Travel: My first experience of Glastonbury Festival’s disability access

It’s been a hot MINUTE or two since
I last went to Glastonbury festival. Too long really – my last visit was in
2015. But I figured it was about time to rectify that and decided that 2019
would be the year I went back. I was definitely pushed into the decision by the
fact that I knew I’d be able to make use of the disabled facilities this year,
as I’m now classed as disabled, and have the paperwork to prove it.

In my head what this meant would
be camping facilities closer to the main festival – our regular campsite is up
at darble, and quite frankly, may well be the other side of the planet when it’s
2am and you’re shattered and it’s a good hour walk back from Shangri-la. Access
to the disabled toilets – important when you’re on the meds I’m on. And a mini
bus service to get your things to the campsite – which when you face the sort
of fatigue I do, sounds like a godsend.

But in reality, it was so, so
many more things! Some little. Some big. All making for an easier festival experience
for me and everyone around me.

So here are some of the
highlights of staying in the accessible camping areas over a normal Glastonbury
experience, if you’re thinking about applying for it.

You’re able to access the
festival through a specific gate that’s at the disabled carpark – here you can
collect your wristbands, for yourself and the people camping with you (you can have
up to 3 others with you). There are a number of things you can apply for when
you ask for your ticket, and as the ‘disabled’ person you get different wrist
bands to the people with you. Mine were 2 blue wrist bands, one that showed I
was the disabled person with the disabled loo code on it, and another that gave
me access to the access routes, and if I’d asked for them, the viewing
platforms. From here you can get the mini bus to the access campsite with all
your stuff too!  
We arrived on the Thursday afternoon,
which is the latest we’ve ever got there to set up tents, so I won’t lie I was
a bit worried about where we’d be camping, and my fears weren’t alleviated when
we arrived at the site with our stuff to be told we had to camp in a very
specific location to allow for there to be pathways between the tents – which when
you’re used to throwing your tent up in a group, wherever you like, feels a bit
draconian. But give it a couple of hours, when you’re coming back to your tent
in the dark, and those pathways are a godsend. No more tripping over guy ropes
or the edges of tents. Also brilliant when you’re trying to get to the loos

Talking of the loos – there are
loads in the camp site. And they’re pretty much always clean. I think we only found
one messy loo the whole time we were there. And there are also showers in there
– some that the people with the access bands can use, and some others for their
friends. The showers had queues in the mornings, but I don’t think I waited for
longer than 10 minutes for one. And they were individual cabins so it wasn’t
the Shawshank style showers that I’ve experienced before at festivals (I’m
looking at you Benicassim!) As it was so hot, I wonder if the showers were
busier than they would have been, but it was so wonderful to have a cold shower
after spending the day wandering about on the farm that was hotter than the
surface of the sun!

There’s also a tent you can go to
and get holistic therapies (although I think they fill up pretty quickly as
they were full most days!), get hot water for teas and coffees, and very
importantly – charge your phones or portable chargers up. There was also a
water filling station, and a couple of sinks for washing up in.

Now, on to the other awesome
things that staying in the access gives you;

I previously mentioned one of the
wrist bands, if you’ve applied for it in advance, lets you into the access
routes. These are pathways that run from the pyramid stage to the other stage,
and then also to up by west holts, meaning you don’t have to battle the crowds
between sets. But they’ve got bars and cafes back there. Nicer toilets, and
pretty quiet water refill stations, plus loads of seating.

They make getting between the
stages really easy – less of a battle through the hoards to get from one place
to another. They gave me places to go and chill out when I needed a rest and kind
of most importantly, they served extremely strong frozen margaritas, and a
speedy iced cider! You can take one person through the access routes with you,
and this is via a lanyard – so you can change who comes in with you!

And there are bus services that
take you from the access camping to the far corners of the festival. One takes
you out towards the park, and another takes you to the circus fields – which then
has a cut through to get you to the late-night areas. We only got the bus down
to the circus field area, but we got it a few times and it was so handy for me,
just to conserve some energy on the really hot days! Plus the one that gets you
over to the circus fields take you on a route past the actual Glastonbury farm
buildings, which gives you a totally different view of the festival!

There were a couple of downsides
to the access camping – you can only camp with 3 other people so our group –
which was about 15 people strong – was split up. And it’s so close to the John
Peel stage and some of the late night stages that you do get music pretty much
all night. And because it’s for everyone, there are a lot of families, so there
are children running about early on – which you don’t get in the normal camping
really, as people with kids tend to go to the family camping fiends. But they
are so easily ignore when you add up the benefits of being in there!

All these little things add up to make it such an easier experience for someone who suffers from fatigue, side effects from my treatment and doesn’t have the stamina she use to! We’ll be 100% applying for access camping next year – and fingers crossed we’ll be taking a mobile home with us next year!

One comment

  1. Hi! This is so helpful! Thinking of going this year and applying for access but am still a bit wary… do the viewing platforms get full up or are you always guaranteed to get a spot on them? Trying to figure out if I’ll be able to cope with the crowds! Cheers!

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