How To Go To Festivals For Free

Photo Credit: Joffrey Photo

Attending festivals all over the world for free is a dream millions of FestivalGoers share but few ever accomplish. FestEvo is here to tell you that the dream is not only achievable, but there are multiple ways to do it.

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1. Volunteer
There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. If this is true, think of how many people it takes to throw a festival. Every aspect — security, parking, information, vending, setup, breakdown, cleanup, and even marketing — requires manpower from volunteers. In exchange for 10-30 hours of work (depending on the type of work and the ticket price), you will receive a free ticket to the festival.

I’ve volunteered at a handful of festivals and discovered it’s a wonderful way to make new friends. Volunteering gives you a chance to connect with your co-workers, which often leads to life-long friendships. By contributing to the festival, you become a part of the festival which is a reward in and of itself.

To apply to volunteer, you simply fill out a form on the festival website or visit a website like Work Exchange Team and Volunteer Local. I also suggest going the extra mile in creating a festival resume that showcases your skills and excitement in wanting to work with festivals.

2. Media Passes
Every festival offers press passes to representatives of different media outlets in exchange for published coverage of their event. These passes are better than General Admission, as they normally allow you into some of the backstage areas. Here are a few ways you can get these passes:
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A) Start your own website and create regular content so it gains the traffic needed to get press passes. Once you get 20,000+ views a month, you should get media passes for the majority of the festivals you apply for.

B) Reach out to your favorite festival or music blog and offer to work with them. Websites are constantly looking for solid writers. Get excited about this opportunity and demonstrate that you can be a valuable member of their team. Once you have established their trust, they will be happy to send you on location in exchange for solid content. While some blogs and publications do not pay contributors, the value of a festival pass can be upwards of $500 which is a worthy exchange indeed.

C) Become a photographer and/or videographer. Festivals and festival websites are always looking for someone who knows what they are doing behind the lens.

3. Guest Passes
Each artist who plays a festival receives a number of extra tickets for their management team and friends. These are ALL ACCESS passes and usually go to close friends of the artist. Take this as inspiration, and look at your friends who are trying to make it in the industry. Help them in any way you can think of. Be their number-one fan and as their career advances, so will your opportunity to get free festival tickets.

4. Artist Passes
You don’t have to be a musician to be an artist at a festival. Get creative. Build an art installation, start an eccentric character troupe, be a stand-up comedian or take your dancing/hooping/fire-spinning/stilt-walking/vaudeville act to the next level and offer your services to festivals. If you come up with something that makes the festival more enjoyable for attendees, you will get booked at festivals for years to come. At this level, you might even get paid to do what you love.
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5. Vendor Passes
If you can make or bring something — like delicious food or handmade wares — to improve the festival experience, you will not only get free tickets, but make money as well. What are festivals missing and what do attendees want? Answer these questions and you will be living your dream job for the rest of your life.

6. Production Passes
There are many ways to get a production pass. Whether you work for the festival directly or join one of the teams that helps create part of the experience, this is how you not only get free passes but also get paid. You may even learn a technical trade from the best in the business that can generate career opportunities outside of the festival world as well.

For more tips like these check out *The FestivalGoer's Guide* which is packed with 164 pages of tips and tricks to help you take your festivaling to a whole new level.