I’ve always been a huge fan of music gigs and as a giddy schoolgirl I remember (as if it were yesterday), bunking off school one afternoon with my BFF. On a mission, we changed into our best gear, jumped onto a coach and off we headed to our first music concert in Sheffield. For the next incredible two hours we screamed our lungs off at the gorgeous George (RIP) and Andrew, swooning as they strutted their stuff in those white shorts during their Wham heyday.
I remember the roasting we got afterwards, like it was yesterday too … but so worth it, and since that very first concert I’ve been a regular music and festival goer ever since. So you can imagine my squeals of delight after receiving an email from Red Funnel kindly inviting myself and a guest to the Isle of Wight (IOW) Music Festival on 13th to 17th June, inclusive of festival tickets, ferry crossing with Red Funnel Ferries and VIP camping. Quicker than you could say Jitterbug, I began to dust off my wellies!
RED FUNNEL FERRIES AND RED FUNNEL HOLIDAYS
For those that have never visited the IOW, it’s such a charming little Island and totally unspoilt. It boasts gorgeous beaches and quaint guesthouses, making it the perfect getaway for a British holiday or mini-break. With plenty to see and do, it really does appeal to all, be it families, couples wishing to escape for a romantic break or the retired seeking out a traditional seaside weekend away. Red Funnel not only operates a ferry service from Southampton to East Cowes, but also holiday and festival packages too.
We boarded the Red Osprey ferry at Southampton, the vehicle ferries have the capacity to carry over 200 cars per sailing and during peak season departs from Southampton hourly, we were given a lane number to proceed to and literally boarded the ferry in no time. I was slightly worried about the Mister as he normally turns a deep shade of green and never quite manages to find his sea legs whenever we set a-sail, however the crossing was so smooth and only 55 minutes long, so the Mister relaxed (maybe too much), as he announced it beer o’clock and hit the bar taking advantage of the restaurant and facilities! If you are able to travel lighter or are just visiting the IOW for the day then Red Funnel also operate a high speed Red Jet foot passenger service which only takes 23 minutes, arriving at West Cowes.
Following our arrival at the IOW we had a short car journey into Newport where the actual festival is held each year. As we neared the site, excitement mounted as we glimpsed Ferris wheels, brightly coloured flags, big tops and fairy lights festooned around hundreds of trees. The array of colour seemed to go on for an eternity. After collecting our festival tickets and been issued with wrist-bands, we parked the car making our way towards the VIP camping area. Keen to explore and join the merry throng of festival goers, we set up camp in record time quickly familiarising ourselves with the all-important loo’s (which were spotlessly clean) and shower facilities. After coating ourselves in glitter, (the Mister by accident) and adorning flower garlands we headed off into the crowd.
Passing row upon row of delicious food treats, it wasn’t long before we gave into temptation, sampling some of the local fair. With Thai, Indian cuisine, fish and chips, wood fired pizza’s and ice-cream stall’s a plenty there really was a huge selection to chose from. Obviously, working up a thirst we decided on a pit-stop in the Kiwi Bar enjoying a chilled fruit cider. So many side-bars too, (of which were covered in order to accommodate our inclement weather), and all pumping out various music from rave to hip hop to indie with other bars hosting live bands. The age range in each bar was dependant on the music been played, one of my favourites for later evening – okay early morning, was the Kasbah. Vintage lampshades hung from the ceiling of the giant tent and there was a cute seating area outside overlooking the river, the whole ambience had such a cool vibe. Equally impressive was the Strongbow bar, where a live MC played music into the early hours and huge flames lit up across the dancefloor.
If you’d forgotten to pack your festival shirt or glitter, then worry not as there were plenty of stalls selling sequined jumpsuits, cowboy hats or flower garlands (and reasonably priced too). I think if you watched the festival at home, you can not have failed to notice the bright yellow sunflowers that everyone was wearing either on themselves or fastened to bags and hats. These where been sold by the lovely ladies from The Mountbatten Hospice (the only hospice on the Island); thousands and thousands were been worn and bought to take home, ‘yass’ to the IOW and a fantastic community spirited festival!
So, the line up this year and performing in the Big Top (which was the smaller stage) included Hacianda Classical, the Coral (my personal favourite) and Miles Kane. What I really enjoyed about the IOW Festival was the diversity and the fact that there were so many different acts performing throughout the duration, you were free to roam about to your hearts content and didn’t feel like you had to remain around the main stage area.
There were some incredible artists performing this year, again the acts that stood out for me and for various reasons were Mr George Ezra (and we were riding shotgun underneath the hot sun), Madness and Suggs, just because they are so iconic and I think the whole stadium, young or old were jigging. Noel Gallagher’s High-Flying Birds, (I’ve always been a huge Oasis fan) and love the Gallagher brothers), even though they appear not to love each other very much, were very good and who doesn’t loves a little bit of Rick Astley (even nana). I just want to know how come he never ages or changes? Joking aside, I’ve seen Rick a few time (my kudos now completely blown out of the window), at festivals and park gigs though! and he’s actually got a belting vocal range. A little bit disappointed that Jess Glynne was unable to perform, obviously the Spice Girls had tired her out and even more annoying, we’d positioned ourselves right at the very front of the stage too!
But not to dwell, for me the star of the show and my favourite performer of the festival had to be Norman Cook aka Fat Boy Slim. Having never had the pleasure of watching before, I actually wondered before he came on stage, just how a solo artist that wasn’t even going to sing would manage to entertain this huge and eager ground. Well he didn’t disappoint, the consummate professional that he is absolutely whipped the ground into a frenzy. With lights flashing and music pumping I don’t think I stood still during his whole set, (well maybe briefly – but only to guzzle my wine). The arena and IOW stadium were literally on fire and electric for that one hour. I don’t think anything could have topped that!
Despite the on and off rain and muddy puddles, our spirits weren’t dampened and we had a fabulous time. As festivals go there is definitely something for everyone and I would highly recommend especially if you’ve never been to a festival before. The IOW festival is well organised, clean and safe, I would say that although there is a Kidzone on site and plenty to do during the day, families camping overnight were in the minority. Early bird tickets are already on sale now for the IOW Festival 2020 too so what are you waiting for?
As we watched the spectacular firework display on the Sunday evening which marked the end of the IOW Festival 2019, we were a little sad to be going home.
As we set off early on the Monday morning to catch the Red Eagle Ferry with Red Funnel at East Cowes, I was still humming tunes. Once on board we headed straight to the restaurant as the Mister had promised us both cooked breakfasts (now he’d discovered his sea legs after all this time) washed down with unlimited cups of tea. This was just what the doctor ordered after a weekend of revelling. As I ate my veggie breakfast (which was delicious by the way), I did wonder to myself if some of these people on the crossing were unlucky enough to be going into work when we arrived at Southampton. With the ferries conveniently running so early in the morning and the festival finishing on the Monday, it is so achievable.
Fortunately for us, no need to worry as we had the day off so a small nap might be in store ….….
Thank you to Red Funnel for the gift, we had the best time x
Gifted (see disclaimer). All views & content my own.
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