Kicking off the festival season each year (it starts today for 2022!) is the nostalgic-laden, laid-back, charm-soaked Isle Of Wight Festival – and it’s my absolute favourite!
Maybe it’s the fact you have to take the ferry across to the island – so it feels like you’re going on holiday; maybe it’s the mix of crowd-pleasing guilty pleasures (think The Proclaimers, Lionel Richie and the Happy Mondays) with established festival big-hitters (Muse, Kasabian, Pete Tong); maybe it’s just because they have the nicest toilets!
When my friends and I first went, twelve long years ago, we were packed, prepped and ready. Tent we’d struggle to put up? Check. Obligatory matching North Face waterproofs? Check. Bloody Mary kit to crack open upon arrival? Check.
We’d been to festivals before – we knew what to expect – queues, mud, beer cups hitting your head – but this felt instantly different. Something about the way the IOWF has branded itself, the layout, the fairground rides, even the vintage-inspired signs dotted around – it all seems to attract a very specific audience. People aren’t here to get trashed and wake-up face-down in a field, they’re here to enjoy the music, spend time with friends and family and have fun. Don’t get me wrong – there’s drinking, dancing and silliness – but somehow it feels a little more grown-up.
Groups of millennials sit along-side individuals who look like they were in the front row when Hendrix played the original festival, whilst children run around between them like pixies, with their faces painted.
It’s a genuinely refreshing atmosphere to find at a festival and I can’t help but feel that just as the organisers have carefully hand-picked the line-up for the weekend, through meticulous branding they’ve also managed to curate an audience and atmosphere that matches it.
This is epitomized by a field full of revellers enjoying cupcakes and cocktails whilst joining in an afternoon sing-a-long to Mike and the Mechanics greatest hits – on paper it shouldn’t work – but it’s a perfect festival moment.
There’s a certain magic to be found at the IOWF that I haven’t found anywhere else and I hope it never loses its sparkle.
Written by Helen Warner, Client & Content Manager at AVC Immedia.