Image: Alex Drewniak/Ability Fest

Ability Fest will return to the Coburg Velodrome in Melbourne’s north on Sunday April 7. And for the second year running, the festival features a star-studded line-up including supergroup ARC, featuring members of Jet, Spiderbait, Powderfinger. The line-up also includes The Presets, Bec Grenfell, Hot Dub Time Machine and Rudely Interrupted.

Ability Fest is the brainchild of three-time Paralympic gold medallist and seven-time grand slam winner, Dylan Alcott. In its first outing in 2018, the festival raised nearly $200,000 for Alcott’s Foundation. The foundation works to change the lives of young Australians living with disability.

The festival will again see the Coburg Velodrome transform into a completely accessible venue. From AUSLAN sign language interpreters to elevated platforms, pathways, quite zones, ramps and accessible toilets.

Alcott told the ABC that he traces the inspiration for the one-day festival to his first music festival experience as a seventeen-year-old.

“I went to Falls and it was honestly the first time I ever felt fully included because nobody cares about your disability or your difference at music festivals. Everyone just has fun.”

“I take for granted how lucky I am that I get to go, and I know a lot of people in my community didn’t often get that opportunity. This is a music festival for everybody no matter their age, gender, sexual orientation, or ability.”



Accessibility goes national

And now the success of Ability Fest has crossed state lines. A council in New South Wales will trial a music festival designed for people with disabilities. While in December last year, South Australian charity KYD-X partnered with Lifetime Support to launch the state’s first ever accessible music festival, Sound & Vibes.

Campbelltown Councillor Margaret Chivers said that music festivals were often inaccessible to people with disabilities.

“We just need to modify a festival to make it as accessible as possible for people with physical, learning, mental or other disabilities,” Cr Chivers told the Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser.

“Most music festivals have flashing lights, loud music and there are no quiet areas. We need a festival where the music is not uncomfortably loud, without flashing lights, with plenty of room to move around [and with] flat ground for wheelchairs and festival friends.”

Karren Kelly, Sound & Vibes‘ Organising Committee Chairperson, told Disability Support Guide that the goal was to make sure all festivals and events were accessible.

“Often events do not cater for people living with a disability and access can often be denied through circumstances such as the event being on grass. It’s bloody hard pushing a wheelchair around on grass and then when you add rubbish on the ground it is near impossible.”

“We don’t want this to turn out to be a ‘one day a year’ event for people living with a disability. We hope that other venues, festivals and all event organisers see how easy it is to make their events accessible for all.”


Ability Fest

When: Sunday April 7, 2019

Where: Coburg Velodrome­–30 Charles Street, Coburg

Time: 12pm – 10pm

Buy tickets:


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