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The sun’s starting to come out and the summer doesn’t seem so far away. For music fans, this can only mean one thing – it’s almost festival season.

Festivals aren’t for everyone – there’s too much rain and mud for one thing – but if you’re into music, it’s a great experience. But with the cost of the ticket, the travel and any food and drink while you’re there, the whole weekend can add up to well over £400.

You can go to some of the top festivals for free if you’re willing to work for some of the time. Stewarding can be a fun weekend on a budget – so let’s find out how it works.

Work for your weekend

The biggest festivals don’t just happen without any help – it takes a lot of work setting one up, making sure everything runs smoothly and then taking everything down afterwards. That’s where you could come in, as festivals are always looking for volunteers to help out with all this work in exchange for a ticket.

There’s a whole range of activities you could be doing – from showing guests to the car parks and picking up litter to serving drinks or just generally helping out. If you’ve got first aid or management experience, you could do some of this at the festival too.

You can volunteer directly through the festivals or Hotbox events also offer a lot of volunteering spaces for the big events. Charities also offer volunteering spots at festival – check out Oxfam and International Alert.

What you’ll get

Don’t volunteer at a festival if you just want to spend your whole weekend watching bands and dancing in a field – you will have to do some work. You’ll usually have to work two or three shifts of up to eight hours. These might be early in the morning, during the headline slots or they might even be when there’s no music at all.

If you really want to see a particular singer or band but your shift is when they’re on stage, see if someone will swap with you. You could even do the really early or late shifts – setting up the festival or cleaning up afterwards – and you’ll be free to watch all of the bands you want.

You’ll probably have to pay a deposit when you arrive at the festival – this is so you don’t just go off and enjoy the music without doing any work. Don’t worry though – you’ll get this back at the end of the weekend.

One major benefit is that you’ll get to stay in the volunteers’ campsite, complete with showers and clean toilets. So while the rest of the festivalgoers are fighting for the last Portaloo, you’ll be in much nicer digs. You’ll also get food and drinks vouchers so your meals will be free.

If you’re interested in volunteering, see if you can convince a few of your mates to come with you. As long as you get put on the same shifts, the rest of the weekend will just feel like you’re at a normal festival, but for free.

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