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How to go to a music festival for free

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Last updated on

15 February 2013

Instead of spending a fortune on festival tickets, why not go for free?

Become a steward

Working at a festival means you’ll be able to get a free ticket and you also won’t have to spend ages on hold trying to get through on the ticket line.

One of the most popular ways to do this is through stewarding. This involves directing campers around the campsite, giving out advice and directions, chatting to campers and answering any questions, and reporting back any concerns to the event management team.

There will normally be a certain number of hours you’ll have to commit to working, typically two eight-hour shifts over three days, and if you’re going with friends you can generally arrange your shifts together.

When you apply you’ll need to fill in an application form, submit your CV and pay a deposit. Once the festival is over, if you’ve completed all your shifts, you’ll get this back.

Most companies allow you to apply two months in advance but if you want to be picked you’ll need to act quickly as these spots are very competitive. Some companies, such as Peppermint Bars, will also pay you an hourly wage.

Useful websites include Event Staffing, Peppermint Bars and Festival Volunteer.

Volunteering for a charity

Many charities such as The Samaritans and Oxfam offer up free tickets to music festivals in return for a few hours’ work. You’ll need to do two or three shifts and this can be anything from handing out leaflets or water to keeping an eye on festival-goers.

To get involved, apply on your chosen charity’s website and pay a returnable deposit of around £200 to cover the cost of the ticket. Once the festival is over, this will be returned to you. There will also be a training day you’ll need to attend before the actual event.

With volunteering, as well as working, not all charities will have spaces open at all the festivals and smaller charities will only have limited numbers of spaces. You’ll also have a better chance of scoring a ticket if you pick a smaller festival.

Get behind a bar

Events companies, such as Workers Beer, hire staff for each festival and in return you’ll get free entry to the festival, meal vouchers and some free drinks vouchers. You’ll also get to camp in the slightly nicer workers arena with showers, regularly cleaned toilets and a subsidised canteen.

In return for your ticket you’re normally expected to do one six-hour shift per day and some companies will require that you have previous experience.

Litter picking

Another, slightly less glamorous, route in is via litter picking. Festival sites get completely covered in rubbish and often hire temporary teams to help clear away the litter.

Again, you’ll need to sign up with a company in advance and complete certain shifts over a weekend. It’s not the nicest job going, but it does give you the chance to watch your favourite band for free.

Good websites to try include Cash and Traffic Management and DC Site Services.

Press passes

If you’re a music journalist, professional or wannabe, you might be able to review the festival in return for a free ticket.

Your local newspaper, website or magazine is a good place to start. If it hasn't already got someone covering an event, you may have a shot. But remember these tickets are not given out lightly and you'll have more luck if you're applying for a less popular event.

If you get commissioned by an editor then approach the festival and ask for media accreditation. You can normally do this two to three months before the festival and you may be required to interview some of the bands playing.

Competitions

A slightly hit or miss approach to getting into a music festival is winning a ticket. In the run up to most of the events this summer there will competitions left, right and centre to get hold of festival tickets.

Keep your ears and eyes alert and get your friends to also enter any ticket competitions. Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are a good place to start.

There’s no guarantee you’ll get a ticket

Whichever festival you’re trying to get into, the more popular the event the less likely you’ll be able to get a ticket. Glastonbury tickets, for example, sold out in an hour and a half so most people who couldn’t get paid-for tickets will be desperately trying to get in another way.

Give yourself the best opportunity possible to get a ticket by being organised and applying early. The more times you apply and successfully work at a festival, either paid work or volunteering for a charity, the greater your chances the following year.

Even if you do manage to get a ticket, you also need to factor in extra costs such as transport, camping gear and spending money. Our article on the top money-saving tips for festival goers is stacked full of advice to help.

More money-saving tips:

National Student Money Week: Money saving tips for students

How to get a ticket refund from cancelled events

OrSaveIt: can a mobile app really save you money?

How your smartphone can save you money!

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