Sounds of London: A Musical Travel Guide for the Visually Impaired

Desiree Michels
 


Visitors: 35

The great city of London has dozens of excellent highlights for the visually impaired. Music lovers, in particular, are well catered for here as the city is bursting at the seams with world-famous venues which attract all the biggest names in every genre. As a forward-thinking city, nearly every venue is highly accessible so you are sure to have a fantastic and stress-free experience.

Here are a few genres which can be enjoyed and a selection of my personal favourite venues, all of which are recommended if you are travelling with somebody who is visually disabled. Holidays to London will always be worthwhile as there are so many great experiences available for all.

Classical

The Royal Opera House – One of London’s legendary and historic venues, The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden is a must-visit for any music lover. As such a prestigious venue, here you can enjoy the greatest classical music concerts and operas throughout the year. The Royal Opera House is highly committed to helping visitors with access requirements (just get in touch with the Box Office), and you can benefit from audio-introduced performances, which provide a synopsis and descriptions of the set and costumes.

St Martin-in-the-Fields – A magnificent church in Trafalgar Square, this is also one of London’s premiere concert venues and particularly for classical music. Visually impaired travellers can be carried away by the wonderful acoustics and the peaceful atmosphere here during evening concerts, lunchtime shows and late-night gigs. The church can be accessed using the steps at the front, or via the wheelchair ramp at the north side, and inside you can use a lift to get to the Crypt. I heartily recommend doing a tour of the church during your visit, using the audio guides available from the shop.

Musical

West End Theatres – London’s West End is somewhat of a pilgrimage for entertainment lovers and an important part of British culture. With over 40 major theatres showing musicals, plays, drama, comedy and other entertainment you will be spoilt for choice. The West End is also home to an amazing range of bars, restaurants, museums and other attractions, which can truly make disabled holidays to London experiences that will leave you buzzing for weeks and months after. The musicals are particularly enjoyable and each theatre will have services to assist visually impaired visitors.

Jazz

Ronnie Scott’s – A legendary and accessible jazz club situated in London’s electric Soho region, this iconic venue attracts the world’s top jazz musicians and has a cool ambience. Seats are available at the front of the stage and to the side, or there are standing tickets available. You can also enjoy food and drink during a show and crowd noise is kept to a minimum.

606 Club – Another intimate jazz club, 606 Club is found in Chelsea and offers nightly music from British-based musicians. You can book a table at the club (advised at weekends), which will also allow you to enjoy a tasty 3-course meal – a feast for the ears and the taste buds!

Pizza Express Jazz Club – This Soho jazz club is an award-winning basement venue with an intimate atmosphere and high quality live music every night of the week. You’ll need to descend some stairs to access it, and there are a small number of steps in the building. As you may have guessed, you can also sit down and order a pizza for the show.

The Elgar Room – Found in the historic Royal Albert Hall, this impressive space hosts late-night jazz shows in a sultry setting. Shows are often seated so expect an intimate performance with minimal distractions. During the day and evening, it is a stylish restaurant serving delicious cuisine – why not have dinner beforehand, then stick around to hear the sounds of luscious jazz whilst sipping from a good glass of wine?

Rock

The Camden Roundhouse – If rock is more your thing, then the Roundhouse in North London is a great choice. It attracts major bands from around the world, but also puts on shows for smaller acts; this makes it great for both niche and mainstream. For visually impaired visitors, I would recommend booking a seated ticket where you can avoid the crowds and focus on the music.

Brixton Academy – A premiere London rock venue which is known all around the world, the Brixton Academy is a right of passage for many bands – you might well catch the next big thing here! The award-winning venue has a large sloped standing section or seating available upstairs (this is recommended in case you’d like to stay away from the crowds, which can get a little rowdy).

These are just a few of my favourite music venues around the capital. If you are travelling with somebody who is disabled, holidays can be difficult to arrange, and if your travel companion is visually impaired you’ll want to make sure to appeal to all their other senses. My expert team is here to help, so contact us today for further information.

Author Plate

Philip Scott is the owner and founder of Can be Done, a fully licensed UK tour operator specialising in disabled holidays across the world for individuals and groups who are travelling with a handicap. With over 31 years’ experience organising long and short breaks for disabled travellers, Philip has built a reputation for helping his clients select hotels and accommodation that offer high standards of accessibility to ensure that those with special needs can experience truly relaxing and carefree holidays.

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