Latitude Festival took place in Henham Park, Suffolk, from the 18th to 21st of June 2019 – and I was all over it like a rash. This post is an accessibility review for Latitude Festival 2019.
The motorhome has a cassette lift to get inside, a ceiling hoist, profile bed, and accessible shower and toilet. Plus there is a kitchenette with cooker, sink, fridge etc.
Before the festival I asked for an electricity hook up for the motorhome to power the lift and the hoist, and they said I can have one. It took a few hours for a guy to arrive with the electricity cable on the first day but once it was plugged in everything was fine.
Check out this post to find out more about the accessible motorhome.
We stayed in the accessible campsite which had some good facilities.
Within the accessible campsite there were a large number of accessible portaloos, a changing places toilet, some shower facilities (which I didn’t use), and a disability information tent where volunteers were always present if you needed them. The volunteers were from the charity Attitude Is Everything I think.
Accessibility of Latitude Festival
In my opinion the accessibility of Latitude Festival was good, but there is room for improvement.
Henham Park is a very picturesque setting for a festival with lots to explore. The festival site covered a large area with different types of terrain including grassland, forest, small hills, and a lake. The main arena stages were mostly on open grassland with some undulating hills within it.
The ground in the main arena was quite bumpy in places to drive over. There was a dirt road running through the grounds covered in small stones which was very bumpy. I found it much more comfortable to drive over the grass next to it.
Some areas were quite sandy and I did get stuck at times with a bit of wheelspin. One of the roads from the accessible campsite to the main arena was covered in sand for the first day or so (no idea why). I tried driving along it but it kept making my chair veer over to the side.
But then mysteriously all the sand disappeared pretty much overnight, which solved the problem.
On one occasion I was in a queue for food and my back wheels got stuck in a rut. My wheels were spinning but I wasn’t moving. My carer pushed the back of my chair and I tried to drive forward at the same time to try and get free. The chair suddenly lurched forward and went straight into the legs of a guy stood in front of me. I apologised but he wasn’t impressed.
Some hard temporary pathways would have made it easier for wheelchair users.
Some areas of the main arena were in the woods which were accessed by dirt paths. Thankfully these paths were not a problem and largely free of mud, despite heavy rain at times. The paths in the forest were clear of twigs and branches which helped a lot.
When I went to Lost Village Festival woodland debris was a particular problem, but not at Latitude.
Off the paths in the woods I was able to drive amongst the trees fairly easily but I had to watch out for errant tree roots and stumps.
In total there were 6 music stages in the main arena ranging in size from the very big to the small.
Disabled viewing platforms were present at most stages with accessible portaloos next to them. I spent most of my time at the Obelisk Arena (the main stage), and the BBC Sounds stage. The latter was in a massive circus style tent a short distance from the Obelisk Arena.
There were charging facilities at the main stage for powerchairs and mobility scooters.
Somewhat frustratingly all the viewing platforms were right at the back. So although I could see over the top of the crowd I couldn’t really see the artists on stage very well.
It was the same problem at the Obelisk arena with the viewing platform being far away, and annoyingly there was a tower of speakers obstructing the view of the big screen.
Sometimes I drove up to the front near the stage to get a better view. It’s fun being amongst the crowd as long as it’s not too packed. Right in front of the stage I could also get some shade from the hot sun which I wouldn’t have got on the viewing platform.
The main headliners at latitude were George Ezra, Stereophonics, and Lana Del Rey. I’d already seen George Ezra a month or so ago at the Isle of Wight festival. So I watched some of his set and then went to watch Primal Scream elsewhere.
Stereophonics were very good and got the crowd singing along with most of their main hits. Originally it was going to be Snow Patrol who were headlining but they had to pull out because 2 of their members were ill, and Stereophonics took their place.
Although I do like Snow Patrol I was happy that Stereophonics replaced them as I’ve already seen snow patrol this year, and I haven’t seen Stereophonics before.
I discovered some great new bands during the festival. One such discovery was Texas band Khurangbin who are fantastic. They have a weird name but don’t let that put you off. They play laid-back catchy guitar tunes which are awesome to listen to. Check them out on YouTube.
Pale Waves are another one I like. The lead singer is a Goth, and they play pop songs which is an interesting combination.
Besides music there was also stand-up comedy, theatre, cabaret, talks, lots of stalls, a co-op, bars, and even cookery demonstrations. There was a lot to do.
I didn’t go to see any of the talks or stand-up comedy because I wouldn’t have been able to hear what they were saying.
I enjoyed Latitude Festival and thought it was in a great setting. Henham Park is a beautiful place to explore and relax in the summer. However, the terrain was a bit bumpy in places and there are a number of hills which could have been problematic for those in manual chairs. Temporary pathways to provide a smooth surface for wheelchairs would have been very welcome.
Would I go back again? The answer is yes, but I hope they improve the accessibility even further for next time. I know that the organisers are working with Attitude Is Everything to improve the accessibility so I am hopeful that it will indeed improve.