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The most accessible theatres in the UK

11th March 2024

Whether you’re sitting down to watch a reimagined version of your favourite story or are diving into a new play, there’s something magical about visiting the theatre. However, worrying about manoeuvring down the darkened stairs or the location of your red velvet seat can sometimes dampen the experience.

“Access in theatres is important because nobody should have to face barriers in them being able to engage due to an impairment”, shares Callum from Access Scottish Theatre. However, due to the architecture of many theatres dating back to the 19th century, this isn’t always the case.

With opulent staircases and exquisite attention to detail, some locations are still in need of renovation in order to bring them up to the accessibility standards that they should meet.

From dementia-friendly performances to step-free access,  take a look at the guide below before watching your next production.

What are the most accessible theatres in the UK?

  • Unicorn Theatre
  • Barbican Theatre
  • Birmingham Hippodrome
  • Bristol Hippodrome TheatreThe Lyceum Theatre
  • Mayflower Theatre
  • The Royal Exchange Theatre

Unicorn Theatre

Located near Southwark, the Unicorn Theatre performs around 20 shows a year aimed at young people between the ages of six months and 18 years, and they are perfect for older adults to take younger relatives. Their immersive experiences aim to establish a connection with the audience, and their community work ensures that theatre is accessible to all.

In addition to providing workshops for disabled children, in partnership with the charity Scope, the Unicorn Theatre likes to ensure that “there are shows for everyone”.

Offering wheelchair spaces which can be booked in advance, the theatre also offers relaxed performances for those who have learning difficulties or sensory needs. During these performances, alterations have been made to the lighting and sound in order to make it a more relaxed environment, and access to a chill-out room can make all the difference either before, after or during the show.

So, if you are looking for accessible theatre tickets in London, the Unicorn Theatre is certainly one venue you can visit.

Accessible features

  • Wheelchair spaces
  • Relaxed performances
  • A chill-out room
  • Visual stories to provide context before the show
  • Integrated Sign-Language Performances
  • Live audio description
  • Pre-show touch tours
  • Captioned performances
  • Deaf-friendly shows
  • Accessible toilet
  • Assistance dogs welcome
  • Access assistants
  • Reserved seating for captioned, ISIP and audio-described performances

Find out more about the accessibility of the Unicorn Theatre here.

ALSO READ: Accessible guide to royal attractions in London 

Barbican Theatre


Image credit: Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali in the Barbican Hall. Max Colson

The Barbican Theatre boasts incredible architecture and a plethora of performance spaces, but its access scheme is what sets it apart from other theatres in the capital.

In order to establish its status as a world-class arts venue, they strive to provide the best accessible access for guests, with the Barbican Centre access group meeting regularly to assess if any changes are necessary.

There is ramped access from the main entrance at Silk Street to the Level G Foyer where lifts service all levels.

Inside, opt for a free large-print programme to commemorate your visit before sitting down in a wheelchair space to enjoy the performance. With audio-described and captioned shows frequently taking place, you’ll be spoilt for choice as to what you wish to see. Plus, with the Access Member Scheme, you may be entitled to discounted tickets to some of your favourite plays.

Accessible features

  • Access member scheme
  • Barbican Centre access group
  • Audio-described performances
  • Relaxed performances
  • Captioned performances
  • Wheelchairs available
  • Wheelchair spaces
  • Discounted tickets
  • Assistance dogs welcome
  • Induction loop
  • Large-print programmes
  • Accessible toilets

Find out more about the accessibility of the Barbican Theatre here.

Birmingham Hippodrome

Image credit Oosoom

At the Birmingham Hippodrome, those with limited mobility will feel at ease whilst watching a performance in their impressive theatre. Thanks to their Access Forum Group, the theatre understands the needs of its guests and makes alterations to any issues that may arise.

After a refurbishment in 2001, the Hippodrome caters towards each of the 500,000 people who come to see a production each year. Plus, with captioned performances, as well as relaxed shows taking place, there is something for everyone here.

The facilities at the theatre ensure that people with limited mobility or wheelchair users are catered for. There is ramped access at the entrance of the theatre, lifts for wheelchair users or people with limited mobility, and wheelchair positions both in the main auditorium and Patrick Studio.

Accessible features

  • Level access and automatic doors
  • Ramped access
  • Handrails to the main entrance
  • Wheelchair spaces
  • Audio-described performances
  • Assistance dogs welcome
  • Infra-red and induction loops
  • Accessible toilets
  • Mobility hoist available
  • Integrated Sign-Language Performances
  • Audio-described performances
  • Pre-show touch tours
  • Captioned performances
  • Relaxed performances

Find out more about the accessibility of the Birmingham Hippodrome here.

ALSO READ: The most accessible cities in the UK

Bristol Hippodrome Theatre


Image credit: Mike Hume

Since its opening in 1912, the Bristol Hippodrome has opened its doors to millions of visitors. Fortunately for those who require accessible access, it has made significant alterations to the original architecture in order to encourage all to experience the performances that it puts on.

From the designated access entrance to the boxes for wheelchair users, the Bristol Hippodrome has it covered. Plus, with accessible performances with captions, accessible theatre tickets for wheelchair-users and a companion, as well as relaxed shows for those who have sensory conditions, the facilities are perfect.

Accessible features

  • Blue badge parking close-by
  • Accessible toilets
  • Step-free access to theatre
  • Wheelchair spaces
  • Wheelchair storage
  • Visual stories to provide context before the show
  • Infra-red and induction loops
  • Audio-described performances
  • Pre-show touch tours
  • Integrated Sign-Language Performances
  • Captioned performances
  • Assistance dogs welcome

Find out more about the accessibility of the Bristol Hippodrome Theatre here.

The Lyceum Theatre

The Lyceum Theatre has for more than 200 years seen some spectacular performances, and it is now home to the world-famous Disney musical, The Lion King.

An average of 760,000 patrons enjoy the Lyceum’s hospitality every year, and the theatre is committed to providing access for all. The theatre aims to provide great facilities for customers, with limited mobility and it ensures that staff are on hand to make your visit as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

You’ll also find a number of access performances throughout the year so everyone can enjoy the splendour of Disney’s Lion King.

You can find more specific information about the Lyceum Theatre’s accessibility below.

Accessible features

  • Lift facilities are available on all levels
  • Wheelchair spaces are available
  • Accessible toilets
  • Staff will bring food and drink to your seats
  • There is an online food portal for ordering as well
  • Disney merchandise kiosks are all fully accessible
  • Parking nearby for Blue Badge holders
  • In partnership with PicturePath, the theatre has a visual timeline app supporting people with additional needs, such as autism, to experience Disney’s The Lion King
  • Access performances of Disney’s The Lion King are available
  • Signed Performances
  • Captioned Performances
  • Amplified Performances
  • Audio described performances
  • Assistance Dogs are welcome
  • Braille and Large Print Programmes
  • Concessionary tickets are available for Wheelchair users

Find out more about the accessibility of the Lyceum Theatre here.

Mayflower Theatre

The Mayflower Theatre is the UK’s third largest theatre, and its aim is to bring a diverse range of shows to Southampton and present a mixture of spectacular touring productions, from musicals to dance, opera, drama, ballet and comedy.

If you have limited mobility, you might be wondering how accessible the Mayflower Theatre is. The theatre believes that live performances should be accessible to everyone and they are committed to ensuring this occurs.

The theatre continues to review and adapt its facilities within the limitations of its Grade 2 listed building and works with customers and outside groups to discuss individual needs and concerns to ensure that customers can get the most from their visit.

Accessible features

  • A designated drop-off point for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility
  • Discounts for Disabled people and Companions
  • Access Membership Scheme is offered
  • Accessible entrances
  • Accessible Seating
  • Trained staff who can aid visitors with limited mobility
  • Accessible performances
  • Accessible toilets
  • A quiet space/room is available

Find out more about the accessibility of the Mayflower Theatre here.

ALSO READ: Great accessible UK weekend breaks: Southampton

The Royal Exchange Theatre

The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester is famed for staging classic shows alongside innovative new theatre. The steel and glass structure also makes it one of the country’s most unusual and futuristic theatre spaces.

The theatre offers great accessibility with its wheelchair spots offering excellent, unimpeded views of the action, and the theatre aims to make the experience for anyone visiting as accessible as possible.

Accessible features

  • Lift access to the theatre level
  • Automatic doors at the entrance
  • The Great Hall is all on one level, with level access at two doors of the theatre
  • Accessible toilets
  • A wheelchair is available for customers
  • A dropped counter at Bar Exchange and the Box Office
  • Assistance dogs are welcome
  • There is Blue Badge parking nearby
  • All-access tickets are bookable online (you can also book by phone or in person)
  • Accessible performances are available

Find out more about the accessibility of the Royal Exchange Theatre here.

ALSO READ: Great accessible UK weekend breaks: Manchester 

If you are planning to go to the panto or see a classic performance, this guide shares information about the most accessible theatres in the UK, including the facilities that each one offers.

This article was brought to you by Handicare, working with Age Co, who provide a range of home mobility products such as stair lifts, homelifts and walk in baths and showers. For more information about how they can help make your home more accessible, please get in touch.

For more tips, guides, and advice, make sure to visit our news page.


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This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.