Well this last weekend was a little bit different. I attended the newest Scottish music festival to hit Dundee, Carnival 56. Now the first thing I would like to mention is why it’s called Carnival 56, this is a question I have been asked a lot since the weekend and after Google searching it I’ve found out. Carnival was chosen because the team that organised this great event loved its original meaning – an annual festival involving dancing and music. Fifty-six was chosen because it is the Northern coordinates of Camperdown Park, this is where the music festival was held. It was a 2-day event that ran from Saturday 12th till Sunday 13th August. When I found out my hometown was hosting this event I was so excited. Usually to go to something like this it involves a little bit of traveling.

Preparing for Carnival 56
When I first started to consider going to Carnival 56 the two main things that I had to know were:
•    Do you get a free carer ticket?
•    What is the disabled access like?

Carer Ticket
The website for Carnival 56 stated that they provided a carers ticket free of charge, however I was unsure of the process of booking it so I sent a message on Facebook. They were very responsive and provided an email address that I had to contact once I had booked my own ticket, this however is where it took longer to get information. As soon as the tickets were purchased I contacted the appropriate person to book my carers ticket although I did not get a reply for a week or so which made me worry that no tickets would be available. Anyway, when someone did get in touch I got sent a form that I had to fill in with my carers details. I did not like this process of booking a carers ticket because I don’t usually know who is working that day until a month in advance, luckily on this occasion though I did know. I am usually able to book my carers ticket alongside my own though without having to provide details though and then get all the tickets delivered together.

For Carnival 56 though my carer had to pick her ticket up on the day at the Box Office along with her ID. I’m not sure what the difference would have been getting the ticket delivered to my house, it was just a bit of an inconvenience.

Disabled Access
I like to know as much information as I can about access to places before I go, and as I said there was a lot of information available online. From looking on the Carnival 56 website I knew they had an accessible view platform (more about that later) and that there was disabled parking available on site. Days leading up to the event the organisers released more general information online and one thing was what you were and weren’t to take into the event. There were a couple of things I was worried about on the list and not being able to re-enter into the event was the main one. This is because I knew for certain there wouldn’t be a suitable disabled toilet with a hoist within the festival. However, after emailing to explain I may need to use the changing place toilet in the main park they sent me a letter to grant myself, my friend and my carer re-entry.

The Main Event
I decided to attend the festival on the Sunday as although I did know many of the acts that were performing I did know Rudimental and they were the main act on that day. We arrived an hour after the festival started and I think was probably the best time to go because it wasn’t busy to get into the car park and the queues to get through security weren’t bad.

I thought on the day that the signage for disabled parking wasn’t very good. We went to the wrong entrance for Camperdown park, however whilst I was editing my vlog (which is here on my YouTube channel) I noticed that we just missed the sign, we must have been too excited. Apart from going to the wrong entrance I did not find many problems with the disabled parking. One parking warden was little rude when he asked why my blue badge wasn’t out.

Box Office and Security
Once we parked the car I did not see signage of what way to go for the main entrance of the festival site, therefore again we went the wrong way. Unfortunately, though the grass area was very bumpy so it took me a little bit longer to get to the right entrance, although there is not much that can be done about the uneven grass area as Camperdown is a country park and it is just the way nature is. Anyway, once we got the Box Office to pick up the ticket for my helper it was a bit of a struggle to get around the fenced area as it was very tight for my wheelchair to get around. Then once we got to the ticket windows there was no one at the accessible window and when we went to another window they said they couldn’t help us.

The security staff were very friendly when they were checking our bags and although I was worried about having food in my bag, however after explaining that I have low blood sugar, they were very understanding. I must say although they were very thorough at searching everyone they didn’t really search my wheelchair very well and even though I didn’t smuggle anything in I could have easily.

Main Festival Site
At the start of Carnival 56 it wasn’t too busy and I was able to easily get around. As I mentioned before we didn’t really know many of the acts that were playing so when we first arrived we had a wander around the festival to sus find out where everything was. One very popular attraction on the day along with the bar was the free McFlurry van, the clue is kind of there to why this was so popular but one thing that was good was that it was all 100% accessible. We went to the front entrance but as soon as a staff member noticed me in my wheelchair they told us to just skip the queue and enter through the exit as the fences were very tight to get around. There was a built-on ramp to get into the tent where you got a photo taken before receiving your free McFlurry, the entrance to the tent was very narrow to get through but all the staff members were very helpful and opened the tent up more for me to get in. I cannot fault the staff at all within the McFlurry area and to be honest who doesn’t like free ice-cream. Once we demolished our McFlurrys we bumped into Conor Maynard who is an English singer-songwriter, then headed to buy lanyards so we knew who was playing when without having to walk to the on site maps.

We then went to get a drink from the bar and were surprised that a 125ml glass of Rosé wine was the same price as a 175ml glass (£4.50). Although we all know prices at events like these are quite expensive so I only had 2 drinks the whole day, plus I can’t drink too much whilst driving 😊. All the staff that I encountered at the bar area were very friendly and helpful. As it became later in the night I started to feel a little unsure around the bar area, there weren’t people falling over drunk or anything I just felt like it was really busy. The main bar was also long so it meant if someone didn’t see me coming behind them then I would have ended up with someone falling on me or drink on me. Therefore, by the end of the night I went to the smaller bar and they were out of Rosé wine so I had to have vodka and lemonade.

Obviously, the festival was hosted in a nature park and you can’t make any drastic changes to the area, but I did feel like I was falling to the side sometimes when I was driving across a hilly area. I felt the whole area for Carnival 56 was very spacious though, and during the day this meant that I could enjoy the festival in the main viewing areas and enjoy the festival atmosphere with everyone else. It wasn’t until later in the evening when it starter to get busier that I went on to accessible viewing platform.

Accessible Viewing Platform
Before I went to Carnival 56 I knew they were going to have an accessible viewing platform at the main stage, however I was surprised they had one at the Rumba Tent too. Using the accessible viewing platform was something I was worried about before I went as on the website it stated you were only allowed one person to accompany you, but I was going with a friend and a carer. I can see you not being allowed 5 people up with you as that is too many people, especially if everyone does this, but I’m not going to leave one person on their own but at the Rumba Tent we managed to persuade them to allow the three of us up because there wasn’t anyone else on the platform.

When we wanted to watch Rudimental on the main stage at night, because this was the main act and the most popular, I was only allowed one person up with me. Luckily my carer bumped into her family so she stood not too far away from the platform so that my friend could stay with me. This time on the accessible viewing platform was the biggest problems I had throughout the whole day. When we first got up I struggled to get past a pile of chairs that were sitting at the top of the ramp, now judging by the size of the platform I don’t even think if everyone was able to sit on a chair and there were no wheelchairs that all these chairs would fit on the platform, there were about 30. I just managed to squeeze past them but I’m not sure someone in a bigger wheelchair would have managed. Next problem I encountered was when we were deciding where to sit, now there was a space right as you came on to the platform that was at the front where my friend and I would be able to sit together. But we were told we couldn’t sit there because the camera man was there filming the music for Carnival 56. This infuriated me so much because the way I see it is that it’s an accessible viewing platform for people in wheelchairs or with other disabilities, not a camera platform. So, I refused to move and eventually they let us sit there, although there shouldn’t have been a problem in the first place. If this event is to run again, or for other events, have a separate platform for professional camera people. What if a number wheelchair users and companions needed on the platform?

I also felt the viewing platform was slightly wobbly when people walked on it and with attending T in the Park a couple of years ago I can’t remember that platform being as unsteady. Also previous accessible viewing platforms I’ve been on have been undercover and I feel this should have been done for Carnival 56. I don’t know maybe the organisers knew it was going to be good weather, but if it would have rained it wouldn’t have been the best.

Leaving the Festival
I did not feel there were much problems leaving the festival site itself, however I feel that there wasn’t much lighten in the car park area and we had to put the torches on our phone on because with the ground being uneven I struggled to drive in the dark.

Final Thoughts
All in all, I really enjoyed Carnival 56 and thought it was good regarding wheelchair accessibility. There were a couple of hiccups more with the accessible viewing platform but maybe if it is to be an annual event these can be looked into. I will definitely consider going next year and wound recommend it to other wheelchair users.

Thank you to all the organisers of Carnival 56 for a great music festival event in Dundee, I hope it can be hosted again.

I feel like I’ve spoken a lot in this post and there are probably some things that I have forgotten to mention but I think I’ve talked about the major things. I would just like to say a massive thank you to my best friend Rachel and carer Linzi for helping me to film my vlog on the day and if you would like to watch it you can find it here on my YouTube channel, please don’t forget to subscribe to my blog and YouTube channel to be notified when I post new content.

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