The Usher Hall is a beautiful concert hall in Edinburgh. Since it’s construction in 1914, it has become a real favourite for so many performers due to his amazing acoustics. Let me tell you, Dermot Kennedy really tested out those acoustics when he brought his sold-out tour to The Usher Hall on 16th December. I had only been to this venue once before many years ago to see Adele. We didn’t have the best experience on the viewing platform then, but this time we had seats upstairs in the Grand Circle. I was curious to see what The Usher Hall Edinburgh disabled access and wheelchair accessibility would be like after all these years.
Booking accessible tickets at the Usher Hall was easy and straightforward. I called the box office and spoke to an agent who quickly got us booked in. I explained that I was a wheelchair user and would be attending with my companion.
Most venues now offer a free PA/carer ticket for disabled customers, but when I asked the agent, they told me the promoter of the show wasn’t offering free PA/carer tickets. I found this strange. The agent said they couldn’t do anything about it, so I continued with the booking and paid for two tickets.
I knew this wasn’t correct so I contacted the promoter and explained what had happened. They immediately came back and confirmed I was given the wrong information. I should have been provided with a free PA/Carer ticket and they, in fact, offer this on each show that they promote.
The promoter contacted the Usher Hall and informed them they were giving out the wrong information to their disabled customers for this show (hopefully not any others). Usher hall updated their system and I was advised to call back to be issued with a refund for the second ticket I purchased.
Despite the hiccup with the PA/carer ticket, the rest of the booking process was really good. It was quick and easy. The agent advised where I would be sitting and what the view would be like from there. All in all, it was a good experience and I’m glad the glitch with PA/carer tickets was sorted out.
The Usher Hall doesn’t have a car park, but blue badge holders can park across from the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Grindlay Street. There are also spaces in Cambridge Street outside the Traverse Theatre.
We parked for free on double yellow lines on Castle Terrace. This was a two-minute walk to the Usher Hall, so it worked well for us. You also have the option to park in the NCP Car Park Edinburgh Castle Terrace.
Wheelchair Access at The Usher Hall Edinburgh
There are steps but also level access into the entrance of the Usher Hall. In fact, there are several entrances into the venue and each one has staff on the door. We entered through the entrance for the Grand Circle.
Wheelchair Accessible Venue Lift
Once inside we made our way to the lift, but we had to stop and ask the security staff where it was. They quickly tracked down a member of the venue staff who then took us to the lift.
The lift was much bigger than I had expected it to be. I reckon it is spacious enough to accommodate two wheelchairs. This took us up to the Grand Circle on level one.
As we exited the lift we spoke to another member of staff and asked where our seats were. She immediately pointed to the right so we quickly took our seats. We couldn’t believe how good the seats were. The view was fantastic!
Accessible Seating in The Grand Circle
The accessible seating in the Grand Circle can accommodate two wheelchairs and two seated companions. It was a breeze rolling into the space. I absolutely loved it. We were seated in C08 and C09.
Plenty of space between myself and the other wheelchair user beside us. There was also lots of space behind us with no one else at all. We were literally in our own balcony overlooking the stage. Amazing!
The Grand Circle accessible seating provided the perfect view of Dermot Kennedy and his band. It is probably one of the best views we’ve had at a gig.
We felt incredibly comfortable and relaxed with zero view obstructions. We were able to fully enjoy the atmosphere. There was a brass railing in front of us, but it was positioned fairly low so it did not obstruct our view.
It wasn’t until we were leaving when the lights were on that we spotted a sign on the wall behind us. The sign read “Please feel free to ask a member of my staff to purchase refreshments on your behalf if you have any difficulties”.
This is brilliant, but I feel it would be helpful if staff were to make you aware of this as they show you to your seat. It’s very easy to miss and likely to only been seen on your way out or not at all. This would also be a problem for anyone who is unable to read the sign or someone with a visual impairment.
At the end of the show, we decided to hold back until the majority of the crowds had left. When we decided to leave we took the lift down to the ground level and made our way through the remaining crowds and out the nearest exit we could find that was accessible.
We didn’t receive any assistance and thankfully we didn’t need any. However, it would be helpful if staff were able to help or offer assistance with doors, directions etc as this was difficult for some people.
The accessible toilet in the Grand Circle is very close to the disabled seating. It is right beside the ladies and gents toilets. There was quite a long queue when we went to the toilet. We had to squeeze through as there wasn’t a great deal of space. It was manageable but could be more difficult for larger wheelchairs.
I was a little concerned it would be prone to misuse, but thankfully it was vacant when we went to use it despite the long queue for the ladies. It was clean and had grab bars next to the toilet.
Instead of a red emergency cord, there was an emergency call strip that ran all the way along the bottom of the wall, just above floor level. I’m not sure how sensitive these are to touch, so I was aware not to accidentally touch it with my wheelchair.
It was a fairly good-sized accessible toilet, as in I could get in, close the door behind us and have a little room to manoeuvre my wheelchair. The toilet was positioned close to the wall on the left side, leaving more space on the right for wheelchair transfers. However, there wasn’t enough room for a side wheelchair transfer for us so we had to work our transfer a little different, but it may work well for others.
Before I get into how incredible Dermot was, I want to also say how fantastic the support act was. Lilla Vargen was his support and wow! She is super talented. If you have read my previous blog post ‘Things I’ve Loved In December’ then you will already know what I’m about to say.
Basically, I had only just discovered Lilla on YouTube and was thrilled when I realised she would be supporting Dermot at his upcoming shows. She was amazing from start to finish. My only negative was that she didn’t sing my favourite song. I was waiting for her to perform ‘Believe Me’, but she didn’t.
I’ve managed to see Dermot Kennedy a few times now. Each time he somehow gets more incredible. Is that even possible? Yes, it is! As soon as he came on stage he just blew us all away. He could definitely feel the energy from the crowd and has even shared on social media that it was one of his favourite shows of the tour. The Scots know how to party!
Dermot Kennedy is the whole package. He is a singer-songwriter, plays instruments and has immense stage presence. His voice is raw and full of emotion which completely draws you in. It was a brilliant gig and I highly recommend you go see him during his 2020 tour.
You can read my other Dermot Kennedy gig and venue reviews below:
The Usher Hall Edinburgh is a beautiful accessible venue in Scotland. Unfortunately, not too many artists that I enjoy perform at this venue. I really hope that changes and more bands and artists that I love come to The Usher Hall. The Grand Circle accessible seating area was fantastic and possibly the best view and experience I’ve had at a venue in a long time. I would be interested to see what the view and experience would be like sitting in the other accessible seating areas in The Usher Hall. Although, I think I already know the Grand Circle is my favourite.