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The Definitive Guide to the Isle of Wight Festival

Photograph of the blog post author, Richard Gilbert-Cross

Richard Gilbert-Cross


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Isle of Wight Festival

The Isle of Wight Festival is one of the most iconic music festivals in the world, attracting thousands of music lovers from all over the globe every year. Since its inception in 1968, the festival has seen some of the biggest names in music take to the stage, including Jimi Hendrix, The Who, David Bowie, and Fleetwood Mac, among many others.

In recent years, the festival has continued to grow in popularity, with a diverse lineup that caters to a wide range of musical tastes. From rock and indie to pop and electronic, there is something for everyone at the Isle of Wight Festival.

However, with so much to see and do, planning a trip to the festival can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together this definitive guide to the Isle of Wight Festival to help you make the most of your experience. From the best places to stay and eat to tips for getting around the festival site and making the most of the lineup, this guide has everything you need to know to have an unforgettable time at the Isle of Wight Festival. So, whether you’re a seasoned festival-goer or a first-timer, read on to discover everything you need to know about this legendary event.

Isle of Wight Festival History

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The first Isle of Wight Festival took place in 1968. The event was during the peak of counterculture, an anti-establishment movement which protested the ongoing war in Vietnam. The festival was organised by brothers Ronnie, Ray and Bill Foulk.

The first event featured performances from legendary artists such as Jefferson Airplane, The Move and T. Rex. 10,000 attendees gathered for performances at three island venues: Afton Down, Ford Farm and Wootton.

The festival gained significant attention and popularity when it returned in 1969. By this time, it had expanded dramatically in scale, attracting an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 attendees.

Eleven days previously, New York hosted the 1969 Woodstock Festival, changing the world of music forever. Fresh off the back of Woodstock, organisers hoped to surpass the festival from across the water. They did not disappoint. The lineup included legendary acts such as Bob Dylan & The Band, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix, who delivered what would be one of his final performances before his untimely death.

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Despite the euphoria of the 1969 show, the festival’s 1970 incarnation is probably the most famous in the festival’s history. The celebrations at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 were legendary, with approximately 600,000 people attending. At the time, some claimed the event to be one of the largest human gatherings ever seen.

The lineup remains one of the most star-studded in history, far surpassing the original Isle of Wight Festival lineup in 1968. Performing artists include Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, The Doors, The Who and Leonard Cohen.

Academy Award-nominated director Murray Lerner was present with a film crew to record this unique, once-in-a-lifetime lineup. After legal wrangles, the recording finally saw the light of day in 1996.

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Isle of Wight Festival Rebirth

Following a 32-year hiatus, the Isle of Wight Festival returned in 2002, with John Giddings reviving the event to recapture the spirit of the original festival while catering to modern music tastes. Headliners in 2002 included The Charlatans and Robert Plant.

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After taking a break in 2020 due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the festival has since resumed, with the next event being Isle of Wight Festival 23.

Iconic Isle of Wight Festival Performances

The Isle of Wight Festival has hosted numerous memorable and popular performances throughout its history. Here are some of the performances that many regard to be iconic festival moments:

  1. Bob Dylan (1969): Bob Dylan’s appearance at the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival marked his return to the stage after a hiatus following a motorcycle crash. His performance was met with mixed reactions but remains significant in the festival’s history.
  2. Jimi Hendrix (1970): Jimi Hendrix’s performance at the 1970 festival turned out to be one of his last before his untimely death just a few weeks later. It is often cited as one of his most powerful and memorable shows.
  3. The Who (1970): The Who’s set at the 1970 festival is widely regarded as one of their most electrifying performances. The band’s high-energy performance and Pete Townshend’s guitar-smashing finale became legendary.
  4. David Bowie (2004): David Bowie headlined the Isle of Wight Festival in 2004, delivering a captivating and career-spanning performance in what was to be his final full UK show. It was one of the festival’s highlights and a memorable moment for Bowie fans.
  5. Bruce Springsteen (2012): Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s performance in 2012 is considered one of the festival’s standout moments. Springsteen’s energetic marathon set, along with his charismatic crowd interaction, created an incredible atmosphere.
  6. The Rolling Stones (2007 and 2013): The Rolling Stones headlined the festival twice, in 2007 and 2013. Their performances were highly anticipated, and both sets showcased the enduring power and charisma of the legendary rock band.
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Isle of Wight Festival 2022

The Isle of Wight Festival 2022 was one of the most popular ever! Headliners included Lewis Capaldi, Muse, Kasabian and Pete Tong. Other acts performing over the weekend included Lionel Richie, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Blossoms, and Ten Grennan.

The wide variety of genres celebrated at the event ensured that the Isle of Wight Festival 22 lineup was one of the most eclectic yet.

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Where Is the Isle of Wight Festival?

Isle of Wight

The festival takes place on the Isle of Wight, an island off England’s south coast. The Isle of Wight Festival location is Seaclose Park, near Newport, the island’s capital. The site itself is huge, so make sure you familiarise yourself with the location before going. You can view an Isle of Wight Festival map on the festival’s app, which can be downloaded to a smart device.

How Do You Travel to the Isle of Wight Festival?

Despite the festival being on an island, attendees have plenty of travel options.

You can travel to the island via boat from one of four mainland ferry ports at Southampton, Portsmouth, Lymington or Southsea. Once you’ve landed, you can travel to the festival via roads or train lines.

If you wish to travel using the bus, Big Green Coach are currently the official coach partner for the festival. They can pick you up from many UK cities, including London, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool. Not only do they get you to the island, they will even drop you off on the festival grounds.

Isle of Wight Festival Tickets

Isle of Wight Festival 2023 tickets are £225 for the weekend. Student and Teen tickets are £195, with Islander tickets available for locals at the price of £170.

Campervan tickets are £240, while Campervan With Power tickets are available for £390. 

The festival also offers Day tickets, VIP tickets and Ticket & Coach Travel packages. Furthermore, visitors can ‘Pimp Your Package’ with various extras, including Mobile Lockers and Luxury Showers & Loos.

How Can You Buy Isle of Wight Festival Tickets?

If you wish to buy an Isle of Wight Festival ticket, only book with official ticket agents as approved by the festival. The current authorised ticket agents are Ticketmaster, The Price Is Wight, and Big Green Coach.

Tickets usually go on sale online several months before the festival begins. The official Isle of Wight Festival 2023 tickets went on sale in November 2022, a few days after the announcement of the festival headliners.

When purchasing a ticket, you can pay upfront or spread the cost over several months with a payment plan.

Isle of Wight Festival Lineup

The headliners for this year’s event are Pulp, George Ezra, The Chemical Brothers, and Robbie Williams. The remaining Isle of Wight Festival 2023 lineup includes Manic Street Preachers, The Human League, and Echo & The Bunnymen.

To view the full lineup, visit the Isle of Wight Festival timetable on the festival’s website.

Isle of Wight Festival Facilities

The Isle of Wight Festival hosts many stages, hospitality options and accommodation choices to ensure that attendees are able to enjoy their visit. Here are the areas throughout the Isle of Wight 23:

River Stage: This stage hosts up-and-coming acts.

Cirque de la Quirk: An area featuring a performance stage, workshops and games.

Octopus’ Garden: Premium on-site food and drink.

Kashmir Cafe: A drop-in cafe run by volunteers. The Kashmir Cafe has a stunning beer garden where you can enjoy performances washed down with real ale, cherry beer and fresh coffee.

The Intoxicated Tea Rooms: A tent featuring a secret cabaret club, burlesque performances, live bands, DJs, swing dance sets workshops and a fun mariachi band.

Electro Love: A party tent with a focus on electronic music.

Hipshaker Lounge: A party tent where you can dance endlessly to groove and funk music. The tent relaxes during the daytime and cranks the atmosphere up a few notches at night with live bands and DJ sets.

This Feeling: The stage where you can spot the next future headliners. Previous performers include The Struts, Catfish and The Bottlemen, Blossoms and Trampolene.

Kidzone: A new area with craft tents, dress-up competitions, and the ‘Kidz Got Talent!’ contest.

Platform One Stage: A stage programmed and run by Platform One College of Music, an independent non-profit music college.

Isle of Wight Festival Accommodation

Isle of Wight Festival Camping

Isle of Wight Festival camping is notoriously fun. Fortunately, the festival has many options for accommodation.

Camping & Camping Plus

This option includes standing camping tickets, plus the Respect Campsite (a dedicated ‘quiet zone’), Love Your Tent (a sustainable environmentally-driven campsite on a private field), Luxury Camping, Accessible Camping, Family Camping and On-Site Campervans.

Boutique Camping

Festival-goers have boutique camping options such as Harvest Moon Boutique (a luxurious camping option with an on-site oasis and restaurant), Tipi Terrace (with Yurts and Tipis), Lakeside Lodge (a new boutique camping offering in classic bell tents) and the Pink Moon Village (pre-pitched tents with fancy toilets and pamper parlour).

Luxury Backstage Camping

Located behind the festival’s Main Stage, this is for those who wish to camp in style. The luxury tents offer Chesterfield sofas, Persian rugs and comfortable beds with Egyptian cotton sheets.

Regular on-site camping is included with all weekend tickets. However, the above luxury camping options do not include Isle of Wight Festival tickets, so you must ensure you purchase your festival ticket as well.

Off-site Options

Anybody wishing to spend the night away from the festival can choose from a variety of Airbnb lodgings, holiday cottages or even a vintage airstream. The festival works with the Visit Isle of Wight tourism website for off-site accommodation.

What Can You Bring to the Isle of Wight Festival?

If you’re travelling to the festival, knowing what to pack and what to leave at home is important. If you’re camping, remember to bring your tent and enough clothes for your stay.

The festival advises that glass, animals, illegal substances, and many more items should not be brought in. Always check the official website if you are unsure what not to bring.

Additional Isle of Wight Festival Tips

There is so much to know in preparation for the Isle of Wight Festival, but not all of it is listed on the festival’s website. So we’ve written some handy tips below to help ensure you get the most out of your festival experience:

Bring Cash

It is always a risk bringing cash to a festival. However, the ATM queues are notoriously busy, so always make sure you have some spare cash handy for those moments you could really do without a long queue.

Bring a Good Tent

It can be tempting to stick to a small budget when purchasing your tent. Remember, though, if your tent is too inexpensive, it could fall apart.

Try to invest in a moderately-priced tent that won’t collapse the moment there’s a gust of wind. If you have time, do your research.

Bring Wellies

It might be summer in Britain, but don’t take the sunshine for granted!

Summer festivals in Britain are notorious for downpours. Nobody wants to spend half of the festival hiding in their tent just in case their Converse get too muddy.

Don’t Forget a Rain Mac or Poncho!

Whilst ponchos are hardly the fashion accessory of the century, they can protect you from the elements very effectively, ensuring you look your best for those amazing evening parties!

Who Is Playing at the Isle of Wight Festival 2024?

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Whilst the line-up for the summer festival is not officially announced until the autumn, sites such as eFestivals are always awash with the latest rumours and in-the-know tips. Following a number of Isle of Wight Festival 2023 rumours, the headliners for this year were announced on the official website on 31st October 2022, with tickets going on sale in early November 2022.

However, it is always best to wait for the official announcements. Unlike festivals such as Glastonbury, The Isle of Wight Festival announces its headliners just before tickets go on sale so that people can prepare in advance.

Final Thoughts

Festival goers

The Isle of Wight Festival is a must-visit event for music lovers and festival-goers alike. With its rich history dating back to the 1960s, the festival has consistently attracted some of the biggest names in the music industry. From legendary acts like The Who and Jimi Hendrix to modern-day superstars like Ed Sheeran and George Ezra, the festival has something for everyone.

Aside from the music, the festival offers a unique and unforgettable experience. The stunning location on the Isle of Wight, combined with the vibrant atmosphere and friendly crowd, makes for a truly magical weekend. Whether you’re camping on-site or staying in a nearby hotel, the festival provides a sense of community and camaraderie that is hard to find elsewhere.

Furthermore, the festival organisers have done an excellent job of ensuring that there is something for everyone. From the main stage to the smaller tents and stages, there is a diverse range of music and entertainment on offer. Additionally, the festival has a strong focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness, making it a responsible and conscientious choice for festival-goers.

Overall, the Isle of Wight Festival is a fantastic event that should be on every music lover’s bucket list. With its rich history, stunning location, and diverse lineup, it offers an unforgettable experience that is not to be missed.


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