Isle of Wight festivals 2024

Things to do

Isle of Wight festivals 2024

Hardly a weekend goes by in spring, summer and autumn without an action-packed festival on the Isle of Wight. This small Island deserves its reputation as the UK’s home of festivals, which began with Cowes Week in 1826 and continued with Hendrix and The Doors performing to a crowd of 600,000 in 1970.

The big crowds can still be found watching the headline acts at the Isle of Wight Festival or at Cowes Week’s celebration of sailing, sunshine and champers. A relaxed musical vibe can be found at a series of smaller festivals which include the Wight Proms and the Wolverton Folk and Blues Fair.

The natural landscape and good weather is best shown off with the annual walking festival, as well as charming village shows and a series of colourful carnivals and parades. And for something quirky, drop in to Ventnor’s Fringe Festival or order a pint of beer at the Garlic Festival. In short, there’s something for everyone and lots to see and do! Read on to discover what these festivals on the Isle of Wight have in store for you. 


 Isle of Wight Walking Festival

Someone walking along the beautiful coast of the Isle of Wight

When: 11th - 19th May

Where: Various locations

Access: Most walks start from a car park, or check the Southern Vectis website for bus times

Ever participated in a walking festival? Ramblers rave about the Isle of Wight’s 500 miles of footpath, which criss-cross a space of just 23 by 13 miles. One of the best ways to explore this beautiful Island is to join the historic Isle of Wight Walking Festival, which is celebrating its 25th year in 2024. The coastal path offers many of the headline views but the annual festival also explores the Island’s history of dinosaurs, artists, wartime battles and Romans, with over 60 walks to choose from.

The programme of walks might still be a work in progress, but with 2023’s routes exploring the likes of Charles Dickens and the gun batteries of Culver Cliff, 2024 is sure to bring the same wander-ous fun. More adventurous walkers can join a three-day challenge to walk the entirety of the coastal path (roughly 70 miles!).

The biggest walk of them all is the Walk The Wight event, where up to 10,000 people are expected to tie up their laces and journey from East to West – the Isle of Wight’s equivalent of Lands’ End to John O’Groats!

If you aren’t visiting during the walking festival, check out our pick of the best walks on the Isle of Wight. You won’t be disappointed!


Wolverton Folk and Blues Fair

A big crowd in front of the stage at the Wolverton Folk and Blues Fair

When: 11th May 

Where: Wolverton Manor 

Access: Parking available on site

Wolverton Folk and Blues Fair is the perfect music festival for those who favour canapés and chilling over rock and roll! Visitors can be found whiling away the afternoon with a picnic and a folding chair, accompanied by the sound of relaxing music from around the UK. 

Musical highlights for 2024 include English soul and blues singer Mississippi MacDonald, who has appeared on BBC Radio 2 with Cerys Matthews, with other artists to be announced in the lead up to the festival. 

Children can come and go from the craft activities and there are locally made gifts and treats to browse. Refreshment is never far away, regardless of what tipple you favour, from real ale in the acoustic tent to something a little softer in the tea tent.

The whole thing raises money for local charities and is set against the backdrop of a 16th-century manor house with gorgeous Jacobean architecture. 


Isle of Wight Festival

Fireworks lighting up the sky over the Isle of Wight Festival

When: 20th - 23rd June 

Where: Seaclose Park, Newport

Access: Parking is available, but most people arrive on foot and catch a shuttle bus from a ferry port or from Newport

Pop on your best festival garb and head down to Seaclose Park for four days of partying on the banks of the River Medina in Newport.

The Isle of Wight Festival competes with Cowes Week to be the biggest and most prestigious event in the Island’s festival calendar. The Festival has a remarkable history, which saw it explode in size from 1968-1970 before being banned by the local council for 32 years. It must have been some party!

It returned in 2002 and has since hosted the likes of David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Coldplay, Fleetwood Mac and Jay-Z.

This year, the main stage will be hosting the likes of Green Day, Pet Shop Boys, and Natalie Imbruglia. Meanwhile, The Big Top will host The Pretenders, Suede, S Club and Feeder - to name but a few! This four day bash is great fun, with food vendors and activities coming together to create a whirlwind of entertainment and good times. 


Round The Island Yacht Race

Countless yachts in the water around the coast of the Isle of Wight

When: 15th June

Where: Cowes (and other high points around the Island)

Access: Cowes is busy on the day, so catch the number 1 bus or visit a hilly location near the coast

The Round The Island Yacht Race is a special day for the Isle of Wight. For many, it provides the Island’s most spectacular view with 1,400 yachts filling the Solent, crewed by 15,000 sailors.

The idea is simple – complete an anticlockwise circle of the Island as quickly as you can. The twist is that amateurs in three-man boats sail alongside Olympians in vast catamarans, each trying to win in their class. The record time stands at around 2.5 hours but most amateurs in smaller yachts will take between 7 and 10 hours, depending on the weather.

Spectators can choose from a number of stunning vantage points around the Island. To hear the distinctive boom of the starting guns, you’ll need to head for Cowes early in the morning.

For the best photos, combine the yacht race with a trip to The Needles New Battery and capture the sight of hundreds of yachts simultaneously navigating past the famous lighthouse.

Other popular spots for a photo include St Catherine’s Lighthouse and Ventnor in the South Wight, Ryde Pier or Culver Down in the East Wight, or Fort Victoria in the West Wight. Why not settle yourself down on one of the Island’s many beautiful beaches with a picnic and binoculars for a beach day with a difference.

Alternatively, you could even catch a glimpse of the race from one of our webcams!


Ventnor Fringe

A singer performing on the bandstand at Ventnor Fringe

When: 19th July - 28th July

Where: Various venues around Ventnor

Access: Parking in car parks at either end of the Esplanade

Where can you have your chips stolen by a man dressed as a seagull? Or listen to a piano being pedalled through a high street? Or enjoy some improvised hip-hop inside a launderette? Ventnor Fringe, of course!

This charming festival brings a combination of weirdness and established acts to the Island’s southernmost town. It was started by a group of students in 2010 and now attracts 300 artists, including well-known comedians testing out new material.

Plans for 2024 are shaping up to be a wild and wondrous weekend, with everything from circus performers and stand-up comedians to impromptu Shakespeare and improvised murder mysteries.

Ventnor is the perfect venue for a fringe festival. It has a different feel to other Isle of Wight towns thanks to its steep hills, which bring shelter to the beach. Make a day of it by stopping off at one of the many excellent eateries in the town or strolling through the beautiful gardens.


Cowes Week

Sailboats racing during Cowes Week

When: 27th July - 2nd August

Where: Cowes seafront and on the Solent.

Access: Parking is tricky, so use the park and ride or the number 1 bus from Newport

Cowes Week is a seven-day party, full to the brim with live music, ice-cold jugs of Pimms and hot competition on the water.

Even if you don’t sail, it is worth a visit to enjoy the atmosphere of thronging crowds on the Esplanade and busy bars spilling out onto the town’s pretty streets. 

During the day, head for the Royal Yacht Squadron to hear the sound of cannons signalling the start of another race. You may not be able to keep up with the action on the water, but the sight of yachts racing across the Solent is something special.

There’s plenty to do on dry land, including Women’s Day where visitors are invited to wear navy and white stripes.

In the evening, sailors and landlubbers gather on the Parade and in the Yacht Haven to listen to live music and watch the sun setting over the town. Perfection!


Chale Show

A stunt performer up in the air with their motorcycle at Chale Show

When: 3rd - 4th August

Where: Chale Recreation Ground 

Access: Plenty of parking onsite. Wheelchairs and mobility scooters are welcome, but the recreation ground is mostly grass

Several Isle of Wight villages hold an annual show, but no-one does it quite like Chale! The South Wight village draws in thousands for its celebration of rural life in one of the Island’s most isolated spots.

Prized fruit and vegetables combine with motorbike stunts and fairground rides whilst local artists and artisan bakers show off their works. The highlight is the jumbo-sized horticultural marquee where more than 1,500 exhibits compete in 240 categories. Who will take home the top prize for the perfect plum or the largest leek?

The venue is a spectacle in itself, with visitors enjoying gorgeous views of the English Channel and bands performing in front of the high cliffs and crashing waves below.

Children under 16 get in free, and there’s plenty to keep younger ones entertained in the Main Arena and in the children's zone. You can even bring along your four-legged friends.


Wight Proms

An energetic crowd in front of the stage at Wight Proms waving flags

When: 9th - 18th August

Where: Northwood House, Cowes

Access: Large car park next to Northwood House or the number 1 bus from Newport

Grab your union flags and prepare for Wight Proms 2024, which offers something for all ages in the grounds of Northwood House in Cowes. The 18th century manor house is the perfect backdrop for this celebration of the arts.

Visitors can buy tickets for one night only, or buy a bundle and make the most of the festival, with a choice between picnic or seated tickets (be quick though, seated tickets tend to sell out fast). 

While the programme is still being drawn up for 2024, highlights from last year included the Isle of Drag, Isle of Opera, and a stage show from the Horrible Histories team with gruesome tales from the Terrible Tudors - this year is sure to be even grander!


Garlic Festival

Rows and rows of garlic on display at the Garlic Festival

When: 17th - 18th August

Where: Arreton 

Access: Plenty of parking is provided in the nearby fields

Garlic is a big part of the Isle of Wight’s food and dining culture. The wild variety grows in many of the Island’s villages, giving the air a pleasant whiff when it's in season.

The Isle of Wight’s Garlic Farm has cultivated this relationship with its annual Garlic Festival, which has been going for over 40 years. It has grown into one of the biggest events on the Island, with thousands turning up over two days to enjoy the sights and smells. 

Festival goers can knock back pints of garlic beer and order scoops of garlic ice cream, as well as more conventional treats and drinks.

Head for one of the marquees to see celebrity chefs serving up garlic-themed dishes. In recent years, visiting chefs and bakers have included Nadiya Hussain and Rachel Khoo.

In the arena, you can expect a busy schedule of shows and performers whilst the music stage provides the accompaniment. Kids will love the funfair rides and the arts and crafts. 

As the slogan goes: “eat, drink, STINK!”


Ryde Carnival

Drummers marching in the parade at Ryde Carnival

When: 29th August (main carnival) 

Where: Starts from Ryde Esplanade 

Access: The main roads are closed, so buses are a good option (numbers 2, 3, 8 or 9 from Newport)

Summer carnivals are a big deal on the Isle of Wight, with all the main towns putting on a spectacular show for locals and visitors.

Ryde’s Carnival is the biggest and most prestigious of them all, thanks to its history dating back to the Victorian era. Indeed, Queen Victoria once brought along Princess Beatrice to witness the parade whilst living at nearby historical icon Osborne House. History does not record whether or not one was amused!

Ryde’s steep shopping streets and sandy seafront are lined with spectators for three events, including the Main Carnival (Thursday the 29th of August), the Illuminated Carnival (Saturday the 31st of August) and a Children’s Fun Day and Parade (Saturday the 24th of August). 

Expect to see cleverly created costumes as well as synchronised dance routines and colourful carnival floats. Plus of course there is the ‘Carnival Royalty’, made up of local children who have been chosen to represent their town throughout the season.


For places to stay near to the Isle of Wight’s eclectic mix of festivals, see our range of beautiful Island cottages.

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