Five fantastic reasons to volunteer at a festival this summer

By Emily Maybanks

As someone who had never stepped foot into a music festival before 2015, when I spontaneously applied to work at Reading Festival (which turned to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made), here are five reasons why you should consider volunteering at a festival this summer.

  1. First of all, volunteering at a festival means that you get to attend the festival for free (although, it is important to note that, often, you have to pay a deposit, which is usually the cost of a ticket or less, but you get that deposit refunded if you work all of your allocated shifts). With some companies, you pay a deposit for one festival but can volunteer at several others at no extra cost. Furthermore, you also get the chance to enjoy the music and the festival once your shifts are over. Last summer, I volunteered at two BBC events in Hyde Park with the company Festival Republic; I volunteered for seven hours and then thoroughly enjoyed watching Rick Astley perform live, in the pouring rain (I don’t think I had ever seen a more British scene- summer, in Hyde Park in London, a crowd of people dancing and singing to Never Gonna Give You Up in the pouring rain!)

  2. Secondly, volunteering at festivals is great work experience, particularly for those wishing to perhaps work in the events industry later on, but also generally; it is a fantastic CV boost. You learn many skills. My role now for two consecutive years at Reading Festival has been Ticket Reconciliation Officer, which involves counting tickets and recording data. Last year, I was able to help train the new staff as well which was a lot of fun. At the Hyde Park events, the role I had was more public facing and involved scanning people’s tickets as they entered the events. The two roles are very different but I learnt lots from both and I am sure that this year, I will continue to learn and develop in both positions again.

  3. Similar to the second point, there is a huge variety of roles to choose from across a vast choice of festivals with different companies (I’ve worked with Festival Republic at Reading Festival and Hyde Park for two years). I believe that there are charities who you can volunteer with at festivals, which would be fun. This year, I’m also volunteering as a steward at the Rewind South 80’s Festival with a company called Festaff.

  4. Another brilliant reason to consider volunteering at a festival is that it is a great opportunity to meet new people and make lots of new friends. I’ve kept in contact with a few people who I worked with and it’s great. Returning to work at Reading Festival in 2016, I was the only person who had been there the previous year so I was able to interact with new people, and then at Hyde Park, I found it a much more sociable environment so talking to other volunteers was easier and lots of fun (it certainly made standing on my feet for seven hours straight in the rain, scanning tickets go faster!)

  5. Finally, if you volunteer at a festival one year, it’s usually guaranteed that you can return there the following year and sometimes at a reduced deposit rate (this has been my case with Festival Republic) and you can refer friends to come and volunteer with you too.

I would certainly recommend volunteering at festivals. It really is an all-round positive and fantastic experience!

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