The music festival scene is thriving, and in the UK alone there are an estimated 1,000 festivals taking place annually. With the promise of great music and good times, it's no surprise that tickets to these events are in high demand, often selling out before the lineup is even announced. But, with so many festivals to choose from at varying price points, music lovers are left wondering, which ones offer the best value for money?
To help answer this question, our team analysed a seedlist of 15 of the UK’s most popular music festivals. We compared the price of a full festival ticket in 2023 to the average cost of watching each event’s five top headliners individually, to get an estimated value of how much money you can save by attending each festival.
Alongside this, we also analysed 12 of the most popular European music festivals that are attended by UK festival-goers, in order to see how they stack up against their UK counterparts in terms of value for money.
Festivals can be costly when you add on camping gear, food, and potential flights for those travelling abroad. For those on a budget who want to enjoy the music without breaking the bank, the team at Savoo has also put together their five top tips for saving money at one of these events.
The UK’s best value for money music festivals
Glastonbury Festival is a mainstay of British popular culture. Tickets are notoriously hard to come by, selling out in a matter of minutes each year. Every year, the festival attracts some of the top music artists from around the world, so it’s no wonder it tops the list as the best value music festival. This year, even with the slight hike in ticket price (£340), the lucky festival-goers will catch the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Guns N’Roses, Elton John, and Lizzo, while saving a whopping £1,737 on average compared with if they saw these artists individually.
Encompassing a wide variety of genres, Reading and Leeds Festival always attract a stellar mix of artists, with the sister festivals usually sharing a very similar line-up. This year, both ticket prices remain the same at £286, and music fans will see the likes of Billie Eilish, Foals, and The Killers, all while saving an average of £455 in the process.
Coming in third on our list, the notorious Northern festival that is Parklife. Music fans can rejoice in the knowledge that they will be saving an average of £273 with a ticket, compared with if they paid to see some of their favourite DJs individually.
While still saving festival-goers a bit of cash, the festivals that offer the least value for money have come out as rock festival Download (average £122 in savings) and electronic-dance festival Creamfields North (average £131 in savings).
Interestingly, despite being similar versions of the same festival, Creamfields North and Creamfields South save ticket-holders slightly different amounts, with the Southern version offering better value for money, with savings of £167 on average. This may be in part due to slightly varied line-ups, for instance, David Guetta is only playing at the Northern version, and also due to differing ticket prices, with Creamfields South actually costing £20 less per ticket.
With dozens more music and entertainment acts featuring at the festivals analysed outside of the top five headliners, attendees are likely going to be saving even more than this if they make the most of the full day and weekend events.
Europe’s best value for money music festivals
Europe’s festival scene has really taken off in recent years, with people from all over the world flying in to party under the sun. While it may be tempting to swap the UK’s muddy fields for a beachside paradise, could this actually save you money too?
Topping the list as Europe’s best value-for-money music festival is MEO Sudoeste. The Portuguese festival boasts an eclectic mix of artists this year, with David Guetta, Niall Horan, and Metro Boomin all leading the line-up. Festival-goers can expect to save a huge £424 on average, compared with if they paid to see all of these artists individually. Plus, the festival actually offers one of the cheapest tickets of all the European festivals analysed, with prices at just £110 per ticket.
Next on the list is EXIT Festival held in Novi Sad, Serbia. With individual tickets to see artists such as Wu Tan Clan (£92) and Eric Prydz (£82) costing nearly the same price as a full festival ticket to EXIT (£96), this festival held in a Petrovaradin Fortress will save ticket-holders an average of £302 to see some of their favourite electronic-music DJs live.
Sziget is one of the largest and most well-known music festivals in Europe and comes third in our rankings. It is a hotspot for European music festival lovers in August, held in Hungary’s capital city, Budapest. With an absolutely massive line-up this year, with the likes of Billie Eilish, David Guetta and Imagine Dragons all performing, festival-goers can expect to save around £269 as they see all of their favourite artists in one weekend.
Potentially the most well-known of all the European festivals, Tomorrowland actually comes 11th offering one of the least value-for-money festival line-ups in the European music festival scene. With ticket prices at £261, festival-goers who head out to Boom, Belgium can only expect to save around £149 – which is perhaps still a great trade-off to see some of the biggest dance DJs all in one place.
How do UK and Europe festivals compare?
While Glastonbury is by far the best value-for-money music festival in both the UK and Europe, some of the European festivals aren’t too far behind, saving festival-goers hundreds of pounds to see some of the biggest artists all in one place. With some headliners performing at festivals in both the UK and Europe, it could actually be worth jumping on a plane to see your favourite artist. For example, David Guetta fans might save some cash by heading to MEO Sudoeste rather than Creamfields North, with the Portuguese festival offering an average £293 more in savings – and perhaps a whole lot more sun.
When looking at where might save you the most money, it’s also important to note that tickets to some of the European festivals, such as Hideout and NOS Alive, don’t include camping or accommodation, so you might have to factor in the price of an expensive hotel into your ticket. However, this is also the case with some of the city-based UK festivals, such as Park Life and TRNSMT.
Tips on how people can save money going to a festival
Although it might be a little late for this year’s festivals, it’s always a great idea to start planning early so you can be sure to grab early-bird festival tickets for a cheaper price. Lots of festivals also ask for volunteers too, usually offering a free ticket in exchange for a few shifts of work, though these spots usually fill up some time before the event.
With that said, for those heading to festivals in the next few months, there are lots of different ways you can save money when you’re actually at the festival too.
1. Bring your own food and drink
Food at festivals can be really expensive, and if you’re buying breakfast, lunch, and dinner the cost can really add up.
If the festival you’re attending allows gas cookers, bring your own stove and some food that you can cook up in the morning before heading into the arena. Some festivals do have quite strict rules on camp stoves though, so if cooking yourself isn’t possible, take some snacks with you to keep costs down.
The same goes for drinks. Most festivals allow you to bring a certain amount of alcohol into the festival so check this beforehand and bring your own supply with you. While warm cider might not be the most sophisticated of drinks, it will stop you from spending too much at the festival bars.
2. Don’t buy brand new clothes
Festival fashion is a big deal, and funky shirts, sparkly crop tops, and flower headbands are staple items for any festival-goer. While it might be tempting to invest in some new clothes for your upcoming festival, you should avoid splashing the cash on really expensive items. In the UK especially, clothes and shoes are bound to get muddy, and the last thing you want to have to do when you return home is replace any items that have been damaged.
3. Car share with friends
One of the sneaky expenses of most festivals is the car parking pass you have to pay for if you plan on driving to the festival. Adding petrol costs on top of this means driving on your own can get quite costly, so try and jump in with friends where possible in order to share the costs between you.
Some festivals, such as Glastonbury, actively encourage people to travel to the festival via more sustainable modes of transport, and while cycling might be hard on the legs, it could be a little easier on your bank account.
4. Bring your own bottle lids and water bottle
It might seem like a simple tip, but bringing a stash of bottle lids to the festival can actually save you quite a lot of cash. Lots of festivals now give you bottles without the lid, which is fine until you want to put the bottle away and get dancing. Instead of downing your drink and having to buy another one later, having a lid handy will save you a few extra pounds!
Bringing your own water bottle is also not only good for your wallet but better for the planet as well. Most festivals have free water refill stations, so pack that reusable bottle and you’ll stay hydrated all weekend long.
5. Avoid the merch and festival stalls
We’ve all been there. That sequinned bucket hat has been calling to you, or you’ve just seen your favourite band on the main stage and want to cement the moment forever with a piece of merch. By all means pick up some mementos on the way, but festival stalls can be heavily overpriced, so make sure you’re buying items that you actually want, and not just a random souvenir that might sit in a drawer for the next few years.
Methodology and Sources
Savoo has analysed some of the biggest festivals for 2023 in both the UK and Europe, and compared the price of a full festival ticket with the average cost of watching the five of the top headliners individually, to find out the estimated value of how much festival-goers can save by attending each festival. These are estimates taken at the time of the study due to average concert prices, line-ups and ticket variations subject to change.
The research used line-up and ticket information from each festival’s own websites, and used various ticket sites to determine the cost of each headliner’s individual show. These included:
Data collected w/c 17.04.2023