What it’s like to attend Radio 2 in the Park with mobility issues

3 November 2023

Radio 2 in the park stage and Antoinette

How accessible is Radio 2 in the Park for people with MS? Antoinette takes along her powered wheelchair to find out.

I wondered what on earth I was doing. It was the day before the Radio 2 in the Park, a mammoth nine-hour long outdoor festival in Leicester. 

All I could think was, ‘How am I going to last all of that time with my fatigue?

But there I was, with my accessibility ticket in hand, ready to take on the journey. The organisers did say that there was a quiet tent, so I expected that I could go there if needed.

A break-down! Just as we hit the road, my friend’s van decided to conk out. Luckily, we were back on the way without too much trouble, but we did pull up fashionably late.

You can imagine the scene at a popular event like this, queues as long as the eye could see.

But wouldn’t you know it? There were two gates for disabled people that were relatively clear. So onwards we went. 

The site was like a fairground for adults! 

There were food stalls and bars lining the outside of the park, and a big wheel at the back.

We decided that we should find the disability viewing platform, so we set off across the grass.

Being a day of 1980s groups, there was a big number of middle-aged people like us, and a large section of the field was set aside for people who brought camping chairs or blankets with them.

Therein lay the first hurdle! 

It wasn’t easy to weave through people strewn haphazardly on the grass when you use a wheelchair!

Clear as day was the giant blue flag with a wheelchair on it, so we used that as our target.

There were three of us, and each disabled ticket came with one free companion ticket. We asked the security person whether we could stick together as only your official companion is allowed to be on the platform with you.

Kindly, they decided to let all three of us up there. Within the fenced off area there were four porta loos, two of which were strictly for disabled people. They weren't actually big enough for my wheelchair, but they did have bars to hold on to.

There was also a drinks bar too. Then a slope up to the platform. It was quite calm and peaceful up there (if a concert could be considered peaceful). There were probably about 30 of us, and we had lots of space to move around in.

The first bands did a 30-minute gig each, and then there was a break.

It was only when they showed the crowd on the big screen that I realised exactly how many people were there, 35,000!

They were standing packed in like sardines, and there we were in our own space and with a good view. Bonus!

As wonderful as the layout was, I kept noticing the food stalls from the corner of my eye. There was no way I was going to weave my way through the crowd again!

Luckily my friend had suggested we bring packed lunches, so we did have our own sandwiches.

The other problem was when I fancied a coffee. I realised that the bar at the bottom of the slope and within the accessibility fence was mostly serving alcohol.

So, off my friend went on a mission in search of coffee. She was gone for ages!

She apparently had to walk round all the stalls as most were selling food or alcohol.

I’m really happy she volunteered as the thought of meandering around all the deckchairs in my wheelchair really didn’t float my boat.

With all that said, we had the benefit of space and peace in our area, and that alone was priceless. I think that it was because of those two things that I kept feeling absolutely fine. 

We were shocked when we realised five hours had flown by as we were all feeling fresh.

By the end of nine hours, I was not in the least bit tired. Although I was cold, because I had forgotten to bring a cardigan. You live and learn, right?

At the end, the festival staff came and told us that we could stay on the platform for an extra 20 minutes to let the crowds disperse. So, when we left, it was miraculously easy to navigate on the grass.

Life can almost be easier in a wheelchair sometimes. It’s strange to say, but I almost feel guilty about all the extra service I had.

My top tip for disabled people would be to look at the accessibility page when you’re booking tickets. You will usually get a free ticket for a carer, and the venue might provide some type of service that will make life easier on the day. 

If you see an event that you’d like to attend, go for it!

Read Antoinette's trip to London