Music festivals can be amazing experiences that take your life to new highs, but sadly can also take your bank account to new lows. As a rule, festivals are well worth the cost because you get to see so many bands for a price that is less than seeing every show separately. However, just because it’s a bargain doesn’t mean tickets are affordable for everyone. Alternate ways are available to pay for these weekends without breaking the bank.
The best and most fun option is the Work Exchange Team (WET). Shimon Presents has set up a great situation for festival goers in which you sign up to work throughout the weekend in exchange for a free ticket to the show. I know, this sounds like a lot of trouble having to work during the weekend but it’s actually a lot of fun. The jobs are not hard and the shifts are only a few hours a day. A benefit is that not only is the weekend paid for but you also get to experience the festival from a new point of view. You get access to areas you can never see with general admission (for example in my times of doing WET I got to stand on stage with Steven Marley, watched 311 give an interview from three feet away, and watched Snoop Dogg from backstage just to name a few). At some festivals, you also get to stay in a different campsite designated for employees and volunteers which is sometimes closer and less crowded than the general site. This is cool because you get all the fun of the campgrounds with the added option of meeting people who can hook you up with free food, merch, and whatever else all weekend, saving you added expenses.
Shimon will also work with you to schedule your shifts around the shows you don’t want to miss, and if the festival is local to you an option is also available to work pre and post-festival so sometimes you can get all your hours out of the way without missing any shows at all. Doing this gives you an opportunity to see the setup and breakdown as well which is an interesting sight to behold. WET is a great option to check out, especially if there are multiple festivals you want to attend this season. You can expand your travels without going completely broke.
Another option to consider is bringing things to sell or trade throughout the weekend. Be advised that it is “festival illegal” to vend without a permit but it’s not impossible. You just have to be a little sneaky. Festivals are the only places where the barter system is still alive and well, and it’s not hard to acquire anything you want if you have something to trade. For example, I bring handmade crafts which I sell and trade over the weekend such as jewelry, bowl bags, purses, etc. I trade these for treats, artwork, and other goodies whenever possible then sell them as well to make cash for beer, food, gas money, and whatever I need inside the show. Since I only take a few minutes out of my days to peddle my wares I usually sell and trade enough to break even by the end of the weekend. It saves me the money I would have spent and keeps me from coming home with nothing. However, if you choose to devote extra time to it you could end up making a little dough after all is said and done.
These are just a few options available. If you really want to go to a festival but you don’t think you can afford it, be creative! Just remember where there’s a will there’s a way!