Going beyond The Fringe on the Isle of Wight

What started seven years ago as a “social experiment” by a group of six 18-year-old friends, is now a showcase Fringe Festival that could become one of the leading events of its kind in the UK.

It will be fascinating to see how Ventnor Fringe continues to develop.  But based on the past seven years, there is every likelihood that what books have done for Hay-on-Wye, food has done for Ludlow and music for Dingle in Ireland, performance art might yet do for the town of Ventnor.

Based on an Edinburgh model, albeit on a much smaller scale, Ventnor Fringe now has seven years of history that it can call upon, as well as an increasingly bright and visionary future.

In the meantime the 2017 edition scheduled to take place between August 8th and 13th will also incorporate Ventnor International Festival – or “VIF”, for short.

The Ventnor Fringe, which coincides with the annual Ventnor Carnival, has already become an occasion that visitors to enjoy while they are on the Island.  But, helping to set the Friday apart in a six-day festival, VIF (according to Ventnor Fringe Director Jack Whitewood) is set to become “all about attracting more people who want to discover new sounds on England’s largest Island.”  It will feature emerging talent: all signed artists, but the kinds of acts which organisers believe will include many of the stars of the future.

A multi-venue festival featuring a carefully curated line up of the most exciting emerging artists from across the UK and beyond, it’s a place to discover the next big thing – with entry available through one, £30 wristband.

A new focus for the Ventnor Fringe, which completely dominates the entire town for six days in August, VIF is already starting to attract interest and curiosity in equal measures, and in a way that could see more visitors than ever before making their way to the Island specifically to enjoy a part of the Fringe.

The 2010 Ventnor Fringe attracted 200 people, mostly from Ventnor itself.  Today, there are 3,500 tickets available for the six day Fringe, with at least 30% of those going to people who live on the mainland, or overseas.

“It’s the Island’s only urban Festival,” explains Jack.  “It has its own vibe, and energy, and is based in venues which include churches, old halls, basements, warehouses, laundrettes, barber shops and even some of the local’s front rooms.”

Ventnor Fringe now operates out of its own HQ – the Ventnor Exchange, which is described as a “dynamic creative hub and hangout on the Isle of Wight combining a craft beer bar and record store”.  Full details can be found at http://ventnorexchange.co.uk – and, in the very near future, watch out as well for the Exchange offering visitors to the town the opportunity to join in with a whole range of “experiences”, such as joining a local photographers in some of their own favourite locations.

VIF, meanwhile, has even opened-up the possibility for organisers to offer its visitors special hotel packages, featuring local hotels and tickets to the event.  A writband for the Ventnor International Festival, plus accommodation at the Leconfield Hotel with breakfast and use of the swimming pool, starts from £78 per person.  For more details, visit: https://www.festicket.com/festivals/ventnor-international-festival/2017/packages/?buy=hotels-packages.

Comparisons with Edinburgh, and with Dingle in Ireland, are inevitable.  Still in its infancy VIF is nevertheless the Isle of Wight’s answer to an urban music festival in a selection of the town’s coolest spaces.

“I can’t think of anything else on a scale as small as Ventnor trying to do what we’re doing – in a small town of just 6,000 people,” says Jack.

“It can all appear a little weird, and very quirky.  But eventually world-class will be ‘made’ here.  Ventnor was originally built as a health spa town – and the Fringe is a modern take on that.  The environment influences what we do.  This is authentic.  It’s not a made up attraction.  And what we’re saying is that the Ventnor Fringe is the way to discover the Island’s blossoming cultural scene.”

10 of the best events on the Isle of Wight this year

The UK’s holiday Island offers a year full of fun and variety and if you have never been before, you don’t know what you are missing!

Isle of Wight Walking Festival – April 30th-May 15th

With more than 200 organised walks, the Isle of Wight Walking Festival boasts 16 days of unbeatable, informative and healthy walks for all abilities.  A great way to explore its spectacular scenery, wildlife and heritage, all walks are led by knowledgeable guides, who share their stories and history of the Island www.isleofwightwalkigfestival.co.uk

Festival of the Sea June – 18th– July 3rd

From the swashbuckling swagger of Shipwreck Isle in Ryde to the arrival of the world’s leading annual solo sailing race, the Solitaire Bompard – Le Figaro in Cowes – plus lots of nautically-themed entertainment and activity for the whole family – the Festival of the Sea is one of the most eye-catching coastal events anywhere around the UK coastline this summer http://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk/whats-on/events/festival-of-the-sea

The Isle of Wight Festival – June 9th-12th

The 2016 Isle of Wight Festival will once again be staged at Seaclose Park, in Newport on the Isle of Wight with headline performances by Queen + Adam Lambert, the Stereophonics and Faithless www.isleofwightfestival.com

Ventnor Fringe – August 9th-14th

A celebration of the arts, showcasing emerging and established talent across every creative discipline on the Isle of Wight as well as artists from around the world.  This year it will be expanding with the International Festival www.vfringe.co.uk

Cowes Week – August 6th-13th

Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week will take place this year from Saturday August 6th to 13th, and will feature an exciting and diverse blend of competitive sailing – as well as a strong social scene including Ladies Day – and the famous fireworks that take place on the final Friday of the event http://www.aamcowesweek.co.uk

The Garlic Festival – August 15th&16th

A vast array of eats, sights and sounds, the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival has become one of the Island’s most iconic events and is a superb family day out. Alongside the celebration of garlic (including in ice cream and beer form) there is live entertainment and music as well as hundreds of local arts and craft stalls http://www.garlic-festival.co.uk/

Ryde Carnival – September 1st

The oldest carnival in Britain dating back to 1886, Ryde Carnival is the largest community celebratory event of its kind on the Island. A spectacular fusion of carnival costumes, dance and performance http://www.rydecarnival.com/ryde-carnival-dates-2016/

Bestival – September 8th-11th

Another of the UK’s leading music festivals, Bestival will this year be staged in Robin Hill Country Park on the Isle of Wight between September 8th to 11thth.  The Cure, Major Lazer, Hot Chiip and Fat Boy Slim are amongst those to have already confirmed they will be playing this year http://www.bestival.net

The Isle of Wight Literary Festival – October 12th-16th

See and hear a cornucopia of literary talent at the Isle of Wight Literary Festival held at Northwood House in Cowes.  In addition to talks there will be walks, workshops, competitions, debates, children’s story telling, lots of music and a chance to sharpen your wits at a pub quiz http://www.isleofwightliteraryfestival.org/

Isle of Fright (October half-term)

Take an enchanted steam train trip, wander through the magical Electric Woods, visit the former haunts of smugglers and have the fright of your life at Spooky Castle as you visit the Isle of Fright this October half-term http://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk/whats-on/events/isle-of-fright

For all other events, please go to www.visitisleofwight.co.uk

Image attached: ‘Film in the Woods’ held during Ventnor Fringe, please credit Jon Ritchie.



Ventnor Fringe expands with International Festival

An intimate gig by Liverpool’s rising Psychedelic pop trio Stealing Sheep and an underground party with Belgian Electro-swing outfit Boogie Belgique are among the first events to be announced for the inaugural Ventnor International Festival, which will run alongside the successful Ventnor Fringe on the Isle of Wight.
Run by the Fringe team, the International Festival will combine a selection of unique events in locations both traditional and unconventional. Together with the open access Fringe, in which any artist can apply to take part and keep 100% of their ticket sales, the two events will showcase a huge programme of music, theatre, film, comedy, spoken word and visual arts in more than 20 different venues from the 9th – 14th August 2016.
Described by The Sunday Times as “…rapidly becoming the country’s most surprising and inspirational multidisciplinary arts festival” the Ventnor Fringe hosted well over 300 performers in 2015 with record breaking ticket sales.

The Fringe is also delighted to announce today the creation of a new Festival Hostel, providing affordable accommodation from £17.50pn. Details and tickets for all events are available from www.vfringe.co.uk.

For more information, contact Jack Whitewood, Festival Director, Ventnor Fringe Festival, E-mail: jack@vfringe.co.uk

— END—
Stealing Sheep

Boogie Belgique


Top 10 reasons for visiting The Isle of Wight in 2016

1. Listen with Mother

This year’s Acoustic Isle takes place from February 24 to March 6 – which also happens to coincide with Mothering Sunday.  The Isle of Wight’s Acoustic Isle music festival now takes place each year and builds on the Island’s strong musical heritage and festival scene.  This “unplugged” music event features hundreds of musicians coming together to perform a series of relaxed gigs in Isle of Wight pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants…and even on board selected ferries.

2. Anchors aweigh

The Isle of Wight’s Festival of the Sea will once again be staged in 2016, from June 18th to July 3rd.  The Festival will coincide with the Round Island Yacht Race on July 2nd – an even bigger race than those held in Cowes Week which will be held from August 6th to 13th.  2016, meanwhile also marks the arrival of another major sailing spectacle on the Isle of Wight in late June – La Solitaire du Figaro .

3. Winston’s walk

An Isle of Wight “Churchill Trail” is scheduled to be launched this Easter.  Winston’s parents, Randolf and Jenny Jerome, met at a party on a yacht moored off of Cowes.  Randolf proposed to her two days later in the garden of an Island cottage on the seafront.  Local author Anthony Churchill has written an impressive coffee table book on the connections between the Churchill family and the Isle of Wight.  Based on that, the new trail visits the locations that have a connection to the family across the Island.

4. Squirrel away an E-bike

The Isle of Wight will launch an entirely new electric bike scheme from this Spring.  Red Squirrel Electric Bikes will feature 25 former French postal service bicycles, which can be hired online, or in person, and then picked-up on arrival at the Island from Visit Isle of Wight’s Visitor Centre at The Guildhall in Newport.  Hire cost is £35 per day (over 14s only), and will includes a map listing charge points at island pubs and cafes, plus cycle helmet and high-vis jacket.  The scheme will be rolled out to include other parts of the island in the near future.  For more information go to visitisleofwight.co.uk, or follow on Twitter @RedSquirrelBike.

5. A new moo-seum for the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight is set to welcome a new all-weather family attraction, in Spring 2016.  Tapnell Farm Park (the full website will go live in March), near Yarmouth, will offer a range of new activities including animal encounters, an immersive “moo-seum”, a fun-packed indoor soft play barn, outdoor play areas with pedal go karts and a “Jumping Pillow”, farm tours, café and refreshment area, and gift shop.  Central to the new offering will be a host of interactive animal encounters allowing visitors to get up close and personal with a range of farm animals, as well as a friendly mob of wallabies.  The farm park will give visitors of all ages the opportunity to learn about cows with an interactive “moo-seum”, set in the working farm’s former milking parlour. The attraction will stand alongside the award winning Tom’s Eco Lodge and the popular Cow Co restaurant.

6. Oriental spirits set to rise in electric woods

A stunning spectacle of Oriental themed light, sound and entertainment will mark the Chinese New Year at Robin Hill’s award-winning electric woods during February half term.  From Saturday 13 to 21, visitors can experience the park’s mystical woodland illuminated with a Far Eastern twist to capture the spirit of one of the world’s most popular celebrations.  As dusk falls, the oriental theme will truly take effect as a dazzling array of coloured lanterns, flags and features bring the ancient woodland to life.  Visitors can enjoy a series of new sound and light displays dispersed around the woodland – each display taking on a different elemental theme of ‘earth’, ‘wind’ and ‘water’ with ‘fire’.  There will also be new lighting effects never seen before in the electric woods.  Chinese themed entertainment, refreshments based around an authentic oriental menu, and a traditional tea ceremony will complete the experience.  Open every evening from 5pm to 9pm during, tickets will cost £10.95 per person (aged 4+) and are available to purchase in advance from the website.

7. Isle of Wight hits the right note in 2016

The Island boasts two of the biggest events on the summer calendar in The Isle of Wight Festival which takes place from June 9th-12th in 2016, and Bestival scheduled for September 8th-11th in 2016.  Other music events scheduled for the Isle of Wight in 2016 include Newport Jazz Weekend and V-Dub Island.

8. The Year of the English Garden

Taking the tercentenary of Capability Brown as a starting point, VisitEngland has named 2016 The Year of the English Garden.  So what better time than now to promote The Isle of Wight as ‘The Garden Isle’?  Highlights of our horticultural year will once again spring up across the Island throughout the year.

9. Time for bed

North House – a country town house – set in the heart of Cowes old town is set to offer an ultimate getaway on the Isle of Wight.  In addition to 16 bedrooms North House will have a restaurant, bar, library, country garden and swimming pool.  Rooms will boast king-sized beds, well stocked in-room pantries, coffee machines, spacious bathrooms with roll top baths and walk in showers, fluffy bathrobes and slippers!  North House is scheduled to open late April 2016.  Another newcomer for 2016 is VIP Cottages.

10. Be arty on the Isle

The Ventnor Fringe is a celebration of the arts, showcasing emerging and established talent across every creative discipline on the Isle of Wight.  The Fringe will take place from August 9 to 14 in 2016.  Other arts events on the Island this year include Isle of Wight Arts Open Studios throughout July; The Isle of Wight Literary Festival from October 14 to 18; and Quay Arts throughout the year.

For all tourist information about the Isle of Wight, visit www.visitisleofwight.co.uk.


For further information about The Isle of Wight, please contact:

Sue Emmerson, Press Officer, Visit Isle of Wight

07766 705672


Notes to Editors

Working in partnership with Visit England, Visit Isle of Wight Ltd (VIOW) is responsible for developing tourism and attracting more visitors to the Isle of Wight.   As well as the consumer website www.visitisleofwight.co.uk the DMO also operates a small industry website containing recent research and tourism news along with links to Visit England reports and opportunities www.visitwight.org

Get social media updates from Visit Isle of Wight.   Go to https://www.facebook.com/VisitIOW, https://twitter.com/VisitIOW, https://instagram.com/visitisleofwight/, https://www.youtube.com/user/VisitIsleofWight, https://plus.google.com/114584030216192729120/posts



The Ventnor Fringe is delighted to reveal Liam Bailey as the Friday night headliner of ‘The Spire Sessions’ a new micro-music festival taking place as part of the Fringe, with tickets for the event going on sale today (Monday 28th January).


Blending classic soul with a contemporary feel, Liam Bailey is a rising star with a sincere, authentic voice that sounds wise beyond his years. Originally brought to the public’s attention through the late Amy Winehouse who released his first two EP’s on her imprint ‘Lioness Records’ his performance at the Fringe follows a sell out show at London’s Union Chapel and performances at major festivals across the country in 2012. His has also collaborated with artists such as Chase & Status, including co-writing and providing the vocals for “Blind Faith” which reached No 5 in the UK Single Charts and his latest release ‘Please Love Me’ confirms a man of true talent.


Also joining the line up will be Fringe favourite Marques Toliver, MOBO Nominee Ayanna Witter-Johnson, L.A Salami, Seye, Fiona Bevan, William Carl Jnr, Joseph Reuben and Summer Pearl with more acts still be announced.


“The Spire Sessions” is a new collaboration between Ventnor Fringe Director Jack Whitewood and Love Is The Law Magazine and is set to be a highlight of the 2013 Fringe, with special intimate performances in and around Trinity Church over the 16th and 17th August 2013. Tickets for all events over both days start at £35, or alternatively individual tickets to Liam Bailey’s performance are available at £12 thought the Ventnor Fringe Box Office at www.vfringe.co.uk