Save, make, understand money


The ultimate festival finance guide

Tahmina Mannan
Written By:
Tahmina Mannan

Festival season is now fully in swing as 16 million Brits gear up this summer for the likes of Glastonbury, Apollo and T in the Park, to name just a few. Follow these essential tips.

Although a cheaper way to see lots of music acts in one go, festivals are by no means inexpensive as some tickets can set you back almost as much as the price of a week in the sun.

There’s not much you can do about the price of the festival ticket, but there are actions you can take to make sure you’re not left with more than just a hangover after the festival.

Thinking ahead is key when it comes to saving money at a festival. Follow these tips to make sure you don’t overspend where you don’t need to:

Book in advance: Book your train or flight as soon as you can. Advance tickets are on general sale about 12 weeks ahead of the journey time, and tend to be the cheapest as soon as they go on sale. As a rule of thumb you should try and book the tickets at least 10 weeks in advance to get a ticket at a reasonable price.

Share a ride: If there’s a group of you going, and it works out cheaper to take a car, do it. This way you won’t have to contend with pricey train fares or being stuck on a train with lots of other smelly tired revellers, but can stop at service stations whenever you choose.

The gear: Don’t buy a whole new set of pricey camping gear. You’ll spend very little time actually under canvas, so it seems pointless wasting the beer fund on a plush new tent and mattress you won’t actually use. All you need for a great time is a cheap tent, a sleeping bag and a rolling mat. You definitely don’t need a state-of-the-art gas BBQ and an inflatable kingsize bed.

Make sure you check your tent a few days before you head to the festival for holes etc. There is nothing worse than being stuck in a tent that leaks the whole rainy weekend.

Cash or credit? Although festivals are getting better at providing festivalgoers with card payments methods, it’s still a good idea to budget and take cash so that you know how much you’ve spent and how much you have left.

Look out for contactless payment wristbands which are in the early stages of being wheeled out to festivals. These are a great way to keep your money on you without actually keeping your cash on you.

Sunscreen: Sharing one bottle of (pricey) sunscreen between a group makes more sense than taking a bottle each when you’re only going to a two-day festival. Share.

Take your own provisions: Festivals are notoriously expensive when it comes to food and drink. While there is a limit on alcohol, there isn’t one on food. If you are going to a two-day festival, taking along your own snacks will save you a small fortune. 

Make a few ice-packs, or better still – take along frozen meat. Over a two-day festival, the meat will slowly thaw, so will be ready to eat when you’re ready and fancy throwing a BBQ party with your disposable BBQ.

Bring Your Own Bottle: No, not just your allocated alcohol allowance, but also a plastic bottle. This way, you save money on those over-priced bottles of water and stay hydrated enough to try to keep the hangover at bay.

Sleep with your phone: There is nothing worse than having your valuables stolen and even worse when you’re supposed to be having the time of your life miles from home. Most festivalgoers now take along hundreds of pounds worth of technology with them to festivals every year, and often there’s not much option but to take them.

One of the best ways to keep an eye on your valuables is to sleep with them in the sleeping bag at the bottom of your feet. Thieves will have to be pretty determined if they want to get to your wallet and phone then!


Download the app: As if festivals aren’t pricey enough, a lot of them charge you for a copy of the festival map. Just download the app or image on to your phone before you head out.

Merchandise: Leave buying all the festival merchandise until the last day.Often the vendors tend to drop the price of t-shirts etc because they want to get rid of them before they leave the festival.

Save the planet: Most festivals offer a recycling scheme for empty cups ranging from 5 – 10p per cup when you return them to the bar. If you happen to have a few spare minutes, start collecting. It’s a good way to make money for the next pint, while doing good for the planet.

And finally, check the weather.

For those heading abroad 

Flights abroad are 8% cheaper roughly 21 days before the departure to international destinations, according to research from 

Avoid travelling to your festival over the weekend if you can help it, or try to incorporate a festival abroad with a proper holiday at the same time.

Sort out your travel money, early – shopping around for your travel money is essential as the pound remains weak, and rumour has it that it may fall further.

You can use online currency specialists like HiFX, FairFX or Moneycorp – among others – to get a better deal than you could usually get on the high street.

Pre-paid cards are useful if you are budgeting too, as you load the amount you want to spend while you are away onto the card before you go and then use it like a debit card when you are away.

Get insured – you must get insurance before you head off to a festival abroad. Make sure you read the fine print and see just what level of insurance cover you’re getting. Check travel updates on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s website for safety concerns and issues.
Your passport – have a copy on your person all the time for obvious reasons, but also leave a copy with family at home. Also, scan a copy to your email address so that should you lose the copy you have you can simply print it off again.

Don’t leave valuables – don’t leave anything valuable lying around or in plain sight. Remember, that while you are there to have a good time, others may have a more sinister motive. Lock up any valuables if the option is there.


And the things to know for next time –

Volunteering – A great way to see the festivals without paying a penny. There are number of organisations, like Oxfam, which send thousands of volunteers to big name festivals to campaign and run things for them. Get in touch and see what you can do for them, and you may just get the festival you want without the huge price tag.

Early bird – quite a few festivals have early-bird special priced tickets. If you know you want to go, buy yourself a ticket on the discounts. If you later change your mind, you may be able to sell it on later for a premium anyway.