Lonely Planet Writer

AccessFest: getting more people with a disability to more festivals more often

There are one billion people in the world who have some form of disability. That’s a seventh of the world’s population. This is by no means a niche market!

VB04 Bandstand - Credit Adam Bronkhosrt The Bandstand, Brighton, United Kingdom © Adam Bronkhorst

Festivals for all

In the UK alone there are 12 million people living with a disability. Contrary to popular belief, many people with a disability (PwDs) are very socially active. According to Attitude Is Everything (attitudeiseverything.org.uk) – a user-led organisation campaigning for better access to live music for disabled people – more than 114,000 PwDs attended venues and festivals that had signed up to their Charter of Best Practice last year, with more than 70,000 attending festivals across the UK annually.

Lonely Planet and its technology partner, UMOJA (umoja.in), are launching the AccessFest 2016 campaign this summer with the goal of getting even more PwDs to travel to five great UK festival destinations: Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Bristol and Brighton. We are partnering with local disabled people’s organisations to produce destination guides covering accessible transport, services and accommodation, alongside detailed access information about the festivals themselves.

Accessible Brighton: a festival guide

Today, we are proud to release the first in this series of guides, Accessible Brighton: A Festival Guide, which was produced using detailed access information kindly provided by The Fed Centre for Independent Living (thefedonline.org.uk) and UMOJA as well as festival organisers, with images courtesy of VisitBrighton (visitbrighton.com).

VB29 - The Great Escape Bastille perform at The Great Escape Festival in Brighton. Image courtesy of Visit Brighton

Brighton Pride is a festival we’d like to call out as being particularly inclusive. Not only do they have an Access Tent and a high-dependency accessible toilet, they also provide a priority viewing zone and British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters for the main stage. What’s more, PwDs and the elderly are provided with a safe space right at the head of the Pride community parade.

One of the main problems disabled travellers face is finding suitable accommodation. Statistics show 42% of disabled people find access-related information about hotels is insufficient, unreliable or hard to find. UMOJA works with hotels to find out precisely how, and for which types of disabilities, their properties are accessible. It presents not only detailed access information but also photographs of each hotel’s rooms and facilities on its website.

Special mention goes to three hotels in Brighton for their efforts to accommodate PwDs:

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be working hard to produce the other four guides in the AccessFest series, which we hope will become the ultimate travel planning resource for an ever-growing number of PwDs attending festivals in the UK.

Interested in accessible travel in the UK? Download our Accessible Brighton guide and keep your eyes peeled for more titles, coming soon. In the meantime, check out our Travellers with Disabilities forum on Thorn Tree.