Want to avoid Glastonbury Festival traffic? Take a helicopter shuttle!
Glastonbury Festival goers can ditch the car - and take to the skies... For a price
by PAUL JONES
IT’S the vision of doom for many Glastonbury goers – the back end of a car, signalling the start of a queue to get on site.
Some years, particularly when it’s rained, excited revellers can see their first-day enthusiasm sapped – along with the day itself – as they sit, imprisoned, in a car or van alongside their gear.
The heady atmosphere of the Cider Bus can feel a long, long way away as the clock creeps on. And on. And on.
Personally, I have only once been hit by ‘the queue’ when travelling to Glastonbury.
It was 2009 and apparently, some June rainfall had seen several car parks rendered unusable, meaning there was an enormous bottleneck as thousands of vehicles reached Worthy Farm.
Let’s be honest, even the M5 in Somerset is not prepared for that kind of traffic, let alone any of the other routes, so organisers do a magnificent job to manage such a huge undertaking.
But so it was in 2009, we sat. And waited. For hours.
My memories of that wait are firstly, of my 2003 Renault Clio, short on petrol, starting to overheat, lights flashing. I was too terrified to switch it off through fear it would not move again.
Secondly, burnt into my very soul is the image of the back end of the Berkeley coach that was ahead of us in the queue.
It took 11 hours for us to get in and the Berkeley Coaches phone number remained etched in my memory for several years afterwards.
But get to Worthy we did, and after that first amber nectar, all was forgotten.
Once on site though, throughout every festival, it’s a common occurrence for people’s heads to gaze upwards as a helicopter passes overhead.
‘Is it a celebrity?’ ‘Does Michael Eavis have a pilot’s licence?’ ‘Have the Rolling Stones arrived?’ ‘Wouldn’t that have been great instead of sitting in that queue?’ ‘How much would you have to pay for that?’
Well, one way to find out is to speak to Get Heli.
The travel firm specialises in helicopter transfers to Somerset from London for the festival.
Setting off from the Denham aerodrome, near Uxbridge, the journey to one of Glastonbury’s two helipads takes around 45 minutes. Yes, 45 minutes.
“Some see the travel as part of the experience, but after five days of partying, many see the travel as an experience to avoid,” said Get Heli’s Laurent Vallet.
So would anyone, like me, who has ended up sitting in a queue for most of the first day.
However, with prices starting at £995 (plus VAT) per seat – each way – based on six people sharing a helcopter, for most, arriving in style could remain a pipe dream. (As an interesting aside, the firm uses an AW109 helicopter produced by Leonardo, based in nearby Yeovil)
“We know the price tag of travelling by helicopter isn’t for everyone, but our clients group together and, taking into account the almost-certain delays when leaving the festival on the Monday, they see the value in the time saved, not just the kudos of travelling by air,” Laurent said.
Also worth thinking about is the environmental impact of such a journey, something Laurent says the firm addresses through ‘heli-sharing’; making sure craft run full, cutting emissions per flight.
Factor in the potential for rail strikes, as happened in 2022, and travelling to Worthy Farm like The Boss becomes even more attractive.
And Lauren said some may reach the conclusion the time savings could be well worth it.
“If you factor in the time saved on the journey plus not having to be there early or delays on your way out, someone travelling to and from London by car can save up to 28 hours of travel or delays if they flew by helicopter.”
So the next time your attention is drawn skywards at Worthy Farm, remember one day, it could be you.
* For more details of Get Heli’s Glastonbury shuttle service, log on to https://getheli.com/tours/london-glastonbury-helicoptertransfer