A Guide to Finding Festival Work


(and attending for free!)

Festival season is coming, it’s a major part of the year for many. It’s the opportunity to hear your favourite bands, enjoy the outdoors, have a great time with your friends, meet new like-minded people and discover new experiences.

But the festival calendar is growing every year. This is not just a UK focused look either, it’s an international growth of festivals that are creating a difficult choice for festival fans.

Time and money are the biggest problems when it comes to festivals. Tickets range in price for little to a lot, entire weekends are taken up. This article has been created to help you find the middle ground. Find a way to visit some festivals from an attendee perspective and others from a professional perspective – both of which provide you with unique experiences and still see your favourite artists.

Below I will go into just a few work opportunities you can have at a festival as well as a mix of volunteer and paid work. All of which is meant to give you an idea of what there is out there and how you can enjoy yourself and gain experience and knowledge.

Paid Work Vs Volunteering

Firstly, I need to explain how festival work, well works. The majority of opportunities that you will see below will consist of volunteer work, therefore the work you do is essentially paying for your ticket.

Whilst there are opportunities for paid work the most popular style will be volunteer work – that being said you get to have bundles of fun, hear bands, mix and mingle of a variety of people and it will always be a memorable event.

Another massive benefit of volunteering at festivals is that you can apply for any festival you want, globally and try your luck with various roles as you will see below.

Benefits of Volunteer Work at Festivals

The biggest benefit, without doubt, is that you don’t need to pay for a ticket. This will save bundles of cash over a festival season.

Volunteer work requires commitment but it does have its perks of being flexible and allowing you to wonder off to enjoy bands and shows.

The events industry has plenty of opportunities from event staffing to promotional staffing so if this happens to be a route you want to take for your career then there’s no better place to get experience.

Following on from above if you want to get paid work in the future not just for festivals but general staffing roles then the experience you gain from volunteer work will provide many more opportunities for paid work in the future.

There are perks too with dedicated volunteer bathroom facilities and private campsites. You also have the chance to see how these massive events are run which is always fun to witness.

Things to Know Before Volunteering

There’s a chance you have to pay a refundable deposit. The reason is clear but a sign of some individuals prerogative to sign up as a volunteer if tickets are hard to come by and ultimately abandon their deposit to attend.

(Strict licensing requires events such as festivals to have a required number of stewards – so don’t be a party pooper!).

Some independent traders are also guilty of taking advantage of the festival season and volunteers too by offering a ticket to the event in exchange for long, tiring hours and no pay. Ask what the role includes and what is expected.

Keep a cool head. It’s a festival yes. But overall is this the route you should be taking? Is the experience relevant to your career goals? will you be looked after with food, living and washing facilities? Is the company you will volunteer for reputable and trustworthy?

The excitement of working at a festival is certainly alluring, however, your serious hat needs to be on to consider all of the above and any other point you may have doubts on before committing. Whilst the general volunteering side of festivals can be fun, eye-opening and rewarding it can also be the total opposite. Be smart!

Types of Festival Work types_of_festival_work

Event Services

Checking tickets, managing traffic, and parking, litter picking, artist liaison, stewarding, the opportunities are endless with event work.

Event services are generally when you work for the festival itself – be it directly or with a contracted company to complete a required service.

This is a fantastic way to see how things work on the inside of a festival, the many, many roles, and functions that are needed to ensure a smooth event takes place.

The additional benefit of this is that you have great networking opportunities as the people working behind the scenes are all on the same wavelength and are open to dialogue, without the shouting needed to do so.

  • Artist Liaison: This is a great way to, potentially, get to meet artists and spend time with them. The role consists of ensuring artists are on stage on time, scheduling artists to their rooms, organising their riders (food, drinks etc) and in general making sure they are happy.
  • Attendee Welfare: This role consists of, basically, looking after the attendees such as passing around bottles of water and sunblock during the hot days, helping with broken tents, helping the individuals who have overdone it and need some assistance. Consider this the hero that a lot of people need during events.

Food & Drink

Gone have the days of greasy burgers and dodgy hotdogs. The world of festivals has seen a wonderful growth in a variety of foods and food providers.

It sometimes appears that the food side of the festival can be just as exciting as the music and artists!

Work for a Festival Food Trader
Whilst getting good food is always a perk, working within the food area of the festival is mostly a case of who you know. It’s difficult to find roles online as the numbers for food traders are not quite as big as say parking management.

So the networking aspect of attending a festival is key. Mix and mingle with the food traders, get yourself known and make some connections. Next season of events you could get a phone call.

These roles tend to be paid as well as it’s quite intense and fast-paced.

Work with Festival Crew Catering Companies
This role will pay well due to the long hours. You will start early and finish late as you need to be working during the same hours as the rest of the crews at the festivals.

A far more intensive role to have during a festival, so if you want to have some opportunities throughout the day to see artists then consider other food roles.

That being said if you do this role and do it well the experience and opportunities will be far easier to come by as it’s evident you can handle your own during long hours with hangry crew around.

Festival Bar Work
An essential part of every festival, bar work employes multiple staff but again it’s a case of who you know.

Bar work is generally run by the festival itself, therefore, you should look to build connections and do some networking when you are at the festival itself.

Boutique Camping

With the rise of ‘glamping‘, there has been an increase of boutique camping companies and areas within festivals. This provides a great opportunity to work pre and post-festival which also means that there may be a chance to see the festival itself.

A big note to make here is that this type of festival work requires you to be outdoors, come rain or shine, and to conduct manual labour, come rain or shine.

It may also require you to go in for a day of training where the company will see how you handle putting up tents and review your attitude as you still need to be a people person for this role!

Ticket Sales as a Festival Ambassador

We all know someone that always raves about one, two or maybe three festivals every year. They always know who is attending, they plan everything out well in advance and just generally look forward to these events.

These individuals should be in ticket sales as festival ambassadors. It’s quite simple really – you promote tickets and festivals to friends, family and if you happen to have a social following to your fans and sell tickets.
You pay for your ticket, depending on the contractual terms you can also get paid for sales too. Obviously, festivals such as Glastonbury won’t have a need for ambassadors but there will be some other up and coming festivals that will need that additional push.

Review which festivals you want to go to and see if there are any facilities in place to become a ticket ambassador.
Hope this article helps in pointing you in the right direction for finding festival work!