For those who strive for a vacation, music festivals are the perfect break from a daily routine. From ecstatic fans dancing in the mud to the sea of vendors wrapped in tie-dye, music festivals will take you mentally and physically far away from a lecture hall or office. Music truly is the best escape.
Festivals vary in genre and location, so there is something for everyone. At Lollapalooza, chances are you will be staying at a hotel in downtown Chicago. But if you’re looking to rough it, stop by the horse farm in Arlington, Virginia, home to LOCK’N Festival. Electric Forest in Rothbury, Michigan will satisfy all EDM fans’ headbanging needs, while Shaky Knees in Atlanta, Georgia has indie rockers swaying back and forth to “Salad Days” by Mac DeMarco.
Forty-six percent of festival goers consist of people between the ages of 18 and 32, so music festivals are ideal for the college-aged crowd. The only issue is, festivals tend to be expensive, and the college student budget often doesn’t allow for a $300 ticket. But, there are ways around that!
Here are 5 ways to cut music festival costs.
1. Pick your Festival Wisely
Caymo festival, which is a week-long festival on a cruise ship leaving from Miami, Florida, will set you back about $925, but most college students don’t need a spa, bowling alley, or casino to satisfy their music festival needs. There are plenty of festivals that give out passes for close to nothing. Tickets start at $99 dollars for Shaky Knees, which has housed hit bands, such as the Pixies, the XX, Cage the Elephant, and many more. If you can’t afford a 3-4 day pass, many festivals offer individual day passes for much cheaper.
Make sure you know the scene you’re entering before purchasing a ticket. Vans Warped Tour, which is a traveling festival, features heavy skate-punk music, like GWAR and Anti-flag. The scene and experience at a festival like the Vans Warped Tour will be much different than the family-friendly Lauralive Festival in Russell Township, Ohio.
Music festivals like LOCK’N, Hangout Music Festival, Electric Forest, and many others offer volunteer opportunities. The details vary by festival, but oftentimes people can work as security, part of the cleanup crew, or a multitude of other jobs to attain a free, or heavily discounted ticket. Festivals often let volunteers pick their own hours. That way, you don’t have to miss your favorite band!
Don’t worry, this work is not your typical nine to five. You could be asked to come in on the Tuesday or Wednesday leading up to the festival to help set up, but the bonds you make with fellow volunteers will only enhance your experience. Possibly the best thing about music festivals is how happy people are. Everyone you work with is wearing a smile, cemented on their face. You catch everyone in their best, most conversational moods. If you went to the festival by yourself, volunteering is an easy way to make friends to attend the shows with.
Here is a listing for an unpaid internship at the Atlantic Music Festival.
3. Choose Cheap Living
Depending on the festival, where you sleep can be drastically different. Bonnaroo is on a farm in rural Tennessee, so you will most likely be sleeping in a tent or a car, or maybe not at all. Make sure you book a camping pass before you get there. The easy option is to include it in the package with your ticket.
Pro Tip: Car camping and regular camping are different things! If you want to have your car with you, which I advise, you must decide that ahead of time. Otherwise, you will have to park your car at a general parking area and walk all of your camping supplies to your designated spot.
At festivals like Outside Lands in San Francisco, or Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, you will need a room to stay in. Unfortunately, the average nightly cost for a hotel room in San Francisco sits at a staggering $397. Four days of expenses in an urban area can add a hefty punch to your wallet, and high living prices are an easy way to shy away students. But, they are avoidable! Crashing with a friend or family member in the city should be your first option, but if you can’t, try Airbnb. With Airbnb you can rent out an apartment, for a much more reasonable price.
4. Take Advantage of Deals
Make sure you buy tickets far in advance. Some of the popular festivals sell out months before they start, and ticket prices escalate as the event date comes closer.
Oftentimes festivals will offer student discounts, so make sure you check online before purchasing a general admission ticket. LOCK’N Festival offers a $40 discount with a student ID at the door!
5. Figure out Travel in Advance
If you have a ticket to a festival in a rural area, and plan on camping, try your hardest to find a car to drive. It makes camping, lugging around supplies, and entering the festival much easier.
For music festivals in cities, the farther in advance you plan your travels, the more you will save. Bus trips can be cheap options, but they often include many stops, and take a long time. When taking a bus, you may have to skip an extra day of class or work, just to travel. Trains and flights booked far in advance will be your most practical and financially beneficial option.
Music festivals are home to more than just concerts. They are a culturally packed experience in a calm and joyful environment. Music festivals are a break from reality and everyday life, which is everything a vacation should be.
News & Content Manager
Jackson Schroeder is a graduate of Ohio University with a B.A. in Journalism from the E.W. Scripps School. He is originally from Savannah, Georgia. Jackson has covered a wide range of topics, including sustainability, technology, sports, culture, travel, and music. He plays bass and guitar, and enjoys playing and listening to live music in his free time.