Every summer, a series of live performances known as Edinburgh Castle Concerts transform the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade into a one-of-a-kind concert venue. These concerts feature top musicians and this year was no different with a lineup including Rod Stewart, The Who and the incredible Dermot Kennedy (who we saw). Here, I’ll provide a review of the disabled access and wheelchair accessibility for the Edinburgh Castle Concert from my perspective as a power wheelchair user.
Booking Accessible Tickets
I booked accessible tickets for the Dermot Kennedy concert at Edinburgh Castle through Ticketmaster and it was super easy. I just logged into my Ticketmaster account and booked a wheelchair ticket along with a free PA companion ticket. I’m really pleased that Ticketmaster offers this option online as it has made the ticket booking process faster and easier. We booked our seats in section 3, row B, seats 1 and 2.
Getting There & Edinburgh Castle Parking
After booking, I received an email confirmation with information on accessible parking. The email advised that there is no parking at the Castle, but that disabled patrons were allowed to be dropped off. Limited parking for blue badge holders was available just off the Royal Mile at St Giles Street on a first-come, first-served basis.
The nearest NCP Car Park is located on Castle Terrace, EH1 2EW. This car park is a 5-10 minute uphill walk to the entrance of the concert arena.
We parked on Castle Terrace and had a meal with friends nearby at BrewDog Edinburgh Lothian Road for some delicious vegan burgers before the show.
Waverley train station is just a short uphill walk to Edinburgh Castle and if your journey involves using Edinburgh Trams, you may find my review of travelling on the trams as a wheelchair user helpful.
Arrival at Edinburgh Castle
We made our way to Edinburgh Castle via Johnston Terrace, which is a long uphill street that led us onto Castlehill – a steep, cobbled street and the only access to the venue.
Although Castlehill is cobbled, there are smooth pathways on each side that made it manageable for myself and my friend who is also a power wheelchair user (see photo below). However, it could be much more difficult for manual wheelchair users and those with limited mobility.
Wheelchair Access & Accessible Viewing Area
When we got to Castlehill, we were shown to the accessible ticket lane. This lane let us skip the regular queue and get into the Esplanade quickly.
A staff member then guided us to the accessible seating area, which was positioned at the bottom of the seated terrace. There were crowds to navigate but access to the platform was fairly easy and straightforward.
Initially, I was excited to see that our seats in section 3 were very close to the stage. But that excitement quickly faded due to the accessible seating area being positioned at the bottom of the seated terrace. I was sat next to the stairs for the seated terrace, so there was a constant stream of people walking in front of us the entire night.
They were walking up and down the stairs, stopping in front of us to take photos, chatting with their friends, and blocking our view of the stage. The stair railings and posts also obstructed our view badly. These distractions made it hard to enjoy the concert.
On top of that, the seats were at a 90-degree angle to the stage, which caused my neck and back to ache after a few minutes. I had to turn away from the row of seating so that I could face the stage more comfortably, but I had my back to Allan the entire gig. Otherwise, I would be facing directly into the crowd rather than the stage. It was really disappointing for all of us, as we were looking forward to seeing Dermot.
Although there were accessible toilets on the Esplanade at the Edinburgh Castle Concerts, I did not use them. However, I did notice that they were standard accessible toilet size and did not have any Changing Places facilities.
I would love to see the provision of adequate toilet and changing facilities at future concerts at Edinburgh Castle. I would recommend the likes of Revolootion, run by the charity “Vehicles for Change” who provide mobile Changing Places toilets at events all across the UK.
Final Thoughts on Edinburgh Castle Concerts
Overall, the poorly positioned accessible seating and the constant stream of people walking in front of us left us feeling disconnected from the concert. I wanted to love Edinburgh Castle Concerts, but unless the setup for accessible seating is changed, I won’t be returning to future concerts at Edinburgh Castle.
Have you been to Edinburgh Castle Concerts? Let me know your experience and thoughts on accessibility.
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Feature image credits: Felix Mizioznikov – stock.adobe.com