Normally I only go to places that I have previously visited and I know are accessible for my power wheelchair. However, seeing as the Kaleidoscope festival was at Alexandria Palace which is a top of quite a steep hill, there was no other option! I needn’t have worried 🙂
Fortunately, the organisers had done a wonderful job at making it wheelchair accessible (or baby buggy or bike accessible as there were a significant number of both).we only encountered one exception which we hit almost as soon we arrived… The ramp ran straight across in front of us – we had obviously come in the wrong entrance! But we didn’t notice a sign to tell us which way to go.
Following that experience, everything else was superbly accessible. The accessible toilets were clearly marked (although this was the 1st time that the accessible toilet has been inside the male toilet area), there was a special ramp built to help you get down to the level where the music was, all of the staff seemed well-versed in making sure that the crowds got out of your way and they pointed you in the right direction. The accessible routes were also marked but seeing as most of the pathways were tarmac it didn’t seem to take a great brain to figure out which was the accessible way to go!
I 1st went to watch the comedy and a staff member helped me get to the front of all the people that were standing up so I was just behind all of the people who were sitting down. This was great. But when the final act came on, everybody stood up so I didn’t see the comedian but I saw a lot of crotches!
We then went out and had something to eat (paella,yum) and I saw 2 other wheelchair users. 2 blokes made space for us at their table and then in a very un-London like way (which might be accounted for by either the sunshine or more likely, the significant amounts of alcohol they had already consumed) began to chat with us.
Finally, we went down to watch the music from the disabled viewing platform. There was a Steward guarding the entrance and he let us through the makeshift gate. Initially we were the only people there so it felt like we were in our Private VIP section. The view was great and when the final act came on, the Flaming Lips, even though I am partially sighted, they released a load of giant balloons into the crowd and pulled some other visual activities which I couldn’t really make out but impressed my partner. My partner spotted Adam Hills, the Australian comedian and TV presenter who has a Prosthetic leg and is very in tune with disability issues and rights so I couldn’t resist going up to him and saying hello as as well as giving him a business card for Wheelchair World. I have previously met him when I attended the ceremony for the National Diversity Awards for which I was shortlisted as a Positive Role Model in the Disabilities category.
I went over to say hello and give him a Wheelchair World card and then we went home because it was already late and I wanted to leave before the masses left because as every wheelchair user will know, navigating through crowds is not fun!