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11 ways to enjoy summer festivals without breaking the bank

Festivals can be pricey but there are ways to cut the cost of food, travel and even festival fashion.

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Friends sitting on the grass eating at a music festival
Look out for special meal deals at festivals

The summer season is now officially in full swing - although someone might need to update the weather. 

But the rainy days aside, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the summer months.

Glastonbury has recently wrapped up, but there are upcoming festivals across the UK from Reading and Leeds to Creamfields. And it doesn’t just have to be music, as you can opt for comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe or even smaller local festivals. 

However, festivals are notoriously expensive, as once you’ve paid for the ticket then comes the travel, food and drink costs. 

The good news is there are ways to enjoy all the fun at the festival while also keeping an eye on your bank balance. By following some simple tips, it’ll mean you won’t need to dip into your savings account…

1. Plan ahead 

Festival tickets normally need to be purchased months in advance, so use this as an opportunity to plan your other expenses. For example, if you need accommodation nearby, try not to wait until a few weeks before the event. Prices will increase with demand, so you’ll save a lot of money by booking in advance. 

2. Search for travel deals 

Once you’ve sorted your accommodation, it’s a good time to research and plan any travel arrangements. If you are travelling by train, advance tickets are always cheaper and remember to take advantage of railcard offers. If you’re under 30, there’s a third off most rail fares, and there are also offers for two people travelling together with the Two Together Railcard. 

3. Think secondhand for fashion

Festivals are a great time to get dressed up and have fun in style - but that doesn’t mean you need to shop for a new wardrobe. Head to charity shops to find festival appropriate fashion at bargain prices, or search Vinted and haggle with sellers to get a deal on secondhand clothes. You could also host a clothes swap with friends to share some preloved items for free. 

4. Pack for all weathers

Speaking of clothes, don’t forget to pack for all weathers. To avoid forgetting something, create a list of all the things you might need and then tick off the list when you start packing. Try to include clothes that’ll be suitable for rain or sunshine, as then you’ll be fine whatever happens. A quick way to overspend at a festival is realising you don’t have a coat and then you’ll be faced with buying something expensive on-site. 

5. Share costs with friends 

Another way to save money at a festival is to share costs with your friends or family. For example, carshare rather than travelling separately as this will save money on petrol and parking costs. You can also share items during the festival, so try not to buy new camping equipment if one of your friends already has what you need in their garage!

6. Create a daily budget 

Once you arrive at the festival, it’s easy to get caught up in the atmosphere and spend money frivolously. To avoid impulse purchase, decide on a daily budget and stick to it. You could also take cash with you, but check whether the festival accepts both card and cash. ATMs at festivals can also be expensive, so plan what money you’ll need beforehand.

7. Take your own food and drink

Food and drink at festivals are guaranteed to be expensive, so try and bring your own. Some festivals will have certain rules around this, so always read the terms and conditions to understand what is allowed. An easy way to save money is to bring a packed lunch and a water bottle that you can refill from free water fountains throughout the day.

8. Bring portable chargers 

Your phone is an important resource during a festival as it helps you to find friends and family and gives information about the festival schedule. However, the battery can easily get drained throughout the day, so try and carry a portable charger with you. Some festivals also offer free charging points but others will charge you, so a portable charger will keep you connected whatever happens. 

9. Grab a meal deal 

If you don’t fancy bringing your own food and drink, then keep an eye out for festival meal deals. Glastonbury had a £6 offer on some food stalls, so this would help to reduce costs.

10. Avoid merchandise  

If you want to save money at a festival, then you can avoid the merchandise stands. T-shirts and hoodies are a great memento, but they can come with a steep price tag. Instead, remember to take some pictures on your phone as a free keepsake. 

11. Volunteer for free tickets

Finally, if you would like to go to a festival this summer but the tickets are too expensive, then consider volunteering. Festivals are always looking for volunteers to help with the smooth running of the event, and in exchange you’ll receive a free ticket. Yes, you’ll need to work during the day, but there will be some free time to enjoy everything the festival has to offer.

Help stretch your budget a little further by making the most of your savings.

About Lucinda O'Brien

As a trained journalist, Lucinda has spent the past 10 years writing and editing content for regional and national titles, including The Mirror, WalesOnline and Manchester Evening News. She is now a personal finance editor and specialises in savings, helping people to make confident financial decisions so they can save for what matters most.

View Lucinda O'Brien's full biography here or visit the money.co.uk press centre for our latest news.