Falkirk to host first large-scale UK music festival for disabled fans

Falkirk is set to host what’s thought to be the UK’s first large-scale music festival for people with disabilities.

By Jonathon Reilly
Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 9:07 am

Last year, organisers of the Awakening parties at the town’s City Nightclub revealed they'd joined forces with the team responsible for Vibration Festival to lay on a day of live entertainment – only for the pandemic to delay their plans.

Those behind the scenes of both festivals have since come up with a Covid-safe proposal that’ll see gig-goers able to attend Falkirk’s Callendar Park on September 3, 4 and 5.

The Awakening festival will take place on September 5 (12.30-9pm) and is billed as an event open to all which hopes to attract music fans from across the country.

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Awakening disability club night organisers Neil Kilgour, Jill Donoghue, Norah McGowan, Maureen Kilgour, Oonagh Sear and David Irvine at City Nightclub, Falkirk. Picture taken in 2020. Credit: Michael Gillen.

Having started as an event based in the town’s Elgin Park in 2018, Awakening has gone from strength to strength and more than doubled its crowd size.

David Irvine, who is organising the event alongside Awakening’s Maureen and Neil Kilgour, said: “The first year, we concentrated on Falkirk and 150 turned up.

“The second year, we tried to expand it to outreach areas and got 300. It was always our intention to go to the whole of Scotland, so we're hopefully looking at having up to 600 people here.

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“As far as we understand, no-one has ever done a music festival of this scale for people with disabilities so it’s another feather in the cap for Falkirk.

“It’s really just to bring awareness to disability and what we found when we did the City Nightclub event was about 250 turned up and paid.

“These guys deserve to have the same experience as people who aren’t disabled in a safe environment. The general aim is to make it a mainstream festival going forward and also encourage these people to go to a festival on their own.

“Even though this is a disability festival, we also want people who don’t have a disability to buy tickets.

“It’d be great for them to come along and see how these guys enjoy it: the smiling faces, the dancing, that’s what we see when we do our club nights.”

Maureen Kilgour, who’s also involved in the planning, cited Awakening’s increasing popularity as the reason for the expansion.

She said: “It was starting to attract over 300 people so we decided we had to do something and we’ve moved it on.

“At the moment we’ve got eight bands, Changing Places toilets, street food, children’s entertainers and DJs booked to make it a family day out.

“We have Scottish cabaret act Leona Rae, Dazed, The 117, Tom Sparkle, Dave Bateman and Primes. We also have DJ Missy M, Deaf Beats who's deaf and DJ Elad who has autism and used to DJ at our club nights.

“A lot of these bands have played for us online throughout lockdown. It just makes the performers’ night.

“We know a lot more people because we’ve been doing club nights and have groups from Perth, Bathgate and Stirling who come so we’re hoping they’re going to promote it in their areas.

“The Vibration guys have set up a ticket line. We’re here to give people a hand, by phone, if they’re not able to get online.”

Click here to buy tickets. For assistance, call 07970835564.

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