NEW YORK (MainStreet) — If you love music then you're probably excited about summer festival season. But one thing you're almost certainly not excited about is the price tag. Depending on how far you're traveling, hitting up a single festival can cost you thousands of dollars. While that might be worth it to see the sheer number of performers you can catch at a festival, your wallet is not going to love you for it. So how can you save money this festival season while still enjoying the performers your ears crave?
Big Groups Can Save Money
Think of it as the updated version of packing your trunk full of people to go to the drive-in. The more people you go to a festival with, the more you can split costs on transportation and lodging. It's plain logic. David Fiorenza, an economist at Villanova School of Business, isn't just a man who knows money; he's also a big music fan. He knows how quickly the costs of a summer festival can add up. "You can fill your car up with four of five people to cut down on expenses like camping, gas and tolls," he says. Rounding up some of your best partners in crime will not only make the experience more enjoyable but will also help you defray costs. So pick four or five people you can stand to be in a car with in order to put some money back in your pocket.
Pick a Smaller Festival
Fiorenza also points out that while Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza might be prohibitively expensive, others like the Peach Festival in Scranton are less expensive. Radio stations in particularly hold festivals in most cities of varying sizes that have top acts, or at least up-and-coming ones. "You're not going to see Taylor Swift, but you might see My Morning Jacket," he says. Smaller festivals of this type are perfect for two kinds of people. First, there are those who just like going to festivals but aren't that picky about which one. Second, there are the people who prefer to see up-and-coming bands long before they're the next big thing. Either way, you're going to save money and have a killer time.
Don't underestimate the name appeal of smaller festivals, though. Especially when they're sponsored by a radio station, Fiorenza points out that you might be able to check out Darius Rucker, The Doobie Brothers and the Steve Miller Band for about ten bucks. He suggests that you look for the names of the radio stations of the town you're going to. Then find out what festivals they're putting on.
Wait for Secondary Ticket Vendor Sales
Scalpers are a thing of the past. In fact, the Internet has basically produced what are anti-scalpers. Rather than having prices going way up when the festival approaches, secondary vendors are filled with people desperately trying to dump tickets they've gotten stuck with. That might be the first vendor looking to sell what he can. Or it might be someone who found out at the last minute that he's just not going to be able to make it to his favorite festival this year. "You're taking a risk when you buy from a secondary site, but checking for tickets a week before the gig can get you discounted tickets," Firorenza said.
Another place to get discounted tickets is from the hotel you're staying at. According to Fiorenza, concierge services at hotels near festivals often have tickets at discounted prices. "It's similar to Broadway," he explains. "They have half-price tickets for that evening's show for unused tickets." Again, you're taking a risk here, but you can radically reduce the cost of your festival experience by waiting until the last minute to pick up your tickets.
Stay Far, Far Away... Or Very, Very Close
Especially for the bigger festivals, you're going to have to pick lodgings way far out from the event to really save money. How far out? According to LA Weekly reporter Marc Ballon, people at Coachella were staying as far as 50 miles from the actual event. While that might save you money, it's certainly not going to save you any annoyance. "You can really save a lot of money, but it's a hassle," he said. "The concert gets out at like 1 a.m., then you have to fight the crowds to get to the parking lot, get on clogged roads to get out of there and get wherever you're going." So while you might save even hundreds of dollars, you have to balance that against the hassle of getting in and out.
On the other hand, you can also save money at some events by camping on site. "It's an option to camp at Coachella," says Ballon, who says that's cheaper than renting a house or a hotel room. So if it's an option and you don't mind roughing it a little, there's one way to significantly cut down on the cost of your housing while you're enjoying the festival. Just don't plan on getting a lot of sleep that night.
But when it comes down to it, Ballon believes that, when it comes to summer festivals, "where there's a will, there's a way." "People who save up little by little really can save up enough to doit over the course of a year. It's a big commitment, but it's definitely do-able for people who are on moderate incomes."