Volunteer To Work At A Music Festival

Volunteer to work at a music festival and get a free ticket

Working Your Ticket: Volunteer To Work At A Music Festival

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One way to bypass the hotlines and jump the long queues is by volunteering and working your way at a festival. And with ticket prices running into the hundreds of pounds or dollars it’s a money saver too, though there is an argument that getting a minimum wage job and paying for your own ticket is more cost effective.

Each of the hundreds of festivals that take place each year in Europe and the USA require a huge amount of organisation and many are willing to offer free tickets, separate staff campsite facilities and other perks to those wishing to lend a hand. The Glastonbury website suggests that volunteers are normally required to work three eight hour shifts to earn their ticket.

While some restrict volunteering to the local community many open up their roles to volunteers from further away, including from abroad, though visa restrictions may apply. In the UK they do.

On the downside is paying for tickets upfront, refunded for showing up, and non refundable admin fees when applying to volunteer.


Stewarding and the post festival clean up operation – which every year seems to agitate the Daily Mail and other tabloid newspapers – are the main roles for volunteers. These tasks are often contracted out to outside operators and charities. In 2017 Glastonbury’s clean up operation tied up a thousand volunteers and cost nearly £800,000.

Bar work and security is also in the remit of outside contractors and is sometimes paid. Traffic management, concierge, stage production, in the box office, runners, setting up and dismantling all the festival facilities are other roles available. For those of you wanting to make a career in event management try out for artist liaison.

Campaigning is another way to get involved. Many environmental and other lobbying groups use the large festival crowds for direct or indirect fundraising or to get across their messaging. Dairy farmers and Glastonbury organisers Michael and Emily Eavis have helped raise over £2.5 million towards clean water through a long standing partnership with WaterAid, begun after a trip to Mozambique, while Oxfam (see below) is well established at many UK events.

Other groups with a festival presence include Shelter, Greenpeace, Samaritans, Child Bereavement and ActionAid. Mind have teamed up with My Cause UK (see below) for their activities.

Volunteering For Larger Music Festivals In The UK

Smaller festivals tend to take on their volunteer team directly but most of the larger festivals (dates for 2022 are given in brackets) rely on a range of organisations and charities for some or all of the essential services needed to put on a show right here.

Oxfam provides stewarding for a number of festivals including Glastonbury (June 21-25) and Womad (July 27-30). Priority is given to past stewards and regular supporters of Oxfam, with unfilled positions opened up to the public in March. Stewarding roles vary from festival to festival but could involve working the gate, showing people where to camp or looking out for fires. Oxfam stewards are able to get away from the muck and mess of a festival, they have their own camping area, toilets and showers, and receive meal tickets. Alternatively consider campaigning for Oxfam, reaching those large festival audiences.

Festaff supplies volunteer bar staff to over 20 events each year, including Creamfields (Aug 24-27 in Cheshire, May 26-28 in Chelmsford) and Isle of Wight (June 15-18).

The deal with My Cause UK is you give your time at a festival and My Cause will make a donation to a charity of your choice based on the fee received from the event organisers. They work with numerous festivals, including Outlook UK (June 30-July 4), Shindig (May 26-29) and Shambala, and you can volunteer for as many of these as you like.

The main aim of the Oasis Carnival Club is to produce an entry for the Somerset winter carnival circuit. They fundraise this via a curious mix of community centre bingo and providing stewards to Glastonbury, one of the world’s largest music festivals.

Festival Medical Services (FMS) is a charitable trust that provides doctors, nurses, paramedics, first aiders and other trained medical and administrative personnel to music festivals throughout the UK, including Reading (Aug 26-28) and Glastonbury.

Volunteers doing bar work through the Worker’s Beer Company at Glastonbury help to raise funds for the labour movement and grassroots campaigns.

Beginning at Leeds (Aug 25-27) with six volunteers in 2003, Hotbox Events recruits and manages thousands of staff and volunteers every year to provide assistance at the campsites and arenas of UK music festivals and events. Download (June 8-11) is another of theirs.

Charity Concierge raises tens of thousands of pounds for Child.org by proving volunteers to festivals such as Latitude (June 20-23) and Camp Bestival (July 27-30 & Aug 17-20). You’ll be doing things like providing waiter service, putting up tents, or driving festival taxis.

Someone needs to pick up the rubbish after all those smelly hippies/yummy mummies have gone home. Festivals such as Shambala (Aug 24-27) task Green Box Events with finding those someones. According to Robert Kearle, who organised the recycling and the after clean up for Glastonbury, around 3000 tonnes of rubbish are left behind and if that doesn’t sound appealing consider this: anything that can be identified, like a wallet, is handed in to lost property while rolls of cash are finders keepers. One litter picker found a kilo of hash in the hedge. The same day cash to the value of £8000 was also found. Unsurprisingly, less pleasant things are also found.

John met Mike while volunteering at a festival. Between them they founded Fest Buddies to help fill various festival staffing roles.


Paid Work At UK Festivals

DC Site Services take care of the campervan and caravan fields at Glastonbury. They also supply checkers at vehicle gates and staff the onsite vehicle chaperone service. They provide other services, including litter picking and stewarding to other festivals and events.

Sister company to My Cause UK, Ethical Staffing provide site stewards, security and bar staff for events across the country.

CTM are experts in traffic management. Glastonbury, where they manage traffic equivalent to the population of Aberdeen, and Isle of Wight are among their clients. Register with their staffing portal if you’d like to work an event.

Peppermint supplies bar staff to over 40 events every year, including music festivals like Bestival. They used to have a dedicated website for volunteer festival bar staff but seems to have gone by the wayside in the past couple of difficult years for the industry.

SEP Events organise the car parking at Creamfields.

Image courtesy Christian Haugen




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