Reviewed by Leigh Jackman
The Isle of Wight festival has to be one of the top iconic events on everyone’s bucket lists. 50 years since the festival began and no Glastonbury this year, sun shining, this year’s Isle of Wight festival had all the makings of being an event of a lifetime. If you are a hardcore music fan it wouldn’t have disappointed.
Unashamedly a rock festival at its core it seemed to lack some of the entertainment add ons and comfort that you get at some of the more modern festivals but the music made up for the lack. Every genre was covered and sensibly the line up provided the lighter music at more age appropriate times so the kids could enjoy themselves. For me discovering Suzanne Vega on the rock cafe stage was a real highlight and the electro love tent just poured out good tunes and fantastic tribute bands.
The line up ran through ages providing a plethora of top music. Killers, Van Morrison, Camila Cabell, Depeche Mode. Nile Rogers. Definitely something for everyone but in reality it meant a lot of stage hopping to keep your personal preferences partying.
Travelling to the event seemed well organised and well executed. There are multiple ferry options from Southampton and Portsmouth and direct buses from the ferry ports. Car parking was efficient but the calls from the cheery parking attendants that it was just a ten minute walk felt slightly misleading when in fact ten minutes got you to the edge of the festival and it was actually just under 5km to the main stage. At times the ribbon type layout did feel more like Walk the Wight than a chilled out festival experience. There is an extra cost for the car parking so worth taking some extra cash for that.
Security was relaxed and chatty a little pat down and that was it. They joked with the children and really helped get you in the festival mood.
We didn’t camp but from what I heard from those that did it is advisable to upgrade your campsite as much as you can afford ‘love camping being one of the more recommended ones. It’s not quite as far to walk to the campsite but it’s still a major hike.
There was a vast array of food stalls ranging from your traditional burger van to the more modern street food providers. It did feel very commercial with only a few giving that extra pizazz. Dollies donuts was a sweet exception and the Isle of Wight’s garlic farm was well worth a visit. Gluten free and vegan options were widely available and truly delicious.
The dreaded toilet question has to be answered and to be honest they weren’t too bad. They seemed to be cleaned fairly regularly and I only had a couple of gagable experiences. Take your own loo roll and wet wipes though these seems to run out as quickly as they were pull in.
From the size of the festival the litter pick up was a monumental task and they were fairly effective. The only unexplainable exception to this was the field of dreams which looked like a post apocalyptic version of its name. The Festival organisers made a good effort to encourage recycling and environmental behaviour sadly this seemed to go mostly and heeded.
I wouldn’t say it’s a children friendly festival, the long walk and the crowds meant a fair bit of whinging and ice cream bribery occurred to get them as far as the main stage. By the time we had got there they had had enough and we listened to a quick number and back we headed. We stopped off at the kids field and despite the best efforts of the craft people it felt like an afterthought. Having their own stage in the space was a nice touch and it was good to see young local performers and a very engaging performance from Huxley the magician. The festival is a series of stages wrapped around a fun fair which had serious cost implications at what seemed inflated prices. But much fun was had by everyone.
Having teenagers that were determined to roam free I was concerned as we met gangs of lads loaded with alcohol as we walked in. Surprisingly my fears were completely unfounded and I was able to witness numerous acts of random kindness and care to fellow partiers. Meeting up was difficult as the phone signal was appalling, we resorted to regular arranged meet ups which was a little tiresome. Especially as my phone went missing on Friday night an event that could have devastated my weekend had it not surprisingly been returned the next morning.
So if you are a hard core music fan then this is the event for you. Don a pair of comfortable walking shoes, load up with your loo essentials and party like its 1968!
The Isle of Wight Festival will be back from 13-16 June 2019, for more information or to buy tickets visit isleofwightfestival.com.