You might have wondered who are those lucky people getting to enjoy special privileges like guarding the ADA entrance, bringing cookies to the artists or just enjoying their free ticket to a festival (after their shift, that is).
Volunteering at festivals is like a little known secret, discovered by the best and by those who don’t mind getting up earlier than everyone else and helping out shaping the rest of the audience’s experience. A little work in exchange for a free ticket, one might say (it is not unusual to ask for a deposit, though, to hold your spot, which will be reimbursed once you’ve proven you’ve been an awesome volunteer).
There are plenty of festivals that offer volunteer opportunities. Some of those might have special connections with associations or groups. Some might open a few spots to lucky regular volunteers. If you’re looking to volunteer at a festival, search online and check their website carefully. There can even be pre and post-show positions you can take advantage of as they will probably give you the chance to fully enjoy the festival without any shifts. You might have to do it some months in advance and be ready to apply at any time the applications may open.
Volunteer spots can be just about anywhere. Usually, volunteers cover the hospitality part at the entrances, giving out information and schedules, and saying hi to everyone coming in. They might be asked where certain stages or the toilets are, so what might seem like a boring job, can actually be one of the most useful ones. Checking for wristbands, directing traffic, or cleaning up are other regular volunteering tasks. Most excitingly, some festivals allow volunteers to work in VIP areas, covering ADA platforms and helping out with catering. I have even seen festivals getting volunteers to give a hand in the backstage area which provides the chance to mingle with the production teams. Just like a regular job, you’ll have to be polite and overall nice to people, and that includes stressed out artists.
Be advised, shifts are usually non-transferrable, and you will be expected to work and not run around enjoying the festival. But once your shifts are over, you’re free to slip out of your orange/green/yellow/whatever bright color t-shirt they chose, and go hang out with your besties. Heck, you might even volunteer as a group. Plan it carefully, select the same time shifts and hope for the best.