Music Festival fans from across the South East were treated to a fantastic day of live music on Saturday as the first ever Festability came to Thanet. The all day event, tag-lined “Where music meets disability” promised a fully inclusive festival experience for people of all ages and disabilities and they certainly didn’t disappoint.
I first heard about Festability a few months ago when I saw a poster being shared on a local Facebook page. I was intrigued and decided to check out their website. Everything I read about the event made me want to visit and see for myself how great it was going to be . The Festability website’s ‘About Us’ section describes the concept perfectly …
We are a group of parents of disabled children and adults who saw a video shared on the BBC and thought “oh we really need to do that here in Kent”.
Of course, this was on a Saturday evening, and we may have been guilty of having one or two glasses of wine when we thought this. Isn’t that how all good ideas start though?
We were totally overwhelmed by the interest expressed and the offers of support received once we mentioned it to a few people and quickly we decided we had to get this off the ground because the demand was huge.
So we are putting on a Music Festival for people with disabilities living in Kent.
We aim for it to be as close to other Music Festivals as possible, but with some additional elements that will help make it more suitable and be fully inclusive to all.
This will include a quiet/chill zone with sensory lights and sounds, a changing places suite, qualified staff to help assist and a karaoke tent!
As I arrived at the ever impressive grounds of Quex Park, I was greeted by one of the Festability organisers, Debs. I really didn’t need to ask how the preparations had panned out as the beaming look of pride on her face said it all. Putting this event on was a remarkable achievement and as Debs showed me into the main staging area, the scale of the festival really hit me.
With two large stages, featuring ten live bands throughout the day, this was never going to be a small affair, but as I walked onto the field and saw the 1500 plus crowd I couldn’t help but be impressed. Back in the day, I would have loved my band to perform at a gig like this.
It wasn’t just about the music though. Around the perimeter of the field were a multitude of stalls, information kiosks and activity areas. The festival organisers had really pulled out all the stops and the support they had received from the organisations present was heartwarming to see.
Debs showed me around, introducing each of the organisations without once losing that look of pride I mentioned earlier. It seemed that everyone was just having the best time ever. All of the stalls and activity tents were buzzing with excitement and there really was something for everyone there.
As I spent the afternoon wandering around talking to the various organisations, bands and visitors attending the festival it was becoming clear that we were all part of something really special.
The bands were great and each one seemed to bring something different to the party. I watched on as the hardcore music fans at the front danced and jumped around to cover versions of festival classics from bands such as Foo Fighters and Queen, while others danced and sang along from slightly further back.
The atmosphere was something else. Everyone was there to have fun and enjoy the festival and, although most of the day enjoyed some lovely sunshine, even the evening downpour couldn’t dampen spirits. After all, it’s not a proper festival until it rains, is it?
I would like to thank the Festability organisers, Debs, Vanessa and Carrie for inviting me along to this fabulous event but they were certainly not alone in delivering this festival. Huge thanks must also go out to all of the bands, sound crew, stall-holders, activity providers and organisations that all contributed towards the day’s success. A special mention must also go to all of the volunteers who were ever-present throughout the day, ensuring the visitors were having a great time, keeping the areas safe and clean, and doing so with smiles on their faces throughout the event. Finally, I know the organisers would like me to mention the staff at Quex Park, not only for allowing Festability to take place within their impressive grounds, but also for all of their help and support in delivering such a challenging event. Well done.
The biggest compliment I can pay the Festability team is this … once inside the event I completely forgot this was a festival put on for people with disabilities. It was a music festival. A brilliant, fantastic, well-organised music festival, and I loved every minute of it. I am already hearing whispers that Festability 2019 could be in the pipeline. I certainly hope so.
Move over, Glastonbury ….. there’s a new gig in town, and it’s called “FESTABILITY”
Please enjoy our gallery of the event and feel free to share this article with anyone who may be interested …..