The Isle of Wight may be a small place compared to cities like London and Liverpool, but there’s so much culture and things to experience here that size really doesn’t matter! It’s such a great place for tourists to visit because no matter what time of the year you come there’s bound to be a festival or two – with local, national and international guests and headliners – focusing on some fascinating subject or another.
Our small size also means it’s really easy to get to know the Isle. Regular transport links to both Portsmouth and Southampton mean that we’re easily reachable from mainland UK and our festival weekends are a great way to take a holiday without having to go too far afield.
There’s also plenty of accommodation to choose from, whether you want to stay in comfort or rough it up on a campsite. Obviously all of the major festivals offer onsite camping, but you can elevate your outdoor sleeping experience by glamping in a yurt. If you’re more traditional in your sleeping arrangements don’t worry, we’ve got hotels to suit every budget on the island as well as some great holiday homes.
So, without further ado, here are five of our best and most quintessentially Isle of Wight festivals to visit in 2020.
The Wight Proms
This four-day festival is not just a music event, it’s truly a celebration of all things Isle of Wight.
Taking place in the picturesque grounds of Northwood House, a Grade II listed Georgian mansion, Wight Proms features homegrown musical acts, delicious food, celebrates our local people and even offers a glimpse of our notoriously shy naive red squirrels.
If you prefer your festivals to be a bit more action-packed, the historic Cowes Week could be just what you’re looking for. Held every year in August, this sailing festival is actually one of the oldest sailing events in the world and attracts a whole host of celebrities and famous faces.
The Round the Island Race is the most famous event in the festival, attracting some of the best sailors from across the globe as well as plenty of keen amateurs and local professionals. Even if you’d prefer to stay on dry land, it’s quite a spectacle and a great way to spend a lazy day.
Isle of Wight Walking Festival
What better way to explore the Isle of Wight than the annual Walking Festival? Taking place over a two week period during late spring, there are over 100 walks to join during the festival, covering all manner of terrain and suitable for everyone from random ramblers to the most dedicated hikers.
Isle of Wight
This is the music festival by which our festival scene has come to be defined. Unlike other major annual festivals like Glastonbury – which is itself a celebration of Contemporary Performing Arts like dance, theatre, cabaret, circus, etc – leading pop and rock artists take the headline spots and music fans are already guessing who will be 2020’s major acts, the Isle of Wight Festival has its roots in the counterculture.
The first edition of the Isle of Wight Festival was in 1968 and in 1969, the festival was headlined by none other than Bob Dylan and the Band – his first real performance in three years – while the 1970 festival set a brand new record for the most people in attendance, over 600,000 by estimate. The line-up that year included musical luminaries like Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Who, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and, of course, Jethro Tull.
Since then, the festival has been headlined by some of the very best acts and bands in contemporary music, including Depeche Mode, Garbage, Faithless, Foo Fighters, Sex Pistols, The Prodigy, Rolling Stones, David Bowie…the list is endless!
Isle of Wight Mardi Gras
And finally, Mardi Gras. It may be a Louisiana tradition, but we’ve really made it our own here on the Isle of Wight. Taking place on the last Saturday of June every year, the Isle of Wight Mardi Gras celebrates traditional carnival, Latin and Caribbean culture and our very own arts scene. So here they are, some of the most fascinating events and festivals you should look out for next year!