How to volunteer at festivals (and go for free)

How to not pay for a ticket to festivals big and small – from Glastonbury through to Reading/Leeds, and All Points East to Rewind.

I love music festivals. But they aren’t cheap. 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.

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 by 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. Day festivals shifts tend to end at 8pm so you’ll be able to catch the headliner.

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

Following so many cancellations over the last few years, there are dozens running in 2024, and I’ve seen opportunities including:

  • Glastonbury (volunteering via Water Aid deadline is 19 February 2024)
  • Leeds/ Reading Festival
  • Isle of Wight Festival
  • BST
  • All Points East
  • Creamfields
  • Download
  • Lattitude
  • Camp Bestival
  • Boomtown
  • Latitude

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.

Volunteering requirements

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 send 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. The most popular festivals might also request you work another festival in the same year too.

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.

2 thoughts on “How to volunteer at festivals (and go for free)

  1. run volunteering opportunities at festivals too. This year we’re going to Latitude and more might be released soon!

    1. Thanks Clare


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