Mobility problems shouldn’t stop you from doing what you love, whether it be travelling the world, being creative or visiting a music festival.
Across the UK, festivals of all sizes are working hard to make sure their events are accessible to everyone, even mobility scooter users.
One organisation spearheading the movement is Attitude is Everything. The charity aims to improve deaf and disabled people’s access to live music by working with audiences, artists and the music industry. Initially launched as a pilot project in 2000, the organisation is now a fully independent charity and has even created a Charter of Best Practice to encourage music venues and festivals to improve accessibility.
According to the charity’s website, ‘the ethos of the Charter is that deaf and disabled people should be as independent as they want to be at live music events’. Festivals and venues can be awarded bronze, silver and gold and are judged on a range of criteria including whether the venue has viewing platforms, accessible toilets, level access, accessible campsites and many other factors.
So, whether you’re interested in folk, rock, dance, comedy, arts or theatre, we’ve compiled a list of some of the UK’s most accessible festivals for mobility scooter users so you can start planning.
Accessible festivals for mobility scooter users
Bristol Harbour Festival
Bristol Harbour Festival has a stellar line-up every year, with everything from reggae bands to classical orchestras. 2017 saw a performance by The Outlook Orchestra, a collaboration between 20 artists showcasing the biggest dance tracks supported by UK rapper and producer, Roots Manuva. As well as an impressive musical line-up, the festival offers dance and theatre performances, family activities and, of course, a showcase of grand tall ships in the harbour.
The city has a Shopmobility scheme in place, making it one of the more mobility scooter-friendly cities in the UK. While the city centre and harbour areas are fairly accessible, there are some small steps and cobbled streets. To help plan your route, take a look at Bristol Harbour Festival’s access map. There are accessible toilets at every toilet block in the festival site and Blue Badge holders can park free of charge all day in any on-street pay and display bays. To help those with mobility problems watch the live music, there will be a raised viewing platform.
Cambridge Folk Festival
Having celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014, Cambridge Folk Festival is undoubtedly one of the longest running and famous folk festivals in the world. Around 14,000 people descend on the picturesque Cherry Hinton Hall estate to enjoy an eclectic mix of music, from traditional folk artists from the UK and Ireland to cutting edge contemporary acts.
Cambridge Folk Festival has taken great care to make the event as accessible as possible. A wheelchair and mobility scooter accessible minibus runs between all sites, there are accessible toilets and viewing spaces for all stages. As the festival takes place in parkland, the condition of the surface will be dependent on the weather. However there’s a concrete path leading from the main entrance to the arena, and temporary paths allow access to the centre of the arena. Read the full access details on the festival website.
Just So Festival, Cheshire
Dance, theatre and music combine in a dreamlike weekend at Just So Festival. Designed with families in mind, the event is nestled in the picturesque grounds of Rode Hall, one of Cheshire’s finest country houses. Just So Festival was created by Rowan and Sarah of Wild Rumpus, a community interest company, to offer ‘an amazing, spellbinding weekend where families could play, dance and create together’, according to the website.
As well as live performances, visitors can take part in creative workshops and embrace the beautiful woodland environment. Just So Festival was awarded gold in Attitude is Everything’s Charter of Best Practice and has worked closely with the organisation to make sure the site is as accessible as possible. Viewing platforms, accessible toilets and firm flooring have been added where possible to make sure wheelchair and mobility scooter users get the best experience possible. For full access details, visit Just So Festival’s accessibility page.
Festival No.6, Portmeirion, Wales
Set in the surreal, Italian-style village of Portmeirion, Festival No.6 is truly special. Sub-tropical gardens and colourful, Mediterranean architecture provide an unrivalled setting for the event which welcomes music, performance art, screenings, readings and talks over four days in September. The coastal festival takes its name from No.6, Patrick McGoohan’s character in the classic 1960s TV series The Prisoner, which was filmed in Portmeirion.
Festival No.6 offers two for one tickets for personal assistants, an accessible parking pass and viewing platform wristbands which include access to a stewarded accessible toilet. The historic village, although spectacular, can pose some problems in regards to mobility. While Portmeirion’s roads and pathways make most of the village accessible to wheelchair and mobility scooter users, there are some steep slopes. For the festival, there is an accessible campsite and car park, however in the event of heavy rain the grassy path to the main arena can become difficult to navigate in a mobility scooter. For full details on accessibility at Festival No.6, visit the website.
Cornbury Festival, Oxfordshire
Kaiser Chiefs, The Pretenders and Bryan Adams all headlined 2017’s Cornbury Festival and the event looks set to be even bigger next year. Described on its website as a ‘lovingly crafted, top notch, very English open air party’ Cornbury Festival is a brilliant summer event for everyone, including mobility scooter users.
As well as an accessible campsite and parking, the festival offers disabled guests a viewing platform overlooking the main arena, but you’ll need to apply for a viewing platform pass online in advance. There are a number of accessible toilets throughout the festival site. Cornbury Festival achieved the bronze award by Attitude is Everything and is working to make the festival even more accessible each year. For more information, check out the festival’s disabled access page.
Bingley Music Live, Yorkshire
In the heart of West Yorkshire, Bingley Music Live has welcomed big names such as Manic Street Preachers, Kaiser Chiefs and The Wombats in one of the region’s biggest festivals. The event is now in its 11th year and has its roots in Myrtle Park, where Bradford Council first held a concert in 1991 to promote its green spaces. On its website, the festival says: “Fast forward 25 years and Bingley Music Live has built a reputation for itself as one of the best small festivals in the UK, playing host to some of the biggest names in the industry and acting as a springboard for tomorrow’s talent.”
Around 15,000 people attend the three-day event and a huge effort is made to make sure that each and every one of the attendees is catered to. Bingley Music Live was awarded silver in Attitude is Everything’s Charter of Best Practice. The location, Myrtle Park, is easy to get to from the main road and rail networks, and accessible car parking is available for Blue Badge holders. Disabled festivalgoers will benefit from a separate entrance to reduce queuing time and a wristband allowing access to accessible viewing areas. Disabled toilets will be available onsite, as well as changing facilities and accessible campsites. The festival website even features photographs of the pathways leading up to the site to help wheelchair and mobility scooter users plan their route.
Now one of the most iconic music festivals in the world, Glastonbury welcomes around 175,000 people every year. Transforming a usually peaceful working farm in Somerset into a hub for music, art, theatre, comedy and more, the festival has also been awarded gold by Attitude is Everything. Name almost any popular act in any genre and they’ll probably have played Glastonbury at one point. The festival is renowned for offering something for fans of any type of music, no matter how obscure.
Glastonbury offers a two for one ticket scheme for personal assistants and passes to use the accessible facilities on the site, including disabled camping, wheelchair accessible toilets, viewing platforms, disabled car parking and an accessible shuttle service. Visit the website to apply for the ticket scheme and for an access pass.
With so many festivals already listed on Attitude is Everything’s Charter of Best Practice, there are plenty of events to choose from. Take a look at the full list of festivals to start planning.