How to go to Glastonbury Festival if you don’t get a ticket – A guide to working and volunteering at Glastonbury

Oh Glasto. One of the biggest and the best (in my opinion) music festival in the world.

In my opinion (and if you’re reading this post you’ll probably agree with me), there’s not better way to spend a long weekend than in a field, on a farm, surrounded by other festival-goes, drinking a can of warm cider and bopping along to a huge act or someone you’ve never heard of.

Strange to think the now sell-out festival started as a £1-entry for 1,500 people back in 1970, where the Pyramid Stage was just a cow shed. With the Pyramid Stage now an icon, Glastonbury has grown to see over 2,800 performances at 79 stages, on a site as big as five football fields. There’s sunburn and there’s mud – but overall there’s the unmistakeable sense of community as 175,000 people celebrate the final week of June at Worth Farm.

It’s no surprise that tickets to this festival sell out in a matter of minutes. 2019’s festival sold out in just 36 minutes. That’s as long as my commute to work.

You’ll probably have heard stories of people recruiting all their friends and family to team up to buy tickets at 9am on a Sunday morning in October. With 3 devices per person, phones, tablets and laptops are frantically refreshed until some lucky person gets through to the payment page.

Sounds stressful, right? That’s because is!

I’ve been there, done that. The only year I managed to get tickets was when four of us did this exact scenario, and one lucky friend managed to secure our group our tickets to the best festival in the world.

But what if you don’t get tickets?

Well, you can try your luck in the resale. The way Glasto works is that you pay a deposit for your ticket if you actually manage to get through when they go on sale in October. If, for whatever reason unbeknownst to the rest of us, someone decides not to pay the full balance by the due date, they lose their ticket and it goes into the resale for the original unfortunate souls to try their hand at getting once again. This usually happens in February.

And what if you don’t get tickets in the resale?

If you haven’t managed to secure a ticket, it’s time to look into other options for getting to Glastonbury. I’m sure you’ve read the story of the ninja who managed to get in without a ticket on sheer determination, but I’m not going to condone you do this as a) you’ll probably get caught and b) it’s against the rules and generally a bit twatty.

So, if sneaking in isn’t a wise idea, that leaves one option: working.

How to work at Glastonbury Festival

Jobs at Glastonbury are plentiful; if there’s 150,000 people in one place at any one time, they are going to need other people to look after them. To put it bluntly, people need stuff, and people create waste.

Workers at Glasto range from food and drink vendors, to marshalls and stewards, to litter pickers and garbage collectors, to toilet cleaners (yes, really) to events staff and production teams… the list goes on.

There are a number of options for working at Glastonbury. However, getting a paid work placement at Glastonbury isn’t the easiest task. Here are some options:

  • try to get one of the vacancies on the Glastonbury jobs page
  • find someone who is a vendor and ask if you can help on their stand
  • reinvent yourself as a musician so you can perform there
  • be a sound/ music technician on one of the stages
  • retrain as a security guard or in the police

Or, if none of those sound very likely,

  • volunteer

Why you should volunteer at Glastonbury

Wait, why would I choose to work at a festival without getting paid to do it?

Well, it means you get to go to Glasto, so…

A huge perk of volunteering at the best music festival in the world is that, although you do have to work, you can go to the festival for free. Plus you only actually have to do around 24 hours’ work over the 5 days.

Volunteers are always in demand at Glastonbury because there are jobs to do which you probably wouldn’t want to do if the appeal of the festival didn’t draw you in.

Volunteering at Glastonbury is a great idea because:

  • you can enjoy the festival as you wish when you’re not on shift!! (yes you can still see your favourite bands and get drunk!)
  • you get to meet new people + make new friends
  • you get to use the staff campsites (which have hot showers!)
  • you’ll have an individualised experience
  • you get free meals in the staff cafe
  • you get to work for an amazing cause and raise awareness about it
  • it’s a good thing to whack on your CV in that bit at the end where you list what other great stuff you’ve done outside of your job

Have I convinced you yet? Great!

How to volunteer at Glastonbury

Glastonbury partners with some great charities for every festival – they’ve partnered with Oxfam for the last 25 years. Each of these charities offer different activities in return for entrance to Glasto.

Here’s a taste of what you can expect to be doing with each charity:

  • WaterAid: Cleaning toilets, running water kiosks, providing water refills, litter picking
  • Festaff: Checking wristbands at the gates
  • Oxfam: Stewarding, campaigning or helping in the Oxfam festival shop
  • Shelter: Bar staff
  • Glastonbury Recycling Crew (not a charity): Sorting recycling and litter picking

The application processes will vary for each festival but they are all quite simple. Here’s some key info:

  • Apply through the organisation’s website (no need to attempt the mad Glasto ticket rush)
  • Upload your application with a photo
  • You may be required to submit referees (perhaps your manager at your job, or a friend you have known for some time)
  • You will probably have to pay a deposit which will be refunded after the festival and upon completion of your shifts (ranging from £60 – £300 dependent on the charity)
  • You will be provided with all the necessary equipment and clothing to do your job properly
  • You may have to attend a training session or complete online training before the festival takes place

Is volunteering at Glastonbury worth it?

Last year I tried and failed to get tickets. So, Isaac and I applied to volunteer at Glastonbury with WaterAid. We worked four 6 hour shifts between Wednesday to Sunday as part of the loo crew, cleaning the long drop toilets near the John Peel stage.

Whilst it’s not the most glamorous job, it actually wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I was expecting, and it was 100% worth it to get to go to the festival for free! We saw so many amazing bands, got drunk and covered in glitter, ate amazing food, met so many new people and met up with friends already attending, and generally just had an amazing time.

Glastonbury 2019 was HOT – the sun didn’t stop shining for the entire weekend, which was great as we got a great tan and didn’t have to wade through knee-deep mud. It also meant people were much more understanding of the work WaterAid does in places like Africa and Asia, where clean running water and decent toilets aren’t available to everyone. Their #AccessDenied campaign went down really well at Glastonbury.

In short, it’s 100% worth volunteering at Glastonbury!

Will you try to buy tickets for next year’s festival? Would you volunteer at Glastonbury?

Thanks for reading and enjoy Glastonbury 2020!

Abbi X

Enjoyed this post? Pin it for later so you can come back to it if you don’t get a ticket this year.

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