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Party at the Isle of Wight Festival in 2016

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With the Isle of Wight Festival just around the corner (June 9-12), we asked Robbie from holiday website Isle of Wight Guru to give his thoughts on the festival, past and present.

After effects of the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival

I’m convinced there are still a few revellers who never left the Isle of Wight after the much-discussed 1970 pop festival. Estimates seem to vary wildly, but even conservative guesses suggest there were 300,000 people at the event which was held at Afton in the West Wight, with some more generous estimates putting the number at 600,000 or 700,000. Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and Joni Mitchell were amongst the remarkable line-up, now remembered with a statue of Hendrix at Dimbola Lodge in Freshwater.

As everyone knows, the impact of the event was such that the powers that be decided to put a stop to the high jinks and the fields were handed back to the cows.

Isle of Wight Festival re-opens with modern conveniences

More than three decades later, the final piece of litter had finally been picked up, and the festival was rebooted in a new location in Newport. Romantic old hippies will tell you that it isn’t the same nowadays, since modern festivals come with such conveniences as glamping, portaloos and ATMs. I can’t imagine many of the free spirited festival goers of 1970 worried too much about sun cream, and they certainly didn’t spend the weekend looking for somewhere to charge their phone.

But taking such an attitude would have meant missing out on some pretty sensational acts at Seaclose Park over the last decade and a half. Organisers have quite rightly exploited the Festival’s history and persuaded a series of ‘heritage’ acts to perform, including Sir Paul McCartney, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen. They’ve also persuaded an impressive list of more recent names to headline including Jay-Z, Coldplay, Blur, The Strokes, Muse, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Kings of Leon and The Killers.

Isle of wight Festival stage 2016

Acts to keep an eye out for in 2016

A new name will be added to that list in June 2016 when Queen and Adam Lambert headline on Sunday night, along with return appearances from The Who, Stereophonics and Faithless. Further down the running order, there’s a real mix of bands-which-you-thought-had-split up along with modern day acts which you’ll have heard of if you are cooler than me.

For me, the highlight will be Iggy Pop who is somehow still utterly brilliant and dancing around the stage with more energy than a toddler. Along similar lines(ish), there are appearances from Buzzcocks, The Damned and Busted (sorry, that last one shouldn’t really have slipped in there).

I’m also looking forward to reminiscing about those simple mobile-phone free days of the mid and late 90s with the likes of Reef, Richard Ashcroft, Ocean Colour Scene, Cast, Feeder and The Wonderstuff. I may even go the whole hog and dig out my jeans with holes in the knees.

More modern acts like Jess Glynne, Everything Everything and The Kills are also appearing, alongside various bands I’ve not heard of but which have probably had several number one albums and have got more Twitter followers than Barack Obama.

Now, let’s start praying for sunshine…

isle of wight festival 2016

How to get there:

  • There are car ferries to the Isle of Wight from Southampton, Portsmouth and Lymington provided by Red Funnel and Wightlink. Crossing time is between 45 minutes and an hour and there are money-saving deals for ferry and festival tickets or ferry and accommodation.
  • You can travel as a foot passenger from Portsmouth Harbour, Lymington, Southsea or Southampton. Crossing time is between 10 minutes and 45 minutes.
  • If you’re travelling by train, you’ll want to aim for Portsmouth Harbour, Lymington Pier or Southampton Central
  • All of the ferries link up with buses which will get you to the festival site, which is in Newport

Isle of Wight Festival top tips

  • Use a travel backpack, the ground gets muddy and lugging around a suitcase is not fun!
  • Buy cans of alcohol, no glass is allowed on the festival site
  • Newport is a 20-minute walk from the main festival site. You’ll be up early in the morning so will have plenty of time to head into town to stock up on food, drink and wellies in case you forgot yours.
  • Consider joining the official car-share scheme, and you’ll be able to park in a reserved car park nearer to the Festival site.

For a full list of the acts playing at the festival, please see the Isle of Wight Festival line up. If you’re looking for accommodation for the festival, Rookley Country Park is less than a 20 minute walk away. Our parks in Rookley, St Helen’s and Colwell Bay are featured in Isle of Wight Guru’s guide to the best holiday parks on the Isle of Wight.