March 29-April 2, 2017
It’s all wheelchair accessible! For 5 exciting days downtown Sonoma will once again be teeming with enthusiastic film buffs, filmmakers, and film stars, with the film and party venues being wheelchair accessible and within walking/rolling distance of each other. Film, wine, food, fun, and accessibility await at 2017 Sonoma International Film Festival aka SIFF. Here’s a rundown of wheelchair accessibility for all of the film and event venues
north end of 1st Street East
SIFF Village is headquarters for the Sonoma International Film Festival, teeming with activity both day and night. A magical transformation turns Sonoma’s Veterans Memorial Hall parking lot into the place to be for film, food and fun. It’s all flat and easily accessible!
SIFF Village venues:
Backlot Tent in SIFF Village
Opening Night and Closing Night Parties
daily Happy Hour
nightly themed parties
The Backlot Tent is the hospitality center of the festival hosting the Opening Night and Closing Night Parties, Happy Hour every day from 3-6 PM, and a new themed party each night. Each event features local Sonoma wine, cocktails, food and music. During the day there is a lounge area to hang out between films. The Tent has a flat, wide entrance and easy maneuverability inside and outside for great wheelchair accessibility.
Cinetransformer in SIFF Village
A new film venue this year is the Cinetransformer, a unique mobile movie theater coming to Sonoma for the first time. The exit ramp is the ADA entrance ramp where there is space for wheelchair and scooter seating inside. This should be fun!
Food Trucks in SIFF Village
A variety of local food trucks will be parking in SIFF Village to quell those appetites. Here is one of the local favorites Tri-Tip Trolley.
Portable restrooms including a wheelchair accessible one are located at the edge of SIFF Village, convenient to all the Village venues.
Sonoma Veterans Memorial Hall
126 1st St West adjacent to SIFF Village and through parking lot from 1st St East
Right next to SIFF Village is the Veterans Memorial Hall, with 2 screening venues. As you might expect from a Veterans Hall, this building is totally wheelchair accessible with a flat threshold entrance and wide hallways.
Portable risers are set up in Vets #1. To accommodate people with mobility challenges there is a reserved wheelchair section on the floor in front of the risers, along with companion seating, and folding chairs for those who cannot climb stairs. Vets #2 is a smaller room that is set up with folding chairs, allowing for flexible seating and wheelchair accessibility.
5 accessible parking spaces are in front of the building, with 2 being van accessible. Adjacent to the lobby are multi-stall Women’s and Men’s restrooms, both with a wheelchair accessible stall, and a bank of sinks with accessible kneeholes. If the portable accessible toilet at SIFF Village doesn’t appeal to you, the Vets Hall restrooms are a feasible alternative.
264 1st Street East
Vintage House is Sonoma’s Senior Center and it is predictably accessible. The SIFF theater is set up at the back of the building and there is an accessible paved walkway along the side of the building to get there. With a flat entrance and flexible folding chair seating the theater offers full accessibility.
There are 4 accessible parking spaces in front of Vintage House with 2 of them being van accessible. The Men’s and Women’s restrooms both have a wheelchair accessible stall and accessible sink with a kneehole.
476 1st Street East
The historic Sebastiani Theatre is one of the most famous landmarks of Sonoma, prominently located on the plaza since 1933. This is where the local townspeople watch movies year round, and kindly share it with SIFF every year for the festival. The theatre has been updated and yet retains its vintage charm.
The entry is gently ramped and leads to a wide, flat entrance. There is accessible seating in the rear as well as accessible seating in the front row. All are great seats for viewing the screen, neither too close nor too far away.
Parking is on the street. See below for parking information.
Alert- Restrooms are the one accessibility challenge in this historic building until a planned accessible restroom addition is completed. The current stalls are standard size but there is a solution. Across the street is the Sonoma Valley Visitor’s Bureau with accessible public restrooms on the back side of the building. A crosswalk with a curb cut leads directly from the Sebastiani Theatre to the Visitor’s Bureau. After business hours another option would be to visit one of the nearby restaurants as they all have accessible restrooms.
Andrews Hall at the Sonoma Community Center
276 East Napa Street
Another historic landmark in Sonoma is Andrews Hall at the Sonoma Community Center built in 1916. This red brick Greek Revival building has been retrofitted to be fully accessible, including the restrooms. A gentle ramp leads directly into the theater in Andrews Hall. One wheelchair seating spot with companion seating has been designated. The cushioned folding chairs can be removed to provide more accessible seating if needed.
Accessible parking, including van accessible, is on the west side of the building, immediately adjacent to Andrews Hall. Just off the lobby is an oversized accessible unisex restroom.
Sonoma Valley Museum of Art
If you go to see a film at the Sonoma Valley Museum of art you will also get to see the current exhibit. The museum is fully accessible with a flat and wide entrance. Folding chairs create the theater venue so it’s easy to remove one for wheelchair seating or just pull up beside a friend. The accessible restrooms here are a beautiful piece of art. Street parking.
1. Bring the right equipment
SIFF is very walkable/rollable, but if you get tired walking distances with a cane or walker you may want to rent a scooter, or be prepared to repark your car at different venues. You could easily cover a mile or more walking/rolling between venues. Evaluate your ability and come prepared with the right equipment.
Whereas all of the venues are within walking/rolling distance of each other and of the Sonoma Plaza, if you have mobility challenges you may want to drive between venues. Using my electric scooter I was easily able to roll between venues, and much preferred that over loading and unloading the scooter into and out of the van.
As noted above many of the venues have dedicated parking, including van accessible parking. Those venues are Sonoma Vets Memorial Hall, Vintage House, and Andrews Hall at the Sonoma Community Center. Venues without dedicated parking are SIFF Village, Sebastiani Theatre, and Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, though street parking is available.
See accessible parking photos below.
3. Arrive early
All the venues are accessible but they fill up fast. It will simply be easier to locate the best seating for you while not dealing with crowds.
As I advised in the Sebastiani Theatre description, there are not accessible restrooms in this historic venue. The Visitor’s Bureau restrooms are a good solution. All other venues have accessible restrooms.
5. Get your bearings with the SIFF map
The Festival Venue and Services Map shows the distances and proximity of all the venues. Take a look at the map to help you make your accessibility decisions such as mobility equipment and parking.
ACCESSIBLE PARKING SPACE PHOTOS:
The most central parking to all of the venues is the California State Parks Parking Lot, located between the Plaza and SIFF Village. It is a free parking lot and has 5 van accessible parking spaces. To get there take 1st Street East north 1/2 block from the Plaza and turn left into the lot.
Additionally there are 5 accessible parking spaces on the 4 sides of the Plaza, 4 being van accessible angle parking and 1 parallel parking space.
I hope this has given you the information and confidence to come and enjoy the 20th Annual Sonoma International Film Festival. It’s a beautiful time of year to enjoy Sonoma, and the accessibility of both the town and the festival are excellent.
For more information or to buy passes: