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Home > Money Blog > Saving Tips > Festival Fun – On a Budget or Free

Festival Fun – On a Budget or Free

The Summer of the Festival

It’s quickly become a part of British popular culture – summer time means festival time!  With literally hundreds of festivals taking place across the length and breadth of the country in the coming months, the only decision to make is to look at the sky and think wellies or flip flops.

It not all about pop and rock either. There’s a festival for everything from food to folk and brass bands to Buddhism!

Of course, festivals can be pretty expensive too. The price for a Glastonbury pass is going to set you back around £250 and that’s just for the ticket. Once you’ve included travel, parking, food, drink and the obligatory commemorative T-shirt, there would be little change from £500! For many the choice is go to a festival or have a weeks summer holiday, the funds can’t stretch to both.

To try and make life a little easier,  we’ve researched some free festivals and put the information together with a few handy tips to help you save the pennies.

Free Festivals

Have a Google of free festivals in your local area, there is sure to be something within travelling distance. We’ve picked a few of our favourites to give you a feel for what’s available.


If comedy is your thing, you’ll be hard pressed to beat the world famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  Celebrating it’s 70th birthday this year, the event brings together some of comedy’s biggest stars together with break-through acts that you will never have heard of.  Having launched the careers of the likes of Jo Brand, Rowan Atkinson, Billy Connolly, Ben Elton and Eddie Izzard to name just a few.

The beauty is that it isn’t just in one space, but spread around the city pretty much anywhere that can host a venue.  This means you can watch small and intimate performances with just a handful of people or big performances in front of hundreds.  There are street events every day throughout the festival on the Royal Mile too.  Not all performances are free but the beauty is you can pick and choose which ones you want to attend.

The festival runs from Friday 4th of August through to Monday 28th, so there is plenty of opportunity to pop along.  For further information click here.

North of England

Ever fancied watching the likes of AC/DC, Bowie, Nirvana and Status Quo all in one venue but thought your chance had gone?  Well fear no more! Rockprest festival in Preston brings together all of these acts in tribute format. Best of it all, it’s completely free to attend (just a booking fee).

With food and drink stalls and even a funfair, there’s something for the entire family. The event is now in it’s third year and growing from strength to strength. If you fancy live big stage entertainment for free then Moor Park, Preston on Saturday 1st July and Sunday 2nd July is the place to be!  Watch out though, you will need a ticket so they can control the numbers, so sign up here.

East of England

Image shows people buying freshly cooked food at a festival

The Norwich Food and Drink Festival on June 18th is a must for foodies! Every year sees the return of old favourites, such as the Battle of the Bangers and the Moveable Feast.  Plus there are always new events to tantalise your taste buds.

Established in 2004, Norfolk Food & Drink has become the ‘Go To’ organisation for food and drink in the county.

For more information visit their website.


Music is what it’s all about at the Monmouth Festival. With an eclectic mix of iconic legends, local artists and up and coming young talent, dance, classical, country, folk, jazz, pop, rock’n roll, ska, world music and so much more.

The aim is for everyone to enjoy a live music performance whether it is in the open air, in a church or a pub.   It could be an old favourite, new or local talent, there should be something to please everyone.

Throughout its 35 years, the Festival has got bigger and better and now includes a Family Fun Day, and a busking Festival .  The Festival prides itself on being extremely friendly, relaxed and an opportunity for families to come together and enjoy themselves.

Running from the 28th of July to the 5th of August, the Monmouth Festival looks like a winner.

South West England

Image shows scores of hot air balloons setting off at a festival

If music and food isn’t your thing, how about something completely different – a load of hot air!

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is Europe’s largest annual meeting of hot air balloons, featuring over 150 Hot Air Balloons from all around the world. This festival of fun is run over four days from Thursday 10th to Sunday 14th Augusts and the event is completely free to watch.  The only thing you would need to pay for is car parking, should you be driving there.

It’s not all up in the air though, there are fairgrounds rides, stalls and live entertainment too.

There are two key times to visit. For the early birds, get there at 6 a.m. for the spectacle of take off.  150 balloons taking off in the early morning light is a festival for the eyes in itself! If that’s a bit early for you, make sure you are there for before 5 p.m. for the spectacular evening night glows.


No free Festival list would be worth its salt if it didn’t mention the Notting Hill Carnival.  London’s biggest street party, lines the roads with colour, party floats and an amazing atmosphere!

The Carnival takes place every year on the Sunday and Monday of the UK summer bank holiday weekend, which is the last weekend in August.

The Notting Hill Carnival was first held in 1964 as an offshoot of the Trinidad Carnival, celebrating Caribbean culture and traditions in London.

When the Notting Hill Carnival first started, in 1964 around 500 people attended the Caribbean themed festival. The carnival has since become the largest street festival in Europe, attracting hundreds of thousands to London, and continues to grow in popularity. Expect to see some 50,000 performers in the parade and more than 30 sound systems.  More than 1 million people will be attending over the carnival weekend.

Festival Hacks

Even if you are paying to attend a festival, there are plenty of tips to take on board.  If you’re in it for the weekend, they are even more handy!

  • Take an old phone.  Firstly, your smart phone battery won’t stay the course.  Secondly, if you lose it……
  • f you are taking your smart phone, take an emergency battery back up!  There might be charging points but the queues will be epic!
  • Check the weather forecast.  Even the vaguest hint of rain means wear your wellies.  You know it will be a mudfest!
  • Seal-able sandwich bags are a god send!  Anything you want to keep dry, phone, keys, watch etc. Pop them in a sandwich bag.
  • Wet wipes are your friend.  The queues for the showers will be beyond a joke.  Plus if you make it there, the conditions could well be dubious.
  • Pack some gaffer tape.  Things rip, that’s life.  gaffer tape can fix pretty much anything temporarily!
  • Leave a set of dry clothes in the car if you are driving.  You’ll be thanking us when you leave!
  • Don’t pack a pillow.  It’s too much to carry.  Stick your clothes in an empty pillow case and hey presto – a pillow!
  • Get there early and never camp at the bottom of a hill.  You don’t want to wake up in a lake!
  • Don’t forget a torch.  Even better, for hands-free, a head torch.  Those guide ropes around the tent are virtually invisible in the dark.
  • Have an emergency fund and try not to touch it.  You never know if you will need it.

Festival Money Savers

  • t might seem a tad extreme but volunteers at a festival are often there for free.  In return for litter picking or similar, you get to watch the acts… gratis!
  • Bring as much food and drink as you can carry.  even if you only cover breakfast off, at least you’ll have some food inside you.  By the way, cereal bars are a winner!
  • Finally if you can’t live without your favourite bands merchandise, wait for the last day and haggle.  Many sellers would rather mark it down than take it away.

For more great money saving tips, click here

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