We are teetering on the brink of summer. You can almost taste the late evenings, the high hanging sense of energy, and that feeling that something big is about to happen. And nowhere are these sentiments more condensed than at one of the brilliant festivals that now populate the hot side of our calendar.
However, if you don’t have the right financial planning, you could well be frozen out of the fun and left twiddling your thumbs in front of the same old rolling social media feeds. That’s why we’ve decided to save you from a fate worse than Facebook with our top tips for saving money whilst still attending those madcap masquerades.
Work your Way Round Festivals
If you’re the type that doesn’t mind a little bit of hard graft then the opportunities for working your way round festivals are plenty. Some of these will require a few skills, but most are simply looking for workers that are enthusiastic and positive enough to do a shift in the demanding atmosphere without shirking the load.
Festival Volunteering Work
You don’t always have to work for the man at festivals. Instead you can put a little bit of your soul into the mix and volunteer for a number of the organisations and roles within a festival. Some of the most popular include:
From car park attendants through to stewards and litter collectors, there are a wealth of roles and festival locations available through stewardship schemes. One of the most popular is the Oxfam stewardship program where you can help festivals help people and help yourself to an entrance. That’s a win, win, win in anyone’s book.
We approached Claire Williamson from the Oxfam Festivals Team to say a few words about the program:
What’s the Best Thing about It? There are plenty of new, fun experiences, but the best thing is the people you meet – some of whom become friends for life.
What’s the One Quality you need to Survive? A steward needs to be a great communicator and comfortable when talking to the public.
If you’re looking to join with the Oxfam Stewardship program more information is available here. They are already looking for volunteers for events like WOMAD, Boomtown Fair, Beautiful Days, WOWFest and Shamabala.
Every festival is awash with alcohol, with the old and young alike carried away on a raft of boozy bliss. Of course, there has to be a good line of people waiting to serve the happy juice or the public will get sober in the wait. Bar work can be a great way to meet people and get the best out of an event.
We spoke to Charlie Juggleson of Festival Volunteer for his experience of working at this job.
What’s the Best Thing about It? Mixing business and pleasure. You can do a couple of shifts over the festival and it gives you a chance to experience both sides of the event.
What’s the One Quality you need to Survive? You definitely need to be friendly and to work hard as it can be fast and hectic. Above all you must be able to enjoy yourself whilst dealing with the pressure.
Working for Money
The really clever people out there will actually manage to make money from the festival circuit. With enough skill, drive and effort to get in front of the right people you can not only see your favourite bands, artists and attractions, but get paid for the pleasure too. We took the time out to look at some of the most popular professions on the circuit.
Festivals are now often used to promote various products, whether this be demos of products, inflatable point of sale displays or good old fashioned flyering. Like talking to people? Then you could have an entertaining time beguiling the carefree crowds at one of the many bigger events in the UK.
What’s it like being a promotional work at a festival? We asked Craig Mitchell of Yes People.
What’s the Best Thing about It? You get to see loads of cool stuff, meet people and listen to live music.
What’s the One Quality you need to Survive? Personal integrity. You might be working on your own but you need the resilience and honesty to just get on.
This kind of work is normally found with an agency rather than by dealing directly with any events. Start your road to employment at Yes People.
PART OF AN EVENTS TEAM
Behind the scenes at every festival there’s a host of people making the cogs whirr and the wheels tick over. These include all kinds of technical people, lighting crews and sound engineers – so if you have a technical expereince then you can become part of the machine.
Amy Prosser of Tarren Production Ltd started her career with the industry this way. She told us this about the role.
What’s the Best Thing about It? The experience, working hands on as part of a team, and getting real knowledge about how events work.
What’s the One Quality you need to Survive? Endurance, because the work is very physical and the long hours demanding. You need to be physically and mentally fit.
If you have the right skills, you would do best to start with an agency that can find you the right roles to match your particular expertise: try Tarren Production.
Festival Work Experience
If you think you’d like to develop your talents into the start of a career working in the festival industry, there are some good opportunities available for those with the right attitude. Make the most of these chances to get a foot on the ladder for a real job.
With the workings of each and every festival there are a number of vital roles that can be filled by individuals looking for a foot up in the industry and a bit of work experience. Who knows where these opportunities could lead in the future, one thing’s for sure, they could get a hard worker a ticket in the right now.
We asked Brita Young, Producer at Brita Young Productions for a quick insight into the role.
What’s the Best Thing about It? Meeting inspirational people, such as talented artists and performers. Gaining an understanding of the industry.
What’s the One Quality you need to Survive? You have to be a good communicator and a people person. It is vital that you can judge the line between friendly and professional.
To get involved with artist liaison work check out individual festival sites where they’re looking for volunteers. A good place to start is Festival Republic and if you fancy having a go with the biggest in the business there’s always Glasto.
There is now a burgeoning support network of blogs, vlogs and online magazines that support the festival industry. All of these need fresh, new, individual content that can make their publications stand out. You’ll often find these organisations are hungry for talent – and will pay you in tickets, often gilded with a VIP edge.
Marc De Groot is an independent photographer who worked his way up into the business. We asked him for some words about this kind of work.
What’s the Best Thing about It? Having a chance to capture the atmosphere – there’s nothing better than working with people who’re having a great time.
What’s the One Quality you need to Survive? You need to have a good eye for a snap and the ability to be a little artistic, but it is truly vital to like walking.
Saving Money on Festival Tickets
With a little ingenuity and one eye on the web it’s possible to save quite a bit of cash on the regular ticket prices published by festivals. Amongst our favourite techniques for cutting off a few quid are the following:
Good Value Festivals: You can find smaller festivals out there that won’t break the bank with their ticket prices and still deliver blisteringly hot line ups. Around the £100 mark are Gottwood, 2000Trees, Farr Festival and Blissfields.
Early Bird Tickets: A specific number of early bird discounted tickets are placed on sale early for the first bookers. These usually sell out quickly. Many of this seasons offers have gone now, but you can still get in early on the button for Lovebox and the excellent Festival No 6.
Group Bookings: The more you buy of something, the less each individual item should cost. That’s the philosophy behind group purchases of tickets. Many festivals, including the Wychwood Festival, Blissfields, Farr, The Great Escape and Croatia Rocks will give you a reduced rate if you have a group of friends looking to attend.
Deposit Schemes: Rather than absorbing all of your ticket cost at once, a number of events will actually let you pay for tickets over a series of deposits. These include the Download Festival, End of the Road, Croatia’s famous Outlook Festival and the Reading Festival.
Double Bubble: With companies putting on more than one event in the calendar, you can now buy linked tickets to two of their festivals at a discount. This can be good if you like a particular brand as you will get a very similar crowd across both parties. Try ArcTanGent and 2000Trees together for a deal, or if you’re looking further afield there’s the Electric Elephant and The Garden Festival double bubble ticket.
Family Tickets: Take the whole tribe to some of the friendliest parties in the UK where all ages are made to feel welcome. With a bit of research you can find festivals with free entry for all under-12s making them very attractive for families. Try the Isle of Wight Festival, Bestival, WOMAD and Brownstock for starters.
Student Discounts: Those in further education can ease the pressure of loans and finance with concessions on many tickets. Some of the UK’s top festivals are willing to drop a fair few quid on their entrance prices including the Isle of Wight Festival and the popular Bestival.
Sell Tickets: You can always save a considerable amount of money if you think you can sell a few tickets to your event of choice. Sites like We Represent allow you to earn entry to festivals including Latitude, Leeds and Reading for flogging a few tickets. There’s even more at The Physical Network — Bestival, Wireless and Standon Calling.
Overseas Events: Why not combine your summer trip away with a bit of sonic action on the festival front? Right now one of the hottest destinations on the European front is Croatia, where you can mix low cost living with tickets costs that offer exceptional value. Check out Croatia’s INmusic and Ultra Europe Festivals, or try out Serbia’s excellent Exit Festival.
Voucher Schemes: Keep one eye out on sites like Groupon as you might find there are last minute deals you can grab on festival tickets if you have the flexibility and lifestyle that allows you to jump up at a moment’s notice.
Stretching your Travel Pound
Once you’ve managed to purchase your festival tickets, the next challenge is working out how to traverse the many miles between your home and your ultimate destination. If you only live round the corner from a festival then this may well influence your choice to attend, but if you have to jump over half the country, there are a number of tips to lessen the burden on your wallet.
Lift Sharing: Share the load of transport costs with fellow festival-goers in your local area. Whether you’re looking to drive or hitch as a passenger you can use a service like blablacar to find your ideal match — as well as sites like this Go Car Share and Liftshare. Try the Liftshare App or Go Car Share.
Train Tickets: One clever trick for saving money is purchasing split tickets. This is where you buy tickets to the necessary destinations on your route as opposed to one combined ticket. The multiple separate journeys will actually cost less. However you will need to be on the ball as there will only be a set number of individual tickets available at low prices, which usually go on sale around 12 weeks before the date of travel. Find out more at Money Saving Expert.
Coach Deals: There are even a number of instances now where festivals are actually offering attendees package deals with coach operators. And even if you can’t find a deal sponsored by your event, you can always be sure that the Megabus and the Big Green Coach are up there with the lowest cost options. Find other discounts at National Express and The Train Line.
Cycle: Are you one of the many Lycra louts that populate the UK’s highways and byways? Why not pedal to a festival that’s in the same region as you. Some festivals even make special provisions for their self-powered guests such as Latitude, who in the past have provided a free rub down and ice bath for all cyclists.
Taking Care with your Purchases
One of the biggest expenses you’ll often face after purchasing your festival ticket is getting the right gear. Fail to plan adequately and make the wrong moves at the home end of your trip and you could be paying a small fortune to put them right when you’re in the party zone. The smart shopper knows how to stock up on low value items at the right time to not only keep costs down, but also spread their spend over a number of weeks before the event.
Alcohol: If you’re dead set on buying your own booze and saving a small fortune then why not find one of the UK events that allows you to bring in your own drink? Both the Secret Garden Party and the Green Man festivals allow you to bring your own stash of drinkies into their event as long as you avoid glass containers. Decant vodka and wine into plastic containers and look for wine bags. If you know you’re going to want a large amount of the party juice then look round at buying in bulk, or try booze comparison sites such as Bring a Bottle or save up to £60 with Naked Wines and Virgin Wines.
Food: Dried fruit, tins of beans, packets of nuts, beef jerky and Kendall Mint cake can all survive the heat of the UK summer and a bashing from transport in the car and across any kind of muddy field. These rations can last for days in your tent and the best thing about them is that they will only cost you a fraction of the exotic Thai kebab you’ll buy just outside the main arena. Powdered food like Complan will last the distance, give you many vital nutrients and is the equivalent of a square meal. Make a packed lunch for the journey and if you want one last civilised meal you can always pack a cold lasagne or something deliciously similar to devour on arrival. Keep one eye out for discount vouchers at top supermarkets like Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda.
Equipment: Fortunes can be lost on taking your fancy clothes to a muddy field somewhere, so don’t be afraid to turn out those historic fashions that you don’t care might get wrecked. If you want to rough it in clothes that will last through the dirt and grind then check the Army and Navy, where you’ll also be able to find a nice line in inexpensive camping equipment. You can buy second hand tents on eBay and Gumtree, or if you’re really clever ask one of your more with-it friends to find you an abandoned tent left behind after an earlier event in the festival calendar. The best deals usually happen at the end of the summer, but you can find some good pre-season sales at Blacks, Millets and Halfords.
The Final Word
There’s a huge array of festivals on over the summer, with literally something for everyone. Whether you’re a long haired grunge puppy who can’t believe the 1990s have ended, sugary pop mainstreamer or a shape-changing chameleon who simply doesn’t believe in labels there’s something out there for you. Why limit yourself to one or two events when you can have a summer calendar of non-stop rock with a few secret money saving habits? You can have your fill of summertime fun, being at one with the Friday night faceless crowds and at the same time avoiding those Monday morning cash machine queue blues.