With so many voluntary (and even paid) ways to do a festival now, why would you ever pay to visit one again? Here are some tips to make the most of the end of the festival season on a student budget.


Oxfam seems to be the biggest and most established volunteering programme for festivals in the UK at the moment. Offering pretty much every festival you can imagine, you could virtually spend the whole summer festival-hopping free of charge! All you need to do is pay a deposit which you get back once you have completed all of your shifts. While you’re there you’ll have to stay in the Oxfam-only campsite but with hot showers, hot water, and 24/7 catering it’s hard to complain. Oxfam also provides meal vouchers so most of the food you eat in the Oxfield will be free.

The three shifts are each eight hours long and involve a range of responsibilities from ticket-checking and manning vehicle gates, to giving people directions and working on disabled viewing platforms. Applicants can note down whom they would prefer to do shifts with so friends are kept together, which is definitely a plus. Usually there will be one early, one afternoon, and one overnight shift so you won’t miss all the music either. What's more, Oxfam gets paid for your time, which goes straight to the charity and you get a free festival - what’s not to love?

It’s still possible to nab a place at Beautiful Days, Leeds and Reading, Shambala, Bestival, and Freeze festival. Although some of these will mean adding your name to the waiting list, places usually become available before the festival is due to take place.


This company offers the cheapest festival experience with the lowest number of working hours so although you’re not raising money for charity you are being kind on your wallet. The deposit is £35 per festival, £20 of which is returned to the applicant once they have completed all of their shifts - in fact you’ll get this on site at the end of the weekend. It is important to remember that shifts could be at any time, so although they will be the equivalent of two eight-hour shifts, they could both be on music-filled days. Jobs vary but include things like wristbanding, bar work, and providing campsite information. You do have to apply as an individual but everyone is in the same boat so you’ll almost certainly make new friends and can always camp with your old ones!

Melanie Jayne, 24, who volunteered with Festaff this year, could not recommend the experience enough saying that “the hours make it definitely worth it".

"They really take into consideration letting you see as much of the festival as possible. I worked Isle of Wight and we did one really long shift the day it opened to the public - 13 hours I think - then we had one short shift to do when the music was on. It was worth the killer shift to miss no music. I also worked T in the Park which stuck with the two eight-hour shifts rule, but 95 per cent of staff worked the first day so the majority of people only missed one part day of music.”

Festaff are still looking for stewards to volunteer at V Festival, Creamfields, CarFest South, and Bestival.

Barcode Recruitment

The real selling point here is that you don’t have to pay a deposit and are guaranteed at least the minimum wage - perfect for the hard-up student. Of course you do have to treat this as more of a job; the work can be intense with a very busy bar all day. But if you’re up for a bit of a challenge and don’t mind getting stuck in there’s no reason you can’t have a good time. Like all the other companies you do have to camp in the staff area and complete all of your shifts to the best of your ability. Packed lunches and hot meals or vouchers are provided for days on site. It’s important to remember that shifts do really vary but they’re not expecting you to be superhuman and work 24/7. All tips are donated to Barcode’s chosen charity of the year so you can donate while getting paid.

They’re still looking for staff to work at Reading and Leeds as well as BBC Proms in the Park. The plus side to this company is that if you do get involved it’s not just festivals that they cater for they also do events such as the Ryder Cup and England V India cricket.

If you’re already planning ahead here are some companies to look out for next year:

Hotbox Events

The shift patterns are very similar to Oxfam with one early, one afternoon, and one overnight shift as standard. They are all eight hours long and once you have finished all of your shifts you get your deposit back. Hotbox does have a selection of paid jobs which are often offered to those who have volunteered for a number of years. So despite most of the company being built on volunteers this could be a real plus. A steward from this year, Aimee Gibson, 19, talked of Hot Box’s professionalism, noting that “with hotbox we knew exactly which dates our shifts would be announced and the guidebooks we needed to print for when, etc”.


As a new venture this charity currently only offer places at Glastonbury, but with all pay going straight to Shelter it’s sure to catch on. This year they offered bar work to volunteers with shifts that were the same as Oxfam (three times eight hours). With a free meal every day, private toilets, and shower facilities, Shelter could be the way to go. Grace Edwards, 20, who volunteered with the charity this year mentioned how “the bar managers were friendly and forgiving to people who hadn't worked on bars before, experience wasn't needed, but as I had some I was given the role of team leader. I would definitely do it again.”