If you don’t already know, I am an event management student and I absolutely love what I do and have been fortunate enough to get some great experience in a number of events including festivals. I know lots of people who aren’t particularly interested in the work experience side of things will also work festivals to get the discounted access to the shows, so here are some of the key parts of working at a festival that might not get advertised.
- Long hours – Hopefully when you sign up to the role they should disclose the hours you are expected to work, but if you have no idea what to expect, in my experience I have been doing 9-12 hour days, normally with a 30 minute lunch break so be prepared to be working hard and for a while.
- Huge crowds – Obviously festivals are a pretty busy environment anyway but if you are working on the gates then you will feel that at full capacity, so it might seem obvious but if you are not a fan of big crowds then working on a festival might not be for you.
- Grumpy customers – For the most part I haven’t had too much bad experience with customers/event attendees but it does happen. On the events I have worked at I have often been based in the VIP area which you may assume comes with the perks of normally quite nice people who aren’t going to be embarrassingly making a scene, however, more often than not it is the VIP guests who will complain. Obviously they have paid a lot of money to be there and understandably would be upset if their event experience isn’t what they had hoped for. What I have learnt from this is especially when you are temp staff, that you always just pass them on to your manager. If it’s a simple request or query then obviously you can deal with that but if people really start to kick up a fuss then they are often looking for some sort of money back or compensation in some way and that is not something you have the authority to say yes to. So, if in doubt or even if you are just feeling uncomfortable with the situation, just say “I’m sorry, I’m not sure about that, let me get my manager” and then let them deal with it.
- Bad weather – Even with festivals being run mid-August the good old British weather makes no promises and it’s not unlikely that you might get caught up in some bad weather. The main thing I can say about this is just always be prepared. Check the weather in advance but it’s also worth stuffing a little umbrella or rain mac into your bag just in case. I have had to leg it from an event to the train in the pouring rain with just a T-shirt and shorts before and it is definitely not ideal if you have to sit on a train home sopping wet.
- Pay – Depending on your qualifications and the company you go through you may or may not get paid for your work. The reason for this is that often you get other perks in place of pay such as food and getting to watch the shows. *Side Note: If you do get free food it can be amazing! (see below).*
- On your feet – Maybe the most important thing to remember for not just festivals but all events is that you will inevitably be on your feet most of the time so make sure you wear appropriate and comfortable shoes. Some companies might ask you to wear a specific style/colour or to avoid a type of shoe completely but if you have the free-rein to choose then just go with your comfiest pair of trainers, this might not mean that your feet don’t get sore but it will definitely relieve some of the strain.
- Bring Water – You may be provided with water, but if it’s busy you might not have that much time to go and find some and you definitely don’t want to buy bottles of water at events because they are normally expensive. Lots of summer events will have water fountains set up so if you bring your own bottle you can quickly fill up throughout the day.
- Suncream – Should be obvious but if you’re leaving first thing in the morning when it’s not that hot it might not be the first thing you think of. If you’re going to be outside in direct sunlight for the majority of the day you definitely need suncream on, otherwise you will have a really unpleasant few days if you burn.
- A Change of Clothes – Be prepared for anything, I already said about if there is rain, but it might also be cold in the evenings or when you’re travelling home, so, pack a hoodie or a pair of jeans (you should be able to store your bag somewhere on the day).
Also See: My Summer Begins