Virgin's Guide to Cowes Week

What is Cowes Week? Cowes Week (10-17 August) is an annual sailing regatta that started in 1826 and is one of the most famous in the world. Around 8000 competitors, both professional and amateur, descend on Cowes on the Isle of Wight to race their yachts in the Solent. Now as famous as the racing is the onshore activities and entertainment that takes place all week long and sees over 100,000 spectators. It’s a mecca for sailing enthusiasts and anyone who loves a good festival atmosphere.



With a daily entertainment programme happening in many locations across the town, there is something for every age and taste. Here’s our key pointers for all you Cowes Week virgins out there.


Best spots to watch the action…

  • The Royal Yacht Squadron -
    The race start line is just off the Squadron so this is always a good place to position yourself, just be ready for the cannons which go off to launch the race – they are seriously loud! 

  • The Parade
    Located just to the East, right on the waters edge it’s great to spot the boats sailing in and out. It also has many stalls and entertainment taking place throughout the day.

  • The Green
    Is further round to the West and is a lovely wide grassy area where you can put down your blanket and relax to watch the races right in front of you. 

  • On the Water -
    To get out on the water to get among the action see our guide.


Best places to wander & soak in the atmosphere

  • Cowes Yacht Haven
    This is where the famous beer tent is that all the crew come back to after the racing to unwind, it’s also full of stalls selling all sorts of goodies and a plethora of food concessions. 

  • The High Street -
    You can stop and get in the festival spirit with hair braiding and glitter face art/tattoos. 

  • Northwood House -
    Up the hill above the High Street there will activities, afternoon teas, cocktails and activities all week long. 

Best beaches nearby

  • Cowes Esplanade -
    Wide pebble beach along the Esplanade great for taking in the action.

  • Gurnard -
    Just further on to the West (about 15 minute walk) pebble & shingle beach and has the fabulous Little Gloster restaurant for drinks and food.

  • East Cowes -
    A shingle beach on the other side of the Medina River so you need to take the chain ferry across and walk around to get there.

Best places to party


Ferry Travel

Travelling over to Cowes Week is easy. Simply jump on a Red Jet Hi-Speed ferry from Southampton (terminal 2) and head across to West Cowes in just 25 minutes. No need to pre-book - you can pay on the day at the ticket office.

Search Image - Red Funnel

15 August 2019

By Alix Robinson in Articles