TOP TIPS FOR GOING TO a festival on Wheels
So you're probably thinking festivals are a no-go for anyone in a wheelchair, well sorry but you're wrong. Now when I first started going to festivals I had a very similar outlook, thinking about mud plus wheelchair is not a good idea. However, surprisingly festivals are quite disabled friendly considering what they are. Having said this there are a few things you need to watch out for.
Disclaimer all these tips are through my personal experience so will be mostly for those with physical disabilities or mobility issues.
1 Get a powered chair:
Right, now that's out the way. My first tip is to think about how you're going to get around the festival, so if you are a wheelchair user likelihood is you'll probably be best using a wheelchair, but it may be worth looking into using a powered wheelchair if you use a manual wheelchair as the terrain can be rough. Now if you don't own an electric wheelchair there are a few ways around this.
You can either ask to borrow one off of a friend that you know has one or there is the possibility to rent an electric wheelchair however some rental companies are reluctant to allow you to use it for this purpose due to, well, of course…. mud.
You also need to consider how much are willing to spend to rent your electric wheelchair as they normally are quite pricey, especially if you include the deposit for the electric wheelchair. Prices can range anywhere from £20 to £40 per day. In addition to this, you will also have to pay a deposit to ensure that you bring the wheelchair back in one piece.
Now, where do you go? It really depends on where you are but most shopping centres/ town centre has a shopability shop and that's probably the best way to start. But your local mobility shop may also have an electric wheelchair that you can rent. Now, I know all of this might seem a bit much, but I promise you having an electric wheelchair as a manual wheelchair user, is tons of fun and saves you a hell of a lot of time.
2: Pick the right "Carer"
My next tip is to make sure that the people you are traveling with, fully understand your needs and what you might need help with as you may find yourself in sticky situations and need them to get you out of them. Along with this the other piece of advice I'd give you is be aware of people standing in front of you and obstructing your view. Especially if you like to be down in the thick of it in the middle of the circle. Having said this there are specialist viewing platforms for anyone with a disability which gives you a raised view of any performances. Often you are only allowed to take one person with you and if you're traveling in a group it makes it very difficult. So, I tend to stay down in the middle and just try to make a hole for myself and my friends.
3 MONEY MONEY MONEY:
Now, this one is a bit more of a friendly subject. Make sure that you're aware that you might be the one getting all the drinks. The only reason I say this is because the majority of festivals in the UK allow disabled people to get to the front of the queue to stop them from waiting around for too long. Now your friends will soon catch on to this and start getting you to get all the drinks in but remember they can give you the money too.
4 Where are you going to sleep?:
Another thing you might want to consider when booking to go to a festival is where you're going to stay. The majority of festivals within the UK have accessible campsites so if you are looking to camp there are the facilities onsite. If you're like me and want a bit more comfort, try and find out whether there is a local hotel nearby. Although, pre-warning, they will put the prices up because they will know the event is happening. This is another reason why I suggest that Manual Wheelchair users invest in an electric wheelchair as sometimes the hotels aren’t as local as you want them to be. If you're wondering where to look for disabled access hotels, I often use Booking.com because they have a disabled access filter on their website. Having said this you will need to make sure that the room your booking is disabled friendly, because a lot of the time when they say ‘disabled friendly’, they mean the grounds of the hotel and not necessarily the rooms. Alternatively, you can also use AccessAble to scout locations. As you guys know I work alongside AccessAble, they go into a great level of detail and you'll be able to find most of the information you require. Having said this, they are still growing so the location may not be covered yet.
Going to a festival as a wheelchair user is still tons of fun and you never really miss out on anything. Plus, let's be honest, the free ticket is a bonus for your “carer”. I hope these tips give you a bit more of an insight into what you need to look into before booking your ticket to the next big Festival
As always don't let your wheelchair hold you back!