Dates: The second Thursday in June for four days: 13-16 June 2013; 12-15 June 2014; 11-14 June 2015
Level of participation: 3 - pitch your tent and soak up some sounds
The music event on one of Britain’s best-known satellites has had a patchy history. In 1968, the only major act on the first bill was Jefferson Airplane (of ‘White Rabbit’ fame), who played to a crowd of 10,000 on a stage made of two trailers. There was a large open sewer. In 1969 the audience swelled to 150,000, drawn by one Bob Dylan. Promoter Ray Foulk pestered the reclusive star for six months, even flying to New York with a film covering the island’s natural beauty and connections with the poet Tennyson. Dylan’s presence attracted The Who to play and The Beatles to hang out.
The next year saw a five-day extravaganza with performances by Miles Davis, Leonard Cohen and Jimmy Hendrix. Sadly, in one of the events that marked the end of the ’60s, ‘Britain’s Woodstock’ spiralled out of control when fences were broken down and nearly a million hippies ran amok. An act of parliament was passed, banning large gatherings on the island.
The festival restarted in 2002 at a different location and is now a fixture on the UK’s commercial music festival circuit.
Local attractions: a statue at Dimbola Lodge, Freshwater, commemorates Jimmy Hendrix, who played his last-ever performance at the 1970 festival.
More info: www.isleofwightfestival.com
See other top festivals in June here.
This is an excerpt from Lonely Planet's A Year of Festivals.
This article was first published in December 2010 and was refreshed in April 2013.