The island’s tiny, just 23 miles by 13, but you could never accuse it of being small fry when it comes to putting on an event or two. Whether you’re a foodie or a history-lover, keen to visit an historic pub or enjoy the atmosphere of a local festival, you’ll always find something new to enjoy.
Although it’s less than an hour’s ferry journey across the water from England’s south coast, the Isle of Wight often feels like it’s a whole world away. It’s blessed with outstanding sandy beaches, many of them regularly rated among the best in Europe, if not the world. Inland, castles and historic houses are the keepers of hundreds of years of stories and memories.
The island’s sheltered south coast even enjoys its very own microclimate with an average five hours of sunshine a day. It makes the area around Ventnor ideal for viniculture and exotic blooms and is the reason why the island is affectionately known as the ‘Garden Isle’.
With high paths and low tides, kings’ castles and sand castles, quaint pubs and street carnivals, our handy guide picks out all the best sights, attractions and activities to enjoy, day and night, during your time on the Isle of Wight.
Events to enjoy on the Isle of Wight
Classic Beer, Buses and Walks
A classic combination of free transport, real ale and autumnal walks in one glorious weekend. Up to 100 vintage and classic buses offer heritage services between a selection of pubs serving real ales, and there are bespoke historic beer and pub walks.
12-13 October 2019
Bembridge Harbour Food Festival
Taste traditional flavours of the Isle of Wight on the shores of Bembridge Harbour. It gives local communities the opportunity to showcase some of their great food, such as homegrown fudge and garlic and ales and beers from the island distilleries.
21-22 September 2019
The Tennyson Trail
Queen Victoria’s poet Laureate, Alfred Lord Tennyson, found the island the inspiration for much of his work. It’s said he composed poetry during long walks here. The 14-mile Tennyson Trail starts at Carisbrooke Castle, where Charles I was held before his execution. It then swings over Brighstone Down and onto Tennyson Down, finishing at the Tennyson monument overlooking the Needles, and just along the coast from Norton Grange Coastal Village.
Set just outside Newchurch among rolling farmland, the show offers food and entertainment at the highest level. There are huge garlic and food marquees, cooking demos from the island’s top chefs, hundreds of art and craft stalls, plus live music on stage.
17-18 August 2019
Round the Island Race
One of the world's largest yacht races, it typically attracts over 1,700 boats with as many as 16,000 competitors. Starting and finishing in Cowes, the event is a complete circumnavigation of the island, passing famous landmarks such as the Needles and St. Catherine’s Point.
29 June 2019
With motorcycle and mountain bike stunt displays as well as live bands, vintage and steam vehicles, and craft and antique marquees, this traditional country show makes a great day out. The horticultural marquee showcases an astounding array of produce, craft, floral and culinary talent.
3-4 August 2019
Lendy Cowes Week
The event is one of the most iconic regattas on the planet and a sporting spectacle that knows no equal. Over eight days, the Solent waters attract the cream of the sailing world with yachtsmen racing up to 1,000 boats. Much of the spectacle can be viewed from the shore with The Parade at Cowes a great place to soak up the festival atmosphere.
10-17 August 2019
Live shows and entertainment on the Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight’s a fantastic place to enjoy, no matter the time of year. There’s always the opportunity for some fun on the water, but let’s not forget that the island’s calendar is crammed with live music events and shows. Let’s point you towards a few to enjoy:
Live music Sundays
The Fishbourne, a country pub at Fishbourne, puts on live music every Sunday afternoon through the month of August. Perfect for relaxing by the banks of the Wooton Creek with a Pimm’s or real ale and local musicians creating a melodic soundtrack. Throughout August
The Wight Proms
Now in its second outing, this four-day festival is a huge celebration of music and the arts. This year, headline acts include Ruthie Henshall, and Lesley Garrett, and there’ll be comedy and arts workshops. It all takes place in the grounds of Grade II* listed, Northwood House in Cowes.
29 Aug 2019 - 1 Sept 2019
Isle of Wight Jazz Weekend
Hampshire’s most established jazz festival attracts some of the best singers and musicians around, along with a huge following of jazz fans. It takes place in a clutch of pubs, restaurants and venues in and around Newport. Tickets are available for the main acts but there are also free events, giving talent local bands the chance to take to the stage. Mainstream jazz, modern, funk and traditional – they all find their voice here.
28 May 2019 - 2 June 2019
Great activities on the Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight’s such a little place, but it’s got such a lot going on. From the beaches on the east to the dramatic Needles rocks on the west coast, from Newport’s culture to Godshill’s thatched cottages, no two days need ever be the same.
For bucket and spade fun and sand-between-your-toes walks, the Isle of Wight delivers in well, spades. Compton has been named among the top eight beaches in the world. No surprise, really, given its two-mile stretch of soft sand backed by multi-coloured sandstone cliffs. It feels lovely and private, too, and the sunsets are amazing. For other Isle of Wight day trips to the beach, the sands at Shanklin, Whitecliff Bay, Yarmouth, Bembridge and Sandown, to name just a few, offer everything from fossil hunting to safe swimming and watersports.
For enjoyment on as well as in the water, one of the best ways to discover the Isle of Wight coastline is from a boat. There’s everything from leisurely sightseeing cruises around Alum Bay to high-speed rib trips and kayaking under cliffs and into secret caves. There’s even more hands-on sailing tuition with learn to sail and dinghy sailing courses. Charter boats also offer fishing adventures into the deep blue, starting with two-hour mackerel trips all the way through to full days of angling.
The Isle of Wight’s just as appealing for a golfing holiday, with half a dozen golf clubs, some with parkland courses, others paired with sea views. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or more experienced, they all offer the opportunity to practise your swing and putting in some spectacular settings.
Nightlife on the Isle of Wight
Days spent exploring the great outdoors can be paired with evenings tasting the island’s local beers and farm-grown produce. Plus, there are also plenty of opportunities to become part of the local entertainment – perhaps at an open mic night or a street carnival.
For traditional entertainment on the stage, the Shanklin Theatre and the Medina Theatre are the Isle of Wight’s go-tos, both with touring productions, comedy nights and music. Less structured but certainly no less fun, many musicians and comics find their spotlight in family-run pubs and restaurants in the likes of Newport, Sandown and Ventnor.
On a much larger scale, the island is making quite a name for itself on the carnival circuit, too. Ryde Illuminated Carnival on 1 September is the biggest and most extravagant with an illuminated evening procession, thousands of spectators, incredible costumes and a true party atmosphere. The Isle of Wight Day later in the month on 22 September also celebrates all that is magical about the island with a parade in Ryde, art installations, and a giant crab mascot leading a massive coastal clean-up.
If that’s piqued your interest, book your dream Isle of Wight break today with Warner Leisure Hotels. Find out more about our holiday village at Norton Grange Holiday Village and Bembridge Coast Hotel.
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