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 does volunteering at festivals with Hotbox Events involve?

You can find lots of information about volunteering at festivals with us on our festival info pages.

You can chat with our festival staff and volunteers in our festival forums which are also a handy place to ask questions about volunteering at festivals.

If you'd like to see some photos of our staff and volunteers working at festivals, you can head over to our festival photo galleries!

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

  • You get a crew pass, uniform, pre-event info pack and thorough onsite briefing.
  • You get access to staff and volunteer camping facilities in a secure area.
  • 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 café, toilets, and showers!
  • You get lots of time to enjoy the festival - as a volunteer you only work three 8 hour shifts, 24 hrs in total throughout your time at the festival*.
  • You gain festival experience and contacts!
  • You meet like-minded people and share an experience you won't forget!

*please note festival volunteers 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; volunteers then need to allow between 5 and 20 minutes to make their way to zones; and the same at the end of each shift to return to the Hotbox Events office to be signed out and return any equipment and uniform allocated. 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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How will my shifts be organised at the festival?

Volunteer shifts are allocated before the festivals via Hotbox Events PAAM.

We upload the shift patterns to PAAM 2-4 weeks before each festival.

As soon as shift patterns for a festival have been uploaded we'll let you know via our website's news, our social feeds, and email.

At this point you'll be able to login to PAAM and view the different shift patterns available, then select the shift patterns you would prefer in order of preference (1 being your most preferred shift pattern).

Shifts are then allocated to volunteers in order of deposit payment date; the earlier you pay your deposit the more likely you are to get the shift pattern you would like.

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 mid-April as the deposit payment date when assigning all three of your shifts patterns.

The shift patterns are designed to ensure that all volunteers have at least 16 hours off between shifts and 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 allocated it will be displayed on your overview page. This will be about three weeks prior to the event.

Please note that regardless of shift you will be expected to arrive on-site by the festival’s ESSID - you can check the festival's ESSID via the about 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 ESSID (Event Specific Sign-in Date - usually 16:00 on the Wed before the festival weekend) and the following Monday.

You can reference your event’s ESSID via the event information pages on our website:

Download
Latitude
Reading
Leeds

As per our terms and conditions, the very latest you can arrive onsite at each event is by the ESSID 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 ESSID. 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.

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!

Hotbox Events festival volunteers are generally allocated three 8 hour shifts (24 hrs in total throughout the festival*).

Hotbox Events staff work between 10 and 12 hours a day.

*please note festival volunteers 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; volunteers then need to allow between 5 and 20 minutes to make their way to zones; and the same at the end of each shift to return to the Hotbox Events office to be signed out and return any equipment and uniform allocated. 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 all of my festival shifts be the same, so just afternoon or nightshifts?

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 sometimes even 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, 15-20 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 do I need to return to the office at the end of my shift?

All volunteers are allocated uniform and a record of the tabard number for each volunteer is logged with our office to be passed to licensing prior to leaving for your shift. Returning to the office at the end of the shift to sign out and return uniform is also required to ensure we’ve recorded your attendance both at the beginning and end of your shift and so that your uniform and equipment can be returned and used for the next shift going out.

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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 have 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:

DofE Residential Section Requirements

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 and member of staff?

Hotbox Events festival volunteers:

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

Hotbox Events staff:

  • Work from three 10 hour shifts to 12 hours each day, depending on the position.
  • Are paid a wage.
  • Are provided with meal vouchers.

*please note festival volunteers 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; volunteers then need to allow between 5 and 20 minutes to make their way to zones; and the same at the end of each shift to return to the Hotbox Events office to be signed out and return any equipment and uniform allocated. 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!

We interview managers and supervisors for our paid 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 late...

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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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