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Discover & Learn

The Fall is flush with opportunities for music fans to tank top-away the last few days of nice weather at festivals like Rifflandia in Victoria, B.C. and the Toronto Urban Roots Festival. But as anyone who has attended a festival can attest, the tickets – which range anywhere from $150 to over $400 – are usually just the beginning. Once you’re there, it might not take long for your spending to spiral out of control. There’s no shortage of bait to break your budget – from vendors preying on your late night munchies with $8 squares of pepperoni pizza to $5 bottles of water.

Here are five sure-fire ways to stockpile those festival memories and still walk away with money in your pocket.

Stay inexpensively

Sleep is a valuable commodity during multi-day festivals. While festivals often partner with hotels to offer “deals,” there are inexpensive alternatives to be found at CanadaStays, Airbnb or HomeAway if you don’t mind staying a bit further from the festivities. If you are set on camping, try to find a campsite near the festival grounds as opposed to paying a premium to camp onsite. Also skip buying expensive gear and see if you can borrow supplies.

Cash over credit

The best way to stick to your budget is to bring your budget. Allocate a per diem and stash the rest of your funds in a safe place. Leave your debit and credit cards with the stash as well. The festival grounds are often littered with ATMs sporting sky-high fees and vendors with portable payment systems making it easier for you to spend. Keeping a daily budget in your pocket and the rest in a safe spot also ensures you’ll have an emergency fund if needed.

Leave things you care about at home

Of course you look great in those lime green Ray Bans, no one’s questioning that, but festivals have a special knack for making sunglasses disappear. Watches, nice clothing, or a high-end camera can all be risky choices given the commotion of festival crowds. A cheap pair of sunglasses, a couple of fast fashion tees and a disposable camera can save you from adding $100 or more if (or more likely, when) you lose your belongings or they get damaged in the crowd.

Skip the merch and vinyl

“Your wristband is your souvenir.” This is your mantra for avoiding the merchandise tables hawking overpriced programs, t-shirts and vinyl. While it may seem like a good idea to commemorate the festival with a souvenir, most items can be bought online for less. Plus, if you’ve followed the previous advice about keeping a daily budget and not buying expensive items which can get lost or ruined, you’re apt to have a hard time shelling out for merch anyways.

Bring your own water and snacks

At $5 on the low-end for a bottle of water, bringing your own refillable bottle is perhaps the most usable advice for attending a festival on the cheap. Bringing energy-packed snacks like trail-mix, dried fruits, granola bars or fruits like oranges can help power you up after all that dancing and keep you away from overpriced food vendors until you get back to your campsite or accommodation. Even making a pact to only buy one food item a day and bring the rest can help keep your budget on point – just make sure you read the rules before you try to enter the festival with food or drink.