A survival guide to working at a festival abroad

It’s that time of the year when line-ups are being released and tickets are going on sale for this year’s summer music festivals. Going to a festival abroad can be a great way to mix music and travel, but if you’re travelling on a budget, then volunteering or working at a festival can be a great way to save some cash. Most festivals simply ask you to work a couple of shifts throughout the duration of the festival in exchange for your entrance fee. This can be great if you’re looking to save a couple of hundred quid and don’t mind a bit of hard work.

Main stage

However, if you’re considering working at a festival abroad this year, there are a few things you should bear in mind…

It’s not all fun and games

You might have heard people telling you that you’ll be working backstage, hanging out with the artists, sharing a few beers and heading off to some after-party. In reality, you’ll probably be picking up litter or ushering rowdy festival-goers. That’s not to say that there isn’t a chance you’ll land yourself an artist liaison position, but don’t get your hopes up. Other tasks might involve checking wristbands, selling programs or directing people as to where to go. Check with the organiser to see what your job will actually entail and how many hours you will be required to work.

Safety first

It might sound obvious, but make sure you’re never left in an unsafe position while you’re working. Will there be someone nearby who you can call upon if you need help? Do you have a contact number? If you are working at night will you be given a hi-vis jacket? If you’re in a new country with lots of drunk festival-goers wandering around make sure you always keep your wits about you. When I volunteered at a festival last year I was stood in a carpark stewarding cars until about 2 o’clock in the morning, on my own and will no emergency contact number. It wasn’t a great experience and in hindsight I should have done things differently, so it’s always best to check with your manager before you start your shift.

The perks

Make sure the perks of the job are worth the work you have to put in. In most cases, the perks will far outweigh the amount of effort you have to put in. Some of these might include, a free ticket to the festival, accommodation, program, t-shirt, food and drink or monetary payment. You’ll probably find that the atmosphere is one of the biggest perks you’ll experience; hanging out with the other workers, chatting to people, making new friends. Working at a festival is a great way to meet new people and, on a sensible note, can be a useful bit of experience to add to your CV…


Working at a festival abroad can be an amazing experience and one I would definitely recommend. As long as you are aware of the potential drawbacks (missing the acts you want to see, working unsociable hours etc) there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give it a go and save yourself a bit of money!

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