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Almost Free festival tickets

Joanna Robinson 15th Feb 2016 One Comment

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Are you interested in getting FREE festival tickets? Fun in the sun at Reading festival might seem a world away at the moment, but if you want to get some free festival tickets, you need to start planning now. Being a charity volunteer will get you into the festival for nothing and you’ll only have to work a few shifts – then you can enjoy the music with everyone else!


Working for Oxfam

Oxfam logo

Oxfam’s presence at summer festivals is huge. They need thousands of volunteers to steward, campaign and run their shops at festivals.

If you work with them you could be going to Leeds, Reading, Latitude, Download and many more absolutely FREE!

Volunteering will mean you work shifts (which vary depending on the festival so make sure you check first) and in return you get a FREE ticket (!), hot showers, hot food and an exclusive staff camping area.

Campaigning will require you to promote and co-ordinate fun initiatives and activities, encourage people to take part, sign petitions and get involved with Oxfam’s work.

They also employ people to be stewards. Their role is to keep people safe and main duties will include checking tickets, directing people away from restricted areas and helping with car parking. As a steward, you’re required to work three shifts of eight hours 15 minutes.

Happy festival go-ers

One will be in the morning, one in the afternoon/evening and one overnight. You need to make sure that you’re available to work not only for the duration of the festival but also before and after, as stewards are needed for setting up and clearing away.

Make sure you check out the specified dates for stewards. If you’ve been a steward with Oxfam in the last three years then you’re eligible for a priority application and will have been notified automatically; otherwise you’ll need to keep checking their dedicated page.

Oxfam predict that the festivals will once again want to increase numbers of stewards, so there’s a great chance of getting a place. You’ll only be able to apply online and applications will close as soon as all the spots are filled. Be warned, this happens quickly so you’ll need to be on the ball.

Here are a few things that you’ll need towards your application:

A £195 deposit

Excited girls holding big hand fulls of money

This is refundable – you’ll get it back as soon as you turn up. But if you don’t turn up, Oxfam will keep the money to cover the price of your ticket. For this, you’ll need to have a credit/debit card. They don’t accept payment by cheque or American Express.


To be over 18

18th Birthday candle on cake

You can apply whilst still 17, but you must be 18 years of age by the time of the festival itself. There is no upper age limit.


Food and shelter

BBQ outside tent

Whilst you get your own staff area, it is still a campsite, so you’ll need all your own camping gear (see below for some good deals on the essentials). You’ll get a meal ticket per shift as part of the job, however you will need your own food for the rest of the time or risk buying it of course, but be aware – it’s expensive and the queues are huge!


Transport details

Young girlfriends in car

You have to provide the details of how you’re going to get to the festivals so Oxfam can send you any relevant passes. Some of the festivals will provide transport for the Oxfam team, however it’s not guaranteed. Click here to find out about transport for each individual festival.



CPR training

You’ll need to attend a health and safety training course before the festival if you haven’t worked for Oxfam in the last four years. There are training sessions all over the country. They aren’t festival specific and they last about three hours.


A Photo

Young woman taking a selfie

You’ll need to upload an up-to-date photo of yourself for your application. The photo should be a JPEG (.jpg) file type, less than 50kb in file size and no larger than 3.5 x 4.5 cm.


A reference


If you’ve worked at less than two festivals then you’ll need a referee. You’ll need to include their contact details including an email address and telephone number.


Emergency contact details and doctor’s information

emergency contact

This is needed just in case something happens to you while working at the festival. Give the details of someone who you are not at the festival with and who would be available in case of an emergency – i.e. not on holiday! The details will only be given to medical personnel.


Shift partner’s details

2 friends at a festival

Finally, if you want to be put on the same shifts as your mates, all you’ve got to do is give their details – their full name and date of birth. Then Oxfam will do its best to pair you up so you can spend your free time together.

Working at festivals isn’t just for younger people either. If you want to go to the festivals and you have children you are allowed to bring them along. This year you can bring two children under the age of 13 as long as you can provide childcare whilst on shift. You can also bring two children aged 13-18 to camp in the stewards area if they have purchased a festival ticket. Children under 12 are often admitted for free. For any under 18s coming with you, you’ll need to complete a children’s form (the link for this is on the main application form). See the individual festival website for more details.


Other volunteer positions

Lots of festivals employ people directly too. There are loads of different jobs – but it’s mostly stewarding and/or litter picking that you’ll be doing. Here are a few of the big festivals to get you started:

  • Latitude
  • V Festival
  • Womad
  • Bestival
  • Leeds
  • Reading

You can also volunteer at festivals with Action Aid, Greenpeace and WaterAid. These positions involve campaigning in much the same way as we’ve explained above for Oxfam.


When should I apply?

Woman sitting on the floor with a laptop on her lap

Liking the sound of getting free festival tickets so far? Well then you may be wondering when you’ll need to apply. The first thing you must do is apply to Oxfam ASAP! They’ve got a rather helpful festival section on their website detailing the festivals and their current availability. Just a warning, some of them already have waiting lists, so apply now to avoid missing out.

To be helpful we’ve laid out the major festival dates Oxfam want volunteers for below, along with the festival dates and availability:

Oxfam Festival Calendar 2017

Festival Onsite dates Places available Cancellation deadline Deposit required
Bearded Theory 24 May – 29 May Waiting List 13 Apr £110
Download 7 Jun – 12 Jun Places Available 27 Apr £220
Glastonbury 20 Jun – 26 Jun Waiting List 11 May £240
2000 Trees 5 Jul – 9 Jul Places Available 25 May £100
NASS 6 Jul – 9 Jul Limited Places 25 May £140
Latitude 12 Jul – 17 Jul Places Available 1 Jun £200
Nozstock 20 Jul – 24 Jul Places Available 8 Jun £130
Tramlines 21 Jul – 23 Jul Waiting List 8 Jun £50
Camp Bestival 26 Jul – 31 Jul Places Available 15 Jun £200
WOMAD 26 Jul – 31 Jul Places Available 15 Jun £200
Trailwalker 28 Jul – 30 Jul Limited Places 15 Jun None
Boardmasters 9 Aug – 14 Aug Places Available 29 Jun £190
Boomtown Fair 9 Aug – 14 Aug Places Available 29 Jun £230
Beautiful Days 16 Aug – 21 Aug Places Available 6 Jul £140
Shambala 23 Aug – 28 Aug Places Available 13 Jul £190
Reading 23 Aug – 28 Aug Places Available 13 Jul £220
Leeds 23 Aug – 28 Aug Places Available 13 Jul £220
Bestival 6 Sep – 11 Sep Places Available 27 Jul £200


Great camping gear bargains

Campers in tent

Once you’ve got your tickets for free, get everything you need as cheap as possible:

Argos will always have great deals on camping equipment. Make the most of their sale and get this Regatta two-man tent worth £49.99 for just £19.99! It’s super easy to pitch and is all you need at a festival – some of the Moneymagpies who’ve used them before can vouch for that!

You’ll also need a roll mat to make things a bit more comfortable, and stop you getting cold. Millets sell a basic one for £6.29. And of course a sleeping bag. If you want to be warm and comfy, it’s worth getting a half decent one. We feel Argos comes up trumps again here with the Regatta single sleeping bag for just £14.49.

For a bit of comfort, a foldaway camping chair is great for those moments of relaxation – Millets have great camping furniture available for £15 each or two for £25!  Rather than sit in the mud around your tents why not keep yourself cleaner and comfier!

That’s your canvas home sorted out, but what about the unpredictable British weather? To contend with that you’ll need a good pair of wellies (Millets’ range starts at just £12), a packable rain mac (this one from OutdoorGear UK is perfect for the girls, while for men this will do the trick) and a lot of old clothes you don’t care about!


ten top tips for saving money at festivals

Be honest, the costs can stack-up at even the most basic of festivals, so here are some top tips we developed with Visa for saving money at a summer festival:

  1. Get in early – Most festivals offer cheaper early bird tickets, many of which are on sale as soon as the previous year’s festival ends. Try buying your tickets far in advance to save money.
  2. Take advantage of ticket deposit schemes – Many festivals offer deposit schemes, which allow you to pay for your ticket in instalments. This is a great way to lock in lower ticket prices when the first batch of tickets are released.
  3. Protect yourself against theft – Taking huge amounts of cash at festivals could make you a target for thieves and pickpocketing – especially in crowded areas. Look out for festivals where card payments are accepted. Some festivals like Boardmasters will have[1] 100% card acceptance, meaning you don’t need to carry lots of cash with you.
  4. Get in for free – Several charities regularly look for volunteers to work at festivals to promote their cause. If you do this then you can get into the festivals for free and do good at the same time.
  5. Cashless ease – Using your card has the added benefit of consumer protection. If you lose cash or have it stolen, it is gone forever. With a Visa card, you are protected from fraudulent use if it is stolen, removing the unnecessary risk of carrying around large sums of money. Going cashless at festivals has the added benefit of quicker service at bars and food stalls, especially if you use contactless so you can tap and go. This means you get your food and drink quicker and have more time to enjoy your favourite acts. And it means no more queuing up at ATMs to get cash out.
  6. Make a list and share essentials – Make a list of the essentials you and your group will need and coordinate who is packing what before you go. Proper planning will lighten the load and will save you from paying a premium for these items once on site.
  7. Get cheaper festival transport – When planning your journey, consider the size of your group and the distance you’ll be travelling. Shuttle busses and carpooling can save you money and are better for the environment. 
  8. Don’t squander money on flashy outfits – Part of the fun of festival season is dressing up, but avoid spending large amounts of money for one-off outfits. Raid a relative’s wardrobe, ask your friends or browse online for cheaper pre-owned alternatives.  
  9. Be smart about your phone – Mobile payments such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay provide a quick and easy way for you to pay. Just load your card payment details onto a compatible service and you can use mobile pay when you’re at festivals such as Boardmasters.
  10. Be a festival jet setter for cheaper – Festivals such as Benicàssim in Spain or Coachella in America can take music fans further afield. Paying with a card abroad is as safe as at home and comes with all the same consumer protection[2]. Whether you’re paying for food or drink at the festival or settling the bill at bars and restaurants, choosing to pay in the local currency will save you money as you can avoid extra fees.


Top Tip


If you can’t get in for free then try and buy your tickets as late as you possibly can – lots of festivals are being cancelled this year because of the recession, and if you buy it early and it’s then cancelled you’ll get some money back, but lose out on the booking or admin fee.

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If free festival tickets aren’t for you, some of the above definitely will be!

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Glenn Tenley
Glenn Tenley
13 years ago

Thank you. Been working as an electrician for a while now so this post is useful.

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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