As the weather heats up, Canadians are looking for ways to get out of the house and enjoy the higher temperatures. Some will go camping, others will go hiking, but many will opt for an expensive alternative: attending music festivals.
While undeniably a great experience, festivals can be expensive, especially if they are multi-day affairs and require overnight camping. The costs of attending a festival can add up quickly, but that doesn’t mean you should forgo them altogether. There are plenty of ways to save money while attending a festival, here are our top tips:
Many festivals use volunteers to make the event run smoothly, but most of them don’t recruit volunteers who want to hand out tickets and clean up garbage out of the goodness of their heart. In most cases, festivals will offer non-monetary compensation in exchange for capable volunteers. You might receive free tickets, meals, or even a campground space in exchange for doing some volunteering, Just a few hours of your day can dramatically reduce the cost of attending a festival.
Bring your own food
If you are attending a multi-day festival where you must camp out overnight, you’ll usually be allowed to bring cooking supplies and food to your campsite. Double check the rules because some festivals are very strict about what is and isn’t allowed, but at the very least you should be able to bring basic non-perishables like cereal, granola bars, peanut butter or jerky. You may even be allowed to bring a camp stove to your campsite.
The rules around bringing food will most likely be different between your campsite and the actual concert area itself. In some cases, you are allowed to bring food to your campsite but not the concert venue, or you may only be able to bring sealed snacks or sealed bottled water. Whatever the rules are, familiarize yourself with them and purchase as much food and supplies ahead of time as possible because the on-site food and water will be very expensive.
Set a budget
If you aren’t allowed to bring your own food and water with you to the festival, consider setting a spending budget. Having a spending budget in place will help you avoid the temptation of overspending. Some festivals have a token system or give you a reloadable wristband to pay for concessions. These prepaid options can be a great way to stay on budget. Simply load up your wristband or buy your tokens at the beginning of the festival and put your wallet away.
Stash your cash
Even if you plan to use the wristband or token system, it’s always a good idea to bring a small amount of cash along as well. If you run out of money on your wristband or you use up all of your tokens, your cash can be a great back-up. It’s important to withdraw your money before you leave for the festival because the ATM’s on the site will charge enormous withdrawal fees.
Embrace frugal options
Even if you aren’t allowed to bring your own bottled water, you should bring an empty water bottle and fill it up at the water fountains that are usually available at most festivals. The tap water will taste just as good as bottled water, it will be cold (which bottled water often isn’t,) and best of all – it’s free! Other frugal options include splitting a whole pizza with friends instead of buying a single slice each and sticking to the cheap house beer instead of expensive cocktails or mixed beverages.
Research frugal transportation
Parking at festivals can be frustrating and expensive, which is why it is an excellent idea to carpool with friends. Do your research in advance to determine if there is a free shuttle from the further (and less expensive) parking lots or – if the option exists – there may be a shuttle bus leaving from the city center.
Use a cash-back credit card
Often the most expensive costs associated with attending a festival can be paid for ahead of time with a cash-back credit card. These costs include the tickets themselves, the campsite, transportation, and food.
To help defray these costs and maximize your spending you should use one of the best cash-back credit cards, such as the SimplyCash card from American Express or the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite. Both of these credit cards are a great option for festival spending because they both reward the type of spending that tends to happen at festivals.
SimplyCash™ Card from American Express®
New SimplyCashTM from American Express Cardmembers can earn 4% cash back on purchases (up to $200 cash back) for the first 6 months of Cardmembership
- No annual fee
- Earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants for the first 6 months (up to $250)
- Earn 1.25% cash back on all other purchases once welcome rate ends
- 0% interest rate on all balance transfers for the first 6 months
- No limit on the amount of cash back you can earn
For example, the SimplyCash Card from American Express offers 5% cash back on gas and groceries during the first six months of use. If you are planning to drive to the festival and camp overnight and can bring your own food, this could be a great option for you.
If you prefer the flexibility of a Visa card, the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite credit card offers 4% cash back on gas and groceries up to $25,000 in spending per year.
Scotia Momentum® VISA Card
- Annual fee: $99
- Earn 4% cash back on gas and groceries, 2% cash back on drug store purchases and recurring bill payments, and 1% cash back on all other purchases
- Receive VISA Infinite benefits
Both of these credit cards and the rest of the tips above can help you make your festival schedule this summer a little less expensive and a little more fun.