The Kent weekender keeps getting bigger.
With plenty of sun and summery temperatures, Isle of Wight Festival sizzled in late June. Not only was the line-up absolutely stacked, thanks to the likes of Kasabian and The Killers, as well as joint headliners Liam Gallagher and Depeche Mode, but the atmosphere was unbeatable too.
In honour of 50 years since IOW’s first incarnation, organisers pulled out all the stops – and so did festival goers. They showed up full of spirit in their finest, most glittery outfits for a four-day party like no other. And we were there along with them, thoroughly enjoying every second of it.
Here are a few of our favourite things about the 2018 edition.
The high wattage line-up
Isle of Wight Festival always boasts big names and, true to tradition, this year featured a powerhouse mix of artists. Of course, there were the four huge headliners mentioned above. Seeing Liam Gallagher shake a tambourine and sing Wonderwall is incredible on its own, but then toss in a rare festival appearance from electronic pioneers Depeche Mode on the very same night and… well, suffice to say, the massive audience went wild.
Joining the headliners was an incredible array of A-list performers and rising talent on the Main Stage and under the Big Top. Irish bands Walking on Cars and Kodaline both treated festival goers to new songs. Rita Ora was a showstopper with her troupe of fantastic street dancers, while Louise thrilled the crowd when she got Naked with her hunky (and later shirtless) backing dancers. After declaring this to be their best ever Isle of Wight appearance because it wasn’t raining, The Script then played their hit Rain to a thunderous round of applause.
Other acts appearing over the weekend included Manic Street Preachers, Blossoms, Camila Cabello, Feeder, Travis and many more. So from afternoon to late evening, there were difficult decisions to be made about who to see – but no performance disappointed.
The aspiring and everlasting stars
Isle of Wight Festival is great at immersing you in different kinds of music, which gives you the chance to make new discoveries. Platform One was our favourite spot for this. With a line-up curated by Newport’s Platform One College of Music, its stage was brimming with the area’s brightest emerging talent – from solo acoustic acts to full-on bands. Showcasing original material, Emma Johnson’s guitar playing and vocals captivated us (and one tiny dancer), while the five-piece Ivey Lane delivered a storming set. We expect big things from all of them!
It was also great to go back in time at the Electro Love tent and relive hits of the ’80s and ’90s. Vinyl records lined the entrance and a glimmering disco ball hung overhead. Along with tribute groups of all types, we chanced upon Eastbourne rockers Toploader in there. They played a song that never fails to make us dance, Dancing in the Moonlight – which was a supernatural delight.
Everyone was good as gold
Who doesn’t love going to a fancy dress party? With Saturday dubbed “Gold Day” to pay tribute to Isle of Wight Festival’s golden jubilee, attendees were asked to show up in all their 24-karat finery. So everywhere we looked something sparkled, shimmered or shined.
There were gladiators and goddesses. We saw divas in sequined gowns, accessorised with gold capes, gold wigs and gold makeup. Men wore everything from gold tuxes to gold leotards – and even covered their beards in glitter. Throw in a few people dressed as LEGO super heroes, unicorns, giant parrots and sumo wrestlers, and IOW was the fancy dress party to end all others.
Never a dull moment
You could do more than listen to bands at Isle of Wight Festival – a whole lot more. Cool things were happening all around the event grounds. With the World Cup having kicked off in Russia, a giant screen was erected on the Field of Dreams for football fans. Thrillseekers were testing their nerves on a slew of carnival rides. From Stealth Bomber to Helter Skelter, from bungee jumping to a carousel and giant wheel, you could easily entertain kids or just feel like a kid yourself.
To escape the crowd and kick back with a drink, we liked slipping away to the themed bars. We discovered chilled vibes at the Old Mout Cider Bar & Kiwi Camp (along with a sofa swing), and The Strongbow Yard, with its giant archer that shot flames, was the perfect place to enjoy a pint alongside booming DJ-spun beats.
The history of it all
In 1968 over 10,000 people turned up in a field near Godshill on the Isle of Wight to see headliner Jefferson Airplane perform with artists like Arthur Brown and The Pretty Things. Five decades on, IOW is now held at Newport’s Seaclose Park and draws a 50,000-strong crowd. This year The Pretty Things returned as part of the 50th anniversary celebration to play their seminal rock opera, S.F. Sorrow, for the very last time.
Over the years Isle of Wight Festival has featured countless icons – like Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan and The Doors, to name just a few. Always delivering a diverse line-up of proven legends and up-and-comers, it offers something for everyone. If you’ve been, you already know that…and if you haven’t, then you’re missing out on one of the best summer parties on the planet. With 2018 now etched in the history books, here’s hoping IOW continues for 50 more years.
Tickets for next year’s Isle of Wight Festival on 13 – 16 June 2019 are available now by heading to Ticketmaster.co.uk.
Photos of Liam Gallagher and Depeche Mode courtesy of isleofwightfest.