15 May 2024

Inclusive cultural enjoyment in the open air

The REHAB music festival check with tips and dates

As temperatures rise, our desire for shared experiences and cultural events in the open air grows. To ensure that everyone can enjoy art, music and culture, events need to be planned without barriers. How far have the biggest and best-known music festivals actually come in terms of inclusion?

For our barrier-free music festival check with tips for carefree participation, we enlisted the help of Tamy. The active, music-loving 31-year-old has been attending major festivals as a wheelchair user for many years and is happy to share her experience with us and others. In addition to her office work, she has also been a guide at GUIDZTER.COM, co-operation partner of REHAB Karlsruhe, from the very beginning.

"For us wheelchair users, a few things are crucial for a relaxed festival visit," says Tamy. "The big festivals have accessibility in mind and are well organised." If in doubt, she advises to always contact the organiser before visiting a festival and clarify individual requirements.

Checklist for accessibility

  • Disabled parking spaces near the entrance
  • Wide and paved paths, ramps and lifts
  • Barrier-free toilets near the stages
  • A sufficient number of special areas with seats for wheelchair users and their carers. Are these also well placed with a view of the stage?
  • Enquire about conditions of participation for accompanying persons, including costs
  • Charging facilities e.g. for electric wheelchairs, ventilators etc.
  • Overnight accommodation in the immediate vicinity of the festival and access to the campsite/festival camp
  • Barrier-free sanitary facilities in the festival camp, with paved floor, tents, etc.
  • Weather check shortly before the festival: bring appropriate clothing and rain protection
  • Medication and special needs: There are often cooling facilities for medication and safe boxes on the site.
  • Catering: There are plenty of food stalls on site to suit all tastes: if the food on site is too expensive, it is best to stock up in advance in nearby supermarkets. Please note: Check in advance which containers you are allowed to take onto the site.

Tamara Fischer crowdsurfing at the Southside Festival
Tamara Fischer crowdsurfing at the Southside Festival (photo credits: Tamara Fischer, private)

The challenge of the weather

Tammy's biggest challenge is unpaved paths in bad weather: "I once got stuck in the mud and had to be carried by my companions along with my wheelchair. But there are always helping hands on site and I love this special atmosphere. It's just fun to meet other people, spend time together and listen to music together."

Tamara Fischer celebrity visit at Rock am Ring with Klaas Heufer-Umlauf (left) and Campino (right)
Celebrity visit to Rock am Ring Tamara Fischer with Klaas Heufer-Umlauf and Campino (photo credits: Tamara Fischer, private)

Premium seats with a celebrity factor

The new mum has fond memories of the Rock am Ring festival: "The places for wheelchair users are really premium: located directly on the pit building, toilets included, with a fantastic view of the stage and above the VIP area. A few celebrities have stopped by and I even have souvenir photos of Felix Kummer from Kraftclub, Campino and Klaas Heufer-Umlauf," laughs Tamy.

"A visit to the festival only becomes fully inclusive when you're swimming in the crowd," says Tamy. This only works to a limited extent in the barrier-free spectator area.

Tamara Fischer looks out from the barrier-free audience stage. A campsite with many mobile homes can be seen in the background.
View from the barrier-free audience stage (photo credits: Tamara Fischer, private)

There's no such thing as impossible: inclusion must be loud

The volunteers from "Inklusion muss laut sein" have a solution for the very wild and brave. Together, they visit the biggest festivals, museums and football matches, without misunderstood help or unnecessary pity. They advise on barrier-free events and are happy to break down barriers for people with disabilities with their best buddies. Mud bathing and crowdsurfing in wheelchairs included.

So the festival summer can come.

The most important festivals at a glance

  • "Rock am Ring" and "Rock im Park" from 7 to 9 June 2024, venues: Nürburgring, Nürburg (Rock am Ring) and Zeppelinfeld, Nuremberg (Rock im Park): Both festivals offer special areas for wheelchair users with raised platforms and accessible toilets.
  • "Hurricane Festival" from 21 to 23 June 2024, venue: Eichenring, Scheeßel and
  • "Southside Festival" from 21 to 23 June 2024, venue: Take-Off Gewerbepark, Neuhausen ob Eck: Both festivals have barrier-free areas with raised platforms for wheelchair users as well as special parking spaces and toilets.
  • "Melt Festival" from 11 to 13 July 2024, venue: Ferropolis, Gräfenhainichen: Melt offers barrier-free access, special platforms for wheelchair users and accessible toilets.
  • "Wacken Open Air" from 31 July to 3 August 2024, venue: Wacken, Schleswig-Holstein: One of the largest metal festivals in the world, which also offers accessible facilities and services for wheelchair users.
  • "Ruhrtriennale" from 16 August to 15 September 2024, venues: Various locations in the Ruhr region, Germany: This festival of (music) theatre, drama, dance and concerts takes place at various locations in the Ruhr region and offers barrier-free access as well as special services for people with disabilities.