For a small(ish) island, there are so many festivals on the Isle of Wight for us to enjoy. 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.
Of course the world famous Isle of Wight festival tops the list, the one so readily associated with the island, for obvious reasons. But let’s take a look at the other Isle of Wight festivals worth making the hovercraft crossing over for.
Top festivals on the Isle of Wight
1. Isle of Wight Festival
When is Isle of Wight Festival? 11-14 June 2020
Where is Isle of Wight Festival? Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight
“Isle of Wight Festival is one of the UK’s longest-running music festivals, each year bringing over 90,000 music fans to the island for a weekend of rock, pop and dance.
Since its establishment in 1968, the now iconic festival has seen headline sets from legends such as Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and The Who. But one of the festival’s most fabled years has to be 1970, when an estimated 700,000 people turned up to see Jimi Hendrix, leading to the UK Parliament to pass a law banning the festival. It made its triumphant return in 2002.
Nowadays the Isle of Wight Festival still hosts its top-tier lineup. While the festival is also great for families, with the lineup including a diverse programme of theatre, film, comedy, activities and games.”
2. Awakening Festival
When is Awakening Festival? 6/7 June 2020
Where is Awakening Festival? Weston Manor House, Totland, Isle of Wight
“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
When is Isle of Wight Jazz Weekend? May / June
Where is the Isle of Wight Jazz Weekend?
“The Isle of Wight’s annual Jazz Festival. Five days of jazz in the County Town of Newport, featuring a wide range of styles and some of the best musicians from all around the UK. We also promote the best of local talent, alongside a jazz tuition course and many free and open air events. All details are on iwjazzweekend.co.uk.”
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4. Ventnor Fringe Festival
When is the Ventnor Fringe Festival? 28th July to 2nd August 2020
Where is Ventnor Fringe Festival?
“A 6 day wonderland of pop-up bars and boutique venues, featuring more than 300 artists from across the world!
Ventnor Fringe is the Isle of Wight’s unique multi award winning arts festival. Launched in 2010 as an intimate gathering of just 200 people the festival has grown to become one of the Island’s cultural highlights and now hosts hundreds of performances spanning theatre, comedy, cabaret, music and film screenings.
Remaining proudly independent and open to all, the Ventnor Fringe has become a hub for a creative community which welcomes visitors from all around the world. Where else could you catch a puppet show in a launderette, a midnight cellist concert in an 11th century chapel, morning yoga sessions in the park or a late night party on the Harbour!”
5. Wolverton Folk and Blues Festival
When is Wolverton Folk and Blues Festival? Saturday 16th May 2020
Where is Wolverton Folk and Blues Festival? Wolverton Manor, Isle of Wight
“A One Day Festival of Folk & Blues set in the scenic grounds of Wolverton Manor, Isle of Wight, raising funds for Leukaemia Research and Brighstone Primary School.
With an IW real ale beer tent, local food stalls, tea tent, children’s activities, craft stalls, Circus Skills and Morris Dancing, The Wolverton Folk & Blues Fair looks set to be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy top live music and great festival food, set against the backdrop of the beautiful West Wight scenery.”
6. Round the Island Race
When is Round the Island Race? Saturday 30 May 2020
Where is Round the Island Race? All around the Isle of Wight
“The annual Round the Island Race, organised by the Island Sailing Club, is a one-day yacht race around the Isle of Wight, an island situated off the south coast of England. The race regularly attracts over 1,400 boats and around 15,000 sailors, making it one of the largests yacht races in the world and the fourth largest participation sporting event in the UK after the London Marathon and the Great North and South Runs.
Competitors come from all over the UK, other parts of Europe and as far away as the USA to follow the 50 nautical mile course round the Isle of Wight. Starting on the famous Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes, the fleet races westabout, to The Needles, round St Catherine’s Point and Bembridge Ledge buoy, and back into the Solent to the finish line at Cowes.
Spectators can find many vantage points, both on the mainland and Isle of Wight, to watch the race progress.”
7. Rhythm Tree Festival
When is Rhythm Tree Festival? 10th to 12th July 2020
Where is Rhythm Tree Festival? Three Gates Farm, Shalfleet, Calbourne
“The Isle of Wight’s most original, fun-filled, family friendly festival returns to Calbourne for its 11th consecutive year.
With an unsurpassed reputation for bringing together a diverse, rich mix of high quality music and family entertainment, Rhythm Tree 2020 will showcase an increasingly diverse range of music with musicians from the Island, UK and beyond.
This safe, friendly, family oriented festival is held in beautiful, tree surrounded farmland, close to the West Wight Heritage Coast and free camping and parking are included in the weekend ticket price.”
When is Riverfest? Saturday 9th May 2020
Where is Riverfest? Newport
“Riverfest is a fun free community event which takes place every May in the heart of the Isle of Wight, Newport, the Island’s capital. The event has all the feel of a traditional village fete, with many free activities for children. Local charities attend promoting the work they do in the community, helping people and the local environment. You can find out about the Island’s unique ecology and discover what lurks in the mud in the Medina river, thanks to the crew from the Medina Valley Centre!”
9. Island Highland Gathering
When is Island Highland Gathering? 21 July 2019
Where is Island Highland Gathering? Northwood House
“Celebrating the sights and sounds of the Scottish Highlands, Northwood House makes a great setting for this unique annual Island event. With a number of UK’s best pipe and drum bands competing throughout the day, visitors are assured of a spectacle of Scottish culture, with additional fun provided by a mini Highland games event and re-enactment groups. The event raises funds for Northwood House Charitable Trust and ‘Challenge and Adventure’ a charity for local disadvantaged young people.”
10. Isle of Wight Carnival and Mardi Gras
When is Isle of Wight Carnival? 26th June 2020
Where is Isle of Wight Carnival?
“The Isle of Wight Mardi Gras, held in Ryde every last Saturday in June, is the company’s flagship event and showcases the very best of children and young people’s carnival experience through learning, creating and performance. We work closely with schools and colleges in the development of the event and the processes which contribute to it.”
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11. Cowes Week
When is Cowes Week? 10-17 August 2019
Where is Cowes Week? Cowes
“Since 1826 Cowes Week has played a key part in the British sporting summer calendar and is one of the UK’s longest running and most successful sporting events. It now stages up to 40 daily races for around 1,000 boats and is the largest sailing regatta of its kind in the world.
The event offers a great mix of competitive sailing and social activities. The 8,500 competitors range from Olympic and world class professionals to weekend sailors. In excess of 100,000 spectators come to watch the sailing, enjoy the parties and live entertainment, and to experience the unique atmosphere. It is genuinely a one-of-a-kind event.”
12. Garlic Festival
When is Isle of Wight Garlic Festival? 15-16 August 2020
Where is Isle of Wight Garlic Festival? The Fighting Cocks Crossroads, Newchurch
“Since 1983, The Isle of Wight Garlic Festival has been held on the third weekend in August every year at our site at The Fighting Cocks Crossroads, just outside of Newchurch. Attended by families young and old, the Island’s Biggest Summer show plays host to star chefs, musicians, local charities and businesses and more from far and wide. With live music, children’s activities and lots of garlic, the show is not to be missed!
At the heart of the festival is of course Britain’s most loved and pungent bulb, garlic! Grown right here on the Isle of Wight, in Newchurch by the multi award-winning Garlic Farm. Working with the farm we are able to offer a truly magnificent garlic experience. You’ll find it everywhere, to eat, drink and buy!”
13. The Great Wonderfest Festival
When is Wonderfest Festival? 6th to 10th August 2020
Where is Wonderfest Festival? Duxmore Farm, the Downs Road
“The Great Wonderfest is a brand new family festival on the Isle of Wight, hosted by popular TV entertainers Dick & Dom and featuring performances from The Vamps, Busted and Sigma.
The festival’s first edition will feature a fun-filled weekend of entertainment, including live music from pop acts and DJs, as well as performances from magicians, comedians and TV stars that’ll have the little ones captivated.
What’s more, Wonderfest will also be laying on a host of outdoor games across the four days, serving up a debut festival of pure and immersive fun.
On the festival, Dick & Dom said: “It’s a dream come true that we’ll be hosting our own festival. The Great Wonderfest will be the ultimate family festival with a stellar line up of live acts, DJs, family shows, TV stars and even magic, variety and cabaret! See you in 2019 for our family festival wonderland!”
16. Isle of Wight Beer and Bus Weekend
When is Isle of Wight Beer and Bus Weekend? 12-13 October 2019
Where is Isle of Wight Beer and Bus Weekend?
“The island wide event attracts up to 100 Classic Buses to the island, running a free network of bus services connecting up to 100 hostelries serving Real Ales.
A selection of walks between the pubs has also been prepared by the organisers.
Operating from The Quay at Newport, the Bus Museum at Ryde, with interchanges at Shanklin, Ventnor and Yarmouth. This event attracts over 14,000 visitors.”
17. Isle of Wight Literary Festival
When is Isle of Wight Literary Festival? 10-13 October 2019
Where is Isle of Wight Literary Festival? Northwood House, East Cowes
Isle of Wight Literary Festival Official Website
“The Red Funnel Isle of Wight Literary Festival and established event on the UK Arts calendar is now in its 7th year and provides a far reaching eclectic programme designed to attract a wide audience and increase the cultural richness of the Isle of Wight.
Hosted at Northwood House, Cowes over 4 days 60+ writers and presenters will share their latest works. Topics includes crime fiction, history, travel, maritime adventure, gardening, medicine, technology and the social and political issues of our time. From first time novelists to seasoned historians – speakers passionate about their subject will share insights and information.
The festival is a not for profit organisations run a charity (IWLF Charity Ltd) relying on the generous support of sponsors, benefactors and friends, and staffed by volunteers.”
18. Hops Festival
When is Isle of Wight Hops Festival? 22 September 2019
Where is Isle of Wight Hops Festival? Ventnor Botanical Garden
“A unique day celebrating the harvest of our own hops grown in the garden – the only hops grown on the Isle of Wight. This day includes live music, a BBQ, and most importantly, beer tasting! A great excuse to celebrate by drinking beer and enjoying local food and local music.”
19. Jack up the Summer Festival
When is Jack Up the Summer Festival? 7-9 August 2020
Where is Jack Up the Summer Festival? North Fairlee Farm, Newport
“Jack Up The 80s is renowned for being one big Summer party and that’s the true essence of what people love about it. Now there’s fabulous news for party-goers as this hugely popular event is broadening its appeal to allow for a richer variety of music.
Returning now as ‘Jack Up The Summer’ in its traditional slot this August, this much loved family friendly throwback festival will continue to celebrate the upbeat, hand-clapping music of yesteryear, centred around party hits and feel-good music from the 80s and 90s.”
20. Isle of Wight Proms
When is Isle of Wight Proms? 17-19th July 2020
Where is Isle of Wight Proms? Northwood House, Cowes
Isle of Wight Proms Official Website
“Since the huge success of the inaugural ‘Wight Proms’ in 2018, festival organisers have been working hard to bring yet another all-star line-up to the Isle of Wight, when the festival returns in August later this year:
They will also be joined by West End stars (Saturday), the Wight Proms Concert Orchestra (Sunday) and Island Support Acts including Company B-UK, Theatretrain, The Rockafellas and Winners of the IOW Music, Dance & Drama Festival.
The 4-day festival has quickly established itself as one of the ‘must-do’ events on the Island, which returns on 29th August to 1st September 2019, in the grounds of the Grade II* listed Georgian Northwood House, in Cowes.”
21. Festival of Light
When is the Festival of Light? 27th September to 2nd November
Where is the Festival of Light? Robin Hill Country Park
Festival of Light Official Website
“The Epic Electro-Light Circus is back!
Bringing the Hindu festival of Diwali into a new age, you’ll find yourself marvelling at the epic Electro-Light Circus, returning more intense than before! The incredible show featuring mind-boggling light tricks, acrobatics and circus skills is a must-see this autumn!
Lush colours, flavours and sounds.
As dusk settles across the park, immerse yourself in the nocturnal awakening of Robin Hill’s ancient woodland at the Festival of Light, inspired by Diwali. Discover the lush colours, flavours and sounds of the Asian sub-continent, as you venture on a spirited journey of wonder through Indian-inspired experiences.
Amidst all the exciting activity, take time to enjoy the authentic Indian menu of curries and kebabs, Asian sweet treats and traditional teas, providing a true taste of India.
Colour powder party!”
22. Oktoberfest Isle of Wight
When is Oktoberfest? 4th October 2019
Where is Oktoberfest? Puckpool Park
“Puckpool Park will be hosting one of the worlds most famous Bavarian Beer Festivals in October.
You can expect an evening full of traditional Bavarian drinks, food, music, entertainment & of course.. an Oompah Band.
Our Bavarian DJ will host the event playing music from start to finish, and we have the amazing Bierkeller Boys providing entertainment with their oompah band throughout the evening. Authentic German Beers and a selection of traditional food, including freshly made Pretzels, Bratwursts, Roast Chicken Schweinshaxe, Sauerkraut and lots more..”
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!