Festival Money-Saving Tips

Article by: Alexa Smith

Fri September 05, 2014 | 00:00 AM

Planning on attending a music festival but don’t want to throw away your hard-earned cash? Check out these tips for saving money without dulling the festival experience.

Pick the Right Ticket

Woodstock Ticket

Research all the ticket options before you buy a full-priced ticket. Choosing a camping option over a regular ticket may be a bit more expensive, but you’ll save a few hundred dollars in hotel fees. Some festivals also offer package deals for multiple days. If you want a piece of the festival experience without spending hundreds, consider buying a one-day pass.

Early Bird Tickets

If you’re quick enough to click the link at exactly 12pm, this can easily be your biggest money-saver. Tickets can be as much as half off. There may be a stipulation, like being added to the festival mailing list, or you only get a discount if you attended the festival the previous year.

Volunteer for Free Tickets

Many festivals offer a free ticket in exchange for volunteer services. The only downside is you may only be able to experience the festival from behind a table, unless you’re security and can roam around. However, some festivals allow you to volunteer one or two days and get a free ticket for a day of your choice.

Last-Minute Tickets

Many people have to sell their tickets at the last minute because they cannot attend the festival. Skip StubHub and search the event’s Facebook page or other Facebook groups to see if anyone is selling tickets below face value. Chances are someone is in a panic and trying to get some money back before it’s too late. You may just get lucky!

Groupon and Living Social

Some festivals sell last-minute tickets for less-popular days on Groupon and Living Social. Stay updated as the festival nears to catch the deal before it sells out.

Find Hotel Deals

Festivals usually partner with a number of hotels, but their prices tend to be sky high. Grab the festival’s address from its website and search for surrounding hotels on discount travel websites. You will find plenty of options that may offer amenities even the official hotels don’t, such as free parking, free wi-fi, or complimentary breakfast.

Book in Advance

Trains, planes, buses, and hotels will all increase their prices closer to the date of the event. Make sure you book in advance to get maximum value out of your purchase.

Take a Shuttle

Melt! 2014 Stephan Flad   35Photo by Stephan Flad.

Festivals typically have shuttles to and from the event from major cities along the way. Hop on and skip the plane ticket or expensive gas.


Kumbh Mela 2013 Porter Yates Men Of StatusPhoto by Porter Yates.

Traveling as a group is the perfect way to save money on gas when you road-trip to a festival. Grab your festival friends, or check the event Facebook group to see if anyone needs a ride or has extra space in their car.

Pack Your Own Food

Some camping festivals really jack up the price of food, just because they can. Pack your own essential food items that won’t perish. Bread and peanut butter are always a great idea, as well as protein bars, bagels, bananas, and snacks. Bring a cooler for items like lunch meat or premade meals. If portable grills are allowed, you can even bring burgers and hot dogs and host your own cookout. And don’t forget a case or two of water, or a big bottle to refill (see below).

Bring Your Own Alcohol

Sziget 2014 Csudai Sándor   02Photo by Csudai Sándor.

Alcoholic drinks can easily be your biggest expense. Camping festivals allow you to bring your own alcohol, but make sure you check the rules before you head to the liquor store. Glass bottles are typically not permitted.

Use Free Water Refill Stations

Anyone who has attended a festival knows the pain of handing over $5 every hour for a measly bottle of water that barely quenches your thirst. When it’s 90+ degrees, you could easily spend upwards of $30 a day just on water! Bring your own water bottle for the free water refill stations. You can even plan ahead of time and map out the locations on the festival app. Or invest in a CamelBak to stay hydrated and hands-free for the entire festival.

Bring Plenty of Cash

Atm Randy Adams Cc

Photo by Randy Adams Creative Commons.

Don’t get caught at a festival without enough cash. ATM fees are usually expensive in the venue. Festivals that require you to load money onto a wristband before you arrive will charge a percentage to take money in and out. What they don’t tell you is they will also accept cash at the festival, so bring extra and limit your spending to a certain amount each day.

Recycle for Gifts

Some festivals, such as Electric Daisy Carnival, allow you to collect empty bottles in exchange for items at special locations throughout the venue. Pick up seven or so bottles laying on the ground to get yourself a cold bottle of water, or even expensive merchandise. 

Purchase Merchandise on the Last Day

Wakarusa 2014 Stephen Ironside   27

Photo by Ironside Photography.

If you're interested in buying merchandise from the festival but don’t want to spend $40 on a T-shirt, wait until the last day to make your purchase. Vendors offer discounted merchandise and are more likely to bargain before the festival closes out.