Volunteering is the most popular way to gain free access to a music festival. This means you will be working a few shifts throughout the weekend, usually for a charity, in order to earn your ticket.
Volunteering is a fantastic way to enjoy a festival as it allows you to make lots of friends and often gain access to private toilets and showers.
Festival volunteering jobs typically include:
- Working at a bar
- Litter picking
- Fire lookout
- Signing up new donors to charities
- Working in a charity clothes stall
There are many more types of volunteering positions you can do to earn your ticket and these vary by festival.
It is common for volunteers to work 3 x 8 hour shifts throughout the weekend. You will also need to pay a deposit beforehand (usually the price of the ticket) which is refundable once you have completed your shifts.
Many organisations will also require you to sign up with them for at least 2 festivals of the season.
You can usually find out about festival volunteering positions through each charity or organisation that coordinates volunteers. These include:
Some people choose to sign up to volunteer and then disappear once they are in the festival. This is a bad idea as you can often get blacklisted for future festivals and you lose your deposit. It’s also not very nice!
Festivals consist of hundreds of staff working on all manner of operations from fixing up the stages, keeping the crowd well fed and even emptying the loos!
This means that there is usually a demand for workers, with the shifts being negotiated individually by each employer. More skilled roles such as nurses, sound engineers or security will often be recruited through specialist channels such as companies that manage that area for a number of festivals.
Jobs such as working behind a bar, shop or food van will often be hired on a much more ad hoc basis. Many of these companies will advertise via their own channels, using social media or their own networks for example.
Then there are companies that manage unskilled staff for jobs such as managing the car park, sanitation, customer service or administration. These companies will often do a recruitment drive around 6-8 months before the festival, up until they are fully staffed.
For lesser-known festivals it is common for recruitment to continue right up until the day of the event. There are a range of companies that have the contracts for various festivals and so it’s worth keeping an eye on their vacancies for opportunities.
If you have one specific festival in mind then they usually have a page on their website featuring their suppliers of services and staff, as well as any opportunities to be employed directly by the festival.
Get A Press Pass
A press pass allows you to gain backstage access to the festival and usually access to the main festival, if you are part of a media organisation.
If you work as a journalist, photographer or are affiliated in a reasonable capacity with a known media brand, then gaining a press pass is an attractive way to get into a festival for free.
We covered all the details of how to get a press pass for a music festival in a recent article, so this should give you a good idea of what it takes.
For those that don’t work in the media industry, a press pass might be slightly more difficult to get hold of and will come down to who you know.
Win A Competition
Getting into a festival for free by winning a competition is the ideal way to attend since you don’t have to pay or work to earn your ticket. However, it’s far from guaranteed and the odds of winning aren’t in your favour.
Almost every festival offers an allocation of tickets that they give away in competitions, allowing lucky winners to get tickets for free.
Festival ticket competitions can usually be entered in one of the following ways:
- Through the festival itself
- Through a supplier to the festival
- Through a well-known TV or radio show
The following tips should help you find out about which competitions are being held to win free festival tickets:
- Follow the official festival page on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
- Sign up for email updates from the official festival website
- Follow official sponsors of the festival on social media
- Follow big name suppliers of the festival such as the alcohol supplier, payment provider or transport provider
- Listen and follow well-known radio channels such as BBC Radio 1 in the run up to festival season
- Follow the official festival blog for any news on new competitions
Following enough relevant brands on social media will keep you in the know when competitions are announced. You can be proactive to hunt out competitions on a regular basis by checking in on blogs or simply Googling to see if any new ones have been announced.
Get Booked As A Performer
If you’re a well established band then you probably have no problem with getting access to a festival. However, if you are a less well known performer in your field then getting noticed will help you get booked as an act for your favourite festival.
Most festivals have performances from more than musicians, often there are comedians, poets, circus performers and even debaters with their own slot on the lineup.
You can often find emerging talent competitions for individual festivals and their competitiveness depends on how big the festival is. If you rate your chances then it’s always worth a go!
Getting booked as a performer for a festival is often as easy as submitting an application on the website to be considered. However, each festival has its own ways of finding talent, so it’s worth researching them individually to find out how to get noticed by the organisers.
Just to clarify, we don’t advise sneaking into festivals but many people have successfully gotten in using this method.
It might be considerably harder for the bigger festivals like Glastonbury which has huge fences and tight security, so you have much bigger chances with smaller festivals.
Some people manage to sneak in by climbing over a wall, blending in with a crowd or by wearing a high vis jacket.
One fairly successful method that people use is to ask friends who have tickets to meet you outside the festival and borrow their wristband, which you can give back once you’re inside. Of course this takes 3 of you to pull off and is not possible at Glastonbury where you need your ticket with your photograph on to get in and out of the festival.