Short on Cash? Volunteer at a Festival for Tickets

Article by: Alexa Smith

Tue March 01, 2016 | 00:00 AM

Let's face it: You don't always have the cash you need to get tickets to your favorite festival, because costs add up quickly. Lucky for you, many of the best fests out there offer unconventional ways to volunteer and help out in exchange for a free pass through the gates. Here are some of the coolest opportunities for you to score entry.

Help Set Up at Bonnaroo

Given Bonnaroo's reputation, it's no surprise that the fest's volunteering opportunities fuse giving back with having fun. C’Roo members can gain access to the event when they’re not helping set up the festival site by keeping a watchful eye on various entry points, keeping areas clean or greeting guests. GuRoos are returning C’Roo members who work hand in hand with the Bonnaroo Works Fund leading volunteering activities. With a mission to “change the world,” the Bonnaroo Works Fund supports 100 organizations with the goal of fortifying arts, education, and environment sustainability programs in the local community. GuRoos also earn pit access at the main stage for headliners, multiple meal tokens per shift, two t-shirts and a chance to join the Bonnaroo Works Fund Advisory Board.

Hangout Music Festival 2015 Josh Rhinehart   15

Photo by: Josh Rhinehart

Work Shifts at Hangout Music Festival

Can't afford a ticket to Hangout but still crave the festival's sunny, beachside vibes? If you sign up volunteering for the fest, you’ll receive a general admission three-day pass. You'll pay a $250 deposit along with your application, which is refunded at the end of the festival; it's to ensure that you show up for all your shifts. You can sign up to be a pre-festival volunteer, a post-festival volunteer, or a during festival volunteer. Regardless, when you’re not working, you'll definitely have the chance to experience and enjoy the festival. Definitely read the volunteer requirements, information, and terms and conditions completely before submitting an application. You will be assigned to a position based on festival needs.

Plant Trees with 10,000 Hours

10,000 Hours is an impassioned program by Netherlands production company ID&T that allows people to put in volunteer hours in order to earn a free ticket to their favorite festival. That means this is your chance to finally grab an elusive ticket to those harder-to-reach festivals such as Tomorrowland, Mysterland NL, Mysteryland USA, Defqon 1 or Sensation White in Europe. 10,000 Hours hosts events in local cities where fans collectively put in their time to give back to the community– like planting trees, clearing up shrubbery, working at retirement homes, renovating kids' playgrounds – all in the name of festival love and enthusiasm for dance music culture.

Applications are taken very seriously (as they should be!) and are mostly based on your qualifications. 10,000 Hours chooses different festivals to work with each year, so make sure you stay updated via their Facebook page to catch your chance!

Flex Your Skills as Local Talent

Many festivals look for local talent to grace their stages as opening acts early in the day. If you're in a band, this is a stellar way for you not only gain access to a festival, but to also get some hard-earned recognition and exposure in a major setting. This may not exactly be full-fledged volunteering but it’ll definitely get you through the gate and probably a sneak peak of what’s going on backstage as well!

Burning Man 2014 Galen Oaks   04

Give Your Time to Burning Man

Black Rock City is a city of participants. If you'd like to try your hand at getting in for free, you have to go above and beyond what you might have to do for another festival – though there's no guarantee you'll gain free or reduced-price access. The first way is to volunteer with the organization directly, which typically requires you to work year-round for one of their teams (which includes the Burning Man special events team, the Black Rock Arts Foundation, and more). The second way to help out at Burning Man is to find and contribute to a large art project or theme camp willing to exchange tickets for your time or expertise. Bear in mind that volunteering with Burning Man solely with the intent to get in free is not a wise financial proposition; the amount of time and energy you will contribute will far exceed the cost of the ticket.

Work at What The Festival

What The Festival, which basically feels like the best-ever summer camp for adults, mixed with performances from dubstep, trap, bass, house, techno and downtempo artists, is similar to Symbiosis in that there is a minimum work requirement (15 hours) and a deposit fee to make sure you don't bail on them. Because it has a no-rules vibe, What The has a lot of activities to set up, from larger-than-life interactive art installations to hookah lounges to a giant wading pool, stages and yoga areas. In exchange, you get an event pass, a camping area and the bonus of knowing you contributed to making it all happen.

Symbiosis Gathering 2013 Art Gimbel   11

Fill in at Symbiosis Gathering

If you're hoping to get wavy at Symbiosis – a celebration of art, music, and sustainability – volunteering may be your golden ticket. Some say it's Burning Man's tasteful, wiser sibling, so there's a lot of colorful stuff to participate in and contribute to here, from setting up, breaking down and everything in between. You're required to work a minimum of 24 hours, and if you sign up for pre- or post-festival work, you won't miss of the music or performances. All you have to do is submit an application telling them of your skills and areas of expertise and pay a deposit of $290 (which gets refunded to you) just to lock in your volunteer commitment. Not only will you get to enjoy Symbiosis Gathering, you'll get to see behind-the-scenes action that no one else does.

Pick Your Poison at Joshua Tree Music Festival

Joshua Tree Music Festival offers a plethora of volunteer opportunities in exchange for a festival pass and camping – talk about a deal! Depending on what you're into, you can choose to pour beer in the Beer Garden, greet people on festival grounds, work at the hospitality bar, check wristbands at the gate, help run the Green Team, be a barista, hang out with kids at Kidsville, work in the merch or medical booths, work at will call or in the parking lot, help screenprint t-shirts, be a stagehand, and more. The fact that there are so many realms in which to help makes Joshua Tree Music Festival's volunteer program one of the best deals around.

Help Sell Festival Tickets Through The Physical Network

The Physical Network is the leading peer-to-peer marketing platform for music fest tickets in Europe, and they just launched in North America – meaning you have one more awesome way to gain entry to your favorite festival for free. Basically, you become a brand ambassador on their network, where a music festival can hire you to help sell tickets and market their events. At Bestival in the UK, The Physical Network recruited a team of 3,000 ambassadors who sold over 12,000 tickets to the event, generating nearly $5 million in ticket sales. Damn! In return, ambassadors are rewarded with exclusive access and privileges at the festival in exchange for getting friends in their social circles to purchase tickets.

The Physical Network has already partnered with Mysteryland, Electric Zoo, North Coast, and Aftershock among others in the U.S., so if you're fantasizing about heading to those fests, check out The Physical Network for a discounted way to get through the gates.

Summer Camp Music Festival 2014 Keith Griner 4

Choose Your Own Job at Summer Camp Music Festival

At Summer Camp Music Festival, dedicated festies can expect to work three five-hour shifts throughout the weekend, in one of three separate realms: you can work at the box office, on the Green Team, or as a Soulshine Ambassador (which requires three extra hours and a bit more passion than the other two positions). In exchange, you'll receive a three-Day GA Pass and a Thursday Pre-Party Ticket to Summer Camp.