Accessible event venues in the UK
17th August 2018
The UK is replete with many wonderful music and event venues that are enjoyed throughout the year. This country is certainly very lucky in this regard as we have plenty of choices no matter where we live, especially in the cities. The even better news is that there a good number of venues across Great Britain where people can enjoy music, talks, workshops, and myriad other events, that have also made a great effort to implement accessible facilities.
Attitude is Everything, who have made wonderful strides to improve deaf and disabled people’s access to live music, know a thing or two about what it takes to make a venue accessible. Jacob Adams, head of research and campaigns at Attitude is Everything, shared his thoughts on the progress being made and the importance of making live music accessible to all:
“Access to live music is an essential part of deaf and disabled people being full and active participants in society. Opportunities to pursue musical passions and enjoy the social aspect of accessing culture is key to people’s wellbeing and mental health. This is why we are passionate about our work breaking down barriers to accessing live music in the UK. Approximately 3.3 million people with access requirements go to gigs and festivals every year, but we want this number to increase. We also want people to enjoy equal experiences to those of non-disabled people. Things are moving in the right direction, and we currently work directly with over 160 venues and festivals of all sizes via our Charter of Best Practice, which awards improvements made to accessibility. See who is on our Charter here.”
From big arenas to small local venues, there certainly are a number of truly terrific locations to be proud of. With this in mind, please read on for a selection of some of the very best accessible event venues in the UK. Hopefully, you will be able to visit some yourself in the near future.
Accessibility at Band on the Wall
Artists who have previously performed at Band on the Wall include: Buzzcocks, The Fall, The Joy Division, and more.
Located in Manchester, Band on the Wall is a terrific music venue that will certainly make for a fantastic night out, and, of course, it has top-notch accessible facilities. A key feature of the ever popular and ever vibrant Manchester music scene, Band on the Wall does a terrific job in bringing leading artists from around the world to perform on its award-winning stage. Known for putting on top performances from a number of genres, including jazz, folk, blues, and post-punk, this vibrant venue is certainly one to seek out if you’re in town.
In terms of accessibility, Band on the Wall has been recognised with the highest standards of accessibility and the team spoke to us about what makes the venue such a great location for all to visit:
“Band on the Wall is fully wheelchair accessible and we have been awarded Gold Status by Attitude is Everything for improving deaf and disabled people’s access to live music. With our eclectic, diverse live music programme and friendly, welcoming staff, Band on the Wall is a great venue to visit, we strive to offer a great experience for everyone, no matter your requirements.
- “The venue has level access to the main venue ground floor, the adjacent bar ground floor, and all upper and lower floors via lift.
- There is a step between the bar ground floor and the main venue ground floor; however, this can be avoided either by exiting from the bar and re-entering the main venue (via the red door) or via a lobbied ramp between the two spaces.
- Our staff are always willing to assist where necessary.
“Anyone with mobility issues should look forward to visiting Band on the Wall, as we aim to promote equality of opportunity for people with disabilities and to provide a positive live music experience! That’s why if you have mobility issues that require a personal assistant to attend with you, we offer assistants free access. One week’s prior notice is preferred, simply contact the Operations Team on 0161 830 3888 or email email@example.com and we shall make arrangements for you. Seating can also be arranged for those with difficulty standing.”
Accessibility at The Georgian Theatre
Artists who have previously performed at The Georgian Theatre include: the Arctic Monkeys, The Cribs, The Wonder Stuff, and more.
The Georgian Theatre in Stockton-On-Tees has a long and illustrious history, dating all the way back to 1766. The venue is today perfectly fit for the modern age thanks to some wonderful refurbishments, helping to make The Georgian Theatre one of the most amazing live music venues in England’s northeast. A great spot for independent artists and promoters, parties, and, of course, exciting live events, it also boasts two bars and a kitchen to taking proceedings to yet another level. We spoke to the team at The Georgian Theatre for their thoughts on what makes this grand venue so special: “The venue itself is a lovely mix of 18th-century features, alongside contemporary design - following our refurbishment in 2017. We have a great programme of live music, catering for all tastes - alongside regular projects for people to get involved in.”
The Georgian Theatre is a welcoming environment for those with mobility issues and the team spoke to us about what they can offer visitors in this department: “We are accredited by Attitude is Everything for our increased accessibility for people with mobility issues; to that end:
- “The venue has a lift to our upper floor,
- Fully accessible toilets and access information is available on our website - all supported by our staff team who can give assistance if required.
- As standard, we will provide a seat in a comfortable viewing location upon request - even for all standing events.”
Accessibility at Cecil Sharp House
Folk artists who have previously performed at Cecil Sharp House include: Martin & Eliza Carthy, Davy Graham, Mumford & Sons, Bellowhead, Laura Marling, and more.
Image credit: Cecil Sharp House
Many may be of the opinion that a venue housed inside a listed building might not be congruent with accessibility, but when it comes to Cecil Sharp House, this is far from the case (as we will soon see). Cecil Sharp House in London is an award-winning folk art centre situated right in the heart of the city. Dedicated to presenting guests with exciting and multifarious events, running the gamut of artistic mediums such as music, dance, education, and art. Operated by the English Folk Dance and Song Society, visitors can look forward to a wide-ranging calendar of events and performances.
As previously mentioned, Cecil Sharp House truly impresses when it comes to accessible facilities, showing that even listed buildings can create a hospitable environment for all to enjoy. Speaking to us about their facilities, the team at Cecil Sharp House said: “At Cecil Sharp House we aim to be equally accessible to all who visit and perform here. We signed up to Attitude is Everything’s Charter of Best Practice in 2012, and we are fully committed to their mission to improve deaf and disabled people’s access to live music.
- “There is an induction loop in each of the building’s two main venues, and at the reception desk.
- Cecil Sharp House has step-free access to all floors.
- Through our Access Register, visitors with a disability can be eligible to a free ticket for a personal assistant to accompany them to any performance.
- Free parking can be reserved for disabled visitors.
- The venue has three accessible toilets.
“Cecil Sharp House’s website is designed to be accessible to all, and further improvements are being planned. Alternative formats of our season brochure (including large print, braille and audio) are available upon request.”
Accessibility at Brighton Centre
Artists and events coming soon to the Brighton Centre include: The League of Gentlemen, Champions League Darts, Cliff Richard, Jack White, and more.
Brighton Centre is certainly one of the very best venues in the city when it comes to putting on top class entertainment and in terms of accessibility. Known and respected as one of the largest purpose-built entertainment venues anywhere in the South East of England, the Brighton Centre showcases myriad exciting events throughout the year, such as live music, comedy acts, classical concerts, rock gigs, exhibitions, and must-see family entertainment. Thanks to this variety, no matter your tastes, there’s an event to look forward to seeing.
Regarding its accessible facilities, the Brighton Centre is known for its dedication to those with mobility issues, offering:
- Accessible toilets and lifts
- Low-level counters at the box office, info desk, and bars
- Accessible viewing platforms
- Free tickets for personal assistants, and much more
For further info take a look at their access statement.
Accessibility at KOKO
Artists who have previously performed at KOKO include: Noel Gallagher, Kasabian, Coldplay, Elton John and more.
Image credit: KOKO
One of the best accessible venues in London for great music is certainly KOKO. With a history that dates back to 1900 and once a frequent stage for the legendary Charlie Chaplain, KOKO is now a world-class music venue. Having seen some of the industry’s brightest talents on its stage, such as Noel Gallagher, Kasabian, Coldplay, and was even the venue for Elton Johns’s AIDS Foundation event, there’s no question KOKO is a premium component of London’s live music scene.
As far as accessibility goes at KOKO, the venue excels in this regard too. KOKO has been working with the team Attitude is Everything to improve their access and have made terrific strides in recent years, offering among other things:
- An accessible viewing area
- Complimentary tickets for personal assistants
- Ramp access
- Priority entry
- Accessible toilet facilities
- A welcoming environment for assistance dogs
Accessibility at The Lowry
Artists and events coming soon to The Lowry include: Cilla – The Musical, Circa Tsuica, Dave Gorman, Jason Manford, and more.
Another world class venue located in the wonderful city of Manchester, The Lowry hosts a dazzling array of performances and also boasts first-rate accessible facilities. The Lowry is a venue and a charity that is firmly committed to enriching lives with performing arts, showcasing everything from opera to dance, and live music to visual art exhibitions. The Lowry’s calendar of events is certainly eclectic and its presence is one that is vitally important to Manchester’s cultural scene.
When it comes to accessibility, the venue is able to welcome all visitors regardless of their level of mobility:
- Welcoming assistance dogs
- Lift access
- Step free access
- Automatic doors
- A lowered box office counter
- Accessible toilets on all floors
- Hireable wheelchairs that are free of charge
In terms of tickets, wheelchair spaces are also available with seating advice available from the box office.
Accessibility at Echo Arena
Artists and events that have previously been at Echo Arena include: the MTV Europe Music Awards, the GB Judo World Cup, Davis Cup Tennis, Bruno Mars, and more.
Image credit: Echo Arena Liverpool
In Liverpool, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better events venue than Echo Arena, especially when also considering their wonderful accessible facilities. Unquestionably one of the most respected and prestigious venues anywhere in the UK – no small feat considering it only opened in 2008 – Echo Arena is the place to be for amazing performances, world-class events, and unforgettable experiences. There’s something for everyone at this Liverpudlian venue, with a line-up that includes comedy shows, concerts, sporting events, family attractions like Cirque du Soleil, and a series of important cultural events.
Echo Arena doesn’t slouch in the accessibility department either as the venue has been purposefully designed with this in mind. Visitors can look forward to:
- Designated drop off points
- Accessible seating
- Accessible toilets
- Wide corridors and doors
- Personal assistance tickets that are available free of charge.
Enjoying accessible UK music and event venues
Hopefully, this brief look into some of the UK’s accessible event venues has been an enjoyable one. The above locations have done a fantastic job and there are plenty more out there that also deserve recognition. There’s no question Britain is very lucky with the venues available to us. Of course, there is always more that can be done to allow those who, for example, require the use of walk-in accessible showers, to be able to enjoy the same wonderful events as everyone else. With the right attitude and desire to make a difference, hopefully, there will be multitudinous more accessible events venues available in the very near future. Once again, but more briefly, here is a list of accessible event venues in the UK:
- Band on the Wall
- The Georgian Theatre
- Cecil Sharp House
- Brighton Centre
- The Lowry
- Echo Arena
Great Britain is also home to many top theatres to enjoy. Discover them by reading this guide to the most accessible theatres in the UK.
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.