Festivals and conventions, especially the world-renowned ones in Austin, can be expensive to attend. There’s no getting around that. The costs aren’t just carried by the attendees either: These festivals cost a lot to run as well. Because of this, they regularly rely on volunteers to help them operate and keep going year after year. That’s where Austin’s cool kids find their opening. If you want almost free-access to ACL, SXSW and more, here’s how you do it:

ACL Fest (October 3-5 and October 10-12)

Photo by Flickr user "Kent", creative commons licensed

Photo: Flickr user “Kent”, creative commons licensed.

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ACL offers positions for a wide variety of roles during the festival, including working the box office, greeting patrons, helping out folks in the media or a general problem solver. For a more in-depth description of each team, ACL Fest offers this document. Every position involves being out on the festival grounds themselves – nothing behind the scenes.

Because ACL is so incredibly popular, they get thousands of volunteer applications every year. Keeping up with all those helpers became a heap of full-time jobs in itself, so applicants are now charged a $10 submission fee. Each shift is four hours long and they’re distributed to those with the most flexibility. Volunteers are then able to enjoy the festival at their leisure before and after their shift.

Volunteers also get a free t-shirt designed to invoke the maximum amount of envy in everyone who sees it. Everyone 18 years of age or older by October 3rd are welcome to sign up at the ACL Fest 2014 Volunteer Page.

SXSW 2015

NASA space telescope  @ SXSW 2013, photo by Chris Gunn via Flickr, creative commons licensed

NASA space telescope @ SXSW 2013, photo: Chris Gunn via Flickr, creative commons licensed

As far as SXSW 2015 is concerned, registration for volunteers isn’t even close to starting. November 15th is the big day, but here’s some information you’ll need to know.

There will be two meetings, on January 18th and 28th, in Ballroom ABC of the Austin Convention Center. You will need to attend these volunteer meetings to pick a crew and be assigned your shifts, but if you complete your obligations those sweet, sweet passes are all yours.

To keep up to date with volunteer news and information or to download the application once it’s available, head over to the SXSW 2015 Volunteer page and keep it bookmarked.

Austin Film Festival (October 21-30)

Whether you’re a film buff, interested in learning more about the world of marketing, PR and event planning or if you just need something to do, volunteering for the Austin Film Festival is right up your alley.

“Volunteering with Austin Film Festival is a unique opportunity to work hard, gain valuable event management experience, earn community service hours, network and fun while supporting the mission of a pioneering nonprofit organization dedicated to championing the work of aspiring and established filmmakers,” the official AFF website explains.

Of course, volunteering also gets you free access to the festival itself, and no application fee is required. How many days you can attend depends on how much you volunteer to work. To apply, head on over to the Austin film Festival volunteer page.

Don’t hesitate to let us know about your volunteer experiences! Drop us a line via Twitter or our Facebook page.

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Feature photo: Flickr user Ken Yueng, creative commons licensed

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