Summer Series – Guide to festivals

In the latest instalment of my summer series, I am discussing how to attend summer festivals when considering additional needs, such as my own.

During another difficult winter I decided I may not go one better than flying a plane this summer (although leaving my day job to start a business feels like a sky dive right now). Instead I decided I hadn’t been to any concerts and festivals in a while, and would book a few up. Having been to many arena concerts I was keen to be outside for the novel experience of the summer festival atmosphere. 5 or so years ago I did attend ‘t in the park’ in Scotland. After two 8 hour drives and one hour commutes from the site to the hotel each morning and night, it was a tad tiring. Despite wanting to try camping soon (tents, I imagine, are tricky with a wheelchair – any tips guys?), I decided to keep the festivals local and use my flat. I know, how sensible is this?!

I have just recovered from attending the London Feis in Finsbury park with Bob Dylan headlining. Check out the video! Yesterday I saw the Kings of Leon (amazing!), Friday I am seeing The Killers, Kaiser chiefs and James, and next Thursday is Mumford & Sons with Arcade Fire (all in Hyde park). Finally I am going to Lovebox in mid July with the Wombats and Snoop Dogg headlining my days. So how does it work when you have a disability?

In many respects it is the same process as attending without a disability. However as you go along there are additional considerations and actions:

Booking the tickets – Firstly decide the concert you wish to attend. Go to the relevant website to check specific details on bookings for disabled people. Either select a ‘disabled plus PA’ ticket, or book just one standard ticket. If you have bought one standard ticket, you then need to contact the agency to request the PAs ticket too. PAs should always go free, even if it is just your friend. You will need to ‘prove’ your disability, however, which I do by emailing them a scanned copy of my DLA letter. With care, accessing work and a social life, I am now good at articulating the fact I am truly disabled, and not using this wheelchair as an accessory or because I am lazy.

If you are booking camping then follow the instructions for disabled people on the website. As I said I haven’t ventured here, yet.

Planning – This is obvious stuff. Beforehand, consider everything from going to the loo, staying warm and dry, or hydrated and not sunburnt, taking food and alcohol, etc, by packing the relevant items. This is for your disability and your general needs. A ‘cape’ is a good idea to cover a wheelchair from a soaking, as I found in the video blog.

Attending the festival – So you have been sent your 2 tickets, chosen your PA/friend, packed the essentials, now its time to go for it. On arrival spec out where the toilets are, how accessible they are, where the wheelchair viewing platform is and then begin drinking. At London Feis there weren’t any screens and the bands were miles away, but I had the best time. I caught up with my former lover and now friend from Austria (that description was to see the horror on her face, lol). We met loads of cool people there, including a disabled couple and their PAs. We all had lots to drink, put the worlds to rights, and enjoyed the bands, albeit from a distance!

After the festival – Every festival is different. The music, the weather, the people. I do guarantee you that no matter what happens, you will remember every festival for the rest of your life. Although if anyone can piece together 22.00 – 23.00 on Sunday night that would be helpful for me.

Let me know of your experiences and if you have any additional questions on attending a festival!