New Volunteers

If you would like to join our volunteer team this year, our online, first-come, first served public registration will open on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 @ 7:00PM. Sign up via the Job Descriptions page at that time. If you just can’t wait and you want to be on a specialized team, take a look at our privately recruited teams on this page.

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.

Our 2019 Parental Permission form can be found on our resources page.
You can download it, print it and have your parent or guardian sign it. Make sure to bring it with you to your first shift!

The 2020 version of the map is coming soon but you can see last year’s here – it’s going to be almost exactly the same!

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 your Early Bird Invitation on Monday, May 11, 2020 between 12:00PM and 5:00PM. Early Bird registration opens on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 @ 7:00PM. 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 2020! 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.

First step is to check your Junk or Spam folder and add cventplanner.com and the domain name ‘ottawabluesfest.ca’ to your Safe Senders list. If you still can’t find your confirmation email, contact Volunteer Services at sspeed@ottawabluesfest.ca as soon as possible to verify that we have the correct email address for you, and to confirm that your registration went through successfully.

Click on the link that was sent to you after you completed your registration and enter your confirmation number (also found in that first email). You can also go to the ‘Volunteer Registration’ page of our website, search for your activity name, click on the link to sign up and then click on the ‘Already Registered’ link at the top right of the page above the RBC Bluesfest banner. Enter your email address (the same one you used to register) and your confirmation number.

You can make changes to your agenda up until July 7 @ midnight. RBC Bluesfest and your volunteer team are counting on you to complete all of the shifts you sign up for, so if you are unable to commit to any of the shifts you’ve chosen, please be sure to remove them as soon as possible!

Sign into your volunteer account (see above question for how to), click ‘Modify Registration’, scroll to the bottom of the first page of your registration and click NEXT to go to the shift selection page. To add a shift, search for the shift you want and then ‘click to add shift’. To remove a shift, click ‘MY SHIFT, click to remove’. You must click FINISH on the final page of registration to save your changes and update your agenda. Once you have completed your schedule changes, you will receive an auto-confirmation email from your Area Leader with your new agenda.

If all of the shifts in your activity are full, then you will not be able to make changes to your agenda at this time; however, spots do tend to open up during the last two weeks of June. If you need to change a shift, we suggest you check shift availability by signing into your account, click ‘Modify Registration’ and scroll to the second page where the shifts are located. ALL SCHEDULE CHANGES MUST BE MADE BEFORE JULY 7 @ MIDNIGHT

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.

We sorry to hear you are no longer able to volunteer at RBC Bluesfest! Please sign into your volunteer account as soon as possible (before July 7), enter your confirmation number and click ‘Cancel Registration’. Once you are done filling out your reason for cancelling, click on the FINISH button.  If you are cancelling after July 7, 2020, please email your Area Leader to notify them of your cancellation.

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!

Meet your team on LeBreton Flats. Orientation happens rain or shine! If you cannot attend, please email your Area Leader to let them know that you won’t be there.

Your specific orientation date will depend on what team you join and will be posted on the website before Early Bird registration opens. Orientation will be 6:00PM-8:00PM on either Tuesday, July 7 or Wednesday, July 8, depending on your team.

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 and this year (2019) we will have a Free Show Check-In at the Volunteer Gate. If it becomes unworkable to have both set up, we will move it all back to the main gate, so ask if you have any questions closer to the time.

If you are a volunteers who are just coming for a show, remember to bring your 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!

One final note: If you are an off-shift volunteer, please do not hang out in Volunteer Village while you wait for the gates to open, as you will be asked to leave. Sign up for extra shifts if you love spending time in the Village!

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.

RBC Bluesfest volunteers can access OC Transpo for free to and from the festival—three hours before gates open until two hours after the music stops.

*Please Note: This perk does not start until the festival begins and it only applies once you have signed into Volunteer Check-In and received your volunteer accreditation (wristband). You will show your volunteer wristband to the bus driver as proof of payment.

  • New Volunteers: Your volunteer wristband will be distributed to you when you are signing in for your first shift. Please DO NOT come to Volunteer Check-In to receive your volunteer wristband on a day prior to your first shift.
  • Returning Volunteers: You can access OC Transpo for free once you’ve signed in for your first shift or a free show and received your wristband

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.

Over at Volunteer Village there is no potable water! When we move over to the Island in 2020 we hope to have potable water and can offer more water refilling stations and maybe coffee! In the past, there were trucks that brought in water and we could use that to make coffee – the health regulations have changed and we don’t have access to distribution that’s suitable.