Working or Volunteering at Glastonbury - how to get a job!

Edward Mellett's picture

Submitted by Edward Mellett on 2013, July 4 - 1:23pm

I've volunteered at festivals a few times. I know it's hard getting jobs at the very popular festivals (e.g. Glastonbury) so I thought I'd write a post for newbies explaining a few of the options available to you when you're making your first applications.

Once you do start getting jobs (either paid or voluntary) at any festival, it does get easier and easier to find work each year. The reason for this is you gradually build up a little network of friends who work for different volunteering groups or private festival contractors and when they need people for next year's events, they ask you first.

So, my first tip is to take any work you can get to start with, at any festival. This is the best way to guarantee a gig at Glastonbury in the future.

If you don't want to work at any other festival apart from Glastonbury, or if you just want to work at Glastonbury (on any other festival) as a one-off, there are plenty of other ways you can do it...

Working for a private contractor

Most festivals don't really employ many people themselves, apart from a core team who will manage the event (arrange bands, work with councils, organise promotion, etc). Mostly, festivals will hire outside/private contractors to look after skilled work, which can be anything and everything from companies who provide festival toilets, to security companies providing teams of stewards/trained security to PR firms that will look after press and publication relations.

Once you work out which private companies are working for a festival, there's nothing stopping you from applying direct to them for paid roles, voluntary roles or work experience. Like the real world, some companies find it harder to find people to work for them (e.g. festival toilet providers) than others (e.g. PR firms).

Other companies may require people with very niche skills to work for them (e.g. companies that set up stages, organise lighting or sound, caterers, first aid providers, etc). This is generally good news if you have a relevant niche skill. Think about what skills you have and work out if there's a company working for Glastonbury that might be able to use you.

Working for traders

Every year hundreds of private traders apply for pitches at Glastonbury. These guys sell everything from food and drink, to clothes to herbal highs, etc, etc. Most of these traders are small, often family run businesses and most of them will hire people they know to work for them at festivals. Even so, it's worth trying to find out phones numbers or email addresses for traders because if you happen to call them to find out if they need help at a festival, and it turns out they're having trouble finding someone, they might just hire you. The benefit of working for one of these small guys too, is that there probably won't be any interview process (they'll just say "yep, ok you can join us next weekend!") and they'll probably pay you cash in hand (no tax for you Mr. Taxman!) which is a little added bonus.

Finding out who is trading at festivals can be hard though and realistically the best way to make contacts with these people is to actually attend Glastonbury one year, make friends with some of them, get their details, and keep in contact until the next year.

There are some larger companies who trade at most festivals (e.g. Herbal Highs, Rizla) and you may be able to apply to these guys more easily (they have websites with their contact details on for example).

Remember that although it can be hard to find work with traders, there are a LOT of traders at Glastonbury. Apart from all the conventional retailers and burger traders you see all over the festival, there are also Boutique Camping providers, Campervan camping companies, Festival taxi firms (think Addison Lee via golf buggies in a muddy field!), etc!

Working for promotions and brands

Brands love to tap into the festival market. Companies (everything from computer companies to phone companies to ice-cream companies) love to associate their brands with young fun events and people, and consequently you often see brands promoting themselves at festivals. Often a brand will hire an advertising company to arrange an on festival promotion for them and this advertising companies will in turn hire fun young people (like you!) to come on site and promote them. This type of work usually requires you to wear branded clothes and give out free samples of a product. To get hired it's worth scouting out job websites designed for 'promotional staff'. A good example of one of these is PromoJobsPro.com. If you add yourself to the site then companies know you're looking for this type of role and you might get contacted.

Volunteering

Several charitable organisations work at Glastonbury providing a range of services from stewarding to offering medical care. Some organisations only offer jobs to people who have previously worked at a festival with them, but others are more open to accepting new applications.

Similarly, with working for voluntary organisations, just like private contractors, the more unique skills you have the more likely an organisation is to hire you. If you are a trained doctor or nurse for example, you offer a significant benefit to an organisation.

Volunteering roles can be better time wise, with some opportunities requiring you to attend pre-festival or post-festival to help with setting up or dismantling things such as tents, or helping with litter collection. If you get this type of gig you might end up enjoying the whole festival before you need to do any work at all!

Oxfam have been working with Glastonbury for years and provide stewards throughout the festival. They are probably the largest recruiter of stewards and helpers for Glastonbury and it's well worth starting your quest to find work at the festival with them.

Other organisations that may/may not be operating at Glastonbury each year are Water Aid, Amnesty International and War Child.

Go get a job!

The best advice to give you is to start making applications for any type of position early. Unlike other festivals who may struggle to find volunteers, all roles at Glastonbury are oversubscribed every single year.

If you would like to work at Glastonbury festival next year, we recommend you start by taking a look at these roles:

Working at festivals is great fun. It's not exactly 'work' either. Most people are in a great mood, keen to meet people, having fun, probably a bit drunk or stoned... if you get the chance to do it, I recommend it!

2013, July 12 - 12:00pm

Great article and it should apply to most other festivals, as they all have lots of available jobs.

2015, March 3 - 2:39pm

Hello :)

My name is Lauren Seifert and I am currently a fourth year Event Management student at Bournemouth University. For my dissertation I am studying the antecedents, experiences and consequences for individuals who volunteer to work at the Glastonbury Festival. As part of this project I need to collect primary research from these volunteers. So I ask you to please fill in my short online survey; it will take approx 8 mins to complete. Please send it on to any of your friends or colleagues who have also volunteered. I will not have any access to your personal information and the survey will be kept completely confidential.

For a link to this survey please email me on i7951157 @ bournemouth.ac.uk (with no spaces)

I greatly appreciate any help you can offer. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I look forward to hearing from you.

Much appreciated,

Lauren Seifert

2015, June 12 - 2:29pm

It is surprisingly easy to get a job at a festival if it's something that you want to do, but you need to let your potential employer know that not only are you trustworthy and the like, but also that you are up for a bit of fun, and that you would be able to enhance the experience of the other people who are at the festival. That is the trick, really, so if you put your best foot forward you should find that you're able to get a job and then have a great time when you're there.

2015, June 13 - 11:37am

If you want to work somewhere bigger though you could do with some experience, even if that's only something very small in your local area. If you know more about what's involved in working at a festival, you're much more likely to be successful when you apply to bigger ones.

2017, January 15 - 5:19pm

I have been a volunteer at Glastonbury for the past 28 Years with the WBC and I have seen volunteers come and go as many don't appear to grasp the fact that they have to work shifts and in most cases they wont be able to change the times - sure if they stick with it 25 years they then can pick their own shifts.

Sure some volunteer Organisations will try to allow people to swap shifts but its best to assume the worst.

Although over the years I have spotted some good jobs and I know people who get paid even although they don't have to do anything while the festival is on.

One guy works for the main tent supplier - he is in charge of the workers - they are down there for 3 or 4 weeks - once all the tents is up he takes photos of them all and then he sits in a winnebago in his crew camp with a AAA pass { so he can get everywhere } and just enjoys the festival.

One job that many did not apply for { its always important to ask for a full description of a job before applying } was ' Toilet Inspection ' - they did not have to clean the toilets - all they had to do was inspect how well the cleaners were doing - and it was a day time job so they had every night off to see Bands.

One important factor to take into consideration is that many volunteers have to pay a deposit and this can vary a lot { but will roughly be close to the ticket price }

Now I don't pay a deposit but if I did I would want to know who decides if a worker has worked as per their contract and if there is a appeals procedure as I know in the past some of the smaller volunteer Organisations were very reluctant to repay the deposit.

Also daft things like transport

does the volunteer Organisations put on free transport ? and from where

Now most of them do have transport options but they do they drop people off at the crew campsite ? - many don't

The WBC does but every year - I see tons of workers leaving Coaches on the Tuesday and they have to move all their stuff in.

There is crew sites all over the place - my site is next to Gate D - A bloody long walk from gate A

Next is just important

Food - some will have Catering within their Crew site - some don't - I know the workers who work for Worthy View have to walk back to their crew site which is on the opposite side of the site so they were not very happy last year.

Some volunteers only get one meal voucher per day { the WBC hands out two } and I know that some ' have to buy their own meals.

Some crew camps have a 24 hour bar { although cheap drinks will be served up to 3am } and again this does vary - the WBC hands out two free drink vouchers per day.

I started attending Glastonbury in 1979 - next year will be my 32nd festival but it took me two years to get into the WBC but that is long before the Internet so these days its easy to get a job

the best time is now - January