Isle of Wight Festival

The Isle of Wight Festival is a music festival which takes place every year on the Isle of Wight in England. It was originally held from 1968 to 1970. The 1970 event was by far the largest and most famous of these early festivals and the unexpectedly high attendance levels led, in 1971, to Parliament passing the "Isle of Wight Act" preventing gatherings of more than 5,000 people on the island without a special licence. The event was revived in 2002 at Seaclose Park, a recreation ground on the outskirts of Newport. It has been held annually since that year, progressively expanding.

Original festival

The original events were promoted and organised by the Foulk brothers -Ron, Ray and Bill Foulk- under the banner of their company Fiery Creations Limited. The venues were Ford Farm (near Godshill), Wootton and Afton Down (near Freshwater) respectively. The 1969 event was notable for the appearance of Bob Dylan in his first performance since his 1966 motorcycle accident. The 1969 festival opened on Friday 29 August, eleven days after the close of Woodstock. The 1970 event was by far the largest and most famous of these early festivals; indeed it was said at the time to be one of the largest human gatherings in the world, with estimates of over 600,000, surpassing the attendance at Woodstock. Included in the line-up of over fifty performers were The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, The Doors, Ten Years After, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Joni Mitchell, The Moody Blues, Melanie, Donovan, Gilberto Gil, Free, Chicago, Richie Havens, John Sebastian, Leonard Cohen, Jethro Tull, Taste and Tiny Tim. The 1970 festival was filmed by a 35mm film crew under the direction of future Academy Award-winning director Murray Lerner who at that point had just directed the Academy Award-nominated documentary of the Newport Folk Festival. The footage passed to Lerner in settlement of legal fees after a dispute with the Foulk brothers in which the two sides claimed against each for breach of contract. Lerner distilled material from the festival into the film A Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Rock Festival released theatrically in 1996 and subsequently on DVD. In addition to this film, Lerner has created full-length films focused on performances by individual artists at the 1970 festival. To date there have been individual films of The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Moody Blues, Free, Leonard Cohen and Jethro Tull. The commercial failings of the festival and the logistical nightmare of transporting 600,000 people onto an island with a population of fewer than 100,000 ensured it was the last event of its kind on the Isle of Wight for thirty-two years.


Held on 31 August and 1 September 1968.
Attendance: 10,000 (approx.)
Site: Ford farm, near Godshill.
Headline Acts: Jefferson Airplane
Other Acts: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, The Move, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Plastic Penny and The Pretty Things.

Arthur Brown


Held on 30 and 31 August 1969.
Attendance: 200,000 (approx.)
Site: Wootton. 
Line-up: Bob Dylan, The Band, The Nice, The Pretty Things, The Who, Third Ear Band, Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Fat Mattress, The Moody Blues, Family and more.

The Nice


Held between 26 and 30 August 1970.
Attendance: 600,000 (approx.)
Site: Afton Down. 
Line-up: Jimi Hendrix, Jethro Tull, Ten Years After, Chicago, The Doors, The Who, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Moody Blues, Joan Baez, Free, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Kris Kristofferson, Donovan, John Sebastian, Terry Reid, Taste, Miles Davis,  Shawn Phillips, Supertramp, Family, Procol Harum, Fairfield Parlour, Cactus and more.

Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull-My Sunday feeling

Emerson, Lake & Palmer

The Moody Blues-Gypsy / Tuesday Afternoon / Never Comes The Day 

Revived festival

The event was revived in 2002 at Seaclose Park, a recreation ground on the outskirts of Newport. It has been held annually since that year, progressively extending itself northwards beyond Seaclose Park along the fields of the eastern Medina valley. Many notable artists have performed since its revival including The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Muse, Stereophonics, Donovan, Ray Davies, Robert Plant, David Bowie, Manic Street Preachers, The Who, R.E.M., Coldplay, The Proclaimers, Bryan Adams, The Police, Foo Fighters and Kings of Leon. Apart from being held on the Isle of Wight, and featuring the now customary artwork of Dave Roe, there is no connection with the festivals of 1968–1970. On the 6 November 2007, the Isle of Wight Festival won the award 'Best Major Festival' at the UK Festival Awards. The performances by Muse and The Rolling Stones at the last festival were a major influence. As well as this, the event's top man, John Giddings, won the award for 'Outstanding Contribution' to UK festivals. He was presented the award at the UK Festival Awards at London’s Koko Club in Camden, after Virtual Festivals, which curate the awards, selected him as the most deserving recipient.