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Review: Parklife Festival 2018

Parklife is known for being one of the most student-friendly music festivals out there - but is it actually good value for money? We went along to find out...

Parklife festival review

With a phenomenal lineup, a great location and affordable ticket prices, Parklife is up there with one of the most student-friendly music festivals.

But like with every festival, there's hidden costs. How much are drinks, food and merchandise? And what about accommodation?

To find out just how much the festival will cost you, we went along to try it out. We'll tell you exactly how much we spent on each aspect of the festival, and how much you should budget if you plan on heading there in 2019...

Is Parklife good value for money?

Parklife ticket prices

Parklife line up

As festivals go, Parklife tickets might not set you back as much as some, but they still cost a fair whack. In 2018 a weekend pass cost £131.45, while a day pass cost £71.50.

Other festivals, like Latitude and Download, charge substantially more than this. However they include camping facilities and are spread out over three days - as opposed to Parklife which is a non-camping festival lasting just two days (Saturday and Sunday).

There's no denying that the top quality lineup and the huge array of stages helps sweeten the deal - but there's only so many acts you have time to see over a two-day period.

There was also the opportunity to upgrade to a VIP ticket for £40 (but look out for deals to get this cheaper - we only paid £15), something we would definitely recommend doing.

This seriously cut down our queuing time by giving us access to the VIP entrance, and we were able to make the most of the facilities in the exclusive VIP Colonnade - including shorter toilet queues, more bars and food outlets and the opportunity to snap photos with very minor celebs.

Check out our ultimate student festival guide for a list of the best British and European festivals, and how much they all cost.

Parklife food prices

Frustratingly, you aren't allowed to take any food into the festival yourself, which means that you're forced into buying whatever is on offer onsite.

However, there was a huge amount of food at Parklife; over a two-day period we only scratched the surface of what was available.

Like all festival food, expect to pay more than you would on the high street. A carton of chips cost £3.50, while good ol' cheesy chips set us back a fiver.

If you're looking for a more substantial meal, you'll be paying £6 - £10. We tried the gnocchi and the tropical pizza, both of which cost £8 each but were pretty filling.

While the food wasn't exactly cheap, if you're tactical about it you can save yourself a bit of cash. Scout around for which stands offer the largest quantities for the cheapest prices, and pick food like pizza and pasta which will fill you up.

Parklife drink prices

Parklife drinks prices

The biggest expense you're going to face at a music festival is drinks, and you'll undoubtedly be paying more than you would at your local.

As far as drinks prices at Parklife go, they aren't cheap - but this is a festival after all. Here's a rough price guide

  • Bottles of Carlsberg and Strongbow (330ml): £5.50
  • Spirit and mixer: £5.50
  • Glass of wine (red, white and rosé): £5.50
  • Soft drinks: £2.80
  • Bottle of water: £2.50
  • Prosecco (VIP only): £6 for 125ml flute or £35 for 750ml jug

There's no denying that the cost of drinks at festivals are pretty pricey, and of course there's no way of taking any of your own alcohol in.

It's a case of just biting the bullet and perhaps reigning in the amount you plan on drinking - it just leads to more toilet queuing anyway.

Accommodation

Since Parklife isn't a camping festival, accommodation is another major expense you're going to have to take into consideration.

If you don't sort this early on you could end up paying a huge amount, so get on it as soon as you book your tickets.

If you know anyone who lives in Manchester, your first port of call should be to beg them for a place to crash. Similarly, if you're travelling from somewhere fairly close by (Leeds, for example), you might want to consider just getting the last train back instead of forking out for accommodation, as it'll work out way cheaper, even if you don't get to bed until 3am.

If you are faced with finding accommodation in Manchester for a couple of nights, we'd recommend going down the Airbnb route. We found a four-bed one in the Salford area which only cost £30 each for two nights - not bad, all things considered.

Travel to Parklife

travel to Parklife

Credit: Tom Page - Flickr

Travelling to and from Parklife is one of those sneaky expenses you might not think about much beforehand, but can actually set you back quite a bit.

Not only do you have to think about how you're going to travel to Manchester for the weekend, with the festival now taking place in Heaton Park (a 30 minute drive or 1.5 hour walk from Piccadilly station), you'll likely need to factor in daily transport to and from the festival too.

Parklife do offer travel passes which will help you get from the city centre to Heaton Park, either via the designated shuttle bus or Metrolink services. A weekend travel pass cost £10, while a day pass was only a fiver, working out at £2.50 each way.

However, at peak times these services get super busy, and you have to exchange your travel pass ticket for a wristband at certain designated locations, which can make the process a bit of a hassle.

We opted to grab an Uber instead, which set us back around £2.50 each on the way to the festival, and £4 each on the way home - it was definitely worth the extra £1.50 to cut out the midnight queues.

Make sure to book your train or coach travel to Manchester for the weekend as far in advance as possible, as thousands of people will be looking to do the same, and prices can sky rocket quickly.

Price of Parklife merchandise

You'd think if you were paying over £100 for a ticket to a festival, you would at least be told what time all the acts are performing.

Unfortunately, if you wanted find where and when all the acts were playing you had to pay £7 for an official programme from the merchandise stand, which is a total rip off all things considered.

The best way of getting around this is to avidly search for 'Parklife set times' on Twitter until someone else buys a programme, takes a photo and uploads it for everyone to see. Although beware that 4G was pretty patchy across the site due to the amount of people in one area.

The programme does at least come in a handy lanyard form so you don't have to carry it around all weekend...

Parklife overall value for money

Overall, Parklife provided average value for money in comparison to other festivals.

While the tickets themselves might not be as expensive as you would pay for other festivals, having to pay for accommodation and daily travel to and from the festival site bumps the price up.

However, there were some huge acts - everyone from Liam Gallagher, Lorde, Skepta, N.E.R.D and A$AP Rocky - and to see them all perform individually would cost a whole lot more.

Food and drinks prices were pretty standard for festivals - you're never going to find two pound pints anywhere. But little things like having to pay £7 just to find out what time your favourite band were playing were pretty frustrating and felt like unnecessary expenses.

So how much did it all cost? We added up everything we spent on the festival (per person) to calculate just how much a weekend at Parklife will set you back - and to be honest, it isn't pretty.

Tickets: £146.45 (Weekend VIP)
Travel: £46.50 (return tickets from London to Manchester with a 16-25 Railcard) + £13 on taxis
Food: £16
Drinks: £45 (approx.)
Accommodation: £30
Merchandise: £7

Total: £303.95

It's an eye-watering amount, but also to be expected for a big weekend festival like Parklife - and let's face it, we had an amazing time regardless of cost.

The bigger the festival, the more expensive it'll be, so to save cash look into smaller local festivals or festivals for niche music genres.

But if you do want to taste a bigger music festival, but can't afford the likes of Glastonbury, then we would certainly recommend Parklife as a happy medium.

There are loads of little ways to save money at festivals - we've listed all our hacks here.

Have you been to Parklife festival? Did you think it was good value for money? Let us know in the comments!

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