Tall Ships & Soundwave 2023

A few weeks ago was the much anticipated Tall Ships 2023 in Hartlepool. Boasting incredible music, food, art and of course, the ships. It brought a lot of people and tourism to our small town and my friends and I were looking forward to it, as a wheelchair user I also wanted to see how accessible and inclusive the event was. We decided to go on the Friday evening after everyone had finished work, we mainly wanted to see Maximo Park.


I have never seen Hartlepool so busy! The atmosphere was so good and the town had  been made to look unrecognisable. The first few hours were spent looking around the stalls, bumping into more friends, seeing the ships and enjoying the sun. There was parts of the event I found inaccessible but I could overlook them as I had my friends there to help me. For example, I couldn’t queue for food and drinks as there wasn’t enough room, there was no way for me to access the tables as they were all picnic benches and the terrain across the whole site was questionable. However, anyone that’s ever been to a festival knows it’s really difficult to get the terrain smooth. 



 We then moved to the stage on the headland to watch Maximo Park play. This is when it became clear there was no accessible viewing area, it was way too busy to get near the front, so I spent the whole set staring at the back of people’s legs. Although Maximo Park sounded really good, it was such a shame I couldn’t see them. After they had finished playing, we decided to go and find the toilets. I was happy to see a couple of wheelchair portaloos, but unfortunately they were not being manned, resulting in anyone just using them. We waited until one was available, but the floor was so wet and the grab bars so sticky it was unsafe for me to try to use. Due to all of this I decided not to return with my family on the Saturday. 


A couple of weeks later, I went to Soundwave Festival which was held on Seaton Reach. Again, the atmosphere was incredible and I couldn’t quite believe I was seeing  Bastille in my hometown. The website promised disabled people a free upgrade to VIP, which is where the accessible toilets were and claimed there was a viewing area for those that needed it. Unfortunately, the staff weren’t aware of this VIP upgrade and the viewing platform was not fit for purpose. Despite these hiccups, my friend and I had a lovely night and I would definitely go again!



                                              If you went to either of these and experienced any accessibility issues, please let me know! 

Author ~ Georgia Hart

Hi! I’m 26 years old and beyond excited about joining the team at CLIP. When I was fifteen years old, I was diagnosed with a rare life threatening condition which completely flipped my world upside down. Since then, I’ve learnt how to adapt and navigate life with a chronic illness whilst also developing a keen interest in helping other people in similar situations. Making things more inclusive and accessible is really important to me, which is why CLIP means so much.

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