Stewarding at Hay Festival
Stewards are a vital part of Hay Festival. They greet all of our visitors warmly and enthusiastically, look after the safety of our audiences and support, guide and ensure that the festival runs smoothly throughout 11 very busy days.
To join the stewarding team you must be 18 or over and be happy to contribute to the welcoming festival atmosphere. Hay Festival strives to be a welcoming, accessible and inclusive environment where all visitors, artists, volunteers, staff, contractors and anyone involved with our organisation can feel safe, where differences are accepted, engagement is apparent and the contributions of all are encouraged, valued and respected. All festival staff, contractors and volunteers are asked to adhere to this code. If you’re confident in giving directions, making small talk with complete strangers and helping to manage large crowds of people, then this role would suit you! But you will need stamina as you’ll be on your feet for several hours at a time!
Hay Festival may ask to carry out criminal background checks (DBS) on any of our volunteers, we will notify them prior to doing this. This process will be led by the areas of the festival each volunteer will be working in and the responsibilities they may have.
You will be joining over 200 other volunteer stewards covering more than 500 events both on and off the festival site. We have stewards from many different countries and various walks of life, representing a wide variety of cultural interests and backgrounds. Some stewards have been coming to the festival for many years and travel very long distances to join us, meeting up with old friends each year and helping contribute to the festival atmosphere. We hope you will find the experience immensely rewarding, not only in your exposure to some of the finest festival events, but also in meeting and greeting our audiences and working with your fellow stewards.
We value our stewards tremendously and are hugely appreciative of everything they do. If you have never visited the festival before, we recommend you attend as a visitor before you join the stewarding team, but if you want to take the plunge straight we will be very happy to welcome you to Hay.
All stewards are required to commit to a minimum of EIGHT sessions. A 'session' is either morning, afternoon or evening. Session times are as follows:
Morning: Arrive at 9.30am for 10.00am start until 2.00pm
Afternoon: Arrive at 1.30pm for a 2.00pm start until 6.30pm
Evening: Arrive at 6.00pm for a 6.30pm start until end of day’s events (usually around 10.30-11.00pm)
You decide the dates you can work. You will also decide which sessions on your selected dates you wish to steward. If dates differ from the dates you have ticked on the application form, please let us know straight away. You will need to sign in at each venue every time you arrive to steward.
Once you have submitted the online form we will email you a copy of this information (you might find it useful to print it out and bring it with you to the festival). Receiving the email acknowledgement of your application and this information, is confirmation that we have your details on our system and have accepted you as a steward for 2024. Please do not be concerned if you do not hear from us for a while after this.
We will be in touch again with festival policy documents which you will be asked to read and acknowledge. If you are a new steward you will be contacted with a time and date to attend your first session where you will undertake an induction. You will then be able to select the sessions that you will steward (a minimum of eight).
We understand that plans can change, so if your available dates do change once you have completed the form please let us know straight away - email@example.com
Stewarding rotas do not take account event preference. If there is a particular event, or events, that you want to see, we recommend you buy a ticket and join the audience as we cannot promise that you will be able to steward them. However, it is very likely you will see events that you would never have thought to attend!
Once you 'get the bug' like many stewards you may well want to be there all day every day!
Registration for new stewards
When you first arrive at the festival will receive an induction from an experienced steward, a guided tour of the festival site and be given a handbook which contains more detailed information about the role. You will also be provided with an identity badge and given a high visibility steward's jacket, both of which you must always wear when you are on duty. You will then be directed to one of the venues for further training, where you will shadow another steward until you feel comfortable with your role.
Stewards remain at the same venue for each session worked, unless directed to another venue by a senior steward. Stewards check-in and report to the Venue Head for responsibilities specific to that venue and must inform the Venue Head before they leave.
Duties can include; checking tickets, managing the queue, observing the audience during an event, picking up litter after events, offering a microphone to the audience during question and answer sessions (if you would like to), and assisting visitors who require help, directions or advice while they are on the festival site.
Stewards will also be aware of special arrangements made for the disabled in all locations on site, including walkways, toilets, each venue and parking and of evacuation and emergency procedures and meeting places.
There are often changes to the printed programme and events can move to different venues across the site. A list of the day's changes will be found in the stewards' office and at all venues, but having a pen and printed programme handy to make the alterations is vital.
There is no set dress code. We would suggest that you aim for comfort, particularly in the footwear department, as you may be on your feet for quite a while. We have had wet and windy festivals and gloriously hot and sunny ones, and sometimes a mixture of the two during the same year!
For each full session you work the Head of Venue will give you a ticket for a free meal in festival staff catering where breakfast, lunch and dinner will be available. There is also tea, coffee, water and biscuits freely available in the stewards' area at each venue and you may like to bring your own drinks container and/or mug. There are also a number of excellent on-site food outlets if you prefer to eat at those (at your own expense) or you are very welcome to bring your own food with you.
Your stewards identity badge gives you free access to the Festival Park and Ride from Clyro (when operational – days tbc) and the Festival Staff Car Park on all other days. Frequent shuttle buses run between the car park and the festival site. You can also get free travel on the shuttle bus that runs frequently from the festival into town by showing your stewards identity. We will confirm parking arrangements in May.
Accommodation can be scarce during the festival, so if you do need somewhere to stay in the vicinity we suggest that you look as soon as possible The festival accommodation website page is a useful place to start hayfestival.com/wales/accommodation, or findmeabed.co.uk. There are also campsites nearby during the festival week (Wye Meadow Camping and Gypsy Castle Campsite are the closest. Tangerine Fields is a little further away in town).
Stewards' On-site Meeting
There will be a pre-festival, stewards' meeting, on the day before the festival starts (22nd). Information about this will be sent out in May. This will give you a chance to meet some fellow stewards, have a tour of the site and see each of the venues. This is not a steward induction, just an informal way of getting to see the new site layout. This meeting is not compulsory and if you live a distance away, please do not feel that you have to attend. This year we may also hold an induction online for those people further afield, but we’ll be in touch with more information about that.
A full induction will take place when you first arrive on site. We will be in touch with all new stewards to select an induction time on your first day as a steward.
What happens next?
We will send you our Health and Safety and Child Protection Policies, which you must read before you arrive on site. It is an important part of your duties to ensure that these policies are followed. PLEASE NOTE, you MUST acknowledge receipt of the policies and indicate that you have read them. If you could let us know if you have had a current DBS check (and are part of the Update scheme) that would be useful.
IMPORTANT: We would very much appreciate if you would write your full name in the subject of emails to us. We deal with up to 250 stewards, so trying to find someone on a spreadsheet when they have an email such as ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ can be a little tricky! If your email address shows your name clearly, that’s fine.
If, once you have submitted your form, you find that you are no longer able to steward please do let us know as soon as possible. We usually have a waiting list and will be able to offer your place to someone else.
If you do have any further queries please email email@example.com - we are always available to answer your questions.
Thanks again for choosing to volunteer, we will be in touch in April/May and look forward to seeing you at the festival.