It’s been a while since I wrote about live music, so what better way to start again by giving you the lowdown on my first festival experience at BST Hyde Park. This festival was the main reason for our trip to London as we really wanted to see Kings of Leon headline the event. People thought we were mad as we had seen them three times already a few months before, but we still really wanted to go and it was completely worth it.
Booking accessible tickets for events can often be a nightmare resulting in being stuck on hold for hours and failing to grab the limited accessible tickets. However, we managed to get two accessible tickets for BST Hyde Park pretty easy. The website was also very good and had lots of accessibility information about the booking process, PA tickets, blue badge parking, viewing platform, access facilities and more. It’s clear to see why BST Hyde Park was awarded the Silver Level of the Charter of Best Practice by Attitude is Everything.
I booked two tickets, one of which was a personal assistant pass, provided free of charge, for the viewing platform at The Great Oak Stage (Main Stage). These tickets meant we had access to a reserved place on the viewing platform and the right to use the accessible toilets.
Arriving at BST Hyde Park
After booking tickets we made plans to meet up with my friend and fellow blogger, Hannah and her friend, Megan at the event as we were both going to be on the viewing platform. We’ve been friends for a while now, but this was our first time meeting and what better way to do that by going to a music festival especially as we are both massive live music fans. So on the day of the festival, we arranged to meet outside the National History Museum and spend a few hours before the festival started at 3pm.
London was in the midst of a heatwave so we tried to stay out the sun as much as possible. We headed in the direction of Hyde Park and bought some drinks and ice lollies from a little café called Will to Win just outside the park. We then escaped the sun and enjoyed our cold goodies in the shade of some trees. Bliss!
We then slowly made our way into the park and found the accessible entrance which was clearly signposted. The staff were also very helpful and guided us in the right direction.
The accessible entrance had no queues, in fact, there was no one else apart from the four of us. The staff checked our tickets and let us through. It was great to be able to get through security quickly and easily. Zero hassles or fuss.
Once inside the grounds of the festival, I couldn’t believe how spacious and clean it was. It also helped that the weather was amazing so the ground was dry and mud-free. Woohoo!
What can I say about the viewing platform at The Great Oak Stage? Apart from that, it was the best blooming viewing platform I’ve ever been on. Legit! It was huge and also pretty close to the stage, giving us a great unrestricted view the entire time.
There was staff on the platform at all times and also bar service, so if we wanted any drinks we just had to grab their attention or wait for them to come around at different intervals. This was perfect especially for people that would possibly struggle to and from the bar.
There was a slight drama when an unattended bag was discovered on the viewing platform just a few feet from where we were sitting. The staff asked us to move to the other end of the platform until the sniffer dog had arrived and the bag was removed. We were then allowed back to our original seats and it turned out the bag wasn’t suspicious, it had just been left by someone on the platform by mistake. Panic over.
Below the raised platform was the ground level viewing area, which was for people with disabilities that wanted to stand for the event. This area had seats as well for people that could only stand for short periods of time or needed a less crowded area. As this was the ground level viewing area, views of the stage were restricted by crowds standing in front.
BST Hyde Park Access facilities
One of my concerns about going to a festival has always been whether there will be accessible toilets and what state they’ll be in. I really didn’t have to worry about this as BST Hyde Park had it under control.
The accessible toilets located at the viewing platform area were fantastic and very clean. There was a number of cabin style toilets in a row, each very wide with everything I would need including grab rails, emergency cord, and space for turning my wheelchair and a mirror to check myself out.
If that wasn’t amazing enough there was also a changing places unit with a bed and hoist located beside the accessible toilets. This was amazing to see and use. BST Hyde Park was really impressing me with its accessibility. I also liked that there were stewards manning the accessible toilet area as it prevented any misuse happening.
I really wish more venues and events took a leaf out of BST Hyde Parks book. I’d 100% be more inclined to attend more events and festivals if they had this standard for the toilets.
When I think of festivals the first thing that comes to mind is mud. Lots and lots of mud. Thankfully the weather was on our side (maybe a little too much as we were literally melting in the middle of Hyde Park) so the ground was super dry and mud-free. You don’t know how happy this made me feel.
I found wheelchair access to be fantastic around the park and festival as there were flat paths and even the grass was hard and fairly flat. I had zero issues getting around wherever I wanted to go even when we went in search of some food (there were lots of food stalls to choose from). Most people stood or sat on the grass so the paths were kept reasonably clear and accessible.
The following access facilities were available at BST Hyde Park:
- Charging points for power chairs
- Lowered counters at some bars, merch stands, food stands etc.
- Hearing (induction) loops
- Blue Badge Parking
- Onsite access Manager for all customer access queries
- Quiet space
- A dog spending area for assistance dogs
There were three stages full of live music starting from 3:15pm until around 10:30pm. The Great Oak Stage was the main stage where Highly Suspect, Local Natives, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Pixies and of course, Kings of Leon performed.
The highlight of the day was seeing KoL again. As always they were fantastic and had the whole crowd loving every minute of their two-hour set. You could feel the guys were loving it too. They have a real soft spot for London and often visit the city so you could feel their genuine excitement to be with us. Being a band for over 20 years they have mastered their live show from their individual instruments to that insane voice of Calebs. It’s truly something else.
When they first came on stage the curtain went up and they played at the front with a very basic stage set up, but it’s so exciting half way through their huge hit ‘Walls’ when the curtain drops and huge extravagant stage show is revealed. It’s super cool! There is something quite special about seeing your favourite band perform outdoors. Absolutely amazing.
Did I have a brilliant time at the festival? Absolutely. Was I impressed with the accessibility? Without a doubt. Would I go back next year? Hell yeah! I loved everything about BST Hyde Park and I will definitely check out the line-up for next year when it’s announced. It was also lovely to meet Hannah and her friend. We all ended up having a brilliant time. Until next time London.
Have you been to BST Hyde Park?
What’s your favourite festival?
Want to know how we travelled to London and where we stayed? Check out the following posts.