of Glade was so incredibly clean. Did all the rubbish get blown away? Probably not. They probably just have the world’s best clean up team and revellers with a socially conscious attitude to recycling. Whatever the case, Glade is just about the cleanest festival, or in fact cleanest place, WikiFestivals has ever been to. Even the toilets here are spotless..!
Stages and entertainment
Nothing at Glade is too much trouble. Nowhere will you find any brash advertising and nowhere will you find any queues. Getting a beer here, or anything to eat, is incredibly easy. There’s space everywhere, although everything is also quite near to everything else.
It’s the same way with stages at Glade. There’s quite a number of them (although almost all are tents rather than stages) and each one never seems to get too crowded whilst always having the right amount of people to make a party atmosphere. And everywhere is a party at Glade, from the large main Glade stage with its brilliant plethora of awesome DJs, through to a single, presumably duracell driven, man-machine playing a drum kit by himself, with a crowd of 50+ ravers going wild all around him.
A special mention has to go out to the woodland area of Glade; a place to lose your mind as the sun sets on the rest of the festival. In this elven village, you’ll find almost unlimited surprises, from steaming hot tubs, to a maze made from glittering silver through to what appears to be the entire cast of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, in full cinematic outfits, swirling poi and juggling fire whilst talking crazy gibberish to every passerby. Where you’ll want to end up though, is The Meteor, a muddy sunken stage 15 feet beneath ground level, full of bass and swarming with some very happy people tuning in to music played by DJs positioned inside a miniature spaceship. A spaceship that with bass this loud might literally blast off at any second. If you go to Glade, you must (you must) go to this stage!
Getting there and the place
Getting to King’s Lynn from London is super easy, the train from King’s Cross is just an hour and a half. Once you get to the station the festival site is only 15 minutes away by taxi or a Glade shuttle bus (in the form of the aforementioned retro routemaster).
Like everywhere else at Glade there don’t seem to be any queues at the ticket or security gates. Everything is ultra simple and stress free which makes a change from the expected hours of queuing, trekking and re-queuing that you find at most big name festivals.
The Glade site is just incredible too, with all the action taking place in the landscaped fields and woods of a huge country estate. This place is beautiful and kept in incredible condition by the festival team considering the amount of people running about, dancing and just generally stamping around in the mud. Look around the place at any time and you’re hard pressed to see a single stray paper cup or beer can, which must be some kind of testament to the quality of the clean up operation here (as well as the extremely positive “leave no trace” ethic of most of the partygoers here).
Even the toilets here are clean - seriously clean. We used them all day and they were literally pristine and usually even had toilet paper. Whoever was in charge of this, you did an A+ job!
Food and drink
Glade isn’t commercial, so you’re really hard pressed to find any big brand names here, but neither will you find those dirty dodgy burger vans you expect on scummier festival sites. There’s a huge range of food on offer here and almost all from boutique style, ethical vendors, including Camden’s favourite hippy, veggie love nest, Inspiral, who host their own foodie teepee paradise and connected chill out music tent next door.
As you might have guessed, alcohol is also available at Glade too although the selection is pretty limited. The festival bars offer beer (San Miguel) and cider (Kopparberg) or spirits.. not a huge range, but having said that, everything you need to have a tipsy (or steaming) day in the sunshine.
Glade has got to be one of the most underrated festivals in the UK. It’s low, low stress and so, so much fun. The crowd is probably mostly 25+ so are used to a drink without spoiling celebrations for anyone else and there are strange incredible surprises everywhere you look. The organisers have done a brilliant job of running a festival successfully without needing to bleed it dry with merchandise and advertising at every corner which means you don’t need to spend a bomb to have a great time here. If you like great electronic and dance music, you have got to go to Glade.