Want a free festival ticket? Be a volunteer!

With tickets to the top weekenders selling out in minutes and the recession hitting hard, thousands will be signing up to work for their fun this summer. Volunteer work is also a great way for music fans to make friends, get work experience, and pave the way for future employment.

Fancy working behind a bar? Festival Volunteer, which provides bar staff for Secret Garden Party, Glade, Rockness, and Camp Bestival has just opened up its online registration. With no bar experience necessary, good shifts go quickly.

Or, if you’d like to work as a steward, Oxfam provides volunteers for Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, Womad and more. Examples of stewarding jobs include working at the gate, showing people to their tents, and looking out for fires.

If you’re skilled in medicine, Festival Medical Services (FMS) provides doctors, nurses, paramedics, first aiders and other trained personnel to festivals including Reading and Glastonbury.

So, how does volunteering work?

For Festival Volunteer, which is run by Peppermint Bars, volunteers sign up for two shifts per festival that last six to nine hours each. In exchange, they receive a free ticket to the event, one meal per shift, and two drinks at the end of each shift. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old at the time of the event, but they don’t need to have any prior bar experience. While sensible shoes and a top are required, fancy dress is also encouraged!

Volunteers must register on the web site and pay a refundable deposit of 168 pounds. Then, they have full access to the summer line-up and are free to sign up for any of the live events and select their shifts. Friends are encouraged to sign up for the same shifts to have a better chance of working together. Shifts can be changed up to two weeks before the festival if alternative shifts are available.

Here’s an interesting factoid: Festival Volunteer has found that women outnumber men two to one until about three weeks before the event. So, guys, if you don’t want to be working while your favorite band is playing, sign up now! Women are also far more active on Facebook.

How do the festivals benefit from volunteer staff? They build loyalty and community by involving the festival goers in the production of the event. Charity’s like Oxfam make money and volunteers also keep costs low for the festivals, thereby keeping ticket prices down. So, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

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