New Volunteers

If you would like to join our volunteer team, we look forward to welcoming you when the time is right!

Definitely! That’s one of the great benefits of volunteering at RBC Bluesfest. You can see shows on your days off, and before or after shifts. To be entitled to free admission throughout the festival, you must attend all of the shifts that you sign up for and stay in good standing.

*New volunteers must complete their first volunteer shift before attending any shows. Returning volunteers can attend any shows before their first shift!

One of the great perks of being a volunteer is Free Shows when you’re off-shift! As an off-shift volunteer, you become a festival patron and the same rules apply to you, with the exception that you have special check-in areas you must visit before going into the main gate.

Free Show Check-In is set up outside of the Main Gate on Vimy.

Volunteers who are coming for a show, must remember to bring their volunteer bracelet, as that is your accreditation that allows you to access the festival on your off days. Free Show Check-In opens 4:45 p.m. weekdays and 2:45 p.m. on weekends. Remember, you become a patron at that point, so you’ll get in when everyone else does!

Having our volunteers work all their shifts in one Area helps us to keep things consistent and means that you don’t have to learn the ropes for a new activity every time you come in. Our Area Leaders also depend on the experience of their team to keep things running smoothly, and to help new volunteers get the hang of the day-to-day activities & expectations of their Area.

However, if you hate routine and love the unknown, check out our Alternates team. Members of this team fill in across the festival in whatever Area needs a little extra support—so who knows what you’ll end up doing!

We ask that you sign up for a minimum of 5 shifts, although some Areas may require more. Each shift is approximately 4 hours long but can vary depending on the activity’s requirements. Please read over the duties and requirements of any Area you may be considering volunteering for to make sure that you can meet the expectations of the position for the length of your shift.

In order to volunteer with us, you need to be at least 15 years old by the beginning of the festival (July 9, 2020). Keep in mind there are certain areas that have different age requirements (e.g. any position involved in serving or selling alcohol has a minimum age of 18).

Yes but it depends on your school! Check with them and then make sure to bring your school-issued form with you and have your Area Leader sign it immediately following each shift.

Returning Volunteers

If you were part of our team in 2019 and finished the season in good standing (i.e. you completed all the shifts you signed up for, had a good attitude and complied with our Volunteer Code of Conduct), you will receive an invitation from us for our 2022 event. This provides you with the opportunity to return to the Area you volunteered in last year, as well as have first pick of available shifts before Public Registration opens.

Sometimes our Early Bird invitations end up in the Junk folder in your email.  Take a quick look there, and if you still can’t find it, you can contact Volunteer Services at volunteers@ottawabluesfest.ca.  We will do our best to get back to you in a timely manner with more information.  Keep in mind that to be a volunteer in good standing, you completed all the shifts you signed up for, had a good attitude and complied with our Volunteer Code of Conduct.

Our Early Bird invitations are a perk used to incentivize volunteers who wish to return to the same Area. If you want to select a different team, you will have to wait until Public Registration opens. We do make exceptions, however, they can only be made by your Area Leader and would need to be approved by the Area Leader of the Area you want to move to. If you can find a way to get this to happen, we can work with you on it.

Our Specialized Recruitment will open in the Spring of 2022! To find out what positions are looking for new volunteers, what requirements each team has and how to apply, you can click HERE.

If you are interested in applying for our Photojournalism Team, please check out the Privately Recruited areas. We request a photography-based résumé and online portfolio. We suggest highlighting your ability to take engaging photographs of people outside and in a busy environment. Please keep in mind that we typically have only 2-5 positions to fill each year.

Our Photojournalism Team volunteers typically do not have the opportunity to take photos of our artists. If that is you and you’re a professional photographer, you can get more information about acquiring a media pass here. Volunteers’ main responsibility is capturing our volunteer program in action. We have over 3500 volunteers who make our festival possible, and we need group shots, portraits, action shots and crowd shots of the volunteers at our great event.


Our registration is on a first-come, first-served basis and we, unfortunately, don’t offer a waiting list. If you don’t snag a spot in the area you were hoping for, we recommend is that you keep checking in to see if any spots become available—which can happen right up to the start of the festival.

We often have volunteers working together in areas throughout the festival site. To increase the chances of this happening, you and your friend or family should sign up for the same shifts at the same time, using separate computers. However, because volunteers are placed where they’re needed within an area, we can’t guarantee that you’ll work together; your Area Leader may need you to work separately during your respective shifts.

*There are a few of things that you should keep in mind:

  • Each family member needs their own PRIMARY email address; if the same email address is used for more than one volunteer as their PRIMARY email, the files will merge and cancel out all but one of the registrants. Sharing the same SECONDARY email address is fine and will cause no problems.
  • We recommend that your respective Emergency Contacts are not someone who is working at the festival at the same time as you.

Any changes to your account should be made on a desktop computer. In order to update your registration questions, you will need the confirmation number found in your confirmation email, which you would have received after you completed your registration.

  • Click on the link to your volunteer account found in the RBC Bluesfest Registration email and then enter your case-sensitive confirmation number, which can also be found in that email.
  • Select the button that says “Modify Registration”. 
  • Review your registration questions and ensure the entered information is correct, then add any information that may be missing. Once you’ve finished, scroll down to the bottom of the page and select “Next”.
  • The next page is your shift selections. Here, you can scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page and select “Next”, which in turn will take you to a summary page, where you can select “Finish”, which will save the changes you made to your account.

Please note: If you do not select Finish, your changes will not be saved.

During the Festival

Of course you do! We try to make it as fun and informative as possible. It’s also a great time to meet your whole team, which may never all be together again! We highly recommend you attend one of these sessions held at the festival site to find out the details of your assigned duties, as well as get a tour of the festival grounds and see all the key volunteer areas (they usually change a little every year). It’s also a great opportunity to meet your Area Leader and the team of volunteers you’re going to be working with!

No, there is no onsite volunteer parking. However, we are located centrally at LeBreton Flats, so we recommend using public transportation, walking when possible, or taking advantage of our fantastic (and free!) Bike Park valet service, located outside of the festival gates.

We can’t run the festival without our volunteers, so we’re counting on your attendance! It’s expected that you’ll show up for all of your scheduled shifts, even if you signed up for more than the minimum. In order to avoid missing shifts, make sure not to sign up for more shifts than you can commit to.
*Remember: In order to keep your free show privileges, you must attend ALL of the shifts that you’re scheduled for.

Tip money collected in the beverage areas of the festival supports volunteer appreciation initiatives. Primarily, the funds provide the delicious food that is prepared for volunteers at the Outdoor Blues Café, but it also supports other recognition initiatives like random on-site draws, the post-festival Volunteer Appreciation Party, off-season get-togethers and our Service Award ceremony.

These funds directly benefit two festival-created charities, Blues in the Schools (BITS) and Be in the Band (BITB). Both of these programs have been extremely successful and are sources of community pride.

  • Blues in the Schools is an award-winning educational program created to promote the history and culture of Blues music by bringing national and international artists and educators to local schools for two-week residencies.
  • Be in the Band puts young musicians in touch with other young musicians as potential bandmates, and recruits professional musicians to mentor and provide technical support and equipment so that participants can take full advantage of a quality ensemble experience.