This June, the annual Isle of Wight Festival returns to Seaclose Park, Newport for what will be the 16th incarnation of the world-renowned music experience. Just a short ferry hop from Southampton, the convocation expects crowds of 60,000 to be drawn to headliners such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kings of Leon, and Biffy Clyro.
Tickets are selling out fast, but as of this writing, Sunday and full weekend tickets were still available.
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Few festivals can claim the same level of provenance as the Isle of Wight, which started out as one of the foundational gatherings of late ’60s counterculture. Organizers struck a major coup in ’69 by pinching Bob Dylan away from his home turf of Woodstock, and smashed all previous attendance records in ’70 with a gig headlined by The Doors, Hendrix, and The Who. Estimates of attendance for this event have reached some 150,000 – making it easily one of the top 10 largest UK festivals of all time.
The 2014 return to the island continues in much the same tradition, with music that aims to please, accompanied by a staggering diversity of niche event tents. In between acts, festival goers can kick back a dram of ol’ Kentucky’s finest to some Appalachian ambiance at the Whisky Sessions, or get their groove on to funk, ska, and reggae DJ’s at the Hipshaker. Of course, with the Brazil World Cup kicking off the same weekend, football fans will rest easy knowing they can enjoy all the group stage matches on BTVision’s massive 8.6m screen at the Field of Dreams.
Headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers take centre stage Saturday night in a UK festival exclusive performance, with the rest of the day rounded out by ska revival band The Specials and indie group The 1975 among others. Sunday looks to be quite a treat with a world exclusive performance by Kings of Leon, backed up by Suede and Fall Out Boy.
The Main Stage opens up Friday with contemporary offerings Calvin Harris and Biffy Clyro. A change of pace and healthy injection of beats comes Friday night with a much-anticipated performance by Rudimental.
Backing up the Main Stage, the Big Top Arena definitely slants more towards pop, with an indie streak on Sunday courtesy of Travis, The Horrors, and Peace. Festival opener Boy George kicks it off in the Big Top Thursday, with the evening evolving into psychadelica with Inspiral Carpets and capping the night off, in a nod to Wight festivals of yore, a performance by The Doors Alive.
Fans of local acts can pop by the Kashmir Cafe for a traditional Isle of Wight ale, and enjoy home-grown artists such as Goodbye Stereo, The Ohmz, and Plastic Mermaids.
Drawing on a wealth of experience, the festival organizers have put together what looks to be a very well-rounded experience, with stellar headliners paired with a wealth of alternative venues and events. In my experience it’s these smaller venues that really make a festival, as they provide a background of things to see and explore, and to meet new people and chat in the down-time between big acts. Personally, I’ll be keen to see what the dub and reggae offerings are at Hipshakers, and see how the festival gets back to its counterculture roots in the Bohemian Forest. See you there!
Main Stage Lineup:
Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Pretty Reckless
Kings Of Leon
Fall Out Boy
BT Sport Big Top Lineup:
From The Jam
The Doors Alive
The Polyphonic Spree