Boardmasters is a festival in the heart of Cornwall, catering for everyone from partygoers to family groups. Our reviewer Ally went along to find out more about the event and how accessible the festival is…
If there was a more beautiful location for a festival in the UK then I certainly have not yet seen it!
With breathtaking panoramas over the beautiful scenery of Watergate Bay and perfect, cloudless, blue skies we were in for a treat at Boardmasters.
After only a small delay on the roads, we arrived to spend the day at Boardmasters Festival.
On arrival there was a slight confusion regarding the parking arrangements. With one steward saying we needed to pay £40 for day parking, thankfully a second steward was on hand to say that parking was free for blue badge holders this must be booked in advance with your access ticket, with free passouts (the ability to leave the site in your car and return to the car park,) standard parking carried a £30 pass out fee!
Coming through the security gates there was an accessible entrance that had a shorter queue. The security guard was very friendly and showed us the direction of the accessibility desk to obtain access viewing ramp passes.
On arrival we headed straight for the access desk and they provided me with a wristband to admit myself and one other onto the viewing ramp and accessible toilets. Other festivals I have been to have had the access ticket holder and one designated plus one wrist banded meaning it would always have to be the same plus one on the platform with you, I thought it was great that Boardmasters had a different approach to that so you could swap between plus ones so if you are in a group you are not limited to spending the whole time with one person. Great stuff Boardmasters!
All the big stages had their own accessible toilets by the entrance to the accessible viewing platform for the stage. During the day we found all the accessible toilets we used to be clean and well maintained, as the evening fell, a member of staff came round to add lights into the accessible toilets.
Right next to the Accessibility Information Point was the Diverse Sensory Calm Space, What an absolute sanctuary it was. Whether you have additional sensory needs or just need a little breather from the hustle and bustle of a busy festival, this is a beautifully quiet space, softly lit with fairy lights and lava lamps. There were soft, flumpy beanbags and inflatable chairs to relax on with blankets and soft rugs. Scattered around the tent there were lots of stimulating fidget gadgets like poppets and fidget boxes. The most perfect place to take a moment’s rest and reset!
The absolute star of the show for me was The AccessoLoo! A fully accessible, fully equipped, Changing Places toilet and shower unit.
AccessoLoo was set up in 2014 by Michael Holden (a wheelchair user) and his son Noah (Autism) A company run by disabled people who are “Solving problems from lived experiences” Speaking to Michael was wonderful as he was so passionate about equality and people with disabilities having the same accessibility to attend events “we came up with the idea following our own experiences of inaccessible toilet facilities at events and festivals and have since been used all over the British Isles and Northern Europe. Although based in Northern Ireland, we hope to open a branch in England in 2023.”
The AccessoLoo was set up right near the main entrance to the arena, close to the Accessibility Information Point so it was very hard to miss.
The portable unit has a platform lift into the unit and inside is equipped with a full-size adult changing table, hoist, shower and it also housed a defibrillator! Inside was very clean and brilliantly maintained and had a fan inside, which on a day like today was such a great touch!
I cannot praise this facility enough! Providing dignified, clean, toileting and changing facilities for all! I only wish all events had something as wonderful as this.
The Main Stage
The ramp at the main stage was in great placement. You could see the stage very clearly and there was plenty of space and lots of fold-up chairs available to sit down. It was such a hot afternoon and shade was in short supply on the platform. One member of staff came onto the access platform with a big canister of water to fill up everyone’s cups and bottles. We felt very well looked after and safe.
The ramp onto the accessible viewing platform was nice and wide and had an anti-slip texture on the surface of it which was great.
There were plenty of staff available to offer assistance by the ramp with dedicated assistance stewards to offer help and answer any questions or concerns you may have.
The toilet by the ramp was well maintained throughout the day and was reserved for the use of the accessibility customers and their companion.
The View Stage
After a lovely stroll around the various stalls and food stands we got some lunch and sat in the shade for a little rest before heading to The View Stage.
There were no prizes for guessing why this stage had that name, being up high and it being such a beautiful clear, sunny day, there were spectacular views across the bay. It was absolutely breathtaking!
The View was a slightly enclosed area of its own, it had hay bales around the edge. They helped to keep the area enclosed and also offered a little shade and helped to keep the sound from getting muddled with the other nearby stages.
This was a smaller stage and was a really intimate experience, It was very calm and quiet when we visited.
The Old Mout Kiwi Camp
Old Mout Cider had teamed up with the WWF to create a fun space (for over 18’s) with a great emphasis on environmental issues and recycling. There were different stations set up with all sorts of activities centered around recycling the cider cans and paper cups or upcycling clothing etc. As well as free samples of the ciders they made there was a bar. The bar had a lowered area of the bar to make it accessible for wheelchair users. Excellent! (hopefully in the future, Boardmasters own bars might have this simple adjustment to their bars to make them more inclusive).
The Old Mout Kiwi Camp was a fun, well-thought-out space. There was plenty of room to get around and access all the different recycling stations. There was gentle music playing throughout the day (classic disco-style music but not too loud). It was great as it was not overbearing so you could still chat with people. We found the staff at the Old Mout Kiwi Camp to be super friendly and cheerful, and left happy and covered in free eco glitter.
The Keg and Pasty
The Keg and Pasty was a covered bar with a stage for smaller, more intimate acts. The place is made out to look like an old-fashioned British pub, right down to the outside having a hanging basket, a postbox mounted to the wall and mock Tudor beams outside.
The floor throughout was decked with lovely smooth wooden flooring and was a very good surface for wheelchair users and those who are unsteady on their feet. There was plenty of seating inside The Keg and Pasty and a pasty and coffee stall as well as the bar so it was a perfect place for a drink and lunch, or just a quick drink in the shade of the tent. The Keg and Pasty had an opening at each end of the tent so it made a wonderful through-draft, a very welcoming thing on a day as hot as it was.
We sat down and watched a local band, The Eyelids perform. Their energy was infectious and had a great atmosphere.
Overall we had a great time in The Keg and Pasty and found it to be a great space, it was well lit and the sound was great there. Stepping out the back of the Keg and Pasty there were the most beautiful views over the bay. It is truly an idyllic place.
As we were only at Boardmasters for one day we struggled to see and do everything that was on offer. The festival’s entertainment was set over ten stages so there really was something for everyone of all tastes.
Again as there was such a varied load of acts over the ten stages we could not be everywhere in one day so did not get to spend too much time in the Unleashed tent. Billed as “where club-land and major arena acts meet for the biggest indoor rave in the South West!”
We popped in and checked it out and the billing was absolutely right as there was such high energy throughout the tent.
There was an accessible viewing platform at the back of the big top looking right over the whole electricity of the tent! There was space for seats and dancing on the platform and again there were allocated accessibility toilets at the bottom of the ramp.
The Land Of Saints Stage
As our evening was drawing to a close and George Ezra was taking to the main stage for some chilled-out summer sing-alongs we headed over to The Land Of Saints Stage to catch Idles, For a whole different type of sing-along! Idles were bringing their own unique brand of fierce love and oneness back to Cornwall. Idles draws such a dedicated fan base preaching self-love and acceptance for all so we felt so very welcome and at home with our Idles Family.
As we waited for Idles to take the stage we grabbed a quick drink from the bar inside the tent and took in the excitement of the atmosphere. As with the other stages and tents The Land Of Saints had its own accessibility customer toilets and viewing ramp, which we found to be very spacious and again the staff were great, so friendly and happy to help.
Idles blasted through an intense set with blisteringly high energy that was echoed back at them throughout their brilliant set. What a treat it was to have Idles back in Cornwall and what a perfect way to end a great day for us at Boardmasters.
For party-goers with more energy than us there was soon to start a set by DJ Jonsey to take them further into the night, but for us it was time to say goodbye to Boardmasters. We found our way back to our car easily and found the pathways to be pretty well-lit. We got on our way and left Boardmasters with nothing but happy memories of a fun-filled, brilliant, day. Thank you Boardmasters!!