Back in 2003, a ticket for Glastonbury cost £105. This year? £210. That's a 100% increase in ten years. 100%! I'm pretty sure festivals haven't got 100% more popular or 100% better. Glastonbury's not even the worst offender, either; Leeds and Reading pip it to the post by a frankly childish 50p. And younger festivals like Bestival and Latitude have shot up to £190. So you and your beau/belle, or you and your best mate, each paying £200 + train fare there and back + food and booze for the campsite + food and booze once you're in there = freaking ridiculous. When you're paying the same amount for a weekend festival in the UK as you would for a week's worth of guaranteed sun abroad, isn't that a bit weird?

Well, yeah. But where festivals used to be a long weekend summer bonus, completely separate from your actual holiday, now people are starting to view music festivals as their main summer event. The combination of the UK's constantly rising ticket prices and its unpredictable weather has led people to head around Europe for their festival fixes. And it's no surprise when you consider the attractions: low-cost airlines, lower ticket prices, the promise of sun in some often beautiful locations and a generally more pleasant crowd (read: fewer wee-in-a-bottle wars). But, when we're all feeling the pinch more than ever and good deals abound in so many other areas of life, it seems a crying shame that festival tickets, particularly on home turf, are disappearing out of reach for many live music lovers.

Of course, it costs a lot to put on a festival. Gone are the days of 1,500 people paying £1 to watch T.Rex play Glastonbury; the overheads these days are as massive as the festival sites have become. Tally up the cost of security, lighting, staging, sound equipment, sanitation and the actual acts themselves (some of whom demand vomit-inducing fees for a two-hour set), and you've spent millions of pounds. So yes, we know we have to pay. But why do we have to pay so much?

Glastonbury gives lots of money to charity, but it doesn't give it all away, and other big, equally pricey festivals out there don't bother with fundraising at all. Almost all of the steward and ticketing staff are volunteers, usually students, who are happy to work for free for 18 hours, carrying tents, manning the bins and giving wristbands to drunk people, to get to see some of the festival. And, at Leeds and Reading at least, they have to pay a £234 deposit in advance for the pleasure. Hmmm. The Mumford middle class means that the food's got pretty swanky and there are more loos; sadly though, the organic hog roasts and seaweed stands just charge us more, not the promoters. A yoghurt and falafel wrap does little to ease the sting of knowing that you've overpaid for everything.

"But hey", you say, "we're going for the music. Just think how much 20 gigs would set you back." True, but would you actually pay a significant amount of money to see each one of those acts out in the real world? Probably not. If you're a serious live music buff and you're interested in the line-up anyway, then it's good value. But only then. Smaller, independent festivals are popping up more and more often, as people tire of the cost and faff associated with the big names. They're cheaper, quieter, charmingly new, and they still pull in big names. Take Beautiful Days in Devon, for example, where a weekend camping ticket is £120, or Nozstock in Herefordshire, where an early bird ticket will set you back a mere £70.

The bottom line, I suppose, is that events will charge what people will pay. As long as festivals continue to be dominated by the middle class, content to 'rough it' for a few days and 'go a bit mental', some people, enough people, will still be able to fork out to go. But if, in 10 years, a Glastonbury ticket were to double in price again, can you imagine paying £420 to go? And, when there's so much choice, why stick to what you know? Try a new one this year (or next year if you're skint after Glastonbury); make it independent, pay less, take your friends, explore the UK, and have a new experience.