Fresh air, cheerful crowds, food trucks, live music and dancing — how fun are music festivals? However, the distances between stages, heat, dust and sometimes hectic conditions can be overwhelming at times for anyone. Festivals are making great strides to become more inclusive, and making accommodations to welcome attendees with disabilities so they may also enjoy the festival experience.
Festival organizers are recognizing how important it is to make sure their festivals are accessible to everyone, including attendees who have disabilities. Even with the improved accessibility like dedicated viewing areas, accessible bathrooms, and motorized wheelchair charging stations, what can those attendees do to make their festival experience a comfortable one?
In this blog, we discuss how best to prepare for a festival if you have a disability!
- Plan Your Parking
The first step to enjoying the festival is to get there. Make sure that you’ve contacted the festival organizers or visited the website beforehand and know where the Disabled Persons parking is located. Since there are limited slots in the parking area, law enforcement authorities or someone at the festival will require you to show some documentation that proves that you’re eligible for the ADA parking. Sometimes ADA parking is in a separate lot than general parking, so expedite your arrival by getting the details beforehand.
- Take A Friend With You
While festivals are quite accessible now as compared to years past, you may still need a friend or a companion with you to navigate the fun and noisy world of music festivals. The uneven ground, loud music, and huge crowds might require you to need some assistance here and there. Even if you don’t need any help, it’s best to have someone with you in case of an emergency. Besides, Festivals are a perfect place to make new memories and bond over shared interests. You may introduce one another to a new band you may not have otherwise known about!
- Get Your ADA Passes
For the best festival experience, make sure to get your ADA pass and get one for your companion or friend as well. Most festivals offer one ADA pass or wristband to the person with a disability and another to the person accompanying them. These wristbands will allow you access to the special viewing area for disabled attendees as well as the accessible bathrooms. Usually there is no “ADA Ticket” that can be purchased in advance – you’ll just need to visit the Festival Accessibility Services booth to get an ADA wirst band on site. You may want to check the festival app to locate this booth first thing in the morning.
- Take A Time-Out When Needed
Above all else, your health is your priority. If you feel like the place is too overcrowded or the loud music is overwhelming you, move to a quieter spot if you can and practice taking some deep breaths. If there are any other maneuvers you practice to feel better, practice those as well.
Your wellness should always be at the forefront of your mind. Make sure that you seek the appropriate help for your anxiety management if you feel any such symptoms while at the festival.
As festivals strive to be inclusive experiences, they are also incorporating new on-site elements to enhance their offerings for ADA festival-goers. Recently, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California introduced health and wellness with MieronVR to their ADA participants during the festival dates. In the specialised wellness areas on festival grounds, ADA festival-goers were able to participate in guided breathing exercises and mental health activities in VR for a welcomed reprieve from the heat and commotion.
If you still do not feel better, ask your companion to take you to an ADA or Medical tent so you can get your bearings and seek assistance if you want it. (PS- Medical Tents are not just for emergencies, you can also pickup bandaids for blisters!)
- Make Sure You’re Well-Stocked &Hydrated!
Attending festivals for people with disabilities also has its perks. Generally, no one will object to what you’re taking into the venue and you can use it to make sure you are well-stocked for all eventualities.
Make a checklist well before you depart for the venue and include all your essentials in it. Your festival experience will be great if you have all your essentials with you there. Medication, charging cords for wheelchairs or any other form of machine assistance, water, sunscreen, phone chargers, snacks, your disability parking permit, and your identification documents are some important things you should take to the festival with you.
And remember to hydrate! Being in the sun all day and travelling between stages is exhausting, but the excitement and adrenaline will be pushing you through. It is essential to hydrate early and drink water often throughout the day!
As long as you’re well-prepared, there’s nothing stopping you from having the best festival experience ever. Festivals are taking steps to improve accessibility with every passing year and more disabled attendees are rocking out to their favorite live music than ever before.
So, are you ready to rock out at this year’s music festival weekends? What are some of your own tips for making the festival experience a great one?