Creating Thrive, an arts and music festival for people with complex disabilities

Thrive is the UK’s first arts and music festival designed specifically for people with complex needs. We put accessibility at the heart of our day, and disabled talent under our glittering stage spotlight!

We love festivals! In the UK alone, 30 million people attend festivals every year, according to Statista. The excitement and magic of these events are, for many people, a big part of British summer. However, less than 0.5% of people attending festivals are disabled. That means that less than 1% of disabled people are accessing this experience.

At Sense, we believe that no one should be left out of life. That’s why we’ve created Thrive, a festival with disabled people’s needs and desires at its very centre.

A place to shine bright

Thrive is in its second year, with our last event held in September 2022. Each dazzling festival has been a chance for people to explore new ways of connecting with art, music and each other.

We give the stage over to disabled singers, comedians and creatives – there’s even an open mic opportunity for brave new talent! In the audience, people have equipment to feel the vibrations of the sound and room to dance in whatever way they fancy.

If you’ve not yet been, let us tell you, it’s quite the sensory scene! Here’s what was happening at this year’s Thrive Festival, where the theme was ‘shine bright’:

At the Transformation Station, guests could adorn themselves with colour and sparkle.

“The vibe is so great! Non –patronising, proper festival vibes and thoughtful inclusion.”

A man is cycling on a bike that helps power a sewing machine
People got to make their own sensory jumpers on the Sweatshop Bike
Anyone wanting some time out could ground themselves through accessible yoga

“What an utter pleasure to have been involved with such an incredible, socially progressive and inspirational event! Helping those that don’t often get to experience what we all take for granted get the chance to let loose and vibe in some festival magic.”

A woman rides a bike that powers a smoothie blender
From the fragrant fruit table, people selected their own ingredients to make fresh smoothies on an eco-bike that powered (Brenda the) Blender
We were all treated with performances, songs and music to dance to throughout the day!

“My son had a really good day; his favourite was the drumming and the yoga! He especially loved dancing, he said today made him feel good and happy. He’s already said he’d come back next year with a big smile on his face!”

Plans for Thrive 2023 are underway… watch this space!