A crowd watching a performance at a music festival.

Festival season is here — how to set your budget

Attending a festival often costs much more than just the price of a ticket.

6 min read

Summer means lake days and balmy nights — and music festivals. Compared with the prices of individual concerts, a weekend or day pass to see a bunch of your favorite acts can sound like a major bargain. But, beyond the cost of a ticket, attending a festival often involves more expenses than you might expect. 

From figuring out where you’re staying and to how you’re getting there and what you’ll eat or drink, here are some other costs to consider when budgeting for a memorable summer festival experience.

The varying cost of a festival ticket

The first cost that usually springs to mind when you’re thinking about attending a music festival is the price of a ticket. Festival ticket prices can vary greatly depending on the lineup, how popular the event is, and how long the festival runs for. For example, while a weekend ticket to Coachella in the United States costs around €500, a VIP ticket is close to €990. Likewise, while a weekend pass to Tomorrowland in Belgium costs €295 for an early bird ticket, a regular ticket costs €355. Plus, in nearly all cases, buying a day ticket rather than a full weekend pass is much cheaper and means you potentially save on accommodation and the cost of food and drink.

So, before purchasing a ticket, it's important to research and compare different ticket prices, taking into account early bird discounts, tiered pricing, and additional fees such as service charges. Additionally, some festivals offer group discounts or volunteer programs where you can get a free or discounted ticket in exchange for helping out at the festival. This can be a great way to save money while also meeting other music lovers!

Pricing out your festival accommodation

Especially when attending a multi-day festival, accommodation is a significant expense to consider. Some festivals offer on-site camping or even VIP glamping options, while for others, you have to arrange your own lodging off-site. Each option comes with its own price tag, which is worth considering before you buy your festival ticket.

Camping

Many festivals provide camping facilities, allowing attendees to set up their tents in designated camping areas. This can be a cost-effective option, since you don’t need to shell out money for accommodation near the festival grounds. However, remember to factor additional costs such as tent rentals, sleeping bags, and sleeping mats into your budget — as well as a good set of earplugs for any light sleepers! These extra purchases can easily add up, so it’s also worth asking if friends or family have camping equipment that you can borrow. 

Glamping 

Short for glamorous camping, “glamping” offers a more luxurious camping experience for the comfort-oriented festival goers among us. A festival glamping ticket typically includes a pre-pitched tent or temporary structure fit with amenities like beds, electricity, private bathrooms, and even sometimes perks like breakfast service. However, glamping prices tend to be much higher than a standard camping ticket. Tickets can range from a few hundred euros to well over a thousand euros per person, depending on the festival and how upscale the glamping accommodation is.

RV or campervan camping 

Many festivals provide designated areas for campervans and RVs somewhere on the festival grounds. Dedicated RV hook-ups with access to water and power usually cost slightly more than the price of a regular camping spot, while some festivals may require attendees to bring their own supplies or utilize on-site facilities. But one of the greatest benefits of staying in an RV or camper? It’s a cozy and familiar space to retreat to when you need a break from the festive atmosphere. 

Still, costs vary depending on whether you’re renting a van for the weekend or bringing your own. A short-term RV rental can cost anywhere from a couple of hundred euros to a few thousand, depending on what kind of vehicle it is and how long you’re renting it for.

Off-site accommodation 

Not all festivals have campgrounds, and some festival goers just prefer to stay in off-site accommodation to get a break from the hustle and bustle of the festival grounds. Prices for off-site accommodation vary significantly depending on the proximity to the festival grounds, the location of the festival, and the type of accommodation. While nearby campsites are likely to be the cheapest option, hostel, hotel, and Airbnb prices will differ depending on how spacious and luxurious you want your accommodation to be.

Getting there — the cost of transportation

Transportation costs can make a considerable dent in a festival budget, especially if you need to travel a long way. However, if the festival is reachable by car, you can consider carpooling with friends or acquaintances to save on the cost of gas and parking. Alternatively, ridesharing apps can also be a great option for splitting transportation costs with other festival goers. 

If it’s possible to reach the festival using public transportation, it’s also worth looking at the prices of train and bus routes. Likewise, some festivals offer their own transportation, such as a regular shuttle bus service from certain drop-off points. These shuttles often operate on a fixed schedule and can be a convenient and affordable way to reach the festival grounds. Check the festival's official website or contact the organizers to find out about shuttle availability, routes, and prices.

Saving money on food and drink

Before heading to the festival, it’s smart to set a budget for food and drinks. Many festivals have a variety of food trucks, pop-up stalls, and other vendors — but they can often be pricey. To avoid overspending, check the festival's website or social media channels beforehand for information on food options and prices. Then, estimate your daily spend and multiply that by the number of days that you’ll be at the festival. This way, you’ve got a ballpark budget for food and drinks.

Planning and packing some meals can also make a huge difference to your budget. Plus, easily transportable snacks such as sandwiches, granola bars, nuts, and fruits can help keep hunger at bay, meaning that you don’t need to rely on expensive food from festival vendors. And one more thing: Staying hydrated is crucial at a festival. Check if the festival offers free water stations and if refillable water bottles are allowed on site. If so, bring a refillable bottle and make sure to drink plenty of water! 


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