Festival season is upon us, and it's even more hotly anticipated this time round due to the absence of many festivals over the past couple of years. I've been lucky enough to attend several different festivals over the years and had a fantastic time, but if you're visually impaired there's a little more advance preparation to do. So, whether you're heading to a festival over the next couple of months or considering doing so, I thought I'd share my top tips on being festival ready.
When you've decided which festival to go to, check out all the options when booking tickets. Most festivals have accessible tickets available to purchase and also offer a free carer/PA ticket at no extra cost to you if you need someone to accompany you. You usually need to provide proof of your disability when applying for this, such as a Registered Blind card. The accessible ticket gives you access to the disabled facilities on the festival site including disabled campsite, Blue Badge parking, disabled toilets and a space on the viewing platform if required. You may still have to pay for a carpark pass even if you have a blue badge when booking your ticket though: every festival is different so check first. I've certainly made good use of the access facilities at the festivals I've been to as it makes life a lot easier so take advantage of it.
If you're a guide dog owner and are bringing your dog to the festival, take the needs of your dog into account as well as your own. Festivals are often noisy environments so bear this in mind and sit or stand further away from the stage to minimise discomfort for your dog as well as yourself. It is also very likely that there will be a lot more food on the floor than usual so keep an eye out if your dog is a scavenger.
Consider the size of the festival. Large festivals require a lot more walking so take this into account when making your decision. Try and pick a small or medium-sized one such as Cornbury or Towersey as these are relatively easy to get around and there isn't too far to walk between the stages.
If you're not a guide dog owner, bring your cane to the festival. It can be very useful in crowds and symbolises to the other festival-goers that you're visually impaired.
When it comes to festival food, it can be quite expensive so either treat yourself and buy your own or take some snacks and similar goodies with you.
There's a lot more to discover at festivals than the music! If you're in need of a break from the hustle and bustle for a while, take yourself off into a quieter area and immerse yourself in arts and crafts activities, health and wellbeing sessions such as yoga and relaxing massages or get your creative juices flowing with music-making or songwriting workshops.
Most importantly, enjoy yourself and have a wonderful weekend.
I hope these tips have set you in good stead and geared you up for your forthcoming festival experiences. Feel free to share any fab festival tips of your own!