Glastonbury 2016 highlights – the best of what to see and do

Our writers pick some of the standouts of this year’s festival. Let us know what you’re most looking forward to at Worthy Farm

The Beat Hotel brings cocktails and beats

Home to the festival’s best frozen cocktails, the Beat Hotel is also hosting some of the finest dance sets of the weekend. On Thursday Seth Troxler, whose Smokey Tails BBQ is also on offer, will be playing back to back with techno man-minx Tiga, supported by DJ Tennis. Friday has the cracking prospect of a Midland, Joy Orbison and Ben UFO tag team, plus Mano le Tough and Maceo Plex. Don Letts pays tribute to the late DJ Derek at lunchtime on Saturday, with Vancouver disco bros Pender Street Steppers teeing up brilliant talent from Young Turks: John Talabot, Reckonwrong and Nic Tasker, plus Floating Points and Four Tet going cosmic back to back. Sunday has Balearic jams from Bill Brewster and Francis Inferno Orchestra, before Joe Goddard of Hot Chip showcases talent from his Greco-Roman label, with Simian Mobile Disco also dropping by. BBT Thursday-Sunday, 10am-late

NYC Downlow is the treasure of the site

The entrance to NYC Downlow.
You can dance if you want to … the entrance to NYC Downlow. Photograph: Alicia Canter/Observer

If you can get near it – it’s invariably mobbed – dance arena Block 9’s re-creation of an NYC gay club is one of Glastonbury’s real treasures, as much for the music as the atmosphere of pansexual, drag queen-heavy abandon. This year’s lineup is particularly rich, with disco gospel expert Greg Belson on Thursday, Roger Sanchez, Horse Meat Disco’s James Hillard and Miss Honey Dijon on Friday and Berlin duo Tama Sumo and Lakuti on Saturday among the gems. The truly hardcore Glasto-goer can end the weekend at 5am on Monday with Hillard’s fellow HMDer Luke Howard’s traditional, epic closing set. AP Thursday-Sunday, 10pm-late

Vince Staples will make you want to grind

Glastonbury 2016 is doing a fine trade in bearded-blokes-with-acoustic-guitars-who-wanna-be-Bon-Iver this year (Half Moon Run, Bear’s Den, Jack Garratt, that Frightened Rabbit/Lumineers double bill on Friday). But for every tweed jacket and man bun, or earnest song that has couples embracing each other with rigor mortis-like grips, there is an artist delivering some hard-hitting realness – like Vince Staples. The 22-year-old from Long Beach, California proffers his rhymes about bleak hood life in a claustrophobic, bone-chilling atmosphere, but he is also a talented performer. His shows combine hype and wit with wonky, slinky bass that will make you want to grind with – not embrace – your nearest cagouled friend. KH Friday, 4pm, West Holts stage

Ezra Furman isn’t just different, he’s great

Ezra Furman
Ezra Furman … dressed to kill. Photograph: Andrew Benge/Redferns via Getty Images

In the past couple of years Ezra Furman has grown from being a curio at the outer edges of the music scene into one of the most captivating artists at work right now. Admittedly, the market for crossdressing, genderfluid, depressive, observant Jewish artists obsessed with old rock’n’roll is not yet saturated, but it’s not being different that sets Furman apart – it’s being great. His songs are both timeless and timely, reflections on our time that could have been recorded in 1957. And he’s in his element live. Expect him to respond when he plays in front of the biggest crowd of his career. MH Park stage, Friday, 5pm

Try Kurupt FM and Super Hans for actual laughs

For all the entertainment available elsewhere at the festival, Glasto’s underpowered comedy output is often about as amusing as a stag weekend with Dapper Laughs. This year, though, some actual laughs can be found over in the music venues. On Friday, the Sonic stage welcomes the MCs of urban-powerhouse-slash-radio-station-slash-family-unit Kurupt FM, whom you might recognise from BBC3 mockumentary People Just Do Nothing. Then on Saturday the Stonebridge Bar boasts a DJ set from Peep Show’s very own Super Hans. Expect excerpts from the big beat manifesto and a host of tunes stolen from Sophie’s cousin Barney. GM Kurupt FM, Sonic stage, Friday, 10:30pm; Super Hans, Stonebridge Bar, Saturday, 8pm

Toddla T hosts his Glastonbury Carnival

Raging against the rain more enthusiastically than most will be Toddla T, who is hosting an entire carnival within Glastonbury itself. The lineup is superb, with Jamaican pop-reggae star Protoje alongside killer UK MCs such as Section Boyz, Nadia Rose, Lady Leshurr, Fekky and J Hus; DJs include 1Xtra lol-slinger Charlie Sloth and dancehall crowdpleasers the Heatwave. Bring a shonkily mixed two-litre bottle of rum and Ting to further approximate the Caribbean vibes. BBT Stonebridge Bar, Friday, 10pm–5am

Hot Chip will turn you Purple

Prince … you can’t have him, but you can have his music. Photograph: Chris O'Meara/AP

If I had a pound for every rumour about Prince headlining Glastonbury over the years, I would be rich enough to buy his entire discography and a ruffle-neck shirt by now. Tragically, of course, the dream of seeing the Purple One annihilate the Pyramid Stage has evaporated with him to the castle in the sky. Which is why I will be paying my respects at the next best thing, a DJ playing his music, at the Blade Runnerish altar of Genosys in the heart of Bloc 9 on Friday night. Alexis Taylor from Hot Chip, who’ll be presiding over the decks, knows a thing or two about funk and slow jams, and is promising some strong singalongs and the odd obscurity squidged into an hour. The only downside is that it won’t go on for longer. KH Hot Chip Remembers Prince, Genosys, Friday night, 12.30am

Time for the 1975 to convert the doubters

Earlier this year, the 1975 released a second album that was sonically ambitious, lyrically personal and showed a band stretching far beyond their debut, trying to make something that sounded like An Important Album. And still a bunch of people write them off as a silly boy band who’ve chanced their way to success. On Saturday evening, without their own crowd lending fervent support, they have the chance to win over the doubters. MH The Other stage, Saturday, 7.15pm

Tame Impala take psych into the 21st century

Whether you find her balladeering affecting or annoying, it’s difficult to argue against Adele being the biggest show in town at this year’s festival, with her Pyramid stage headline slot certain to draw the largest crowd of the weekend. Which presents a huge opportunity for the act appearing before her, who are likely to attract a hefty group of early arrivers, as well as those who tend to colonise the hill above the Pyramid from dawn onwards with their dinky foldup chairs. Step forward, Tame Impala, playing easily their biggest set yet on British soil. It’s just reward for a band who, with their recent album Currents, not only managed to gently nudge the psych genre into the 21st century, but created something genuinely crowd-pleasing in the process. Bonzer! GM Pyramid stage, Saturday, 8pm

Floating Points

Saturday night at the Park stage ends with a celestial series of sounds: one of many tributes to the late David Bowie comes from Philip Glass and his Heroes symphony, a shimmering, cinematic interpretation of the 1977 classic, which itself follows the childlike majesty of Mercury Rev. Setting the supernatural tone before that is Floating Points, led by Sam Shepherd. In more confined festival spaces, the fusion of experimental jazz and electronics could produce panic-inducing cacophony for the sleep-deprived. Set in the bucolic Park stage valley, though, the sprawling odyssey of tracks such as Silhouettes (I, II and III) is more likely to inspire a hippy epiphany. HG Park stage, Saturday, 8pm

And then Kevin Parker pops up again – with Mark Ronson

Mark Ronson
Mark Ronson … party time. But what kind of party? Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA

One of Glastonbury’s pleasures is the way you invariably find intriguing stuff tucked away in outlying areas, often involving artists big enough to play the main stage stretching out and doing something different. So it is with the Hell stage, where in among appearances from Kate Tempest and Shy FX, as well as a tribute to Bristol’s late reggae hero DJ Derek, there’s an hour-long appearance in the small hours of Sunday morning from Mark Ronson and sometime collaborator Kevin Parker of Tame Impala. What it will exactly involve remains a mystery, but it should be intriguing, and rather different from Tame Impala’s own set. AP Hell stage, Saturday night, 3am

Mac DeMarco

Glastonbury is as synonymous with moshing as it is with gel-sanitised fingers. This year, however, with the addition of the Canadian songwriter Mac DeMarco and his cult-like fan base, Worthy Farm will host an amicable riot at the John Peel stage. A heaving mass of hipsters forming a circle pit along to DeMarco’s Beatlesesque love songs about girls, pals and cigarettes is an oddly affecting sight. Breaking up a rather stodgy lineup – slotted between headliner Jake Bugg and Of Monsters and Men – his presence this year is likely to cause a ripple of rebellious disruption. HG John Peel stage, Sunday, 8.30pm

  • This article was amended on 21 June. It originally included an incorrect stage time for Kurupt FM’s DJ set.


Alexis Petridis, Ben Beaumont-Thomas, Gwilym Mumford, Michael Hann, Harriet Gibsone and Kate Hutchinson

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