Wed, 07 Sept 2016
Over the August bank holiday weekend one of the biggest events in Berkshire’s calendar took place. I am of course talking about Reading festival.
Having lived in the area for several years now, I have always promised myself I would go to Reading Festival and join the many thousands of people that flock to watch some of the greatest rock musicians of our time.
My first festival experience was one to remember. Not only did I see Red Hot Chili Peppers and Imagine Dragons perform, I saw people dressed as all manner of extremely random things – a Power Ranger who couldn’t get enough of crowd surfing and a unicorn in a comedy tent.
The disabled access at the festival was really well organised, and there were platformed areas beside every stage which allowed wheelchair access and seating, with disabled toilets positioned next to the platforms allowing for easy access.
In addition to the standard festival wristband, I was given two extra bands in different colours – one that allowed me and a carer access to the platforms, and for myself another band that meant I was able to use the disabled toilets.
My brother was also given a rather fetching lanyard that said PA on the front, so it was clear to the staff that he was there to guide me around the festival.
For the most part of the day we wandered round each stage, and discovered several new bands that I immediately Spotified when I arrived home.
It's amazing how, when it comes to the evening and the big names start playing on the main stage, how quickly the area fills up, and the noise of 90,000 people singing and screaming is incredible to hear.
I lost my voice that evening where I so enthusiastically sang along to every song I knew, and was struggling with talking the next day, but it was definitely worth it to see such great musicianship all in one place.
For disabled music lovers, Reading festival couldn’t be more accessible, but gaining entry to the festival itself can be a little confusing.
There is a completely separate entrance for disabled festival goers, which in theory means it saves a very long walk to the main check in, but the signage directing disabled people to the designated entrance could be improved.
We followed the masses of people who had day tickets and walked around 15 minutes to get to the entrance. We queued up, swiped our ticket, got to the wristband point, and were then told we weren’t able to get the disabled persons wrist bands at that entrance.
We were directed back the way we had come, now trying to walk against the tide of people traffic, to find the disabled access entrance.
It is actually a short walk from the festival bus drop off point in Rivermead car park, but unless you are already aware of this it isn’t immediately obvious.
However, once you are there it is only a short stroll to the gate, and you are immediately at the main stage.
This minor mishap wasn’t enough to put me off the over all festival experience, and I am considering camping for the whole weekend next year.