Working at festivals

What is a Festival Volunteer?

Our festival volunteers play a big part in creating a good atmosphere at the festivals - helping the festival goers to get the most out of their festival! By joining the Hotbox Events stewarding team as a festival volunteer or member of events staff you can help us to continue to achieve this!

Our festival stewards complete their allocated shifts during the event week, working in a variety of roles in the arenas and festival campsites.

What is a CAT?

A CAT is a ‘Campsite Assistance Team’ steward, working in the event campsites and surrounding areas. CATs provide general assistance and guidance to festival goers. They assist with carrying belongings, putting up tents, answering questions about the event line up and facilities, provide directions and reporting back any problems. As with all of our stewards, CATs are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the festival and work with the other onsite teams e.g. Medical, Fire and Security teams, to help keep the public attending the event safe.

What is a Tower CAT?

Tower CATs work on the various fire towers in the campsites and surrounding areas. Tower CATs work in small teams at each tower, rotating positions throughout the shift. The main role of a Tower CAT is to watch for any fire that looks like it could need attention and escalate the response as necessary. Tower CATs based at the top of the tower act as a lookout, reporting in the first instance to the team on the ground. The Tower CAT at the bottom of the tower has access to extinguishers and water backpacks to investigate small fires that need attention. Tower CATs work closely with the CATs in their designated zone alongside other agencies, to help keep the public attending the event safe.

What is a HAT?

A HAT is a ‘Helpful Arena Team’ steward, working in the event arenas and surrounding areas. HATs provide general assistance and guidance to festival goers, answering questions about the event line up and facilities, providing directions, help to prevent overcrowding and report back any problems. As with all of our stewards, HATs are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the festival and work with the other onsite teams e.g. Medical, Fire and Security teams, to help keep the public attending the event safe.

What is a Pixie?

A Pixie is a role specific to Latitude Festival. Pixie stewards work in the Woods Arena at Latitude. Their role is similar to CATs and HATs in that it is customer service focused. Pixies assist by directing festival goers to different areas of the event or to facilities, provide festival goers with information on the event line up, help to prevent overcrowding and reporting back any problems. As with all of our stewards, Pixies are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the festival and work with the other onsite teams e.g. Medical, Fire and Security teams, to help keep the public attending the event safe.

The big difference between a Pixie and a CAT/HAT is that in addition to the stewarding uniform, we require our Pixies to dress up in Pixie costumes whilst on shift! To see some of our past Pixies, check out the Hotbox Events photo galleries!

For further info please visit our Volunteer at Festivals page.

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What will I do when volunteering at festivals with Hotbox Events?

The role our volunteers play at the festival varies depending on the festival, but is always focused on making sure the festival-goers have the best time possible at the events!


You can find lots of info about every festival we volunteer with and the jobs our volunteers do at the festival on our festival pages.

You can also find out what volunteering at festivals is like by checking out our festival volunteer interviews!

If you're looking for more try our festival volunteer photo galleries and festival volunteer forum!

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What are the benefits of working at a festival with Hotbox Events?

  • You get a crew pass, pre-event info pack, festival handbook and thorough onsite briefing.
  • You get access to staff and volunteer camping facilities in a secure area, with secure crew car parking often right next door!
  • You get access to our own Hotbox Events marquee in our staff and volunteer compound with kettles, tea and coffee and an area to charge your phone.
  • You get access to the staff and volunteer catering, toilets, and showers!
  • You get tea, coffee, hot chocolate, biscuits, sweets and chocolate bars on shift to have during your breaks!
  • You get lots of time to enjoy the festival and you get to choose your shifts in advance so you can select them around the bands you want to see!
  • You gain festival experience and contacts!
  • You meet like-minded people and share an experience you won't forget!
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How will my shifts be organised at the festival?

We work very hard to make sure everyone who volunteers with us has an amazing experience and this of course includes your volunteering shift pattern!

Volunteer and paid steward shifts are chosen by way of shift preferences that you can select. We open paid steward and volunteer shift selection a few weeks before each festival and let you know when you can login to choose your shift preferences via email, our news, and socials.

There are usually between 20-30 volunteer shift patterns to choose between at each festival.

We allocate shifts to volunteers and paid stewards in order of deposit payment date; the earlier you pay your deposit the higher shift preference you will receive. That said, we work very hard to make sure everyone gets the highest shift preference possible irrespective of deposit payment date!

Please note that if you apply as part of a group we will use the average of your deposit payment dates. E.g. if there are 3 of you in a group, the first of you paid at the beginning of March, the second in the middle of April and the third at the end of May; we will use the middle of April as the deposit payment date when assigning shift patterns for your group.

The shift patterns are designed to ensure that all volunteers and paid stewards have at least 16 hours off between shifts and all volunteers have at least two event evenings off to enjoy the festival!

If you are applying with friends and wish to be allocated the same shift pattern, please ensure that you list their names in the relevant section of your PAAM profile.

Once your shift pattern has been assigned it will be displayed on the overview page of your Hotbox Events PAAM account.

Please note, regardless of shift you will be expected to arrive on-site by the Event Sign-in Date; you can check the Event Sign-in Date via the festival pages on this website.

If you have any queries about shift patterns that are not covered by the above, please contact us.

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When do I need to arrive at the festival?

You need to be onsite with us between the Event Sign-in Date (usually 16:00 on the Tue or Wed before the festival weekend) and the following Monday.

You can reference the Event Sign-in Date via the event pages on our website.

As per our terms and conditions, the very latest you can arrive onsite at each event is by the Event Sign-in Date so that you can all be booked in, have your borders and immigration documents checked, receive your crew wristband, handbook and so on. This also allows time to setup your tent and attend your mandatory onsite briefings and training.

For most events you are welcome to arrive onsite from midday on the Tuesday. Please bear in mind that due to the large number of volunteers we have to sign-in, we advise you arrive as early as possible to try and avoid a build-up of queues at the Hotbox Events office. Also, the earlier you arrive the more choice you will have when it comes to camping space and the more time you will have to familiarise yourself with the festival site and its facilities.

Depending on the shift pattern you are allocated, you may be required to arrive onsite earlier than the Event Sign-in Date. If this is the case, you will be made aware of your expected time of arrival beforehand. More information including arrival information and briefing times will be in the info pack which you will be able to download from PAAM a few weeks before the event.

Shift patterns are organised approximately a month prior to each event, more information on shift allocation can be found here.

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Can I work with my friends?

Yes! Groups of friends are welcome to apply together. Make sure you list each other’s names in your profile when applying so that we can group you onto the same shift pattern; this means you’ll be on and off shift at the same time so that you can enjoy your free time at the event together.

When on shift you'll always be working in pairs or threes, never on your own, so if you have a friend that you'd like to work with let your supervisor know at the beginning of your shifts!

Please see our FAQ How will my shifts be organised? to find out exactly how the shift allocation process works and don't forget, if you're applying with different friends at each event, make sure you login to PAAM and update your friends list in time for shift allocation for the next event.

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Can I see some bands?

When you're not volunteering you're welcome to do whatever you like... within reason!

Our shift patterns are organised so that you'll have plenty of time to watch bands and enjoy the festival when not on shift!

All volunteers will have at least two of the main event evenings off-shift to watch the headliners so even if you're volunteering you still have lots of time to see bands at the festival!

Paid stewards work a maximum of 8 hours per day (although you will be required to meet at the Hotbox Office one hour before your shift start time to sign in, collect your tabard and any equipment required, meet your supervisor and make your way to your zone) so you'll still have time each day to enjoy the festival!

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Can all of my festival shifts be the same, so just afternoon or night shifts?

Occasionally, we may require a specific team to work for example, only night shifts if we have a higher number of night shifts at a particular festival.

At most festivals, each volunteer is required to complete 3 different shifts, one early, one late and one night during our time onsite.

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Can I work only before or after the festival or event?

Unfortunately not, sorry.

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Why do I need to meet at the Hotbox Events office an hour before my shift?

Hotbox Events volunteers are part of the staff schedule thus event licence; at each event we cover a large variety of specific positions across the site, many of which need to be manned 24-7. Due to the nature of live events, requirements (positions we cover) often change pre-event and even sometimes whilst on site. Therefore pre-deploying volunteers to specific positions pre-event isn’t possible. Our supervisors start assigning volunteer roles at the beginning of the pre-shift deployment hour, 15-30 mins then needs to be allowed for to walk to zone to be in position for the start of your shift and relieve the volunteers from the previous shift.

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Why is the deployment hour not included in the 8 hour shift?

This commute time is outside of your 3 x 8 hour shifts in a similar way that travelling to and returning from your place of work or study is outside of paid work or classroom hours.

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Can volunteering with Hotbox Events count towards my DofE award?

Hotbox Events Volunteers have in the past, been able to use volunteering with us at a music festival to count towards their Duke or Edinburgh (DofE) Award. However, we have since been advised that DofE no longer accept volunteer stewarding at a festival as a residential activity, please see the following link for more info:

We advise that you speak to your DofE Leader to ascertain whether they are happy for you to use volunteering with us at a festival to count towards your Residential section. If your DofE Leader approves you to use volunteering with us for the Residential section of your award we will happily sign your DofE book when you have completed all of your shifts at the event.

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What is the difference between a volunteer, paid steward and member of staff?

Hotbox Events festival volunteers:

  • Only volunteer for two or three 8 hour shifts depending on the event (16 to 24 hrs in total throughout the festival)*.
  • Are not paid a wage.
  • Are not provided with meal vouchers (sorry!).

Hotbox Events paid stewards:

  • Work more shifts than volunteers (up to 5 x 8 hour shifts depending on the event*).
  • Are paid a wage.
  • Are provided with one meal voucher per shift.

Hotbox Events staff:

  • Work 9 hour to 12 hour shifts each day, every day, depending on the position.
  • Work the same shift every day.
  • Are paid a wage.
  • Are provided with meal vouchers.

At some events we have paid steward positions. The shifts and roles of the paid stewards can vary at each festival. You can find more information about the shifts, roles and responsibilities of paid stewards on the individual event pages.

If you'd still like lots of time off to enjoy the festival, volunteering is probably the role for you. If you'd like to be paid whilst at the festival you may wish to apply as a paid steward. If you have existing events experience, you may be suited to a position in our staff team.

*please note festival volunteers and paid stewards need to arrive at the Hotbox Events festival office one hour prior to each shift to be signed in and have zones and/or positions allocated; they then need to allow between 5 and 20 minutes to make their way to zones. This time is outside of allocated three 8 hour shifts in a similar way that travelling to and returning from a place of work or study is outside of paid work or class hours.

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Can I apply to work as a member of paid festival staff?

Of course!

You can find out more about our paid steward roles on the events pages, or if you have existing events experience you may want to apply for a position in our senior festival staff team.

We interview managers and supervisors for our paid senior staff roles in the months leading up to each festival.

If you work in a managerial or supervisory capacity away from music festivals, or have other relevant experience, please note this when you complete your festival application, then contact us to arrange for a staff interview!

Please note that managers and supervisors arrive early, work longer shifts, and leave later than volunteers and paid stewards.

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Is volunteering at a festival a benefit in kind therefore a job I need to declare?

We've taken advice on this as we realise that if volunteering at a festival was classed as a job due to being allocated a crew pass, this is something our volunteers would need to know so they could declare the income to HMRC.

  1. The volunteering opportunity is exactly that, an opportunity to get involved with the running of an event, gain valuable experience, industry contacts, and a reference for future employment.
  2. A very different experience than a festival goer has when buying a ticket and merely attending the public show.
  3. To get involved with the running of an event, a volunteer requires site access.
  4. Access is provided by way of a crew pass, not a festival ticket.
  5. Therefore, a crew pass is a functional tool required to undertake the volunteering opportunity, rather than a benefit in kind.
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Can I get a backstage pass?

Some of our event staff and some of our festival volunteers are required to work within the guest and production areas - therefore some of our staff and volunteers do have access to backstage areas.

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Can I bring my children?

Whilst your children won't be able to accompany you on-shift, if volunteering with a partner or friend we can organise your shifts so that there's always one of you off-shift to look after your children.

Camp Bestival offer a guest list for the children of volunteers which will cover them for their tickets. If you'd like to bring your children to Camp Bestival, please email us with your children's names and ages and which Camp Bestival you'd like to join us at. Volunteers at Camp Bestival only work 2 x 8 hour shifts which means you'll still have lots of time off-shift all together to enjoy the festival!

If you would like to volunteer at any of the other festivals, you will need to purchase a ticket for your children.

For insurance reasons, under 18s are not permitted in the crew campsite so if bringing children you will need to camp in the public campsites.

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Can I bring my dog/cat/hamster/unicorn?

No pets or animals are allowed on site with the exception of registered assistance dogs and guide dogs.

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Can I work as a festival photographer?

We have photographers join us at all of the festivals we work at to capture our staff and volunteers working all over the festival site. These images are used on our socials and website throughout the year to showcase all the things our teams get involved in at the festival and to show how much fun volunteering at a festival can be! The best ones will also make it to the festivals' own socials and websites! 

Please note, our photographers do not have permission to take photographs of the bands or stages.

Our photographers work a total of 24 hours throughout the festival and when not on shift are free to enjoy the festival!

If you'd like to join us as a crew photographer, please email with a link to your portfolio and let us know the festivals you're interested in joining us at.

Our photographer positions are limited to just 2 per festival. We receive hundreds of applications for festival photographer positions each year and are unfortunately not able to respond to every application.

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Festival Volunteer Newsletter

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