Ashley Smith-Hammond

It’s not easy to create an outdoor event that’s fully accessible but, with a little planning, there is a lot you can do to open your festival up to disabled people.

Unpredictable weather, vast open spaces and, oh yes, mud. Festivals and outdoor events are a challenge when it comes to improving accessibility. But we’ve come a long way in recent years.

We’re looking at some tips and tricks from a couple of the big names like Glastonbury and Womad to see what innovative tips smaller organisers could implement to improve accessibility.

Quit the queues

You don’t want to put off visitors before they’ve even got to your event and long queues in cars and then on foot to get wristbands are a nightmare for visitors with mobility issues. Provide allocated FastTrack queuing systems with plenty of shade and seating available for disabled people to escape the heat or rain and ease the pressure.

Provide accessible campsites

If your event has camping, then consider creating an accessible area, much like you’d offer disabled parking, to ensure your visitors have easy and quick access to everything they need.

Accessible campsites should offer accessible showers, water points and toilets as well as mobility scooter hire. They should be situated near the most popular parts of the festival and have additional protection in place against flooding and the dreaded mud.

Improve the crowded areas

We can all feel a bit overwhelmed and swamped by large crowds in the busiest parts of a festival, but when you’re dealing with personal mobility issues as well, the problem is compounded. To help, as an organiser you can try to ensure main stages and popular areas have enough space on viewing platforms. Try not to design the festival ground so that people get ‘kettled’; think about creating spaces for people to escape the throngs.

It’s not easy to create an outdoor event that’s fully accessible. But there is a lot you can do to open your festival up to disabled people and improve their time with you – it’s well worth a little extra thought.

For more detail of what you can do to remove barriers for disabled visitors download our Disability Population Profile.

Many of the suggestions in this series are not art-form specific. Check out the other articles on cinema, theatres, museums and galleries, and gigs.

Main image credit: The Audience by Honza Soukup (CC BY 2.0)