14 Ways to Save Money at Summer Festivals in the UK

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By Cai Bradley
Updated on Monday 24 June 2019

Hands in the air dancing by festival stage at night

Summer festivals in the UK are memorable experiences filled with great music, drunken antics, plenty of fun, and questionable outfits.

But if you’re not careful, the cost of your weekend could be more representative of an all-inclusive holiday in Marbella than a few nights camping in a muddy field.

Here are our 14 tips to save money at festivals this summer

Tip 1: Set a daily festival budget

How much you spend over the course of a weekend depends on your general tendencies and money management skills, but the amount you splash out doesn’t have to be uncontrollable.

Take control of your festival spending by setting a realistic daily budget to cover any food, drink or anything else that you might buy.

You can do so by either using cash or an app like Monzo, which enables users to set budgets for specific things and lets them know whether they’re on-track or overspending.

Tip 2: Have an emergency fund in place

If Tip 1 doesn’t quite go to plan, it’s important that you have an emergency fund in place to cover you should you need an extra bit of cash to get by – whether you stuff some money in your socks or put an extra £20 in a hidden compartment in your wallet, there’s plenty of ways to do so.

It’s worth overestimating the amount you’re going to spend when allocating your daily budget, so you won’t find yourself dipping into your emergency fund for a pizza on the second night.

Tip 3: Invest in a bum bag

You don’t have to strike a candid pose like The Rock did, but investing in a bum bag could keep you from losing your valuables or having them stolen. Pick pockets thrive at festivals, as we mentioned in our festival insurance guide, so be sure to keep your gadgets and money safe at all times.

It may not be the best look, but with the amount of peculiar outfits you’ll see at a festival, your bum bag is highly unlikely to draw much attention.

Tip 4: Bring your own food!

Food at festivals is notoriously expensive, there’s no doubting that, but knowing the best food to take to a festival could free up a lot of space in your daily budget. So, if you’d rather not spend £10 on a plate of cheesy chips, prepare your own food and drink to take with you.

Here’s a quick list of food to take to festivals:

  • Bread

  • Breakfast or cereal bars

  • Sausage rolls

  • Tins

  • Crisps

  • Popcorn

  • Biscuits

You might not be able to live off these alone, but they’ll certainly fill a hole and help you avoid splashing out on expensive snacks.

Tip 5: Take a portable charger

If you invest in a good portable charger, your phone will be full of juice all weekend and you’ll be able to avoid the costly charging stations at festivals.

You should also avoid posting 20-minute long videos on your Instagram story of flashing lights and distorted bass – no one wants to see it and it wastes your battery.

Tip 6: Don’t take expensive clothes or accessories

No one’s going to judge you for being more Primark than Ralph Lauren at a festival. You can get away with wearing whatever you want, so don’t take your best clothes and risk ruining them, just take some cheap tops that you wouldn’t mind getting dirty.

Tip 7: Take advantage of free festival services

There’s a variety of cool, quirky services at festivals, including a range of freebies for you to make full use of over the weekend.

If you don’t have a portable charger and don’t want to pay over-the-odds prices for an hour’s charge, a popular tent that has appeared in many festivals lately allows you to cycle to generate the power to charge your mobile phone. It’s completely free, so remember to pack your spandex!

Tip 8: Download the festival’s app

Rather than spending £20 or so on an official programme, why not download the festival’s free app beforehand and get all the information at the tap of a screen?

Tip 9: Don’t use ATMs – bring the cash you need

ATMs at festivals will often charge you around £2 to withdraw money, which isn’t a huge amount, but it could add up if you take money out on a few different occasions. It’s also money you could avoid spending pretty easily by taking cash out beforehand.

Tip 10: Car share with mates

Don’t waste money on petrol by driving two or more cars if there are only four or five of you going, simply car share and split the bill between you.

It might be a bit of a squeeze, but if a group of mates chip in for petrol and share a ride, you could all save yourselves quite a lot of cash.

Tip 11: Alternatively, book travel in advance

If you don’t fancy driving home in the rough shape you’ll be in on the final morning and you’d rather get a bus or train, it pays to be organised. Booking travel in advance will save you a lot of money, because the earlier you book, the less you’ll usually pay. 

Tip 12: Check the festival’s alcohol restrictions

It’s worth buying your own alcohol before you get to the festival because it will save you buying all your drink from expensive stalls at the event.

If you do plan on taking your own alcohol, be sure to check the festival’s restrictions, because they won’t hesitate to confiscate anything they’re unhappy with at the gate.

Check how much you’re allowed and take the maximum amount – even if you don’t get through it all, you can always take it home or sell it to your thirsty mates!

Tip 13: Work or volunteer for a free ticket

Your ticket, food, travel and accommodation are all covered if you volunteer at a festival in the UK.

You could also work there (as a bartender, on a stall or as security) and get paid while enjoying the festival vibes – you may have longer hours than volunteers and you’ll miss a lot of the fun, but you’ll be getting paid and there’ll be plenty of time to party once your shift ends.

Tip 14: Use a cheap tent

British summertime is not necessarily known for its perfect weather, so your tent is more than likely going to get muddy and wet.

On top of that, you’re bound to get the odd clumsy festival-goer falling into (or through) your tent at some point. Whether you trip over the guide ropes trying to find the entrance or break the zip door trying to get in, your tent will probably come home battered and bruised from the weekend.

Therefore, it’s not worth splashing out on an expensive tent – just use one you have lying about in the attic or buy a cheap one if you must.

Compare UK Quotes Festival Tips

We hope our tips have helped you figure out what to take to a festival and how you could save money during your weekend away. A few key festival tips to keep in mind include: stick to a daily cash budget, take your own food and a portable charger, and don’t take your most expensive clothes.

Remember, what to take to Reading festival may be slightly different to other festivals – such as Boardmasters Festival by the seaside. Be sure to look into the festival you’re attending specifically, check their policies and any unique requirements you may need to know about.

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