The Isle of Wight has become increasingly popular over the years, with award-winning beaches, the huge Isle of Wight Festival and Bestival festival helping to secure its position as a “staycation” favourite with tourists.
This diamond-shaped island, the largest in England, sits beneath the southeast coast and is separated from the mainland by the Solent. Thirteen beaches (three of which are Blue Flag), over 500 miles of footpaths and 60 miles of cycling networks criss-cross the island, making it ideal for outdoor pursuits.
On top of that, the island has an exciting line-up of events this summer, offering something for everyone. Here are some of our favourites:
One of the most famous of all the summer events is the Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week from 11-18 August. The regatta is the largest of its kind in the world and attracts over 8,500 competitors and more than 100,000 spectators. For speed junkies there’s also the Cowes Classic 2012 powerboat race from 24-26 August.
Handily, we’ve found a break for two that will take you there for free -- the package includes two nights at Luccombe Hall on the cliff tops of Shanklin, with a 4-course dinner each and return car ferry travel from Southampton to Cowes.
If you’re after a more sedate pace, there’s the Jigsaw Festival in East Cowes. This unique event takes place from 13-18 August and draws over 1,000 people each year who come to see the 300 plus jigsaws on display.
Possibly even more off the wall is the Garlic Festival from 18-19 August. Held in Newchurch, it’s the island’s largest summer show with heaps of food stalls (mostly garlic-themed), live music and fairground rides. There's also a dedicated garlic farm.
A scattering of carnivals will be held throughout August, including Ventnor Carnival on 15 August, Pan Carnival on 24 August, St Helens Main Carnival on 27 August and Cowes Illuminated Carnival on 25 August. All promise to be great fun for all the family.
And if that’s all a bit too much, we suggest treating yourself to a spa break on the island’s southeast coast. For £178 between two people you get an overnight stay for two at Melville Hall, dinner and a spa treatment -- choose from a full body massage, a hot stone back massage, a facial, a manicure or a pedicure.