Accessible music festivals

Always fancied a festival, but worried about accessibility? Our helpline team explain how to get the best experience this summer

Though you wouldn’t know it with the weather, summer will soon be upon us, and with it, music festival season.

According to the Association of Independent Festivals, there were nearly 500 of them last year, and it is reported that 3.6 million disabled people attend a large music event annually in the UK.

Going to a music festival and soaking up the vibe with grass underfoot (or under wheels if you are a wheelchair user!) has become a huge part of many people’s yearly calendar.

Given festival tickets are expensive, it’s important to get the most out of your chosen event. This is especially true if you are a disabled festival goer, as there can be potential barriers to a full festival experience.

Music festivals are synonymous with the great outdoors and rolling parkland. Take  huge crowds of people and add the potential for rain and mud or even dust and sunstroke (you’ve got to love the unpredictable British summertime!) and you have to recognise that festivals are notoriously hard to make disability friendly.

 A responsibility for accessibility

Thanks to the Equality Act, event organisers cannot shy away from responsibilities to disabled festival goers. The charity Attitude is Everything have created a ‘live events access charter’ to promote best practice and help the industry ensure that live events work for people with disabilities.

To gain charter accreditation, event organisers need to think about pre-event issues such as accessible information, an accessible ticket booking process, and a personal assistant/companion ticket (at no extra cost). Given the location of festivals, the event environment itself needs to be considered – including the availability of accessible toilets (including Changing Places toilets), level access, viewing platforms, respite and sensory spaces, camping or accommodation, and accessible parking, too.

You can see the list of over 60 festivals signed up to the charter on the Attitude is Everything website,

What about advanced MS?

It is more challenging for people with more advanced MS to enjoy all aspects of festivals, but it isn’t impossible. Festival Spirit ( is a charity who make sure that people with a life-limiting conditions or profound disability can have a full festival experience. They have a large, adapted marquee with hard flooring, heating, and electricity, that is used as accommodation. The accommodation is always positioned close to other disabled facilities (such as showers and toilets). They have electric profile beds, hoists and shower chairs and commodes if needed. There are qualified nurses to hand and the charity provide trained ‘buddies’ to help festival goers to get around the site and to make the most of the event. Festival Spirit can’t help at all events but usually attend Womad ( and Wilderness ( festivals.

Top tips

  1. Access Card

Get an Access Card ( The card uses clear graphic symbols to communicate access and support needs. The symbols show that users have difficulties with a variety of issues including standing and queuing, level access needs, difficulty mobilising, urgent toilet needs or if they need a companion. The Access Card acts as proof of needs and is currently recognised at 134 festivals across the UK.

  1. Accessible parking and camping

If you are a disabled festival goer, accessible parking and camping will be a priority. This will be closer than standard camping and parking to all the major facilities and usually in the heart of the festival itself. Make sure you request accessible camping or parking at the time of booking your ticket.

  1. Get a PA/companion ticket

Most festivals offer a free carer or personal assistant ticket for people with a disability. There may be some eligibility criteria to meet, which usually includes proof of benefit entitlement or holding an Access Card.

  1. Know where the medical/welfare support is

Medical and welfare support is handy to know about if you need to keep medication chilled or stored safely. The welfare tent is somewhere where wheelchair users can get their powerchairs charged, is normally open 24 hours a day, and will often have a safe ‘rest, recovery and respite’ area. The welfare tent is supported by staff that have medical and first aid training.

  1. Be weather-ready and maintain hygiene

Warm clothes, wellies and waterproofs are as essential as sunhats, sunscreen and sandals. Despite festivals being in the summer, it is important to remember that it can get cold at night. Pack plenty of sanitiser, wipes and lots of packets of tissues. Festival facilities and toilets can be notoriously difficult to keep clean and useable, and are often made worse if there’s lots of rain and mud. Having something you can use to wipe yourself or your equipment down with is always useful.