It's said that nothing is certain but death and taxes. Fortunately, death can wait; unfortunately, taxes can't: in the New Year we Brits will likely have to pay more for our goods and services when VAT rises from 17.5% to 20% from 4 January.
The cost of living will be affected, but more importantly for us festival-goers, so will the cost of living life to its fullest. Last year, Reading Festival cost £187, not including almost £4 for a pint, £8 for a burger and chips, plus travelling costs. Assuming you drink in moderation (call it five pints a day), eat at least two meals a day and drive like a pensioner in fifth gear all the way, it adds up to over £300 for the weekend. Try not to faint but my crystal ball says prices may even go up next year!
Thankfully, the continent has some cheaper options that are kinder to your bank account or at least more of an experience for your money. After all, there’s always the option of using a festival as an excuse for a holiday.All travel prices are based on departure from London (every Brit comes from there, right?) and the Reading Festival prices will be the standard for any savings. Ready? Here we go…
Event: Open'er Festival.
When is it? Late June-early July.
What is it? An ever-expanding list of stages hosting top international and Polish acts with a bit of theatre thrown in. Last year’s line-up featured the likes of Pearl Jam, Massive Attack, Yeasayer, Groove Armada and Skunk Anansie.
Ticket prices: Around £70 for a four-day ticket.
How to get there: Flying from London Luton to Gdansk should cost around £40-50 and then it’s an hour by bus, which costs peanuts.
Food and drink: A pint can be as cheap as £1, whilst a couple of hearty meals in the local town each day will be under £10.
Estimated overall cost: £200.
Event: Dour Festival.
When is it? Mid-July.
What is it? 200 bands, 6 stages, 4 days and music from midday till 5am. This year’s line-up included Faith No More, De La Soul, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, The Maccabees and The Futureheads.
Tickets: €100 for the weekend, including camping.
How to get there: Catch the Eurostar to Brussels for (£69 return), then a train to Saint Ghislain (€6.50 each way), where there’s a free shuttle.
Food and drink: The festival operates a token system. €11 gets you 10 food tokens, with most meals costing six tokens and snacks, like burgers, costing three or four tokens. Drink tokens cost €11 for five drinks.
Estimated overall cost: £230.
Event: Rock en Seine.
When is it? Late August.
What is it? A three-day festival with the best of rock and pop battling it out over two stages and almost guaranteed good weather, too. This year’s line-up included the likes of Radiohead, Blink-182, Queens of the Stone Age and Plan B.
Tickets: €99 for the weekend plus €45 for two to camp.
How to get there: Get a return flight with EasyJet for around £50, then hop on the Metro for under €20.
Food and drink: You won’t find greasy burgers and chips here but food still only costs from €6 for a meal. A Heineken will set you back €3 or €5 depending on the size.
Estimated overall cost: £275.
Saving: £25. Not much of a saving but you get to see Paris!
Other money-saving European festivals with big acts include Exit Festival in Serbia, Pohoda Festival in Slovakia and Melt! Festival in Germany. There are many more, though, so if you fancy a trip abroad next year but can’t afford that and a weekender, think about combining the two and do a little research on your very own Virtual Festivals.