It’s nearly here, that time all parents look forward to and dread in equal measure – the summer holidays! Thankfully, the Isle of Wight has so much going on that you can’t fail to find something to keep the kids entertained the whole summer long, from free to a fortune, there is something for everyone…
There are more family-friendly events than you can shake a stick (of rock) at this summer holiday. Treat the whole family to a ticket to a brand new festival – The Great Wonderfest. Hosted by teenage favourites Dick and Dom, there is something for everyone. Little ones will enjoy meeting Peppa Pig; tweens will be heading to the front for The Vamps; teenagers will be raving to Sigma and parents may well be found in The Lock Inn Pub.
Head to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway for a multitude of fun days with the kids including the popular Railway Folk. This year’s theme is the rootin’ tootin’ wild west so get stuck into street theatre, enjoy a steam train ride and even have a go at panning for gold!
Later in the summer, the 45th annual Island Steam Show is a must-visit for an action-packed weekend. Featuring live main arena display shows; climb aboard the traditional fairground rides, marvel at the fascinating working steam demonstrations and relish the sight of beautifully maintained traction engines, vintage cars, motorcycles and old wagons.
Step back in time at Carisbrooke Castle and experience amazing speed and skill as four legendary knights compete for honour and glory in the Grand Medieval Joust. Fully immersive, you will think you have been transported right back to Medieval times. There will be merry music, court jesters, cookery demonstrations and a range of crafts from yesteryear to discover.
Get Jungle Fever at Robin Hill this summer every Tuesday and Thursday with the park staying open until 10pm. Experience life-size animal puppets, jungle themed performances, live music and a whole lot more. There is also an adult only version of the event taking place on Saturday nights if you happen to find yourselves child-free.
Watch the skies light up and gaze in wonder at the many firework shows taking place across the summer. Non so hotly anticipated perhaps as the Cowes Fireworks, wrapping up the famous Cowes Week. Since the very earliest days of the regatta, a spectacular fireworks display has been held on the final Friday (this year it’s the 16th August). Red Funnel is offering a special ferry trip to the heart of the action, complete with Isle of Wight Radio and special guests on board.
For five weeks this summer, visit The Needles Landmark Attraction, open late every Thursday, for a non-stop party of games, live music and street entertainment, with a spectacular pyrotechnical finale lighting up the skies above famous Needles. Entry is free, just pay for parking or make a day of it with a Southern Vectis Breezer bus pass.
Blackgang Chine is well known for its summer firework show but has added even another night to its weekly programme of events with the famous Big Night Out event taking place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you thought Blackgang’s fireworks last year were impressive…wait until you see what’s in store this year!
For those days when the sun is shining and maybe your purse is feeling the summer holiday strain, a day at the beach is in order. Thankfully there are plenty to choose from on the island, depending on what you fancy.
If it’s a classic quintessential beach day you are after, then look no further than Sandown Bay. Covering the sands from Yaverland right through to Dunnose, there is plenty here for everyone. Golden sands give way to crystal waters and the flat promenade is lined with eateries, takeaways, bucket and spade shops plus plenty of sand-free entertainment when you’ve had enough. Try Sandown Pier as a great stop for the whole family.
For the complete opposite, head west. But make sure you are prepared as there is little here other than sand, sea and some amazing fossils and shipwrecks! Compton Bay is great for watersports and has a car park with an ice cream van and toilets; or further up the coast, Brook Beach has some of the Island’s best fossil finds and you can even see dinosaur footprints when the tide is right.
As with all beaches, safety is extremely important. For piece of mind, why not book the kids in for the RNLI’s free Swim Safe event, taking place in Sandown? The 60-minute session is open to those aged 7-14 and is run by qualified instructors and lifeguards. The session includes open water safety advice; up to 30 minutes in-water tuition with qualified instructors and all the right kit for swimming outdoors (including swimming hats, wetsuits, and flotation equipment).
Would it even be summer without the beat of the drums signifying the approaching carnival? Certainly not on the Isle of Wight, who host the UK’s oldest carnival in Ryde each year. Choose from kids carnivals, main processions and the late night illuminated, all taking place in pretty much every major town on the Island. Find the full list of carnivals here.