Entertainment & Culture

The ultimate guide to accessible festivals across the UK

Summer is fast approaching, so it’s time to start thinking about joining one of the many great accessible festivals that cater to people with a range of disabilities, from wheelchair users to those with hearing and visual impairments.

To help you choose the best for you, we’ve asked Able magazine to share its ultimate guide to be most accessible festivals. Here, you’ll find the dates for 2019 festivals, links to accessibility pages and be able to watch highlights from 2018.

Latitude festival accessibility – Henham Park, Suffolk, 18th to 21st July 2019

Latitude (see at the top of the page) has become one of the largest festivals around and returns this year with a packed schedule of top contemporary musical artists as well as comedy, cabaret, film and theatre areas.

British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation is provided for a range of pre-arranged and upon-request performances. The service extends to online information about the festival on the Latitude Festival YouTube channel.

Latitude offers an access scheme that includes the following facilities:

  • wheelchair accessible viewing platform;
  • accessible car parking and drop off pass;
  • free of charge PA ticket;
  • accessible toilet facilities;
  • and accessible camping.

Visit the Latitude Festivals accessibility page for more.

Edinburgh Fringe festival accessibility – Edinburgh, 2nd to 26th August 2019

Every year thousands of performers take to hundreds of stages all over Edinburgh to present shows for every taste. From big names in the world of entertainment to unknown artists looking for their ‘big break’, the festival caters for everyone. It includes theatre, comedy, dance, circus, cabaret, children’s shows, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events. 

The Fringe box office has staff in place to specifically handle access enquiries and ticket bookings. The Access Tickets service is available to anyone who requires specific accessibility information for each venue, or extra assistance when at a venue, perhaps with specific seating requirements or wheelchair access.

The service also handles bookings for specific accessibility services, such as a hearing loop, audio description headsets, captioning units or seating in relation to the location of a BSL interpreter. Complimentary personal assistant tickets to attend a performance are also available.

Visit the Edinburgh Fringe accessibility page for more.

Just So festival accessibilityRode Hall, Cheshire, 16th to 18th August 2019

The Just So festival is an annual weekend-long camping festival for children and their families. The festival provides a magical experience where art, music and literature are embedded and entwined in a beautiful and wondrous landscape. Some tickets are sold out, but a number are still available.

The programme includes a broad range of musical, theatrical, and visual performances, workshops and installations within a safe, natural and magical setting. Families discover and delight in the spectacular within the woodland environment.

Festival organisers are working with both local and national groups to put different options for accessing performances, including BSL, Makaton and captioning. Each stage and performance area is described for access purposes on the festival website.

Visit the Just So Festival accessibility page for more.

Bluedot festival accessibilityJodrell Bank, Cheshire, 18th to 21st July

Bluedot is billed as an intergalactic festival of music, science, arts, culture and the exploration of space. The award-winning festival of discovery takes place at the grounds of deep space observatory, Jodrell Bank.

Set against a backdrop of the iconic Lovell Telescope, Bluedot combines music with a ground-breaking programme of live science experiments, expert talks and immersive artworks. Tickets for Saturday day tickets are sold out, but other days and weekend tickets are still available.

The site is divided into three areas. The first is within the grounds of Jodrell Bank, which has hard-standing pathways throughout. The Main Arena is grass and is generally very flat, although the land has some small mounds and dips. The third area is the existing arboretum and gardens. It has a hard-standing main path, but some activities will only be accessed via grass.

Visitors with specific access requirements are encouraged to fill out the access application form on the website. Detailed access information about parking, camping, facilities and pre-bookable services, such as the two-for-one PA ticket scheme and documentation are available on the website. 

Visit the Bluedot accessibility page for more.

Reading Festival accessibility – Richfield Avenue, Reading, 23rd to 25th August

Saturday tickets for the renowned Reading Festival have already sold out. But fans of rock and indie music can still attend on Friday or the whole weekend.

The festival runs an access scheme designed for disabled people. Once you have purchased your ticket you’ll need to complete and submit an access requirements application outlining your requirements at the event. Along with this, you will be asked to provide supporting documentation.

The access scheme allows you to apply for: an accessible car parking and drop-off pass; wheelchair accessible viewing platform; PA ticket (at no extra charge); accessible toilet facilities and accessible camping.

Visit the Reading Festival accessibility page for more.

Leeds Festival accessibility– Bramham Park, Leeds, 23rd to 25th August

This is the (northern) twin of the Reading Festival, so the line-up of top rock and indie acts will be similar. The organisers also run the same disabled access scheme as they do for the Reading Festival.

Once you have purchased your ticket you’ll need to complete and submit an access requirements application outlining your requirements at the event. Along with this, you’ll be asked to provide supporting documentation.

The access scheme allows you to apply for: an accessible car parking and drop-off pass; wheelchair accessible viewing platform; PA ticket (at no extra charge); accessible toilet facilities and accessible camping.

Visit the Leeds Festival accessibility page for more.

Greenbelt festival accessibility – Boughton House, Northamptonshire, 23rd to 26th August

Greenbelt is a festival based on the belief that things often kept apart can and should be held together. Things like artistry and activism, spirituality and politics, faith and justice. It is a festival where these things belong together and where all are welcome.

Greenbelt has been working with the charity, Attitude Is Everything, since 2011 and has developed a host of best practice policies, including an established inclusive volunteer scheme. Mental health support is provided at The Haven in the Festival Village, and facilities, such as British Sign Language interpretation, are also standard year-on-year.

The festival has designated the area closest to the Festival Village entrance for disabled camping. In fact, it has two separate areas for disabled camping – one for tents, and one for caravans, motorhomes and trailer tents. There is no access by vehicle to the campsites, but there will be trolleys and taxi-buggies, as well as volunteers, to help you get your stuff to the campsite from your vehicles.

Visit the Greenbelt accessibility page for more.

Boomtown festival accessibility – Matterley Estate, near Winchester, 7th to 12th August

The festival has developed with the principles of combining music with theatre, interactive set design, freedom and escapism. It caters to people of all ages and backgrounds and to those who may not have previously experienced the depths and variety of what a festival can achieve.

Boomtown is a greenfield site and routes between stages are usually grass. If the ground conditions are muddy, electric wheelchairs will quickly run out of juice, so the organisers advise you to bring a back-up manual wheelchair that can be pushed if necessary.

The Boomtown site also has a lot of hills. GAMA’s ‘buggy route’ is designed to help navigate the steeper slopes around the site. 

The festival runs a free carer/PA ticket scheme for people receiving disability benefits. It also sells Parking Passes for those camping in the accessible meadow, although these are sold out for this year’s event. A long and detailed list of FAQs can be found on the festival website.

Visit the Boomtown accessibility page for more.

HebCelt festival accessibility – Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, 17th to 20th July

The combination of wild scenery and one of the best family-friendly festivals in the UK is a great reason for visiting the Isle of Lewis, Scotland. The festival aims to gather a variety of music around the world as well as the finest Celtic music.

The main arena is a greenfield site. There are some paths, and trackway is used to give you smoother access to the viewing area within the main stage. But it can be challenging to move around if you’re a wheelchair user or have mobility impairments. Accessible toilets are provided near to the disabled viewing entrance area.

The festival offers disabled ticket holders in receipt of disability benefits one free ticket for a personal assistant.

The HebCelt festival doesn’t have a dedicated accessibility on the HebCelt website.

By Able magazine

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One Comment

  1. I’m sorry but Leeds is no way accessible. We went the other year when it heavily rained and it was impossible. The walkways were non existent and I had to be carried out the venue. Never again!! Plus it was full of drunk, drugged up thugs. Download and Bloodstock festivals are excellent. Nicer people. Brilliant facilities and even fridges to keep meds. Massive platforms in most arenas. Walkways designed for wheelchairs. Excellent.

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