Camp It Up This Summer

The Isle of Wight hosts some of Britain's best festivals

The chalky white island has been a popular holiday destination for mainland Brits since Victorian times and offers something for everyone, from wild outdoor pursuits to lazy days on golden beaches.

The Needles at dusk Adrenaline junkies can get out on the water for paragliding and windsurfing; or climb trees and trek with llamas on dry land. Take your pick of the golf courses dotted around the island, or discover why Cowes is a world-famous sailing port that attracts thousands of visitors every year.

Ventnor beach Take a cycle ride or get your walking boots on to tackle more than 500 miles of footpaths, some of which take in the island's beautiful coastal features. More than half of the island is designated as an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' and this AA Walk is great for bird-spotting.

The Isle of Wight hosts fab festivals throughout the year, giving you the perfect excuse to jump on a ferry and get exploring. Here's our pick of the pack...

30 May-1 June

Old Gaffer's Festival, Yarmouth
Yarmouth harbour is set to welcome more than 100 traditional sailing, motor and steam boats for the 12th consecutive year. The festival gets its name from the Old Gaffers – a fleet of Gaff-rigged boats. Go along for live music, street entertainment, classic vehicles, a flower festival, a craft fair and more.
Official website »

28 June

Isle of Wight coastal path running along the edge of chalk white cliffs toward the Needles Round the Island Yacht Race Breakfast, Needles Old Battery, Alum Bay
Witness one of the world's largest and most famous yachting races, where up to 1800 boats compete. Enjoy an early cooked breakfast (7am) at the National Trust-owned Needles Old Battery and spot the yachts from this great vantage point. Official website »

13-15 July

Isle of Wight Festival, Seaclose Park
Voted 'Best Major UK Festival' at the 2007 UK Festival Awards, the event has been rocking since the 1960s. This year's line-up features The Police, Kaiser Chiefs, Sugababes, KT Tunstall, The Hoosiers, Feeder, The Stranglers, The Sex Pistols, The Zutons and Kate Nash. Official website »

The Bestival crowd

2-9 August

Yachts at Cowes Cowes Week, Cowes, Isle of Wight
Around 8,500 competitors and more than 100,000 spectators descend on the Isle of Wight's most famous port every August, for one of the longest running sporting events in the UK. Launched in 1826, it's become the largest sailing regatta of its kind in the world. As well as the races, visitors can enjoy live music and entertainment, beer and Champagne tents, fireworks, barbecues, and a vibrant party atmosphere.
Official website »

16-17 August

Garlic bulbs Isle of Wight Garlic Festival, Newchurch Showground
Launched in 1983, the festival now attracts around 25,000 people every year and has lots to offer beyond garlic. It's one of the biggest events on the Isle of Wight, second only to Cowes Week, and showcases the best of the island's produce. Entertainment this year includes Alvin Stardust, the Apple Beatles, and more than 100 entertainers. There's plenty for children, too, including puppet shows, magic and the island's expert fossil man. Official website »

5-7 September

Lily Allen on stage at Bestival Bestival, Robin Hill Country Park
Tickets to this legendary child-friendly music fest have now sold out but if you've already bagged some you're in for a treat. The award-winning boutique festival features a magic mix of eclectic music, fancy dress and camping. Artists performing this year include Amy Winehouse, The Human League, Gary Numan, 808 State, Roni Size, Hot Chip, Will Young, Stereo MCs, Chas & Dave, Sam Sparro, and Underworld. Official website »

13-21 September

Isle of Wight Cycling Festival, various locations
If you prefer two wheels to four, this is the perfect time to visit the Isle of Wight. Take your pick from a whole raft of events, contests and competitions, more than 30 guided cycle routes, picnic rides, family cycles, pub rides and more. Tackle the Wight Offroad challenge course, watch mountain bike stunt shows, try the 'Sink or Swim' challenge or head out on the off-road trails. Don't forget to complete this AA Cycle Ride from Cowes to Newport while you're there. Official website »

Getting there

A visitor enjoying the Garlic Festival Foot passengers can hop on a hovercraft at Southsea and be in Ryde in only 10 minutes. Wightlink and Red Funnel run ferries for cars and people to and from the Isle of Wight and mainland England.

Staying there

Camping and caravanning are popular on the Isle and there are plenty of sites to choose from – search online for an AA-rated campsite. If you love sleeping under canvas, check out the 2008 AA Campsites of the Year 2008, too.

Check out our other inspirational ideas for days out and weekend breaks.

Wherever you're heading...

...plan your trip with the AA Route Planner, stock your car with essential accessories from the AA Shop, and check for traffic blackspots before you leave with AA Roadwatch. Find the best places to eat, drink and sleep, and check out our brilliant travel guides.

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29 May 2008

Bestival images courtesy britainonview/Liz Gander
Garlic Festival image courtesy The Garlic Farm