The Island is well known for events, but often it’s the Isle of Wight Festival and Cowes Week with their national and international draw, that first spring to mind. With the absence of Bestival this year, some could be forgiven for thinking that’s it for the event season.
However, delve a little deeper and a whole treasure trove of hidden gems are just waiting to be discovered. The Isle of Wight, as even the most casual of visitor will tell you, is a place of such diverse attractions, that while major events jostle for world-wide acclaim and attention, a brace of smaller, but exquisitely formed festivals and get-togethers, deserve some serious attention.
Here is our pick of where you should be this summer:
Those seeking out a slightly more left-field and quirky event on the Isle of Wight would be justly rewarded by the wide range of music, arts, crafts, historical, sporting and food and drinks fairs on offer. Fans of family-friendly music festivals will be enthralled by Rhythm Tree, now in its 8th year, returning to picturesque Three Gates Farm at Calbourne, nearby to the West Wight’s beautiful Heritage Coast.
Boasting a great alternative line up of independent, multicultural performers including The Blockheads, The Voodoo Love Orchestra and local band The Ohmz; local food and drink stalls, as well as entertainment for children, all situated in idyllic tree-surrounded farmland, with camping and parking all included in the weekend ticket price, Rhythm Tree is a refreshing alternative to the bigger festivals and an opportunity to support something with a genuine independent spirit.
14th, 15th, 16th July rhythmtree.co.uk
Jack Up The 80s
You don’t have to have been born or even have been alive in the 80s to appreciate the fun associated with the decade’s music and (questionable) fashion! Jack Up The 80s offers a family-festival friendly atmosphere with the emphasis firmly placed on fun, and a feel-good factor in raising money for local causes. With your help, they managed to raise over £10,000 for Island charities at JUT80s 2016!
Attendees to the festival continue to embrace the 80s theme and as the past years have shown, there is a real passion for reliving the good times of Frankie Says and Choose Life t-shirts, fluorescent headbands, leg warmers, legendary blockbuster movies and of course, great music and acts like Jason Donovan, Right said Fred and Alexander O’Neal.
12th & 13th August jackupthe80s.co.uk
Ventnor Fringe & Ventnor International Festival
If a trip up to Edinburgh this summer for a fix of Fringe Arts and Culture feels like a journey too far north, then look no further than the southern coast of the Isle of Wight. The Ventnor Fringe returns with a heady mixture of pop-up cinema screenings, music gigs in non-traditional venues, interactive and immersive events, as well as a range of watering holes. This eclectic festival encourages work from all over the world from already established and emerging artists. As one of the Isle of Wight’s most vibrant Arts festivals, Ventnor Fringe was established in 2010 by a team of local students and young people. Since then, it has attracted awards and plaudits, attracting over 300 performers and artists.
Created by the team behind the critically acclaimed Ventnor Fringe, Ventnor International Festival (VIF) is the Isle of Wight’s unique take on the metropolitan/city based music festival. Featuring a carefully curated line up of the most exciting emerging artists from across the UK and beyond, it’s a place to discover the next big thing. A single ticket provides access to a whole range of interesting venues, from warehouses to churches, spanning rock, garage, electronic, hip hop and jazz. Held to coincide with the Ventnor Fringe, it’s the best time of the year to discover the Island’s blossoming cultural scene.
8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th & 13th August vfringe.ventnorexchange.co.uk
For laid-back fun in the (hopefully) sun, V-Dub Island is a chilled event that’s part music festival, and part meeting point for lovers of Volkswagens, of all types. The seventh V-Dub Island takes place at Fairlee Farm on the Isle of Wight and the fancy dress theme for this year is ‘nautical neon’. Expect to find a huge range of Volkswagen’s, from the rusty buckets up to the mint conditions and everything in between. Even if VW is not your thing, the live music from some of the world’s best tribute acts, ‘Run to the Surf’ and ‘Cooking in a Camper’ competition plus dedicated kids events and area should guarantee a fun-filled weekend for the whole family.
11th, 12th, 13th August v-dubisland.com
Bestival may have bid them farewell, but Robin Hill are making the most of their stunning woodland location and putting on their own festival, new for 2017. Eklectica is a festival with a twist. World-renowned tribute acts such as Elton John, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and One Direction will take the stage, alongside home-grown talent, circus performers and comedy acts.
9th & 10th September Eklectica.live
So, this summer season, why not take the road less travelled on the Isle of Wight? There are a wealth of unique events and festivals just waiting for you to discover them. Get exploring, get involved and get inspired.