Top tips for festival season

Blogger Marsha de Cordova shares some of her top tips for getting the most out of the festival experience as a blind or partially sighted person.

It’s festival season again and I for one have been looking forward to it all year. A recent visit to the Calling Festival, to see the one and only Stevie Wonder, was a pleasant reminder of how great a festival can be. Where else can you have a picnic, top up your tan, dance to live music and wear a daisy chain in the open air?

Regardless of your level of sight, a festival can and should be enjoyed by everyone. However, you will need to know what support is available to you. Here is a list of my top tips for visually impaired festival goers.

1. So you have decided to go to a festival but you are not sure where to buy the tickets.

Disability access tickets are available to all blind and partially sighted people. Most event promoters (such as Live Nation or Ticketmaster) will have a separate booking line for disabled buyers. Remember that promoters will want to see some proof of your disability, like a blind registration card.

2. Your tickets are booked but you need a bit of extra support.

You can apply for a PA/carer ticket for free, which allows you to bring along a PA/carer at no extra cost. You will need to fill out an application form to access the free ticket, usually after you have bought your ticket.

3. You have your disability access ticket and have booked a ticket for your PA too.

If your carer has a car, they can make use of the free blue badge parking available. If you are staying overnight, you will also have access to a dedicated camp site with disabled facilities too.

4. Having a disabled access ticket means you can watch live performances from a viewing platform.

A viewing platform is usually higher than ground level and off to 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 provided. Remember to confirm that you want access to the viewing platform when booking.

5. Use binoculars or a monocular.

So you are in a prime location on the viewing platform and your favourite band is on stage! If you are partially sighted using binoculars or a monocular could make all the difference to your experience. Don’t forget to pack them with your waterproof poncho.

6. Avoid the toilets from hell!

Those who have been to a festival before will know what it’s like to use festival toilets (yuck!). Your disabled access tickets will give you access to disabled toilets which should be cleaner and much easier to use. Remember to bring wet wipes and hand sanitiser just in case.

7. I don't care what the weatherman says…

Everyone should check the weather beforehand and wear appropriate clothing.

This article first appeared online on the Action for Blind People's blog section.

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