Secret Garden Party
Charlotte Fairbank headed off to the Secret Garden Party festival in Cambridgeshire on Friday 24 July, but the terrible weather meant she didn’t enjoy the weekend as much as she had hoped she would!
Although there wasn’t a dedicated area for disabled people on the Secret Garden Party’s website, Charlotte found that once she’d emailed the right person it was very straightforward and having a single point of contact like this was “very helpful.” This person:
- Stayed in touch with her throughout the whole process
- Sent Charlotte a parking pass
- Texted her to check her estimated time of arrival
- Made sure someone was waiting for her as she arrived at the festival
The disabled parking was in a suitable location for Charlotte and had easy access to the festival site with the use of a buggie to and from the car park. However, when Charlotte tried to get back to her tent on Saturday night, staff were “clueless” about the buggie and weren’t aware of its existence.
The Secret Garden Party did have a disabled campsite, but Charlotte stayed in the ‘normal’ campsite because she wanted to camp with her friends. She found the accessibility in this campsite poor, with no smooth pathways at all. “If the weather had been nice, it would have been a lot easier,” Charlotte says.
As a result of the lack of pathways in the campsite and the festival itself, Charlotte found it incredibly difficult to move around the site by herself and felt “quite helpless.”
There was also a lack of disabled toilets and Charlotte had trouble accessing the ones that were there. The disabled toilets had a specific key, but this had to be collected from the disabled tent which was too muddy to get to, so Charlotte couldn’t get hold of the key. She thinks it should have been provided at the disabled car park upon entering the festival.
Charlotte’s experience of the festival itself was a little better. She says that the viewing platforms were “not the most accessible, but bouncers were very helpful when needed.” Overall, merchandise and food facilities were accessible but sometimes Charlotte had to ask her friends to pay because the counters were too high.
She thinks that the Secret Garden Party “made a conscious effort to make the festival accessible but it wasn’t thought through properly. She has a few key areas that need improvement:
- More smooth pathways for wheelchair users
- More disabled toilets and an easier key system
- The first aid tent were unhelpful: they didn’t have a toilet key and they weren’t willing to help wash down Charlotte’s wheelchair even though she couldn’t move and they weren’t busy at the time when she asked for help.
"Although I enjoyed some bits, the mud and rain takes the fun out of it,” Charlotte says. If the weather was better she’d return to the festival in future.