The ultimate guide to Freshers’ Fairs

Not sure where to start when it comes to Freshers' Fairs? Don't panic, this guide has everything you need to know (especially tips on getting freebies).
Kim Connor Streich
Kim Connor Streich

Well, would you look at the time? It’s Freshers’ yet again! Now we at Debut already have bags of content for all you firsties out there. However, there’s one momentous event that all of you will be experiencing…

That’s right, the elusive Freshers’ Fair. DUN DUN DUUUUH!

You’ll have seen posters slapped all over your uni, and the mysterious tents spontaneously appearing around campus. But where the bloomin’ heck are you meant to start? Because let’s be honest, with all the freebies and sign-ups going on, it’s absolute carnage.

So before you get frazzled, here are some insider tips on how to navigate a Freshers’ Fair and come out a winner.

Suss out the free shiz

freshers free stuff

You know those people that are dressed as life sized billboards for Domino’s? Go up to them and ask where the stand in the union is, and make your way over for a free slice of pizza. Top tip: you can totally go by multiple times. Cause if you’re like me, one sliver of a slice with not be satisfying.

However, don’t ignore the vouchers that they (or anyone else, for that matter) give you! Flyers can have offers for free food or discounted drinks… yes, there may be some advertisements for a random grime night in some seedy bar you’ve never heard of, BUT you should hold on to all the flyers you get and then sift through them to find the good’uns once you’re in the safety of your dorm.

As another tip, I also recommend looking outside of your campus. During my first year at Leeds, me and my course-mates ventured into the city centre for a trip to Wilkos, and ended up getting free shots, cocktails and BBQ food from the local Wetherspoons and Yates’s, who were competing for new uni customers. Winner winner, chicken dinner (literally).

Stalk some society pages

freshers fair stalk

Depending on how big your union is, you may have different days of the fair dedicated to certain types of societies. For example, the Wednesday may be solely for Dance groups. Therefore, if you’ve got a burning desire to take up Bollywood at uni (I mean, who wouldn’t?) then look up what day they’re at the fair beforehand, so you can go along for more info.

If you’re unsure about a society, I highly recommend doing this. They’ll have members of the committee there to tell you more about what the group does, how often they meet, if it’s casual or a commitment, and (arguably most importantly) what the socials are like. So you can swing by and ask questions until your heart’s content.  

Plus, if you check out the social media accounts for societies before the fair you’ll have a pretty good idea of what they get up to, and you’ll be super keen which makes a HUGE impression on any society leader.  I used to run Improv in the Comedy Soc, and if someone came up who’d already done some research on us, they had some serious brownie points with me.

There will be guides – USE THEM

freshers maps

It can be tempting to just go swinging into a Freshers’ Fair like you’re Spider-Man, but let’s be frank: these things are manic, manic, manic. You’ll end up joining the flow of people, not knowing how to take the exit at the stands that interest you the most. Every table should be numbered on a map, so just take a glance and that should make you a little less overwhelmed.

There will also be sections of the fair dedicated to third-party companies as well as societies. So perhaps you’re looking into joining the University Officers’ Training Corps (UOTC) whilst you study, or you may be interested in getting some cash/incentives by becoming a brand ambassador. There’ll be a section on campus for this, so see where they are located.

Plus, if you have a route planned out before you go, you’re more likely to know where to to go to grab all the freebies before they run out. And trust me when I say, they will. Students are the savviest creatures of this world.

Check out the discounted stalls

discount freshers fair

It’s all about the three P’s: Posters, plants and pretty good vintage clothes (alright we’re stretching it). But seriously, all three of these things will have dedicated areas at Freshers’ Fairs. After all, it’s always great to give your room a bit of flare with a brand new spanking cactus or a piece of retro film artwork.

The vintage clothing sales are particularly awesome. Often they’ll do a ‘pay as you weigh’ system, or alternatively offer bundles for a number of items. Plus, you’ll be on fleek if you’ve got a vintage jumper for the autumn. Especially if you’re at a hipster-central university (love you really, Leeds).

Best of all, the items at these events are a lot more individual and unique than anything you’ll find on the high street, or even on the interwebs. And you’ll be helping the little guy make a living, which is always a major plus. So take the time to have a trawl through the rails and boxes, you won’t regret it!

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