Things to do

Autumn events on the Isle of Wight

While the air has cooled and the beaches are quieter, autumn on the Isle of Wight is still a busy time. We remain committed to the surrounding sea, but literature, art and culture also come to the fore as the leaves fall from the trees.

Cowes Small Ships Race, 6 October

If sailing floats your boat, then the Cowes Small Ship Race on Saturday 6 October is a must see. Approximately 25 vessels this year are crewed by young and disabled people, many of whom have never sailed before. The so-called “small ships” are real beauties, sporting billowing sails and hulls that bring to mind any number of maritime paintings.

Watching the small ships sailing around the island make for a great day out on a sunny October day.

Isle of Wight Literary Festival, 11 to 14 October

Located in the iconic sailing town of Cowes, the Isle of Wight Literary Festival celebrates authors, while the surrounding sea and shore become a beautiful footnote. The various talks, book signings and even a “Fizz Quiz” take place in the spectacular confines of Northwood House. In addition, The Royal Yacht Squadron hosts at least one of the Lit Fest chit chats and no matter the topic, my advice is get a ticket. The RYS is a members-only organization, but opens its doors to Literary Fest goers each year. It’s a remarkable place of interest to readers and sailors alike.

Waiting to get our book signed by the author at the Isle of Wight literary festival in October.

Photo credit: Christine Taylor


IOW Classic Buses, Beer and Walks Weekend, 13 to 14 October

This is becoming one of the Island’s premiere events. No less than 100 classic buses from all over the country, some as old as circa 1940, gather on the island to zig zag revellers from pub to pub where new, popular and interesting real ales are on offer. The classic bus transportation is essentially free, you’re asked only to buy the event programme (a useful booklet) for a mere £7.  This ingenious partnership between the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and the Isle of Wight Bus Museum in Ryde has resulted in a one-of-a-kind annual celebration that is a whole lot of grown-up fun.     

Beer, buses and brilliant views. A fantastic way to see the island.

IoW Literary Festival Youth Zone, 20 to 21 October

The weekend after the adult Lit Fest, the page turns and the kids get involved. This year’s Youth Zone – for families and children ages 4-18 – centres on science. In addition to storytelling,  expect workshops, magic shows, a special kids cafe and cool competitions. Keep in mind all of the events, even those that are free, are ticketed and must be booked in advance.

An author signs her latest book at the literary festival youth zone.

Photo credit: Christine Taylor


Harp on Wight Festival, 26 to 30 October

This unique celebration is an opportunity for many of us to gain appreciation for an iconic instrument. While the five day festival includes workshops for professionals and beginners, it also plays host to concerts that include a performance by Anne Denholm, the official harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales. Musicians from The Netherlands, Brittany, Paraguay, India and the USA are also on hand this year. Expect traditional harp music as well as more extraordinary pieces performed at venues in Ryde.


Treat your ears at the amazing Harp festival on the Isle of Wight.


Festival of Light, Arreton, 29 September to 4 November

This annual spectacle, inspired by Diwali, takes place in Robin Hill Country Park every evening for just over a month. With wildly creative light displays and corresponding sound, the Festival commemorates India’s independence. Expect authentic street food, Bollywood dancers and lantern decorating workshops on the weekends. Check the park’s website for tickets and details. Just a mile from Robin Hill you’ll find Arreton Barns, a great place to eat, shop and enjoy artisans at work before the sun goes down and the celebration starts at The Festival of Light.


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