Festival adventures with Florence

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Summer festival season is here (even if summer isn’t!).

Last year I went to my first proper festival (V) where I camped for the first time. That experience could warrant a blog of its own. But, after that adventure, I decided this year I’ll do more day-festivals just for ease. Although, I can assure you, I haven’t been totally put off festival camping and one year I am determined to do Glastonbury.

Anyway, this year I have two day-festivals. On Saturday, I went to British Summer Time at Hyde Park and in a few weeks, I’m off to Citadel at Victoria Park.

So let’s talk Saturday’s event.

Saturday morning and the weather was totally atrocious. I stared out my lounge window hoping the sun would come out. But every hour that went by showed no improvements. After my V experience where I blew up my wheelchair from the rain, I was not risking doing that again so I waited it out. Around 5 and suddenly it seemed to clear up.

Normally, I’m always a public transport user but currently I have my family’s adapted car so I suggested to PA we drive so we could get home easier that night. The drive from South Croydon into Central London took forever but we managed to park near Victoria without any issues. We headed to Hyde Park.

All was going smoothly as we made our way through one of the numerous gates. But the moment we made it into the park, I spotted it… mud! Mud everywhere! As the ticket people were rather vague about where the access platform was located, we decided just to head straight which seemed to be going against the flow of people. I knew that if I stopped, the sinking would start so I just had to keep driving. Luckily we soon found the main concrete path which was a welcome relief. At this moment, a fellow wheelie went past and we asked if they knew where the accessible viewing platform was. They did and their advice on just keep following the path round was music to my ears.

As we were making our way through I bumped into an old school friend I hadn’t seen in 7 years. Whilst having a chat, this woman wandered over to us looking a bit lost. Suddenly we bent down and started waving her hand over my wheel. When asked “what exactly are you doing?”, she replied “I’m collecting… I’m collecting… I don’t know” and walked/stumbled away. So top tip: be aware of drunk people or people who may have taken something they shouldn’t. Anyway this caused much hilarity between our group.

We then carried on our attempts to find the viewing platform. After about another 10 minutes of pushing through crowds, I spotted the rather small sign pointing to the platform. It did seem to involve more walking over grass but luckily it wasn’t as muddy.

We showed our tickets and gave our name and the steward pointed to both the accessible toilets and viewing platform. We went straight to the platform. There were two sections. One was just a section on the grass that was cornered off. It seemed mainly for ambulant disabled people. Then there was the raised platform which was huge. Despite there being a lot of wheelchair users including 2 fellow Trailblazers, there was still plenty of room and a good view all round.

We didn’t have long to wait until Florence & the Machine came onto the stage. She definitely lived up to expectations. One thing that I found great was that the gig wasn’t ridiculously loud. Usually once the music starts playing, I can’t communicate with the people with me as they can’t hear me. But this time we could chat comfortably which made things easier.

In terms of food/drink stalls, there was nothing super close and the queues were ridiculous. However, if you’re a beer or cider fan, you would have been sorted as a man selling that came onto the platform fairly frequently. However, if you’re not a fan of queues I’d recommend taking your own drinks/snacks.

One complaint I do have is that the viewing platform wasn’t covered. Whereas the VIP section behind us was. Luckily it didn’t rain while we were there but I think this would have been a welcome addition.

Getting out was a bit of a mission. It involved grass, mud and lots of drunk people. However, we did make it out in one piece and walked (very slowly) with the mass of crowds towards Victoria. This is when I was glad we drove.

You can find out more about young disabled people’s access to live music in our Access All Areas report. Overall it was a great evening and here are my top tips:

  1. Take warm clothes – I know it’s summer but this is the UK after all!
  2. Take a poncho and something to go over your wheelchair joystick
  3. Pack snacks and at least a bottle of water (this will save you having to queue)
  4. If the ground is muddy, just keep driving and do not stop
  5. Be assertive – you may get some interest from fellow Festivalgoers who don’t understand personal space!
  6. Have fun – I know, that goes without saying!

Have you been to festival this year? How was your experience? We’d love to hear from you. Let us know how you found it here

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