Last time you were knee-high in mud and finger-pointing in time to the beat with 10,000 neon ravers, you probably didn’t stop to think about how it all came together (and we don’t blame you). However, it’s worth considering, as it takes a huge crew to pull off a music festival and people who volunteer can enjoy free tickets, major discounts around the site, and some oh-so-clean staff-only toilets. Now that’s an offer worth its weight in gold if you’ve ever been in a festival latrine before.
You may have mistaken their bright yellow vests for standard rave attire, but in fact stewards have a very important job to do. This fluorescent army check wristbands, man entry points, direct festival goers and pick up rubbish with those long pointy things that look like back scratchers. They also know the lay of the land to answer questions and help with crowd control (don’t worry though, the big dogs are on hand for serious moshes). Oxfam recruits stewards for major festivals like Glastonbury, Bestival, Reading, Leeds and Womad and it also helps staff some great boutique fests. You need to pay a £210 deposit to take part but as long as you show up for your shifts you’ll get it all back. Stewards also get camping staff quarters, which are often closer to the stages, and are cleaner and more secure. Click here for more info.
Best part: Free entry and crew perks of course! Plus, at Oxfam you can apply to work with a friend or in a group.
Worst part: You may miss some of the music and you will be required to do at least one night shift.
Serving up pints behind a bar is the most party-friendly of jobs you can get at a festival. While casually helping yourself to a medicinal drop here and there, you’ll also be watering the masses. Think of it as your good deed for the year. Most festivals recruit their own bar staff with applications online. Experience is helpful but not essential. In exchange for pulling pints you’ll get a free ticket – and of course access to luxury loos. This really is as big a deal as we’re making out, people. Mostf estivals will offer staff camping but you don’t have to take them up on it.
If you’ve got lots of experience and fancy making some extra cash as a bar manager, you can apply here.
Best part: Most bars are near the stages so you won’t miss a beat. The work is also very sociable.
Worst part: Your bulk of shifts will be during the festival’s busiest times.
This is a basically a babysitter for big kids who never sleep and are drunk all the time. Or worse. Sounds like a bit of a nightmare? We promise it’s not. Checking up on the happy campers at night can actually be quite entertaining as you stumble across all types of outrageous, savagely wasted antics and unusual tent set-ups. You’ll mainly be enforcing the rules (no open fires, try not to piss on your neighbour’s tent etc.) and dealing with lost or stolen property. This job generally falls under stewarding but you can request the role when you apply. Oxfam again is the main recruiter. Some of the more boutique festivals let you apply for this job directly on their websites.
Best part: The crazy scenes you’ll come across on your travels – and satisfaction gained knowing that staff quarters are not a communal toilet.
Worst part: You will have shifts at night or early in the morning as this is when rules go out the tent flap.
Putting up tents and building stages requires some brawn but the benefit is that you’ll be free during the music. Tasks involve setting up the site before guests arrive, putting up marquees and hauling stage blocks. Skilled workers like plumbers and electricians will be needed a week or so before or after the festival and will be paid. People who purely volunteer will only be needed a day or two before or after the festival and they will receive free entry. DCsiteservices.co.uk recruit volunteers. If you want skilled work, general recruiters such as indeed.co.uk and totaljobs.com begin advertising a few months before the festivals.
Best part: Not missing a second of music – and flashing your biceps on the job.
Worst part: Set-up and take-down days are full-on, and will sap all the energy you’re trying to reserve or have left.