A Midsummer Night’s Dream comes to Ventnor Botanic Garden


Ventnor Botanic Garden is delighted to announce an open-air performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will take place on Thursday 30th May at 7pm. The new interpretation of Shakespeare’s best loved comedy will be performed by Taking Flight Theatre Company with a fully inclusive cast of disabled, sensory impaired and non-disabled actors.
Set in the beautiful New Zealand Garden, Taking Flight will take their audience on an enchanting adventure full of laughter, puppetry and live music with all performances supported with BSL (British Sign Language) and SSE (Sign Supported English). Guests can sit back and relax with a picnic or purchase a freshly prepared pizza, all whilst enjoying the beautiful surroundings.
Taking Flight is a Welsh theatre company who want to make the arts accessible to all and challenge the misconceptions surrounding less able bodied actors. Their cast includes Cara Readle from The Story of Tracy Beaker who has cerebal palsy.
Elise Davidson, Director of the Production and Co-Artistic Director of Taking Flight believes the performers are “excellent role models for young and disabled people who may perceive a career in the Arts as impossible- nothing is impossible”
Tickets are available to purchase now from Taking Flight’s website www.takingflighttheatre.co.uk. Picnic baskets and pizzas can be pre-ordered by contacting café@botanic.co.uk.
Tickets are limited and so booking is advised.

Visitors are Invited to Come Walking with Dinosaurs on the Isle of Wight this Summer

Visitors are Invited to Come Walking with Dinosaurs on the Isle of Wight this Summer

The Isle of Wight is set to launch a new “Walking with Dinosaurs” experience in June to not only highlight its unrivalled prehistoric heritage, but also celebrate the countdown to the release of Walking With Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie – set for global release in December, 2013.

Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie is a major new blockbuster from BBC Earth Films and Evergreen Films, presented by Twentieth Century Fox & Reliance Entertainment in association with IM Global.

And the new Walking with Dinosaur Trail, based on the ancestral links between the characters in the film and the dinosaurs on the Isle of Wight will, from June 2013, give visitors to the Island the chance to be seen standing alongside dinosaurs in the very place they were discovered.

Visitors to the Island will encounter technology allowing them to use their smart phones and tablets to take a picture of their family and friends walking alongside the dinosaurs that roamed the Isle of Wight 130 million years ago, while at the same time learn more about their relatives – the dinosaur characters in the movie.  The Augmented Reality App will be available to download from anywhere in the world, but will only be triggered into life at six coastal locations on the Isle of Wight.

Visitors will also be able to hop on board an Island Coaster bus service that will operate along the Trail during the summer holiday period.  The new bus service, operated by Southern Vectis, will be adapted to carry bikes in a specially converted compartment on the lower deck.

Named the “Dinosaur Capital of Great Britain” by the Natural History Museum of London at the start of the year, and then linked with a major new film Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie, the Isle of Wight is planning a major TV campaign during the summer months that will feature exclusive footage from the movie as well as scenes from the Island.

In addition to the recent finds on its beaches, and a season of events and activities all focused on the theme, it’s easy to see why this is being dubbed “The Year of the Dinosaur” for the Isle of Wight.

The mammoth event, and affinity partnership, is being co-ordinated by the Island’s new destination management organisation, Visit Isle of Wight Ltd, in partnership with BBC Worldwide, BBC Earth Films, Twentieth Century Fox and Isle of Wight Council.  The summer campaign will be launched in June, and will then run all the way through to the launch of the movie in December.

Would-be Dinosaur explorers can read more about the Dinosaur Island App, plan their visit, and learn more about the Year of the Dinosaur events and fossil hunts at http://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk.



Carnival: New Orleans style!

Carnival: New Orleans style!

Chris Slann and Frankie Goldspink from The New Carnival Company have just returned from a fact finding mission to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The ten day visit included meeting leaders of some of the larger carnival organisations there called ‘Krewes’, a guided visit to the Back Street Cultural Museum, home of the legendary Mardi Gras Indians and working with TV personality and Carnival Academic Vatican Lokey on future projects. The study visit also included collecting photographs and DVD footage of many of the highly colourful and exciting parades that take place in the run up to and during Shrove Tuesday.

The visit will significantly impact on the artistic content of The New Carnival Company’s ‘Midsummer Mardi Gras Parade’ on 29th June this year. Chris Slann explained “we were inspired by the giant papier mache bull that led the main Shrove Tuesday parade. Originally this was a real ‘fattened bull’ that would then be consumed as part of the feast preceeding Lent. Now it is totally symbolic. Our plan is to have a large bull of our own accompanied by costumed dancers to lead the Midsummer Mardi Gras parade. The bull will be ridden by the King of Carnival. We will be announcing the nomination process for the King of Carnival after Easter.”

Frankie added “it is really important to us to know and understand the different traditions of carnival first hand. This provides us with invaluable resource material for the many educational and learning projects we deliver across the region”. Chris and Frankie will be sharing their experiences of Mardi Gras New Orleans at a presentation evening at the Black Sheep Cellar Bar, Ryde on Wednesday 20th March at 7.30pm. Everyone is welcome to come along.  


  1. Chris Slann with Carnival TV personality Professor Carl Nevale (also known as Vatikan Lokey)
  2. Traditional Mardi Gras Bull leading the Rex Parade on Shrove Tuesday


Chris Slann or Frankie Goldspink at the New Carnival Company on 01983 717868 or 07876 731 836 or email chris@thenewcarnivalcompany.com

Art of Invention Schools Exhibition and Workshops





Press Release … Press Release … Press Release …


Art of Invention Schools Exhibition and Workshops

 Quay Arts

Art of Invention Schools Exhibition and Workshops

Schools workshops during March & April

Art of Invention Exhibition Sat 27 Apr – Thu 4 Jul

Schools have been invited to take part in this exciting new exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of the death of famous seismologist and polymath, John Milne (1850 – 1913) who lived at Shide on the IOW for many years. Milne is revered in Japan, where he also lived for more than 20 years, teaching and researching earthquakes and, most importantly, how to measure them.

The exhibition, inspired by Milne’s unique spirit of invention, will involve functional and dysfunctional objects and devices, designed and engineered by a select group of artists working alongside students from Island schools and colleges, in and outside of the gallery space.

It will include the winning invention from our school competition, where children are encouraged to submit their designs for an invention that can ‘Make, Shake, Quake’, a giant reinterpretation of John Milne’s horizontal seismograph created by Island inventor Daniel Roberts with students from Carisbrooke College, and a model based on Rube Goldberg’s famous fantasy machines, as well as ‘Adhocism’ creations – objects designed to perform a totally new task and given a new lease of life through the power of invention!


Coinciding with National Science Week (15th – 24th March) this year, which has the theme: Invention & Discovery, Quay Arts is offering a selection of workshops based on the idea of ‘invention’ and thanks to funding from the Arts Council and sponsors Yokogawa Marex, schools pay only 50% of the costs.


All of the schools workshops can be delivered in schools or at Quay Arts and are a fantastic opportunity for children and young people to explore invention – in a creative way!


* Prototype of horizontal seismograph made with components from Hursts.

(left) John Milne, (centre) Russian seismologist Prince Boris Galitzin, (right) Tone Milne.


Press Contact

Jacqui Cusack         Telephone: 01983 824163

Learning & Participation Officer    Email: j.cusack@quayarts.org

Quay Arts, Sea Street, Newport Harbour, Isle of Wight, IW PO30 5BD


Visit Isle of Wight reveals its newest Ambassador

Visit Isle of Wight reveals its newest Ambassador


The Visit Isle of Wight Ambassadors scheme has struck the right note, by naming John Giddings, the Isle of Wight Festival Promoter as its Arts, Culture and Music Ambassador.  John will join Eco-Clothing brand Rapanui creator Rob Drake-Knight, Level 42’s Mark King and the curator of the Bestival Rob Da Bank.


The announcement once again highlights the importance of the Isle of Wight’s musical heritage to its continued growth as a popular holiday and short breaks destination.


The Ambassadors’ role is to help to promote the Island both at home and abroad, as Visit Isle of Wight aims to achieve its ambition to make it one a top European destination over the next five years.


Back in 2002, John was responsible for bringing music back to the Island and reviving the legendary Isle of Wight Festival.  Over the last 13 years the Festival has grown in size and has seen some of the biggest acts in the world coming to the Island to grace the stage including: The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band, Paul McCartney, Pearl Jam, Kasabian, Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon, Jay-Z, The Strokes, The Who, David Bowie and Coldplay, amongst others.  The original and the new Festival continue to play a huge part in the diverse cultural heritage of the Island, making John a natural choice for the role.


“We couldn’t be more pleased to welcome John to this position,” says Visit Isle of Wight’s Chief Executive, David Thornton.  “The Isle of Wight Festival and Bestival are two of the events which have helped to raise the profile of the Island over recent years – and it’s great to have both John and Rob on board to act as media spokesmen for the Island.”


He added that VIOW is always happy to hear from similar, high-profile personalities from the Island who would be willing to join the Ambassador’s scheme.






John Giddings said: “I’m very excited to be named as an Ambassador for Arts, Culture & Music and looking forward to being part of the team who get to showcase to the world just how great the Island is.  Since bringing back the Festival over 10 years ago, tourism has played a huge part in making our event what it is today, and I’m proud to be able to continue hosting world class performances at such a unique and beautiful location.”


Visit Isle of Wight now promotes its full tourism appeal to the world via the website www.visitisleofwight.co.uk.

Vintage Vacations

The Meadow
A lo-cost fun camping option from Vintage Vacations.
From £25 per person, per night.
Our much loved classic bell tent will be teamed with our British classic caravan
‘Doris’ and available to hire for a fun camping experience at our Airstream site
this summer. One corner of our site will be ‘The Meadow’ and will offer the
following for up to 4;
• Doris – 2 burner hob and a kitchen sink .. and will sleep 2
• Classic Bell tent – styled in a boy scout fashion (100% bunting free!) will
sleep up to 4 – futons will be provided and some classic army camp beds
as well so you can choose what to use.
• 1 electrical socket for items such as phone chargers and ipods
• Simple lighting in the bell tent
• Camp fire and ‘Dutch oven’ so that you can try outdoor cooking (I bag of
logs supplied, more available to buy on site)
• Cool box provided – ice blocks changed daily – we can chill your wine and
beer in our site fridge for you!
• Use of site toilets and shower facility
• Linen and towels provided
• 2 night weekend stays – Fri-Sun or Sat- Mon £235
• 2 night midweek stays £200
• (longer stays available on request)
images available
vintagevacations.co.uk / info@vintagevacations.co.uk
07802 758113

Entertainment on the Isle of Wight this Spring Bank Holiday

Postman Pat, Queen Victoria, Henry VIII and his falcons

bring family entertainment to the Isle of Wight this Spring Bank Holiday


Postman Pat, Jess the Cat, and what is believed to be the oldest theme park in the UK, top the bill in the Isle of Wight’s line-up of special events, activities, festivals and family fun for this year’s Spring Bank Holiday.


Blackgang Chine is set to celebrate its 170th birthday in style between May 27th and 30th, at a special Birthday Bash where Postman Pat and his black-and-white cat will be the guests of honour.  Visitors will have a chance to meet them, as they join other Blackgang characters in a birthday celebration that will feature Pirates party games, competitions, live music and balloon modelling.  For full details, visit http://www.blackgangchine.com/events/blackgangsbirthdaybash.


The Island’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is also celebrating a big birthday this year.  Now in its 50th year, the AONB is hosting a full season of special events and activities to mark its golden year; and one of the best for the Spring Bank Holiday weekend is an Open Weekend on May 26th and 27th when National Trust members can go behind-the-scenes at the magnificent Mottistone Manor.  Further details at http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottistone-manor-garden.


English Heritage, meanwhile, will staging a Grand Victorian Day Out at world-famous Osborne on Saturday May 25th, 26th and 27th.  The event will involve spectacular equestrian displays, a magnificent parade of Redcoats, royal walkabouts, Victorian music, traditional stalls and side shows – all combining to bring alive the days of the British Empire.  For full details, visit http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/events/a-grand-victorian-day-out-o-25-may/.


The Isle of Wight Steam Railway will also be turning the clocks back, when they host the Isle of Wight Festival of Transport at Havenstreet on Sunday, May 26th.  Visitors will have the chance to get up-close-and-personal with a couple of steam traction engines and a colourful array of old bangers and smartly polished classics on a day when there will also be a full two-train service of steam trains – reminiscent of Island transport in days gone-by.  To complete the weekend there will be live music with ‘The Five O’Clock Shadows’, as well as a bouncy castle in the Children’s Play Area.  For further details, visit http://www.iwsteamrailway.co.uk/special-events/may/isle-of-wight-festival-of-transport/details/40-isle-of-wight-festival-of-transport.html.


Elsewhere on the Island, look out for the return of Henry VIII and his falcons to Appuldurcombe in Wroxall, near Ventnor, between May 26th and 30th.  Last seen there in 1538, King Henry will be appearing in public daily from 10am-4pm: http://www.appuldurcombe.co.uk/listpages/events.php.


And last but by no means least, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is due to be performed at Ventnor Botanic Gardens on the evening of Thursday, May 30th by the Taking Flight Theatre Company – who tour with casts of physically disabled, sensory impaired and non disabled professional actors.  Advance booking is recommended for the open-air performance in the lovely setting of the New Zealand Garden; and further details can be found at http://www.botanic.co.uk/.


For all tourist information, visit http://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk.




Join in the fun at the Isle of Wight Walking Festival and take part in Wightlink’s ‘Labradors and Cake’ walk


What better way to make your hound happy during National Pet Month (1 April – 6 May) than to head for the Isle of Wight to go walkies (dogs travel free with Wightlink)! A paradise for canines, the Isle of Wight boasts numerous year-round dog-friendly beaches, 500-miles of marked footpaths, pubs that welcome visiting pooches with biscuits and sausages and plenty of canine-friendly accommodation options. Leading cross Solent ferry operator Wightlink (0871 376 1000* / www.wightlink.co.uk) is celebrating this year’s National Pet Month by sponsoring the Labradors and Cake walk, which features on this year’s Isle of Wight Walking Festival (4-19 May) programme.
Taking place on 4 May, ‘Labradors and Cake’ is a four-mile trail (approximately 1 hour 45 minutes) designed specifically with dogs in mind. Labradors – together with pooches of all shapes and sizes – can bring their owners for walkies at Parkhurst Forest (start point: forest car park; OS Map Grid Reference: SZ472906) and raise money for charity in the process. Entry is free for humans but event organisers have levied a £5 charge per participating dog with donations going to Island-based charity, ‘Challenge & Adventure’. The family-friendly walk includes a scavenger hunt for children and ends with tea and cake at the forest office.


To find out more about taking your dog to the Isle of Wight, order a copy of Wightlink’s free Pawprint guide by calling 0871 376 1000* or view/download the guide from the website at www.wightlink.co.uk/pawprint. Written by Island dogs, Pawprint features top tips on the best pubs, accommodation, walks, beaches and more for visiting hounds.


Getting there:

  • In a day: A family of four can travel by car to the Isle of Wight with Wightlink from Portsmouth or Lymington using a day return economy ticket and pay from just £40.50. To book call 0871 376 1000*.
  • Staying over: Departing on 3 May, a three-night self-catering break at Niton Barns, a dog-friendly, five-star luxury barn complex in south Wight, costs from £506 when four-share (£126.50pp; £30 per dog per stay), including return Wightlink car ferry travel. Accommodation is in Yarborough Barn. To book call Wightlink on 0871 376 0013*.



Get active this May and take part in the Island’s Wight Riviera Sportive event


With 250 miles of public tracks and bridleways, the Isle of Wight is one of the UK’s best-kept mountain-biking secrets and a haven for holidaymakers who enjoy exploring a destination by pedal power. There is no better time to organise a cycling break to the Isle of Wight than the month of May as the Island will see the return of the popular Isle of Wight Riviera Sportive cycling event (18-19 May). Leading cross-Solent ferry operator and event sponsor Wightlink (0871 376 1000* / www.wightlink.co.uk) has special rates and deals available for passengers travelling to the Island to take part.


Split into two events – The Big Wight Enduro and The Wight Riviera Sportive – the weekend’s novel feature is that it has been designed with cyclists of all ages and abilities in mind and offers both endurance rides for cycling enthusiasts who fancy themselves as the next Bradley Wiggins and also more relaxed routes for casual cyclists. This gives participants the option to decide whether to challenge their stamina and push themselves to cycle several hundred kilometres over the course of the weekend or instead opt for a spot of ‘easy peasy pedalling’ around the Island.


On Saturday 18 May, The Big Wight Enduro covers challenging Isle of Wight cycle routes along some of the Island’s finest off-roading tracks and cyclists can choose from 25, 40, 55, 80 or 90 km rides. With the quaint harbour town of Yarmouth in west Wight as the start point, the routes climb up onto high downs for spectacular sea views; pass through forested landscapes, idyllic villages and across the Island’s rural heartland.


On Sunday 19 May, The Wight Riveria Sportive returns. Not for the faint-hearted, the event includes 65, 121 and 163 km route options, including a 25 km closed road Avant loop, which givers riders the freedom of the highway. The ride begins with a mass start lead on Yarmouth harbour front and then continues in a traffic-free Avant loop past the Needles, through Freshwater Bay and up Compton Down – the latter a challenging passage certain to separate the men from the boys! Continuing to criss-cross the Island and traversing steep chalk downs and quiet country lanes, the sportive is a great way for cycling enthusiasts to explore the Island’s diverse landscape.




In a day:

Wightlink is offering event participants the opportunity to take advantage of two special rates:

  • Up to six people can travel in a car to the Isle of Wight between 17-21 May on either the Portsmouth-Fishbourne or Lymington-Yarmouth routes and pay from just £55 (£9.17pp).
  • Alternatively, participants travelling to the Island from Lymington-Yarmouth for the cycling events, either on foot or by bicycle, can take advantage of a special discounted rate. To coincide with the cycling weekend, Wightlink is offering 50 per cent off the full price of foot passenger travel. This means that crossings usually priced from £18 for a period return for one person will now cost from just £9pp.


Stay over:

If a day trip to the Island seems too rushed, combine a weekend’s cycling with a three-night getaway.

  • Three nights B&B at Sentry Mead, a five-star turreted Victorian house in Totland Bay (a short three-mile ride from Yarmouth), costs from just £243 for two sharing (£121.50pp).