Fans Throng at last year's festival
Download Festival: Access All Areas
By Rebecca Hobbs
Just before she set off for this year's Download, Rebecca Hobbs, had a look at how accessible the festival in Donington really is.
Festivals, and Download is no different than any other, can sometimes feel like an endurance sport. Camping at the mercy of the elements, the miles of walking and the infamous festival loos can make it feel like a four day trial of stamina. For those festival go-ers who have a disability it can seem an even more daunting task but this year the Download Festival has introduced more measures than ever before to ensure they get the best from the event.
Live Nation, the organisers of the Download Festival, have now brought disabled ticketing and organisation in house, providing festival go-ers with a dedicated phone line for those requiring access information. Special viewing platforms at each stage, with adapted toilets close by, have been erected. But, perhaps the most helpful move, and one many other events should look to, is the provision of a free ticket for carers to attend with disabled customers.
One couple who will be making the trip to Download for the first time will be Ian and Paula from Great Yarmouth. Along with their two children, aged 16 and 11, this will be a family adventure seeing them camp onsite for the duration of the festival.
Paula has Psoratic Arthritis and Fibromyalgia and uses a wheelchair. In the past, the layout of the Download Festival, within the centre of the Donington Park circuit, has not always been mobility friendly. Indeed with a family member myself with Fibromyalgia which was limiting her ability to walk last year, I know only to well the trek to the second stage seemed a walk to far. This year with the new layout it looks, on paper, that access will be easier. Certainly having the second stage on hard standing will be wheelchair friendlier especially if the dreaded weather forecast is correct and there is rain.
Ian has been impressed with Live Nation so far and their helpfulness in organising and planning the disabled camping area. “They have been very helpful” reports Ian, “Sally on the disabled helpline has been fantastic.”
Their main concerns are that there will be ample room on the disabled viewing platforms, that they are well placed and, as Paula has a manual wheelchair that Ian will be pushing, the route to the different stages isn’t too taxing or difficult to pass. In good boy scout tradition, they are making sure they come prepared to make the camping as comfortable as possible.
Looking forward to seeing Kiss, Apocalyptica, Bullet For My Valentine, Alter Bridge, Biffy Clyro and Children Of Bodom amongst many others, it is going to be a packed weekend for Ian, Paula and their children. Never mind all the bands there is the small matter of festival shopping, entertainment, barbecues and general festivities to cram in too! Renowned for its strong community feel, we’ll check back in with Ian and Paula afterwards to hear how they found their first taste of the famous Download Festival.
last updated: 13/06/2008 at 18:20
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