Festivals are one of the best parts of a British summer, but they can be seriously costly. If you plan ahead and know what's in store, you'll be able to cut your costs and make sure all your money goes towards having a great time - here's how.
Festival tickets are expensive enough on their own - Glastonbury 2014 tickets were £222 including booking fees and postage. If you're not careful, it's easy to spend the same amount again when you're there.
How to save money at festivals
Before you go, work out how much you can afford to spend and make sure it will cover everything you need and want to do at the festival. If you think your finances can't handle it, try the following:
Get in free
You can get free entry to plenty of festivals by volunteering with a charity. You'll need to put in an agreed number of hours of work, perhaps stewarding or spreading the word about what the charity does, but you'll have plenty of free time to enjoy the festival too.
You could also get work for a business that operates at the festival, such as one of the many catering companies that feed the attendees.
Be an early bird
Some festivals encourage people to buy their tickets early by offering them at a discounted rate months before the event, sometimes even straight after the previous year's festival. Pick up an "early bird ticket" if you're organised enough to plan in advance.
Shop in advance
If you buy a decent tent, you'll be able to keep reusing it - buying a cheap one is a false economy if you just end up leaving it behind and buying yet another one next year. Besides, you'll appreciate a sturdy tent if it rains!
Look for one that's light enough to carry all the way to your camping spot but big enough to hold you and everything you bring.
Take some food with you rather than paying over the odds for every meal at the festival. Some festivals sell really good food, so if you bring some fruit, cereal bars, nuts and other snacks, you'll be able to keep yourself going in the day but still sample some delicious hot meals.
If you take a camping stove, you'll be able to make your own hot food, even if it is mostly just beans, noodles and pasta. Disposable barbecues are popular too, but you'll probably only be able to use it on the first day, as keeping food fresh in a tent can be challenging.
If you like a drink at a festival, take your own - even though most music festivals won't let you take your own alcohol into the main arena, that doesn't mean you can't have a few around the camp fire at night.
Bring a water bottle to carry round and refill, rather than buying pricey bottles of mineral water every time you need to rehydrate.
Try a cheaper festival experience
If you're only considering a particular festival because your favourite band are playing, get a day ticket instead of going for the whole weekend. It's only worth spending more on a full ticket if you'll enjoy the whole festival.
If you don't have your heart set on any festival in particular, check out some of the smaller ones. As well as being less crowded and often having great line-ups, they're a lot cheaper too.
Many European festivals have strong line-ups and more reliable weather, plus most of them are cheaper than the big British festivals too.
Finally, whatever you do, don't get ripped off. Ticket touts make huge profits selling tickets at massively inflated prices, and their tickets can often fail to arrive or turn out to be fakes.
Festival shopping list - what to buy before you go
Festivals sell most of what you'll need for a fun weekend onsite, but it's much cheaper to buy it all beforehand. Here's a shopping list of what you'll need other than the ticket:
- A tent, sleeping bag and torch if you're staying overnight
- Enough clothes to last the weekend, whatever the weather might throw at you
- Food and drink
- Wellies, waterproofs and a sun hat
- Toiletries, like tissues, toothpaste and wet wipes are a must. Don't forget sun cream, just in case you're lucky with the weather; it's thought that the sun does come out at a music festival every once in a while!
- A decent bag to put it all in
What should you leave at home?
Anything that you can't afford to replace if you lose it, so leave expensive music players and cameras safe at home.
If the weather turns on you, you'll be far more grateful for practical clothes than designer outfits, which could only end up getting muddy anyway.
Glass bottles won't be allowed onsite, so stick to cans, boxes of wine, or spirits decanted into plastic bottles.
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