Working at a Festival: What is it really like?

By Claire Rose

For years now it has been an ongoing dream of mine to become an event manager/organiser. It all began in 2006 when I was sat on the lush grass in the blazing sun at the Isle of Wight’s Bestival, which was voted the best major festival in 2010, out-doing Glastonbury and Reading. Sat listening to the comedic Cuban Brothers whilst looking around at the strange, weird and wonderful creations which had been made, there was not a pole, sign, bar, person or any other object which hadn’t been beautifully decorated and dressed in the most magnificent colours. Who creates these ideas? Who puts them together? How do they manage to pull it off in such a short amount of time? And maybe one of the most important questions: What would it be like to be a part of this? 

So I decided to be pro-active. I emailed everyone, everyone I knew/could get hold of in the festival and event industry. I emailed and emailed with no reply for two years when luck struck. I managed to gain work at the Isle of Wight Bestival which I have now been doing for a couple of years now. So what is it like, working at a festival? Stressful: Working at a, now major festival, is very, very stressful. A typical day sees a start of 8:30am, work, lunch at 12:30pm, which wasn’t really lunch it was more, get food down your throat then quickly get back to work, then even more work, dinner at 5pm, which held the same concept of lunch, then finish at around 7-8pm. I have always worked with the creative team which mostly includes; painting, glittering, gluing, sanding, writing signs and decorating poles and bars. These were things which I have always enjoyed but with pressure and when I say pressure I mean A LOT of pressure. Have I done it wrong? Will they like it? Is it the right Colour? Too much glitter? And so on. However there is nothing more satisfying then finishing and decorating a sign, seeing it within the actual festival and saying/shouting “I PAINTED THAT, AND THAT, AND THAT” giving your friends a sudden heart attack and them replying with “What sign? Oh I see it now.” Yeah, cheers guys!

It is absolutely amazing how much people work together and help each other out on a limb at a festival. The people I have met will now probably be friends for life. Everyone is friendly, funny, hard-working and outgoing which is what a strong team needs. The sense of pride that it gives you, knowing that you have contributed your blood, sweat and soul into one intense week of work and seeing your work on display is unimaginable. You just want to stand back a say “I did this.”

So it isn’t a surprise when I work at the same festivals each year, that I see the same familiar, friendly faces. People don’t do it for the money these days; people do it for the rush, thrill, pride and of course to experience festival itself and all the amazing artists and activities they have to offer.

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