For a small(ish) island, there are so many festivals on the Isle of Wight for us to enjoy. Of course there’s the Isle of Wight Festival, but here are 22 of my favourites to discover.
Just a mile off the coast of England, the Isle of Wight is one of my favourite places in the country, and their festival game is bang on.
It’s a picturesque island located known for its beautiful beaches, stunning cliffs, and rich history, so it makes the perfect backdrop for great events. Of course the world famous Isle of Wight festival tops the list, the one so readily associated with the island, for obvious reasons. It’s the reason why Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and The Who have all performed there.
But beyond the famed Isle of Wight festival, the island has a great calendar of events that take place throughout the year. From foodie fests to yacht races and jazz, it’s quite eclectic, beyond just mainstream music that a lot of people associate with Isle of Wight festivals.
So let’s take a look at the other Isle of Wight celebrations worth making the hovercraft crossing over for.
Top festivals on the Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight festival tops this list, but there are many others that easily compete for being the best way to enjoy and make the most of the island.
1. Isle of Wight Festival
20th – 23rd June 2024
The Isle of Wight Festival is an iconic music event that – if you’re into festivals – you’ll most likely of heard of. It’s one of the longest-running music festivals in the UK, originating in 1968 and growing to be a hugely-popular event.
In fact, it was so popular that it was banned in 1970 because over 700,000 people turned up to see Jimi Hendrix play. The UK Parliament Parliament passed the “Isle of Wight Act” in 1971. making it illegal to hold an open-air gathering of more than 5,000 people on the island without a special license. Fortunately, the festival returned in 2002.
Over the years, the Isle of Wight Festival has boasted performances from an array of legendary artists, including David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, The Who, and many more. There’s also plenty of things to do at the Isle of Wight Festival, so it’s important you pack the right stuff!
2. Awakening Festival, Weston Manor House
Imagine if you will, a breathing space just for you away from your everyday routines and responsibilities. A chance to pause, reflect and and connect back to the fullest essence of you, to re-ignite the home fires of your mind, body and soul. And how? Through a carefully curated experience created so that you can don that much-needed oxygen mask, and fill your cup with delicious self-care.
With Awakening wellbeing workshops, self care sessions, inspirational talks and sound sessions alongside a blissful blend of yoga and meditation classes, as well as a delicious range of holistic therapies to enjoy throughout Saturday and a half day Nature Calls Big Chill session on Sunday. Join for the Saturday or join both days — the choice is yours.
3. Isle of Wight Jazz Weekend
14th – 17th September 2023
Every year, the Isle of Wight celebrates everything jazz for one weekend. For over a decade, this particular occasion has attracted lots of great jazz musicians to different venues across Newport.
Past editions of the festival have included the likes of Stacey Kent, Ian Shaw, Liane Carroll, Alan Barns, Sara Dowling and many others. The BBC Big Band has also performed here, showing how different types of jazz are all welcome here.
The atmosphere at this Isle of Wight festival is one of the best. It’s calm, warm and friendly, and everyone just gathers to enjoy the music. Also – you don’t have to be big on jazz to go, it’s just a great all-round festival in a charming town.
4. Ventnor Fringe Festival
19th – 28th July 2024
Spread across several days, the Ventnor Fringe Festival is one of the best festivals on the Isle of Wight, which is why it’s won so many awards. It’s an art festival that started in 2010, growing to be a huge event celebrating theatre, comedy, cabaret, music, film screenings and more.
Beyond the typical artsy events at festivals, there’s more things to do here. You could wander round jewellery exhibitions, or watch puppetry in a launderette. It’s really quite random – but in a beautiful and interesting way.
5. Wolverton Folk and Blues Festival
As the name suggests, the Wolverton Folk and Blues Festival is all about folk and blues music. It’s a mix of local, up and coming acts alongside bigger names that come to the Isle of Wight celebrations for one day.
As well as lots of live music, there’s artisan stalls, street food, crafts, children’s activities and other things to do. You could find yourself learning how to do Morris Dancing, or juggle or do acrobatics.
But one of the best things about this Isle of Wight festival is that it supports local charities. . In the past, the event has shown its commitment to community welfare by supporting charitable causes. So, as attendees revel in the day’s festivities, they also contribute to meaningful initiatives.
6. Round the Island Race
15th June 2024
The Round the Island Race is one of the most iconic and anticipated sailing events not just in the UK, but globally. There are crowds of over 1,400 and more than 15,000 sailors who gather at this event in the Isle of Wight, making it one of the biggest yacht races in the world.
This race sees a vast fleet of boats, ranging from professional class vessels to family-run boats, circumnavigate the island in a grand display of maritime skill and passion. It starts at Cowes, a town synonymous with sailing and renowned for its maritime heritage, and covers a course of approximately 50 miles.
While the event is undoubtedly competitive, with teams vying for the coveted Gold Roman Bowl among other prizes, the Round the Island Race is as much about community and celebration as it is about competition. The shores are lined with enthusiastic spectators, local festivals often coincide with the race weekend, and the atmosphere in Cowes is electric with excitement, making it a highlight of the summer season.
7. Rhythmtree Festival
Despite pausing in 2023, the Rhythmtree Festival is an annual event that takes place in summer on The Isle of Wight. It’s one of the best festivals to go to if you’re looking for something family-friendly, where the organisers prioritise creating a space that is inclusive for all ages. This inclusivity is reflected in the festival’s diverse lineup, children’s activities, workshops, and the overall ambiance.
The grounds come alive with vibrant stalls, delicious food offerings that cater to a variety of tastes, and areas dedicated to art installations and workshops. For those looking to relax and rejuvenate, there are often healing zones and spaces for meditation and yoga.
11th May 2024
Riverfest is celebrated every May in Newport, the capital of the island. It’s another great family-friendly festival in the Isle of Wight, with lots going on for all ages – most of the children’s activities being free too.
Diving deeper into the Island’s ecological wonders, the Medina Valley Centre crew plays a pivotal role at Riverfest. They invite curious minds to explore and understand the Island’s distinctive ecology. For the more adventurous, there’s a chance to unravel the mysteries of the Medina river’s mud, discovering the intriguing aquatic life and secrets it holds.
The festival has a really wholesome feel, which is arguably heightened through the fact Riverfest is attended by lots of local charities promoting their work. This is a wonderful opportunity for attendees to gain insight into the Island’s philanthropic endeavours and perhaps even find avenues to contribute.
9. Island Highland Gathering
TBC for 2023
This Isle of Wight festival isn’t just about music; it’s a full-blown Scottish spectacle. Top pipe and drum bands from across the UK come together in friendly competition, showcasing their talent and dedication.
It’s held at Northwood House, which is a beautiful building in itself with large grounds. During this celebration, you’re instantly transported from the Isle of Wight to the heart of Scotland, with the haunting melodies of bagpipes and rhythmic beats of drums resonating in the air.
There’s also a mini Highland games event offering both participants and viewers a taste of traditional Scottish sports and games. Tug-of-war, caber toss, and stone put are just some of the challenges you can watch and even take part in. Plus, there’s re-enactment groups recreating scenes from Scotland’s rich history, allowing visitors to step back in time and witness key moments and traditions of Scottish heritage.
10. Isle of Wight Carnival and Mardi Gras
Last Saturday of June (annually)
Drawing inspiration from the renowned Mardi Gras celebrations of New Orleans, the Isle of Wight’s version is a unique blend of traditional British carnival culture and the vivacity of the famed American festival. The streets of the island come alive with elaborately decorated floats, dancers in dazzling costumes, and musicians playing tunes that make it impossible for anyone to stand still.
There’s also an impressive procession with lots of floats, which are usually themed reflecting current events, cultural celebrations, or just a burst of imaginative fun. The costumes are a significant highlight — think feathers, sequins, and rainbow-bright colours!
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11. Cowes Week
July 29 – August 5, 2023
Cowes Week has been going forever. It started in 1826 and is now one of the longest-running (and successful) sporting events in the UK. It’s now the host of the largest sailing regatta in the world, attracting lots of people every year.
Throughout the week, more than 40 races are held daily, catering to a wide range of sailing vessels—from large Class 0 yachts to smaller day boats and everything in between. The competition is fierce, and the event’s storied history makes securing a victory all the more coveted.
The event culminates with the famous “Fastnet Race,” a challenging offshore race that starts at Cowes and takes competitors around the Fastnet Rock off the Irish coast before finishing in Plymouth.
12. Garlic Festival
17th- 18th August 2024
If you love garlic, or generally just good food, this is an unmissable festival in the Isle of Wight. From garlic beer to garlic ice cream, the versatility of garlic is explored and celebrated in deliciously inventive ways. The garlic is grown locally too, by a multi award-winning Garlic Farm.
The festival also offers live music, craft stalls, and local produce displays – just in case you need a break from eating garlic upon garlic. There’s also plenty for families, like traditional fairground rides and educational tents.
The special event in Isle of Wight takes places in August each year, at The Fighting Cocks Crossroads, just outside of Newchurch.
13. The Great Wonderfest Festival
From chart-topping music acts that get the adults dancing, to children’s television personalities and shows that captivate the younger attendees, the festival’s programming is deliberately designed to be family-friendly. It’s a newer festival than some of the other celebrations in the Isle of Wight, but has already seen acts like presenters Dick & Dom, The Vamps, Busted, Sigma and more.
There’s so much to see and do here, including magicians, comedians and TV stars, outdoor games, cabaret, messy play, dance workshops, adventure walls, BMX tracks and lots more. It’s probably one of the most jam-packed festivals in the Isle of Wight when it comes to activities so you definitely won’t be bored.
14. Isle of Wight Literary Festival
6th-9th October 2023
Anyone that loves books, poetry, history, biographies, and generally the written word will love the Isle of Wight Literary Festival. It’s attracts a diverse array of authors, ranging from seasoned novelists to emerging voices. Through panel discussions, readings, and intimate sessions, these authors share their insights, experiences, and the stories behind their stories, providing attendees with a rare glimpse into the literary world’s inner workings.
Beyond the author interactions, the festival offers workshops for aspiring writers, enabling them to hone their craft under the guidance of established names in the industry. These sessions are invaluable, offering hands-on techniques, constructive critiques, and a chance to learn the nuances of the publishing world.
15. Jack up the Summer Festival
TBC for 2024
The Isle of Wight’s 80’s festival is Jack Up The Summer, formerly known as Jack Up The 80s. It celebrates the iconic sounds of that decade, from the selected lineup of artists and bands to the throwback outfits and neon decor.
There’s also vintage arcade games, and retro dance floors, which makes it a really fun festival because you can tell the organisers have gone all out.
Surprisingly, it’s not all people that grew up in the 80s that go. There’s actually a lot of people of different ages, which I suppose is a testament to the music produced in this time. It’s also a family-friendly festival, so there are festival-goers that will no doubt have never heard of E.T. or the Cabbage Patch Kids.
16. Isle of Wight Proms
11th-18th August 2024
The Isle of Wight Proms is where classical tunes meet beach vibes. Forget stuffy concert halls; here, the music goes with the sound of crashing waves and breezy trees.
One of the best parts about the festival is the “Picnic Proms” bit. You can just grab a blanket, pack your favourite snacks (or sneak in that cheeky bottle of wine), and get ready to relax under the open sky. Each night has its own flavour, from foot-tapping Broadway bangers to chill jazz sessions. And it’s not just about big names; the Proms give a shoutout to local rising stars too.
The festival takes place over eight days, where you’ll be able to enjoy everything from live classical music to comedy, drag, opera, dance, and much more.
17. Festival of Light
27th September to 2nd November 2023
The Festival of Light on the Isle of Wight is like diving into a real-life fairy tale. Hosted at the iconic Robin Hill Country Park, this isn’t just about a few lanterns on strings; we’re talking mind-blowing installations inspired by Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, but with a unique Isle twist.
As the night falls, the park transforms into an illuminated wonderland, with dazzling displays that could make anyone’s jaw drop. If you’ve got kids, they’ll no doubt be running around chasing glowing creatures and diving into stories told through lights.
It’s a mix of otherworldly vibes, groovy music, and, of course, some tasty grub. Local artists get to show off their skills, creating light artworks that could easily be from another dimension. Whether you’re there for the ‘gram or just to soak in the magic, the Festival of Light is a bright spot you won’t want to miss on the Isle of Wight’s festival list and event calendar.
18. Oktoberfest Isle of Wight
20th October 2023
Oktoberfest on the Isle of Wight isn’t just about lifting beer steins; it’s a full-on island-style bash with a German twist! Imagine the classic Bavarian tents, but on an island with coastal views.
As soon as you step in, the oompah bands get your feet tapping, and before you know it, you might be dancing on the benches. Local breweries serve up their takes on German brews alongside the traditional giants, while food includes bratwurst, pretzels, and if you’ve never tried a schnitzel by the seaside, here’s your chance.
With folks dressed up in lederhosen and dirndls, it feels like a Bavarian party, but with that laid-back Isle vibe. Whether you’re there for the beers, the beats, or just the epic atmosphere, Oktoberfest Isle of Wight is one “Prost!” you won’t forget.
Isle of Wight Festivals
One of the best things about the festivals in the Isle of Wight, is the fact that the beautiful location means you can make your festival experience into a proper holiday too. Whether you have a day on the Isle of Wight, a weekend, or longer, the beaches on the Isle of Wight are amazing, there are some great IoW restaurants and here are 58 Brilliant Things to Do on the Isle of Wight that you’ll never get done on your first trip.
I’ve been six times now, and with it being so easy to get across, I have no doubt I’ll be going again soon. Maybe for that beer and bus weekend? See you there!
What festivals are there on Isle of Wight?
The Isle of Wight is renowned for festivals. The most famous is the Isle of Wight Festival, which has seen legendary performances from artists like Jimi Hendrix. In addition to this, there are other events such as the Cowes Week sailing regatta, the Garlic Festival, the Walking Festival, and the Jazz Festival, among others.
How many Isle of Wight festivals were there?
The iconic Isle of Wight Festival began in 1968 and has been held almost annually since its revival in 2002. The original series of festivals were held in 1968, 1969, and famously in 1970. There have been many editions since its revival, making it one of the UK’s longest-running music festivals.
What is the capacity of the Isle of Wight festival?
The Isle of Wight Festival has seen various capacities over the years, depending on the venue and licensing agreements. As of 2023, the capacity was around 150,000 to 250,000 attendees.
How much does it cost to go to Isle of Wight Festival?
Ticket prices for the Isle of Wight Festival can vary based on the type of ticket (e.g., weekend vs. day ticket), any additional camping or VIP options, and the year. Early bird tickets for the 2024 festival were priced at £203.50 (inc booking fee), but prices range depending on camping options you choose.
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