A Victorian Christmas

One of the most popular festive events on the Isle of Wight is the Victorian Christmas, staged by Osborne House. On Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th November the house will draw on all of its rich historical background of Christmas to produce a unique experience for families and guests of all ages to enjoy.

Osborne House Victorian Christmas

Throughout Queen Victoria’s life she loved celebrating Christmas and spending it with her nine children, describing it as a “most dear happy time”. Many of the Christmas traditions that we still preserve today, such as the decorating of trees, and the giving of presents and cards were made popular by the Queen and her family throughout her reign. After the death of her husband Prince Albert on 14th December 1861, the Queen decided to spend her first Christmas as a widow at Osborne House, and from then continued to spend the festive period on the Isle of Wight until the end of her reign.

Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2012

(Above – Osborne Dining Room laid-out for Christmas in the time of Queen Victoria. Image kindly supplied by Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2012.)

Visitors to this years Victorian Christmas at Osborne House will discover a wintry courtyard taking centre stage, with costumed characters as varied as Father Christmas, Jack Black the Rat Catcher and of course Queen Victoria herself on hand to entertain with Victorian Festivities. For families there will be a Christmas Carol Show, traditional Victorian fairground stall and even a 1903 steam powered carousel. There will be authentic entertainment from “What a Palaver”, with some daring feats including a fire show and Bed of Nails, and Aardvark Productions will also be on hand with a fast and interactive version of “A Christmas Carol”.

Victorian Christmas at Osborne - Queen Victoria

There will also be an opportunity to “Meet Victorian Toy Makers” with Thomas and Hester bringing traditional toys for you to play with, and even the chance to make your own balancing toy to take home with you. In the “Victorian Kitchen” there will be displays of forgotten kitchenalia with Mrs Posser and Mr Pourer, with displays of old fashioned chores like mixing up a traditional plum pudding.

Osborne Christmas Tree in Hall

Following on from the Victorian Christmas Osborne will be opening its doors for visitors to take part in their Festive Guided Tours, running Wednesday to Sunday from the 21st Novemberto the 6th January. This will give you a chance to experience the spectacular house in all of its decorated glory, with a detailed tour from one of Osborne’s expert guides. The decorations run throughout the principal royal ground floor rooms, just as they would have been in the days of Queen Victoria.

Santa's Grotto at Osborne House

Tickets for these events can be booked in advance, and should be purchased early to avoid disappointment. They can be ordered via the Ticket Sales Team on 0870 333 1183 (Mon-Fri 8.30am – Sat 9am-5pm) or online at http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/events/a-victorian-christmas-oh-17-nov/. For all price information please view the website.


We recently asked our Twitter followers to tell us their favourite Isle of Wight spots and after an overwhelming response we have printed a selection below:

The Royal Hotel IOW ‏@Royalhoteliow

@IWTourism countless but Newtown, Appuldurcombe House, Tennyson Down, Rocken End, St Catherines, @needlesbattery the Hoy

Newtown Creek

alan sheath ‏@alsbikes

@IWTourism cycling on the sea wall between sandown and shanklin, looking out to sea thinking i cant think of a better place to live.

Smugglers Cottage ‏@ClarksCottages

@IWTourism – Our favourite spot on the diamond isle – Ventnor Downs – our beautiful Island laid out at your feet.

Nick Baker ‏@bugboybaker

@IWTourism orchard bay below Niton – I used to go every year on my family summer holidays. It’s where I learnt to snorkel.

Chris Cowley ‏@chriscowley

@iwtourism Ventnor Botanic Gardens! @vbgcafe

Matthew Chatfield ‏@virtualranger

@IWTourism my favourite spot is the round crater in the down on top of Redcliff. Lie down, look up, all you can see is sky.

OakShed Media ‏@OakShedMedia

@IWTourism: Headon Warren @ Sunset is stunning!

lynn meacock ‏@lynnmeacock

@IWTourism definitely Steephill Cove! A real step back in time #perfect

Spence ‏@spencehh

@IWTourism priory bay – beautiful beach and no tat. Then a nice lunch at the sandwich bar opposite the seaview hotel. Used to stay in a very small cottage in Bembridge – loved it. Woke up to ducks at the door and horses in the fields. Yarmouth is a lovely town and the pier is fab. East Cowes during Cowes week… Hmmm – time to pop over again I think 🙂

EHH? ‏@Drummersmurf

@iwtourism #myfavouriteplaceontheiow Seaview for the beach, Sandown for the pier and Ryde for the shops! Oh, and Blackgang for the rides 😉

Tom Shannon ‏@tommos16

@IWTourism Never mind on the Island, Freshwater Bay is my favourite place on earth. Closely followed by Colwell Bay #loveabeach

Skimming Stones Freshwater Bay - ©VisitBritain Simon Kreitem

Emma Topping ‏@emmactopping

@IWTourism Newtown nature reserve – but the bit you can only reach by water along the creek or firing range the other side used to go on special camping trips there, recording bats, adder tongue fern, rare orchids etc. Incredible place not often seen!

Tom Shannon ‏@tommos16

@IWTourism I fully agree! For me the IoW is the most special place on earth.

Gunther ‏@OllieThomas_C

@IWTourism The Fort in Seaview is a fantastic restaurant/bar!

Vanessa ‏@AspieMum

@IWTourism My kids’ favourite is Dinosaur Isle along with a stony beach on the opposite half of Cowes to the car ferry. My boys like collecting unusual and to them interesting looking stones & ones that make them think of fossils. One of my twins wants to be a palaeoartist, Palaeontologist, or a marine biologist & has found a possible fossil there

Dinosaur Isle credit Britainonview and James McCormick

Katie Parker ‏@KatieParker__

@IWTourism #myfavouriteplaceontheiow a hearty meal at The Woodvale Hotel at Gurnard then a lovely walk into Cowes watching the sailing 🙂

Spotlight IOW ‏@spotlightiow

Hello @IWTourism #myfavouriteplaceontheiow is & always will be, Sandown Bay at the Beach Cafe. Crab cakes and a cheeky vino!

moomin ‏@moomin_kew

@IWTourism 4me – sitting outside The Spyglass with fish, chips & beer! hubby @rsjay1 says view from our flat in Ryde!

Manda Carter ‏@MandaCarter

@IWTourism #myfavouriteplaceontheiow is Tennyson Down, the views are truly amazing

Tennyson Down Family

theking lud ‏@loudliveludside

@IWTourism puckpool park, whatever the weather, compton bay for the surf and the beauty, tennyson trail and ryde for lazy beach days

NT Needles Battery ‏@needlesbattery

@IWTourism Freshwater Bay when the waves are crashing over the promenade.

Do you agree with these or have anything else to add? Come and join in the conversation with us at https://twitter.com/IWTourism

Robin Hill lighting the way this October

Robin Hill's "Electric Woods - Autumn Aurora"

After the huge success of it’s Electric Wood’s lighting events back in August (which incredibly saw almost 10,000 visitors), Robin Hill will be opening in a very different manner this Autumn half-term and will be including the magical woodland lighting for everyone to enjoy. The “Autumn Aurora” season of lighting planned Scheduled to run from 20th October to 3rd November, the “Autumn Aurora” season will see the park extend its opening hours tobetween 10am and 9pm each day.

The woodland lighting will phase in as it starts to go dark which will bring to life the central woodland and play areas in a blaze of light and colour. Many of Robin Hill’s main attractions will also remain open well into the evening, including the hugely popular “Time machine” ride and the “Colossus” swinging galleon.

Robin Hill's "Electric Woods Autumn Aurora"

Darren Cool, Robin Hill’s manager said “Visitors have been stunned by the majesty of the parks creative lighting and sound this summer and as the woodlands turn to through their golden autumnal shades in October they will look even more spectacular. The woodlands are stunning enough in the daytime at this time of year, but when lit at night, visitors can’t fail to be impressed. The lights have just been used during Bestival to create their popular Ambient Forest installation and in October our own visitors will now get a chance to experience these for themselves”.

Robin Hill's "Electric Woods - Autumn Aurora" Fire Breathers

In addition to the light show the “Electric Woods” will also host fire jugglers and acoustic music each night. The entertainment will take place down by the woodland ponds with additional children’s entertainment and an evening owl display.

Darren went onto say, ”We are planning to put in a scary Halloween trail in the lower part of the woods for anyone that’s brave enough as well as have hot mulled cider and fruit juice for visitors to enjoy during the evenings. It’s going to be one of the best experiences of the year and a great time to visit the park, no matter what age you are. The new half-term entry ticket still includes unlimited 7 day of returns, so people can come back day and night, again and again if they want to.”

Timetable of Events

Suitable for all ages. It is recommeded you bring a torch as woodland paths can be cast in shadows during these evenings.

Park opens 10am-9pm, ‘Electric Woods’ lighting from 5pm (or when suitably dark). Not all park attractions open after 5pm, some areas will be closed for safety. Rides that remain operational into the evening will close at 8.30pm, are subject to 30 minutes closures at lunch and dinner times and are subject to minimum height restrictions. Children under 14 years must be accompanied by and adult when taking the ‘Halloween Trail’. Standard 7 days return policy applies to all tickets.

Events subject to cancellation in very wet or windy weather. If weather is particularly inclement on the day you intend to visit please call us ahead of your visit on 01983 527352.

Autumn Aurora Extended Opening Prices (valid 20th October – 3rd November)


Autumn Aurora Freedom Ticket (4-59 years) – £14.95
Autumn Aurora Freedom Concession (60+/Disabled) – £12.95
Autumn Aurora Freedom Saver (any 4 people) – £55.00
Under 4’s   FREE
Membership Holders FREE
Special Evening Only Standard Admission

(available from 6pm – 1 visit only)

(4-59 years) – £12.00
Special Evening Only Concession Admission 

(available from 6pm – 1 visit only)

(60+/Disabled) – £10.00

For more details please visit www.robin-hill.com .

Isle of Wight Literary Festival makes it’s debut

Isle of Wight Literary Festival Guest Speakers

Next weekend the Isle of Wight will play host to it’s very first Literary Festival. The Island already has a rich literary history with Keats, Dickens and Tennyson all writing from here. The festival is set to draw a number of Britain’s top authors to the Island to appear alongside some of our own local talent.

Some of the confirmed speakers include Philip Wells, Louis de Bernieres, Gyles Brandreth, Rebecca Chance, Anneka Rice and Philip Norman, who will be taking part in events and workshops across the weekend 12th to 14th October 2012.

The main location for the weekends events will be the stunning Northwood House in Cowes, a Grade II listed building which stands in a nine hectare park. As part of the ongoing renovation of Northwood House the Isle of Wight Literary Festival will also be donating all of its profits to the Northwood House Charitable Trust.

Friday 12th October includes a discussion by local resident and author Celia Imrie on her autobiography “Let’s Hear It From The Happy Hoofer”, a debate on the future of printed word and the impact of e-books, and will ends at Tonino’s Restaurant with Rebecca Chance reading an extract from her best-selling novel “Bad Sisters”.

On Saturday 13th October there are workshops on writing and new media, along with events and readings from horror writer Chris Priestley, Will Ellsworth-Jones who wrote the ground breaking biography of street artist Banksy, a personal introduction to “Dracula” novelist Bram Stoker from his great-grandson Noel Dobbs, and much more. Gyles Brandreth presents his own unique insight into stories and revelations about The Queen and her family in “A Right Royal Audience” at the Trinity Theatre, then a festival “pub quiz” takes place at the Moocow Bar in Cowes.

Sunday 14th October begins with “A Magical Mystery Tour Of The Isle of Wight Literary Haunts” with a bus tour of the beautifully breathtaking Island places that have inspired so many literary icons throughout history. For families and children local Island author Philip Bell will be presenting an interactive reading and nature talk from his children’s book “Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood”, whilst Philip Norman will be revealing an insight into the life of his latest biographical subject Mick Jagger. The last event at Northwood House sees Fire Poet Philip Wells produce a dramatic performance of his own work, and other famous poets including Lewis Carroll.

A full list of the weekends events can be found on the Isle of Wight Literary Festival Website, where you can still order tickets to many of the events.

To celebrate the arrival of the Literary Festival we are currently running a competition. If you fancy winning a 2 night spa break at Melville Hall, one of the Isle of Wight’s top hotels, then head over to our “New Year New You! Competition” to enter.