August is Festival Month on the Island

There are four weekends in August and four festivals, but sadly three of those festivals fall over just one of those weekends. So you’ll have to be canny to fit all three in, or you can choose which one best fits your lifestyle with this handy guide.

Ventnor Fringe (VFringe) incorporating Ventnor International Festival (VIF) starts on Monday 8th July and runs through until Sunday 13th, with Ventnor carnival careering through the town on the Wednesday and Saturday evenings, followed by a firework display on the front on Wednesday. The best place to watch this is from their venue The Observatory, converted for the week on top of the banstand style pumping station on the seafront where there’s a quirky bar, fab views and in-house DJs.

Staged at different venues thoughout the town; churches, bars, cafes, clubs and pubs, Ventnor Fringe has its home at the former post office, now a venue, bar and vinyl shop The Exchange in Church Street. This year their outdoor venue, Parkside, in Ventnor Park has a San Francisco vibe – think Haight Ashbury 1967 meets 2017 hipster. A Moroccan tent with stage; quirky food and clothes stalls; free workshops and yummy grub such as bangers and mash or cream teas.

Other venues thoughout the town include the Winter Gardens and their rooftop deck, several churches, Ventnor Arts Club in the converted Nat West Bank and even the laundrette; and there are over 300 artists to see. Look online to choose those that appeal to you, or read the daily Fringe Review that you can pick up around the town for handy hints.

Ventnor International Festival is a music festival for one day only on Friday 11th August that sits in the middle of Ventnor Fringe and features a “carefully curated line up of the most exciting emerging artists from across the UK and beyond. “It’s a place to discover the next big thing,” say the organisers (who are the same as those of VFringe) and a single ticket provides access to all venues from warehouses to churches, with music spanning rock, garage, electronic, hip hop and jazz. Acts include Cosmo Pyke, The Parrots, Dead Pretties and Champs.

VDub Island:

VDub is a family-friendly music festival with a Volkwagen focus – owners and enthusiasts travel here from across the country in their amazing and beautifully restored vintage Volkswagens and the festival includes a ‘ride out’ on the Saturday morning (August 12th).

There’s a dressing up theme and this year it’s Nautical Neon and you can arrive on site from Sunday August 6th and camp through till the end of the festival on Sunday August 13th (leaving on Monday morning). The site is on the banks of the river Medina on part of the site used by the IW Festival, ideal for exploring the island and close to ferry links.

Acts playing the main stage include Jess White, The Isle of Wight Radio All Stars, Something From Nothing and Blonde Bombshell. This year there’s an accent on tribute acts with Xenna Khristian as Taylor Swift, Tasha as Madonna, The Ed Sheeran Experience, daft punk’d, Paloma Faith tribute A Touch of Faith and Jodie Topp performing hits from the 80s.

Jack Up The 80s:

Many of those 80s artists you knew and loved are still going strong, and this year the island’s 80s music festival Jack Up the 80s has Jason Donovan, Alexander O’Neil, Right Said Fred, Nik Kershaw, The Real Thing and S Club (but not all seven of them). Those Cheeky Girls are performing as are Cheryl, Mike and Jay from Bucks Fizz and From The Jam who are the best Jam tribute going, especially as they have original bass guitarist Bruce Foxton.

Dressing in the original 80s fashions is activily encouraged at Jack Up the 80s: “..outrageous crimes against fashion in clothes and hairstyles alike, power suits with massive shoulder pads, shell suits, leg warmers, huge quiffs and giant mobile phones!”

“Some choose to go as loveable 80s characters like Kermit The Frog, the Honey Monster, He-Man and Super Mario, others transform themselves into well known 80s icons with Ghostbusters costumes, Street Fighter fancy dress and She-ra outfits,” say organisers. “Who will you be?”

This year the festival has moved to Smallbrook Stadium just outside Ryde and they have partnered with nearby Roebeck Country Park where you can camp, hook up your campervan or stay in one of their Sioux-style tipis.

Garlic Festival

The island’s Garlic Festival over the weekend of August 19th and 20th celebrates all things garlic and even has a Garlic Queen.

You can sample barbecued sweetcorn in garlic butter and even garlic ice cream (if you really want to). The giant garlic marquee will be filled with tasty garlic morsels such as garlic fudge, olives and, of course, garlic bulbs of every shape and size. And there are loads of other local goodies for sale in the food tent and local arts and crafts on offer.

Entertainment in the main arena is from The Vander Brothers with their Wheel of Death and the Quad Wheel, plus falconry displays from Haven Falconry. And there’s a stage with live music opposite the handy bar, which even has garlic beer.

Titan the Robot is back this year to entertain and delight the crowds and smaller children can enjoy bouncy fun on the many and varied festival inflatables.You don't have to be a child to love David Randini's traditional Punch & Judy show and baffling magic tricks.

The Garlic and Theatre Kitchen welcomes TV favourite, Valentine Warner on Saturday and on Sunday the lovely Jane Beedle, finalist from The 2016 Great British Bake-Off, will appear with some top home baking tips on offer.

For one day only – The Healing Festival

Just announced as we were going to press is the Healing Festival at Ventnor Botanic Garden, which this year is on just one day, Sunday August 27th from 10am till 6pm. With Yoga, Tai Chi and a whole host of therapies, you only pay entrance to the Botanic Garden and the festival is free, with prices on individual classes and products.

Jo Macaulay

1 August 2017

By Jo Macaulay in Articles