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Festivals for free

Kristina Backer
Thursday 26 June 2008 18:10

There are still ways of getting to see your favourite bands at this summer’s festivals if you are willing to work for it.

So the festival season is about to start and you realise that the tickets have sold out or, more likely, your bank balance will not allow an expensive four-day mud-fest.

Don’t worry, there are still ways of getting to see your favourite bands in action this summer.

Work for fun

Most British music festivals wouldn’t cope if they didn’t have volunteers doing much of the ground work such as stewarding and litter picking. To be able to become a volunteer you usually have to be 18 or older, and work a set amount of shifts or hours spread over the festival days. In return you get to go to the festival for free and access to free food and hot showers - not a bad deal if you are skint.

Jobs on offer

There are lots of different jobs you can do at a festival, some can even give your CV a boost.


All festivals have stewards but their roles may differ at each venue - you could be checking tickets, watching out for fires, showing people where to camp, helping to carry their equipment and various other duties. It’s worth knowing that several festivals only get their stewards from Oxfam, so try applying directly to them.

Litter picking

Some festivals will use volunteers as litter pickers but most of them hire specific companies to take care of it. Companies such as Event Recycling offer work in exchange for a free festival ticket or payment.


If you want to see good music as well as helping to make the world a better place why not try campaigning? Many charities take the opportunity to spread their message at festivals and some, such as Oxfam, send volunteers as stewards as well as campaigners. As a campaigner, you would spend the day chatting to festival-goers about the charity’s work, and encourage festival goers to get involved.

Environmental health monitors

Not all festivals offer this position but it’s a great one if you study environmental sciences of some sort as it will relate to your studies.

You will be responsible for monitoring sanitation at the festival to prevent any health and safety risks. You are not expected to do anything other than report back on these issues regularly to enable the cleaning, plumbing and toilet contractors to prioritise their work load.

Green messengers

Leeds and Reading festivals have special green messengers, whose job it is to spread some green love during the festivities! The messengers’ job is to encourage campers to be environmentally aware in the disposal of their rubbish, particularly in packing up their camping site rather than just setting it on fire…

What’s on - festival listings


The festival will be recruiting volunteers for various positions in the near future – including their Green Team – so it’s worth checking their website regularly for updates. The stewarding at Bestival is entirely managed by Oxfam, so if that’s what you want to do you need to apply directly to them.

Big Chill

At the Big Chill you can either volunteer as a steward or litter picker.


It’s quite hard to get to go to Glastonbury for free unless you volunteer for a charity or community group; your best bet is to go via Oxfam as they provide all the stewards. To fill other positions, Glastonbury tend to use local charities.

Latitude festival

There are three ways you can volunteer at the Latitude festival: as a campsite assistant, Oxfam steward or environmental health monitor.


At the Leeds festival you can volunteer as an Oxfam steward, campsite assistant (CAT), green messenger or environmental health monitor.


There are a few different positions available; you can work as a green messenger, Oxfam steward, campsite assistant (CAT) or as part of a “helpful arena team” (HAT).

V festival

The festival is held in two locations – Weston Park in Staffordshire and Hylands Park in Chelmsford – and both are looking for various types of paid and unpaid workers.


Gain free access to this world music festival by going as a volunteer steward or campaigner for Oxfam. You can also go as a litter picker with Events Recycling.

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