10 tips for making the most of festivals if you have sight loss

Being blind or partially sighted shouldn’t stop you from fully enjoying music festivals. All you need is a bit of forward planning.

RNIB was at Glastonbury recently, promoting eye health where revellers took part in a very special karaoke eye test. Here are our expert, field-tested top tips to ensure the best festival experience if you have sight loss.

1. Let them know you’re coming

Getting tickets for most major festivals will involve buying tickets through normal channels, and then registering with the festival organisers so you can use their accessible facilities for people with disabilities.

2. Bring someone along for free!

Some festivals offer a free pass for a companion to help you get around if you can meet certain criteria. You can find out how to apply for a pass by visiting the website of your chosen festival or by giving them a call.

3. Make full use of those accessible facilities

If you’ve registered for disabled access and are arriving by car, you can park in the designated accessible parking. And if you’re staying overnight, you can set up camp in a dedicated campsite with facilities such as accessible toilets and showers. There should be accessible toilets throughout the festival site, but it’ll be wise to bring wet wipes and hand sanitiser just in case.

4. Do a recce

Some festivals produce an access map, which you can use to check the lay of the land before the festival goes into full swing. Make a note of useful facilities, key markers and plan the routes you might need to see your favourite acts. Test your routes in the morning when the festival is less busy.

5. View it up high!

When you’re registering for disabled access, if the festival you’re going to has a viewing platform, make sure you confirm you’d like access. A viewing platform is higher than ground level and off the side of the stage. For the best spaces on the platform, arrive early and don’t worry about bringing a fold-up chair as seating is usually provided.

6. Use binoculars or a monocular

So you’ve bagged a prime spot on the viewing platform, and your favourite band is on stage. If you’re partially sighted, using binoculars or a monocular could make all the difference to your experience. You can always carry them in a bumbag – this year’s festival must-have accessory.

7. Take your cane with you

If you use a cane, do bring it with you as it will let other festival-goers know you have sight loss.

8. Do some digging before bringing your guide dog

Not all festivals will be suitable for your guide dog – it all depends on the type and scale of the festival, and your dog’s temperament. Try to find out as much as possible about your chosen festival before making a decision.

9. Going solo is possible

While some people prefer to have a companion to help guide them around the festival, going solo is perfectly possible. At any festival, there will be plenty of stewards across the site, so just ask for help if you need it.

10. Prepare for all kinds of weather

We’re in Britain after all! Waterproofs are essential, layering is wise, and ponchos optional (but totally in keeping with the festival vibe).