There is a way you can go to festivals for free. The trick is to volunteer. And you can do this at festivals big and small. From Glastonbury (when it’s on) through to Bestival, and All Points East to Rewind.
I love music festivals but sadly I don’t go to as many as I used to. In part that’s because many of my friends have young kids so just can’t come along too, but a huge factor is price.
One day events can easily cost more than £80 after fees (those damn fees!), and you’ve got to factor in travel, food and drink on top. And obviously it’s much more for weekend festivals. Often I don’t think it’s worth the money.
This means I’m always looking for deals and ways to save on festivals (here are a few tips), but if money really is tight yet you have the time, then it’s well worth looking into volunteering.
Essentially in exchange for a shift or two (or three if it’s a longer festival), you get free entry to the festival. Yes, you are working, so you might miss some of the action, but it could easily be saving you hundreds of pounds.
What volunteers do at festivals
If you’ve ever been to a festival, you’ve seen the type of jobs volunteers do. There are those scanning tickets and tying wristbands. There are people pulling pints. There are others picking up rubbish and recycling. And there are some just generally helping out giving information.
Shifts tend to be seven or eight hours long. Though these are assigned in advance, it looks like at most festivals it’s possible to switch with other volunteers if they agree – just in case your favourite band clashes with the time you are working. For longer festivals you may be required to work one night shift, and you might be working far away from the stages.
You also usually need to attend some training, and some festivals require volunteers to attend a day or two before the masses arrive.
Festivals you can volunteer at
There’s no Glastonbury this year, but you can apply for the likes of Reading, Leeds, Bestival, Camp Bestival, Isle of Wight, Lattitude, Download, Boomtown, Common People, All Points East, Rize, Womad, Standon Calling, Kendal Calling, Creamfields, British Summer Time, Lovebox, Rewind and many more.
Other volunteering benefits
You often get secure camping, guaranteeing you a decent spot that isn’t miles away from the action – and possibly some exclusive showers and toilets. When you’re working you’ll probably get a free meal too, saving some extra cash.
Some festivals will allow you to bring children with you too – though it depends on each event.
You will need to be over 18 at most if not all festivals in order to volunteer and have proof you can work in the UK.
You also need to pay a refundable deposit, which is usually the equivalent of the ticket price. There’s a good reason for this – it stops people using volunteering as an opportunity to get tickets to sold out events and not turning up for their shifts. But it does mean you need to cash up front. You may also have to wait up to 30 days for the deposit to be refunded.
Some roles require experience, such as bar work, though that depends on the festival.
How to apply for festival volunteering
You can check out the information pages at different festivals, or take a look at one of the following sites. Some festivals offer different opportunities through different organisers. For example, you can volunteer for Reading or Leeds with either Hotbox or Oxfam.
If you’re applying with friends you can ask for shifts together (or at the same time) on the application.
Most are first come first serve, so the earlier you apply the better.
If you go via the likes of Oxfam or My Cause then you’re also helping charities, which sounds good to me!
Have you ever volunteered at a festival? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.