Beginner’s Guide to… Leeds

Posted on 23.08.2016

Beginner’s Guide to… Leeds

The author, Natalie, and friends on one of the accessible viewing platforms at Leeds.

Leeds Festival is hands down the best festival I have been to – and I have been to a few! This year will be my third year going to Leeds. I used to go to Reading, but in 2014, I was given the opportunity to volunteer with Attitude is Everything on their information tent on the accessible campsite at Leeds.

I found out about volunteering through Attitude is Everything’s mystery shopping newsletter, so make sure you are signed up to that to get notified of when you can apply to volunteer! AIE also have volunteer opportunities at other festivals on the accessible campsites, and they also work alongside Oxfam to provide volunteers to assist on the viewing platforms.

The first time I volunteered at Leeds was also the first time I have done a festival using the accessible facilities. Being able to drive right into the campsite to unload the car was a real relief. Having to carry all our stuff from the car park which was inevitably miles away to the non-disabled campsite was never fun, especially as I always over-pack!

On arrival to the campsite, I encountered some members of the Campsite Assistant Team (CATs). The CATs on the accessible campsite are always on hand to help you, and when we unloaded the car, they were ready to help us to carry our stuff to the area we wanted to camp in, and if we needed any help setting up, they were ready to help.

On the campsite, the first thing I noticed was the pre-set lanes that were in place, which made access through the campsite a real breeze, and tents were also positioned with enough room between them which meant less chance of tripping over any guy ropes. The facilities on the campsite included accessible showers and toilets, which, having camped on the non-disabled camps in previous years, this was a real luxury. As we were right next door to the guest camping, any PAs could go over there and use their toilet and shower facilities.

There was also the large information tent, which is where I would be stationed for my shifts, along with other Attitude is Everything volunteers. I remember my first year volunteering, I got welcomed with open arms into the team, and felt right at home! In the info tent, there were electricity points for people to charge their wheelchairs and scooters. As a volunteer, we were there to answer any questions that anyone in the camp may have about the festival, or the campsite, and also keep an eye on the facilities, making sure they are always in a good condition.

Throughout the festival, we used the Festaxi to get from the campsite to the arena. Festaxi operate a shuttle service between the campsite and the arena, which runs for most of the day. It is really useful, as it makes getting around the festival a lot easier. The CATs and security team also made the festival experience easier, as their constant presence added extra safety to the campsite.

Once in the arena, most of the stages had the bonus of a viewing platform. This was so handy, as it meant there was somewhere to sit (other than the wet grass!) and we could still see the stage and enjoy the acts that were on. I think there is a lot of preconceptions about the accessible viewing platforms, but rest assured, the festival atmosphere definitely carries on up there, and everyone has a great time!

Leeds festival has so many great memories for me, with all the friends that I have made there over the years. One that sticks out the most though, is last year, there was a “wedding” on one of the viewing platforms! We managed to get everyone on the platform involved, and it was just so much fun!

When it comes to me attending festivals, I definitely will continue to use the accessible facilities, as this creates a much nicer experience for me, without the added worry of access throughout the festival. I definitely count myself very lucky that I am able to use these facilities, and I really think they add to the whole festival experience in a really positive light.