The Isle of Wight boasts some of the liveliest festivals in the UK and is just a rock god’s guitar throw from Southampton Airport.
Once you've arrived at Southampton Airport, you can be on a ferry to the island in just 15 minutes. You’ll be at one of these fabulous festivals before you know it:
12-15 June 2014, Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight
First held in 1968, and the cause of an Act of Parliament banning gatherings of more than 5,000 people on the Island without a permit, the Isle of Wight Festival is plenty rock and roll. After a break of over 40 years it was revived in 2002 and has been held each year since. The festival itself is ‘modern’ in that the main arena resides behind security barriers and is cleared each evening. The camping ground is close by and split into smaller, fairly level fields, making it easy to navigate your way back at the end of the night.
The site itself is pretty compact and one of its distinguishing features is the array of (terrifying looking) fairground rides, and there’s plenty willing to risk losing their lunch and give them a go. One of the great things about this festival is that’s its very clean in the main area. This is thanks to the bright spark who decided to pay a small amount for the return of paper cups. This means children spend all day collecting them up, and the place is spotless. Within seconds of finishing your beer, you’re likely to find a small(ish) child looking hopefully at you, willing you to drop it.
Known for its rock music, the festival has attracted some very big names over the years, and the main stage they occupy sits in a gently sloping field giving those who want to stand back a bit and take it all in the opportunity to do so. There’s also a large circus tent known as the Big Top that’s a godsend when the weather turns inclement. The Isle of Wight is a must for music lovers, easy to navigate, well organised and well worth the trip.
4-7 September 2014, Robin Hill County Park, Isle of Wight
Bestival is like a children’s birthday party crossed with Rio at carnival time, with really good cocktails, and scrabble (you’ll see). It’s the kind of music festival people say ‘you don’t just go for the music’ and they’re right, only the music’s always good too. You only need to look at the website to see what kind of place it is. Imagine if that website came to life and a tiny you were dropped in the middle of it. Welcome to Bestival.
One of the most distinguishing features of Bestival (and its little sister Camp Bestival in Dorset) is that each year it’s themed, and on the Saturday everyone adopts fancy dress. Believe me; you’re going to feel a lot sillier out of it than in it!
Key to any festival experience is the camping, but if you’re worried about flying with your camping equipment, upgrade your experience with some ‘boutique camping’. The Tangerine Fields (available at both festivals) are well worth the investment to book a ready-pitched and fully equipped tent sleeping 2, 4, 6 or 8 people, they’ll even fill it with all the kit you need to camp – from sleeping bags to head torches. The best bit is that it’s located in a secure stewarded field it has lovely loos, private hot showers and the popular pamper parlour, with its hair dryers and straighteners. If you’re looking for even more luxury, there’s also loads more options sleeping in Yurts, Bell Tents, Podpads and even Beryl The Bespoke Bus.
13-23 March 2014, Island-wide
Building on the success of the other major festivals and the island's musical heritage, Acoustic Isle is new for 2014 and features hundreds of talented musicians performing gigs in pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants across the Isle of Wight. You can easily combine a coastal escape with some top quality "unplugged" music in some fantastic, intimate venues.