Ultimate Guide to Budgeting for Music Festivals

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Budgeting for Music Festivals

Are financial influencers making you believe you can’t simultaneously enjoy a music festival and save enough for retirement? Think again. We can help you achieve both. 

Remember, we’re not saying the costs can’t add up. While attending a music festival can be an unforgettable experience,  it could break your budget without careful planning and blow your budget quickly, from tickets to travel, accommodation, and high-priced food and drinks. 

This guide will explore how to budget effectively for your next music festival, from average costs to essential budgeting tips and even side hustles to earn more. Get ready to visit music festivals and build your savings this year!

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How do music festivals work?

While music festivals can trace their origins back to 582 BC in Ancient Greece, modern ones took off in the 1960s and became famous — or infamous — with Woodstock. Music festivals are multiday events featuring live performances by various artists across multiple stages. 

These festivals often occur in outdoor venues or large open spaces, attracting thousands of music enthusiasts worldwide. Glastonbury, the UK’s premier music festival, attracts over 200,000 visitors a year, while Coachella boasts over 250,000 attendees.  Attendees can purchase tickets to access the festival grounds, stages, and other amenities, like backstage passes or VIP areas.

There are many types of music festivals to choose from. In addition to big ones like Coachella or Lollapalooza, there are specialized hip-hop, country, indie, and classical music festivals.

How much does it typically cost to go to music festivals?

The cost of attending a music festival can vary significantly depending on factors such as the festival’s popularity, location, and the type of ticket purchased. On average, expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $500 for a general admission pass to a major music festival. 

Premium and VIP packages can cost much more, ranging from $500 to several thousand dollars. On top of that, you’ll need to account for accommodation, food, and transportation to and from the festival. 

How to budget for music festivals

Budgeting for a music festival means considering what you can spend and what you expect to spend and balancing the two. Here’s how:

1. Set a realistic number

Determine how much you can afford to spend on the music festival, including tickets, travel, accommodation, food, and other expenses. Knowing what you can afford can help you decide whether this year is the year to splurge. Consider your overall financial situation, including income, expenses, and any savings you might have set aside.

2. Determine your overall costs

Tickets can be pricey, but overall costs go much higher. Here is what to consider in your total festival budget:

  • Tickets: Early bird tickets are often cheaper than regular or last-minute tickets, so try to purchase your tickets as early as possible. If you’re late, check out scouting sites to (maybe) get a better deal. 
  • Travel: Factor in the cost of transportation, whether gas for driving, airfare, or public transportation. Be sure to account for some extra travel expenses, and see whether you can use credit card points for airfares to save more. 
  • Accommodation Consider camping on-site if it’s an option, as it can be significantly cheaper than hotels. If camping isn’t an option, look for affordable hotels or Airbnbs in the area, and consider splitting the cost with friends. If you have a car and are willing to drive, campsites further from the area could also help you save more. If you love camping, check out camping music festivals.
  • Food and drinks: Festival food and drinks can be expensive, so plan to bring nonperishable snacks and a reusable water bottle. If camping is allowed, cook your own meals or even bring simple picnics to save on food.
  • Merchandise: Set a budget for any band merchandise or festival souvenirs you may want to purchase and stick with it. Allow yourself enough for one souvenir, if that’s important to you, but remember this doesn’t have to be your last festival so that you can buy more the next time. 
  • Cashless payments: Many festivals now use cashless payment systems, so factor in any additional fees for loading money onto a wristband or card. For added convenience, you can also use a digital wallet with your phone. 
  • Other costs: Budget for travel insurance, parking fees, and any other miscellaneous expenses that may arise. Consider allocating a portion of your budget (5% to 10%) to a festival emergency fund. 

3. Create a savings plan

Set aside a portion of your monthly income to start saving for the music festival well in advance. Cut back on nonessential expenses. Automating your savings can make the process easier and more consistent. 

Consider using a high-yield savings account to save a bit more. Some people try to save more by skipping small daily splurges (like a meal out or a coffee) and putting that money into your festival savings account. An average of $10 a day is $300 a month, helping you reach your goals faster.

You can also work backward. Once you know your total budget and how many months you’ll have to save, you can divide one by the other to determine your target monthly savings. For example, if your total budget is $2,000 and the festival is five months away, you’ll need to save at least $400 a month to reach your goal. 

4. Look for discounts

Check for student discounts, group discounts, or loyalty programs that could help you save money on tickets or other expenses. Some festivals offer early bird or loyalty discounts for purchasing tickets in advance or for returning attendees. There are many other ways to get cheap concert tickets.

5. Reduce discretionary spending

Look for areas in your budget where you can reduce nonessential expenses, such as dining out, entertainment, or subscriptions. Then, redirect that money toward your festival fund. 

6. Prioritize festival expenses

Identify which aspects of the festival are most important to you and allocate more of your budget accordingly. For example, if you’re mainly interested in seeing your favorite artists perform, prioritize the cost of tickets over other expenses. 

On the other hand, if you’re on a tight budget and want the whole festival experience, consider camping. And if you need to fly to the destination and the ticket prices are high, consider flying to smaller alternate airports or road-tripping. 

Short on cash? Explore side gigs to cover the costs

If you can’t reach your savings goals with your current income, or you want to earn more quickly to attend an upcoming music festival, here’s a list of side gigs where you could quickly earn more.

1. Ride-share driver

Driving for ride-share services like Uber or Lyft can be a flexible way to earn extra cash. You can work as much or as little as you need to, and the income can help cover your festival costs.

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2. Personal fitness trainer

As a full-time career, you could earn about $50k a year as a personal trainer. Working as a personal fitness trainer can be a lucrative side hustle. According to our research, personal trainers can earn around $50,000 a year, which could significantly boost your festival fund.

3. Camp counselor

If you need to earn cash from a summer side hustle and enjoy working with children & being outdoors, consider becoming a camp counselor. However, this can be a labor-intensive job that requires you to live there. This side hustle can be rewarding and financially beneficial for funding your music festival adventures.

4. Reselling items online

You could capitalize on your skills and resources by reselling items online. Whether it’s handmade crafts or unused belongings, reselling can generate additional income for your festival budget. 

For example, the average family has unused sports goods, appliances, or furniture worth hundreds of dollars. Likewise, you could source items on sites like eBay and re-list them to create a home-based business that doesn’t require hiring inventory. 

5. Closet organization

Looking for an unconventional side hustle to use your organizational skills? Consider offering closet organization services in your local area. This side hustle can be particularly appealing for women looking to earn extra income, but anyone can get into it. Consider listing your services online or starting with friends and family familiar with your organizational abilities. 

6. Food delivery rider

Delivery services like DoorDash and Grubhub allow you to earn money by delivering customer food orders. This flexible side gig can provide same-day earnings, which can help cover last-minute festival expenses. You can choose your hours and deliver around your other jobs or family obligations. Better yet? You can get paid the same day and move the money to your savings account. 

7. Freelance photography

If you have a talent for photography, offer your services to take graduation, wedding, and other important events like anniversaries, bar or bas mitzvahs, or family photography. Music festivals can be an excellent opportunity to capture memorable moments and earn extra income. 

Photography can also be a great side hustle for teens. To build your reputation, you can start by offering your services or photography packages for less than professional photographers. You can also list your services on sites like Airbnb and offer to hold photo sessions for tourists or visitors.

8. Take online surveys

Participating in online surveys can be a simple and flexible way to earn extra cash. While the earnings may be modest, every bit can help contribute to your festival fund. You’re unlikely to earn enough to cover your trip, but you could save a little monthly over a year toward festival souvenirs, tickets, and other costs. 

PRO TIP! Create additional income to pay for music festivals by doing surveys and playing games.

Go to the festival and save more

You should pursue your passion if you love music or a festival environment! Don’t wait to go or be scared of the high price tag. Instead, look at your total budget, identify areas to cut back, and create a savings plan. If you plan far enough, you may only need to save $100 to $200 a month. 

Just remember to allocate funds to your 401(k), IRA, or other retirement savings account, an emergency fund, and other savings goals. While planning for your big festival splurge, check out free summer activities, including local concerts in the park, to maximize the warm months and save more on entertainment. 

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What are the most famous music festivals?

Some of the most famous music festivals include Coachella and Lollapalooza in the USA, Glastonbury in the UK, and Tomorrowland in Belgium.

Is it worth purchasing a VIP or premium ticket package?

VIP or premium packages can provide benefits like exclusive viewing areas, private restrooms, and special amenities. However, they can be significantly more expensive, so consider your priorities and budget before purchasing.

What essential items should I pack for a multiday music festival?

Essential items for a multiday festival include a refillable water bottle, sunscreen, hat, comfortable shoes, rain gear, portable charger, cash and cards, and any necessary medications.

What are the best ways to beat the heat at outdoor music festivals?

To beat the heat, drink plenty of water, fruits, and snacks. Seek shade when possible, wear lightweight and breathable clothing, and consider bringing a portable fan or misting bottle.

How can I ensure my safety and security at a crowded music festival?

To stay safe at music festivals, stay aware of your surroundings, keep valuables secure, avoid overcrowded areas, and familiarize yourself with the festival’s safety protocols and emergency services.

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