What to expect at this year’s Isle of Wight Festival

The Isle of Wight Festival is 50 years old this year, albeit with a 32 year hiatus between 1970 and 2002 when it was revived by John Giddings, who has since brought some of the biggest names in the business to entertain us including the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, the Who and Fleetwood Mac.

Who's Playing?

This year’s headliners are Kasabian on Friday, Depeche Mode and Liam Gallagher on Saturday and The Killers on Sunday, and other main stage artists include The Script, James Bay, Manic Street Preachers, Nile Rogers and Chic, Blossoms, Van Morrison and Sheryl Crow.

In the Big Top the headliners are Chase and Status on Friday, Hacienda Classical on Saturday and Travis on Sunday, who will close the festival as the Big Top finishes after the main stage. Others in the Big Top include Feeder, Soul II Soul and Sigrid.

The very first festival in 1968 was organised by the Foulk brothers’ aka Fiery Creations and was for one day only in a field near Godshill, with Jefferson Airplane headlining and about 12,000 attending. In 1969 the same team persuaded Bob Dylan to play and up to 150,000 fans descended upon several fields near Wootton. Then in 1970 they put on the largest ever festival with an estimated 600,000 attending and the crème de la crème on stage: Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Who, Free, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell and many more. 


Insiders Tips

The Isle of Wight Festival has come a long way since 1968, but one band attending this year played at that original festival – The Pretty Things. Still gigging around the world, and with a faithful following of fans that are growing all the time, The Pretty Things have been named by many contemporary bands as being an influence.

“They’re going to perform the whole of their iconic album SF Sorrow, one of the first concept albums, before the Who did Tommy, before the Beatles did Sgt Pepper,” explained John Giddings.

“On the Thursday, camper’s night, in the Big Top we’ve got T Rexstasy, the tribute band, opening the show because Mark Bolan was at the first festival as well, bless his heart.”

So if you’re into the early days of prog rock, or just big fans of the 1960s, make sure to catch the Pretty Things in the Big Top on Sunday. And if you’re camping be sure to get to the Big Top on Thursday evening to catch T Rexstasy who are the best T Rex tribute there is – lead singer Danielz is just spot on.

Oh and don’t forget to dress in gold on Saturday night to celebrate the 50thanniversary.

“Liam Gallagher singing the Oasis songs is going to be a huge highlight this year and it’s going to be quite amusing on the Saturday, when I’ve told everybody to wear gold,” said John. 


Stages and Areas to Discover

Strongbow Yard always has a great selection of bands on their stage, as do the Hard Rock Stage and don’t forget to pay a visit to the Platform One stage – showcasing local talent. There’s always a chance that a main stage act will drop in and perform an acoustic here.

Old Mout Cider are bringing their Kiwi Camp again – a fenced encampment offering interactive entertainment such as Disco Yoga and Rockaoke, running all day and night. The Cirque de la Quirk stage in the woods can be tricky to find for first comers, but is well worth it – featuring an eclectic mix of musical styles that will get you on your feet. Electro Love is party central, with DJs spinning non-stop into the early hours.

Want to meet up with mates to go to the Main Stage? Then arrange to gather at the Octopus’s Garden where there’s food and drink to take with you. Or chill out here between bands. There will be new areas to discover too – but everything is kept under wraps until opening day.

Best Lesser Known Stage and Bar

You can really chill out at Kashmir Café, which has a stage and bar within its Moroccan marquee and boasts a large garden, usually on the river bank, and veggie food stall. Featuring local, national and even international artists, this year the headliners are Cut Capers, 3 Daft Monkeys, Noble Jacks and Ska’d For Life. Last year they had Wheatus of ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ fame on one afternoon – you never know who you might find. Run by Islanders as a fundraiser for the local arts charity and centre, Quay Arts, it’s the place to bump into someone else from the Island, if you’re an Islander, and a friendly face in any case.

Wild Card

If you want to scare yourself to death then you could take the Isle of Wight Festival Bungee jump in aid of Save the Children. It’s free, but you do have to register and get £150 of donations before you can make the jump. Sign up here.

Jo Macaulay

3 May 2018

By Jo Macaulay in Articles