Working Your Ticket: Volunteer to Work at a Music Festival
Tickets for the most popular music festivals can be sold out in a few hours. Taking a volunteer job and working at a festival is a quick way to bypass the hotlines and jump the long queues.
Hundreds of festivals take place each year in the UK, and many more are located abroad. Each one of them takes a huge amount of organisation and many are willing to offer tickets and other perks to those willing to lend a hand.
Those interested are well advised to apply well in advance. Give the organisers a couple of months breather from the last festival then apply for next year.
Most festivals rely on a range of organisations and charities to provide a number of services. The Glastonbury website suggests that volunteers are normally required to work three 8 hour shifts to earn their ticket and add that, in some cases, you will be required to buy your ticket in advance and be reimbursed later. Volunteer work comes in the following guises:
Oxfam provide stewarding for a number of festivals including Glastonbury, Womad, Reading and Leeds. Priority is given to past stewards and regular supporters of Oxfam, with unfilled positions opened up to the public from around the end of 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, getting festival goers to take part in Oxfam's festival activities. Both roles require you to be 18 years old and to pay a refundable deposit by credit or debit card. For more information visit www.oxfam.org.uk
Someone needs to pick up the rubbish after all those smelly hippies have gone home. According to Robert Kearle, who organises 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 little picker found a kilo of hash in the hedge, the same day cash to the value of £8000 was also found.
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 and Glastonbury. More information at www.festival-medical.co.uk.
Peppermint provide mobile bar services for a number of festivals and have their own website devoted to employing volunteer staff. More at www.festivalvolunteer.co.uk.
There is also plenty of paid jobs to be had at the major music festivals for those with the right skills. A number of links to organisations that provide bar, catering and other services can be found within the details for the V Festival below. Also try Central Catering Services who provide food at Gatecrasher.
Glastonbury recruit their own litter pickers. More information at www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/information/jobs.
Most other jobs are contracted out. Oxfam do the stewarding, while the Worker's Beer Company provide the bars and employ trade union members only.
Trusts, such as Festive Lizards, employ a number of car park stewards for Glastonbury. More information at www.festivelizards.co.uk
Along with Oxfam, another organisation that recruit stewards is Oasis Carnival.
Reading & Leeds Festivals
Both Reading and Leeds use Oxfam stewards. Festival Republic handle the recruitment of Team Recycle Stewards (litter pickers) and Green Messengers.
Campsite Assistant Teams and Helpful Arena Teams, known respectively as CATS and HATS, are sought by Hotbox Events. HE require around 500 volunteers to assist festival goers with camping and directions and to report any problems.
Latitude use the same organisations as Leeds and Reading including the ever present Oxfam.
Organised partly by Radio 1 DJ Rob da Bank, Bestival has a number of roles available, including pre event build (and post event take-down), runners, ticket rippers, disabled camping attendants, administration roles and for the Green Team. Volunteers work four five hour shifts and will be allocated their particular role on arrival at Bestival. In the past stewarding has been performed by Oxfam.
Most of the staff at V are paid.Show and Event Security provide stewards, whilst the cleaning and litter picking are in the hands of Ryan's Cleaning Event Specialists and Nu Kleen Services. For bar work visit www.eventstaffing.co.uk. SEP Events and Cash & Traffic Management organise the car parking.
Image courtesy Christian Haugen