Isle of Wight
Carefree short breaks & holidays
From rock and pop to cycling and surfing, the Isle of Wight has a fantastic range of events to entertain visitors throughout 2017. This year the Island plays host to nearly 1,000 festivals, carnivals, concerts and other events.
The Isle of Wight Festival in June and Bestival in September sell out as soon as tickets are available — and no wonder, with world-class acts like Pulp and the Kaiser Chiefs headlining previous events. The Jazz Festival in April is rated second only to Cheltenham Jazz, while the Island's diverse landscape and coastline provides an ideal backdrop for the Cycling Festival in September and the ever-popular Walking Festival, which celebrates its 19th year in May.
No matter what time of year you visit, there are exciting events for young and old. One of the best things about the Isle of Wight is its location for sailors, and they have plenty of opportunities to take advantage of its unique position. Visitors can find their sea legs with free 'try sailing' sessions available during Cowes Week in August, or just sit back and enjoy the ride as Europe's finest powerboats tear around the Island for the Powerboat Festival held on August Bank Holiday.
Walking is one of the best ways to admire the Island's unique scenery. One of the best times to visit is during May, for the UK's biggest walking festival. The event takes place over 16 days and there are over 100 themed walks designed to suit those new to walking as well as seasoned ramblers. All you need to do is choose a walk from the programme and turn up, lightly laden, at the right place.
Experienced guides have all the routes carefully worked out and will pass on information about the local history, wildlife and culture. And with over 500 miles of footpaths and bridleways, including four coastal trails and eight long-distance walks, there's always a good reason to return. A free copy of the walking programme is available from February.
Tel: 01983 813818
Get fit and get walking for charity. Join one of the popular 'Walk the Wight' walks, a long distance sponsored walk which takes place during the UK's largest walking festival. It is the largest annual fund raising event on the Island. Walkers can enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery on the Isle of Wight and have the choice of three distances. Bembridge to Needles Park via Carisbrooke, 26 miles. Bembridge to Carisbrooke, 12 miles. Carisbrooke Castle to Needles Park, 14 miles. The walk is marshalled and signed throughout and covered by St John's Ambulance teams. 6 toilet stops and 8 water points are available along the entire route.
All money raised goes into the Earl Mountbatten Hospice £1 million appeal towards financing the redevelopment of the Island's only hospice. 5,200 walkers took part last year raising over £200,000. The walk is organised by the Hospice, supported by a small committee. Walkers are therefore asked to obtain sponsorship or make a donation. Registration is compulsory and application forms are available online.
Tel: 01983 528989
Round the Island race © Martin Williams
The world's largest single yacht race is held annually, with boats of all shapes and sizes competing on handicap in this anti-clockwise race around the Isle of Wight.
In recent years, over 1,600 boats and over 12,000 competitors have taken part.
The race around 60 miles of stunning coastline offers many opportunities for spectators to view the yachts close at hand, especially around the Needles and south coast.
Tel: 01983 296911
Now a biannual event, the Yarmouth Old Gaffers festival encompasses three days of free entertainment, spectacle and classic boats. Yarmouth is a favourite stop for yachts navigating east or west along the popular waters of the Solent. You don't have to be — or own — an 'Old Gaffer' in order to join in. Nearby is a splendid Tudor castle, charming cottages, well-stocked chandlery, unique shops, fine pubs and good eateries. The harbour will be filled with gaff-rigged vessels and the town square and quayside busy with craft stalls and a farmers' market. Free entertainment and ample parking is provided for this splendid weekend of festivities. Make a date in your diary for this well-established event.
Tel: 01983 761704
Following the comeback of the music festival a few years ago, the 2017 festival is expected to attract even more festival goers keen to visit the home of the famous Isle of Wight pop festivals of the late 60s and early 70s. This annual music festival incorporates a wide range of music from classical and jazz to rock and pop at venues across the Island. Dates for the rock concert are yet to be confirmed, but it is sure to attract headline international rock acts as well as visitors from all corners of the globe.
Beach soccer was inspired by the acrobatic football played on the beaches of Brazil. It is played on soft sand, and puts each player's physical and athletic skills to the test. The Isle of Wight is rapidly becoming a magnet for beach soccer. All events are free for spectators and will generally include music, cheerleaders, live commentary, fun competitions and a great day out by the sea.
Tel: 01983 617777
Cowes week © onEdition
There's nothing quite like Cowes Week — the sailing is great for spectators and competitors alike as well as a fantastic line up of live entertainment day and night. If you only visit for a day, make sure it is on the day of the annual grand fireworks display. Performed from a pontoon moored in the Solent off Marine Esplanade (to the west of the Royal Yacht Squadron), hundreds of vessels from pleasure steamers to small powerboats lie at anchor, while thousands of spectators watch from the shoreline as a spellbinding fireworks display lights up the Solent with an amazing array of colour.
Tel: 01983 295744
Now in its 26th year, the Garlic Festival is a weekend celebrating the Islanders' epic feat of selling garlic to the French! The event takes place at Newchurch (A3056, Newport – Sandown Road) with over 250 stallholders selling such delights as garlic beer and garlic ice cream as well as a wealth of other locally produced delicacies. Arts and crafts, talented animals, arena entertainment, live music, children's entertainers, archery and a giant fun fair.
Tel: 01983 614612
Set in the Island's lovely green heart, Bestival is the best way to round off your festival summer. It boasts a music mix of bands and DJs from the 60s through to the 21st century. Previous years have seen local boys 'The Bees' playing alongside Reggae legend Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Fatboy Slim, a Kate Bush tribute act and the Basement Jaxx. Best of all, the festival is sited in one of the Island's most magical venues, Robin Hill Country Park.
Tel: 01983 813813
A series of cycling events encompassing all aspects of sporting and recreational cycling. The Isle of Wight cycling festival serves both as a celebration of the sport and to reinforce the Island's position as a leading cycling destination. The event offers a range of on- and off-road cycling challenges for all ages and abilities, as well as a varied programme of entertainment for spectators to enjoy.
Tel: 01983 203891
Nowhere is the Island's friendly community spirit more evident than in its town carnivals that take place throughout the season. This season comprises approximately 17 Carnivals, six of which are illuminated, plus lantern processions throughout the year including the biggest, which takes place annually in Ryde on the last Sunday in November. The season kicks off with a spectacular Mardi Gras-style 'East and West Cowes Shrovetide Carnival' in February and runs right through to a Christmas carnival in Newport. The Ryde Arts Festival celebrates all aspects of the arts from street theatre to stand-up comedy. The event is also an opportunity for award-winning artists to express themselves in the Island's natural surroundings with art on the esplanade, sand sculptures on the beach and poetry on the pier.