Festivals are big and getting even bigger – in terms of the number being held each year, the size of the festivals and the number of people attending them. In fact, recent research* carried out for us shows that 14 million UK adults plan on attending a festival this year. And nearly three in 10 of these say they’ll attend more than one. With the average ticket price being over £200 for the major music festivals in the UK, that’ll be a fair few pounds flowing into the festival organisers’ coffers – a rough estimate being £2.3bn! And, if all those who say they’re attending a festival this year actually do it, it’ll represent a doubling of festival attendance in just three years!
Unsurprisingly, the keenest to attend are the younger generations, with just under half of both 18-24 and 25-34 year-olds saying they intend to purchase tickets for festivals this year. This is probably because camping is less appealing for older music fans, as they may not want to spend a few days stuck in a muddy tent.
And why has festivalling become such a big thing? Adrian North, director of psychology at Herriott Watt University offers up an explanation, “For some, membership of a tribe gives them self-esteem. If you are with people you think are cool it reaffirms your own lifestyle choices – you're basically patting yourself on the back."
The Cost of a Ticket
So, how much are we prepared to spend on a ticket? This is where it becomes interesting, as the average price spent is below the cost for the major UK music festivals at £168. And, what might this mean? Well, it suggests that lots of those attending festivals are visiting the smaller, less well-known ones, with smaller ticket prices. And there are plenty to choose from!
A quick look at the e-festivals website shows over 778 planned festivals for 2015, with subjects ranging from cooking to literature to beer. The wide range on offer and the wide variety of ticket prices may account for the increase in attendance – there’s something for everyone and to suit everyone’s pocket too!
But, if you’re on a really tight budget and can’t afford ticket prices, how can you get involved in what’s fast becoming a British institution? Well, there are a couple of things you might want to try.
Work for your ticket?
There are plenty of festivals who advertise for people to work for them in exchange for a ticket. You often only have to work a few shifts and in return you get to go into the festival for free. Generally staff are in an area specifically designated for them, which can often mean better facilities too. Charities, such as Oxfam and The Samaritans are a good place to start looking for these kinds of opportunities. But, don’t choose this option if you’re really not that bothered about the cause, i.e. all you really want is the free ticket, as you’ll be expected, with a charity such as Oxfam, to persuade people to give their support. And doing that well is so much easier if you believe in it.
If charity is not your thing, you can choose to work in another area, such as being a steward on the gates checking tickets, security or, if you have the training, as medical staff. A good place to start chasing down these opportunities is Hotbox Events, they recruit for music festivals all over the UK.
And there’s nothing stopping you contacting the organisers of any festival you fancy going to and asking if you can help out in any way in exchange for a ticket. For example, some festivals will give you a ticket if you help with the promotion beforehand, handing out flyers for example.
You could also take yourself off to one of the free events that take place all over the UK every year. Granted, they may not be as swish as the big music festivals, but sometimes the smaller festivals offer a more up close and personal experience. If you want to find free events in your area, just Google ‘free festivals’ and then the area you’re looking for. And don’t think that just because they are free, they will be rubbish. Just look at Bristol Harbour Festival for example, or the Africa Oye Festival, both are big, well-organised and totally free festivals.
Another good way to keep costs down is to find festivals close by. This way you’ll cut out expensive travelling costs, and depending on what kind of festival it is, the need to stay overnight too. And it seems location is a big factor on how many festivals you’ll attend. For example the research showed that those living in London are the biggest festival goers. Why? Because a quick look at the e-festivals.com directory reveals that there are 55 festivals in the London area.
When you compare this to the 71 available throughout the whole of the North West, it’s clear to see that those living in London have more choice and they’re nearer by, and that’s why they’re more likely to go. After all, a hot shower and comfy bed at the end of the day, rather than having to camp, is always going to appeal to a greater variety of people.
So, are Brits using festivals as a replacement for their main summer holiday? You’d be forgiven for thinking so, given the current economic climate and the average cost of festivals, but you’d be wrong. In fact, it’s surprising to learn that three-fifths plan on going on a holiday, as well as getting down at a festival.
*OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 19th December and 30th December 2014, of whom 635 were in Scotland. Figures have been extrapolated to fit ONS 2013 population projections of 50,371,000 UK adults.