From watching Biffy Clyro in the pouring rain to serving Perrie from Little Mix a jug of gravy in 26 degree heat, I’ve made some pretty fun memories over the last few years through my experiences working at UK music festivals. If you’re a music lover or general festival fan then it’s such a good way to spend your summer – not only do you get to see loads of bands while getting paid (or a free ticket) but you meet lots of new people and get to travel around the country at the same time. If you’d like to give it a go then here’s my guide to working/volunteering at a UK music festival this year:
My first experience of working at a festival was way back in 2013 when I applied to volunteer at Leeds Festival with Oxfam. This was a really good way to do festival work for the first time, and was a very easy process to go through. Interested in going down this route? Here’s how you can apply:
First of all, head to the Oxfam website and see which festivals are on offer to apply for. After that you’ll need to create an account and fill out the application form, where it’ll ask you to select which festival(s) you’d like to work at and which role you would like to apply for. You have to pay a deposit, but you get it back after completing all your shifts, and if you apply to volunteer at multiple festivals then your deposit will only be the amount of the most expensive one you’re going to. You also have to attend a training day at some point but I remember this being pretty simple and easy to get to.
Once you get to your festival, you’ll be directed to the Oxfam campsite where you’ll have a welcome induction type thing and get assigned your shifts. I did 3 shifts, each one about 8 hours long and at a different time of the day. One of them was a daytime shift where me and two other Oxfam stewards ended up watching bands in the sun all day, one of them was an evening shift where we helped people arrive in the pouring rain, and the other one was an overnight shift where I was based in the welfare tent helping people get to shelter after their tents had been quite literally washed away. (The rain started the night before the festival and literally didn’t stop, Google image Leeds Festival 2013 and you’ll see what I mean. Absolute carnage).
I made so many funny, amazing memories doing this and I definitely recommend it to anyone looking to try something a bit different over the summer. (Especially if you’re a student and have about 4 months to play with. Ahh, those were the days.) One of my favourite moments was when loads of us finished our last shift and went to watch Biffy Clyro play their headline set in the still relentlessly pouring rain. They finished playing with my favourite song Mountains, and I don’t know if it’s because I had only slept for about 7 hours over three days or because my diet had consisted mainly of Dark Fruits and crisps but I nearly started crying a bit.
Alternatively if you want to make some cash then there are plenty of paid job opportunities to choose from. Over the last couple of years I’ve worked at a variety of festivals across the country through various events staffing agencies, and they often involve lots of shifts over multiple days meaning you can make quite a bit of money per festival while also seeing your favourite bands. If you’d prefer to go down this route then these are a few of my suggestions on how to apply:
My favourite agency for festival work is probably Flair Events who I’ve used to work at a couple of festivals, including V Festival in 2017. This involved a bit of a long journey as it was down in Chelmsford, but it involved 5 days of work with free staff camping and meals included so was well worth the trip down. My job was in the VIP camping area so I ended up serving a few famous people, which is always fun when you look like an absolute gremlin after three days of 10 hour shifts and baby wipe showers. (One of these famous people I served was Perrie from Little Mix who came in for a Sunday dinner. She looked absolutely amazing and I looked like I had slept in a hedge, so I just plonked a jug of gravy in front of her and speed walked away.)
I also used this company to work at Neighbourhood Weekender in 2018, which turned out pretty well as I was working behind the bar that was literally right in front of the Main Stage. (I don’t think I’ve ever seen as much Dark Fruits as I did over those 48 hours.) Here’s the view I had for the whole weekend:
Another agency I’ve used for festival work is Seed Staff, which I used to work at Truck Festival last year. This is down near Oxford so was another long journey, but it also involved lots of all day shifts and free camping/food so was worth it. I was working on the ticket/wristbanding team at the main entrance, which was good because we were pretty much done by late afternoon and had the rest of the day free to go and watch George Ezra or buy emergency clothes (I somehow managed to pack clothes that were neither cool enough for the very hot temperatures during the daytime or warm enough for the very cold nights, which is pretty impressive if anything. Not really sure how I did that.)
HAP Recruitment is another company that offers lots of paid festival jobs. (I’ve not worked with them yet, but they’re meant to be pretty good.) They’ve just added lots of summer festivals to their website so have a lil’ look!