Accessible all areas

Top tips for attending events and taking along a carer

There are opportunities to volunteer to be a mystery shopper at live performances with a chance to get free tickets as well as the chance to work at festivals in accessible areas.

Did you know that if you have additional accessibility needs you may be entitled to discounts and you might be able to take a carer with you for free to thousands of venues across the country? This can include anything from leisure facilities to music festivals. The person you bring can be anyone such as a friend or family member.

A woman is sitting on the edge of a swimming pool next to a hoist. A wheelchair is behind her.

As well as these discounts many places allow you to borrow mobility aids such as wheelchairs or scooters and often they are very cheap or even free to hire. Usually this will be stated on the website under the ‘Accessibility’ section.

You may be asked for proof of disability such as one of the following:

  • Proof of a disability related benefit – usually PIP, DLA or Attendance Allowance.
  • Registered Assistance Dog ID.
  • Evidence that you are registered as sight impaired.
  • A letter from your GP – procuring one of these can cost a fee which varies from surgery to surgery.
  • Blue Badge.
  • Council issued disabled person’s bus pass.

Do check with the venue beforehand what they accept as proof and whether this needs to be a hard copy or can be a photo of the document on your phone. The Brighton Dome and The Brighton Centre will not accept a Blue Badge or disabled person’s bus pass as evidence to join their access databases.

A purple sign is pushed into some grass. The sign has a wheelchair symbol and reads 'Step free Route'.

Attitude is Everything is a charity led by disabled people that works with venues and artists to improve accessibility to live events. The charity has its own curated award framework for performance venues and outdoor events, this covers everything from online information and policies to access around a venue or event site. Many places have chosen to adopt this to help their disabled customers. There are also opportunities to volunteer for the charity to be a mystery shopper at live performances with a chance to get free tickets as well as the chance to work at festivals in accessible areas.

Some indoor performance venues have set up a database for people wishing to purchase accessible seats or a space on the wheelchair platform and also bring a free carer to an event. Often you can send a scan or picture of your evidence to them via email and they will add you to the database. Once you are on the database you can just phone the ticket office and they will look you up and you will quickly be able to purchase tickets. It is worth trying to get tickets as early as possible as some venues only have a certain amount of free carer tickets and limited accessible areas.

A large crowd are seen from a distance under a summer sky. They are throwing brightly coloured dust into the air

Large outdoor concerts and festivals vary greatly in how they provide help for disabled patrons. You will often need to purchase your own ticket and then you will be asked to email the organisers or fill out a form on the event’s website. Sometimes it can take a long time for them to get back to you which can be frustrating if you are trying to ensure a plan is in place for when you go. If you make your purchase via Ticketmaster they will sometimes allow you to buy accessible tickets via their website but you will be asked to provide evidence as above or they will be cancelled and refunded.

Smaller performance venues can be varied in their approach to accessibility. It is usually best to contact them in advance and find out what their policy is. Many grassroots venues are small and their infrastructure can make them inaccessible. Researching in advance is vital to ensure you won’t get there on the night and leave disappointed.

3 people stand with their backs to the camera. They are looking at a marquee strung with colourful bunting.

Many concerts, whether indoor or outdoor, have a limited amount of free tickets for carers so it is a good idea to book as early as possible. Many offer schemes where you can pay in instalments if the ticket is particularly costly. Do carefully consider who you bring with you if you are taking a carer, make sure they someone who is willing to help you with your needs and if it’s an event at somewhere serving alcohol make sure you don’t end up in a situation where you end up caring for your carer!

If you are looking for someone to go with then Gig Buddies may be able to help you. This is a project that pairs up people with and without learning disabilities (and/or autism) to be friends and to go to events together. Volunteers who would be going to a gig anyway are paired up with someone who has similar interests and act as their carer for the event but also are a potential friend and it is hoped that any pairing would be a lasting friendship with possibilities to attend further events together.

A group of 4 happy looking people are stood at a bar with drinks in their hands. One of the men has a limb difference and one of the women is seated in a wheelchair.