Isle of Wight Festival 2012
In an exhausted muddy mess there are tears as revellers leave what has been, against all odds, a festival of successive thrills and shattered limits of expectation. Hitting the headlines on Thursday in the early hours of the afternoon due to unprecedented rainfalls, the chaos forced some to abandon tents and in some cases the island due to fully booked B&Bs to seek sanctity, but for those who were fortunate enough to escape the worst of the weather’s wrath there was plenty of compensation.
Part of the (mis) fortune has been down to method of travel, each with pros and cons but an essential consideration. Vehicles bring the added comfort of dry storage and unlimited luggage, however the fare to cross the waters from mainland is around threefold that of train fare plus ferry (£58 next-day booking from London). Despite sinking in the mud, organisers ensured 4x4s and tow trucks were on hand to get everyone out safely when leaving the site. For railway passengers, stations at Fishbourne and Portsmouth are intrinsically linked to the ferry ports and should cause no problems for wheel chair users. The crossing can be booked separately on arrival if preferred and fares remains stable over the weekend on the Wightlink, Redfunnel and Hovercraft. There are also a number of ports on the Isle, mostly the staff and locals are keen to ensure you are guided in the right direction but the choices can sound over-whelming. Essentially, from Ryde Pier Head there is one long pier that you may walk down, get a taxi or a train. No option should leave you more than a few pounds out of pocket and at the bottom of the pier the bus stand is unmissable. £5 will get you to the main camping gates with payment made on the bus. It is advisable to withdraw cash if required before the crossing as banks in Ryde are situated at the top of a daunting hill.
With a diverse line-up this is genuinely a ‘something for everyone’ event and many people found themselves surprised and new favourites they picked up along the way – Springsteen fans have fallen for Labyrinth, children have skanked to Madness and Oasis fans have seen The Darkness in a whole new light. As festivals increasingly bring generations together one woman said “I didn’t think I could do the whole festival thing like my sons, but It’s been brilliant! Apparently changing my underwear means I’ve not done it properly though…” For the inquisitive you are bound to find new bands to love, The Virgin Marys and Band Of Skulls having been particularly notable for capturing hoards of new fans this weekend. Even the mud has brought people together as support all round has been needed for everyone to make it through unscathed.
Isle of Wight is a notably eco-friendly festival with cup collectors trailing the fields regularly and an energy point where the user has to put in what they use by cycling to power the supplies. Be wary of dropping litter, this could easily lead to a telling off by other conscientious festival goers and you risk being made to retrieve such deposits. Incentives from Carling also include QR scanning to win a shower – this may not seem so worthwhile on the first day but one winner on Sunday was overjoyed and pretty smug with her window of luxury. Vodafone customers are also well catered for as they have their own stand, although queues for this are lengthy, and phone charging points.
Preparation needn’t be over the top – apart from the inevitable over-priced convenience stores there is a garage within 10 minutes walking and a range of venues awaiting festival troops including Pizza Hut, KFC, Weatherspoon (no surprises there), a £5 per head carvery and a community hut that will assist with charging, internet and other modern day essentials. All venues are prepared with hoovers and areas you can take your wellies off. Sunday roast at Weatherspoon is a military operation which is dished out at lightning speed. They also allow you to re-charge using their power sockets but they are in high demand. It is worth bearing in mind that Pizza Hut run buffet lunches – they beat the cold burgers sold at Burger Co. and other stands in the main arena. Light packing, as with all festivals is important, as is a rucksack as wheelie bags and mud don’t mix particularly well, especially when navigating through swampland. Yes, the pictures were bang on.
Within the arena itself the stalls are fairly standard with clothes, merchandise, a convenience store and food stalls. Alcohol is bought by a ticket system in which credit cards are accepted. This has it’s drawbacks, particularly if you loose a ticket or don’t drink as much as intended however when bands clash and a drink is high on the agenda the ability to directly swap a token for a beer with no queues is a saving grace.
Of most use is the Isle of Wight app, this pops up with all manners of relevant information such as spontaneous events, weather warnings, changes to schedules and easy access to the line-up. This is particularly useful during clashes, this year has seen Professor Green/Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen/Ash The Virgin Marys/Vaccines and undoubtedly many others. Good preparation is essential to get the best of the three stages as they are situated in separate fields and working through the crowds can take time.
Ferry companies have been humorously unsympathetic, separating revellers from residents, covering the seats with plastic and in some instances power hosing passengers before board – this, apparently was an unexpected bonus.
From the care of the organisers, transport companies and formidable performances from just about every band, Isle of Wight 2012 has triumphed through it’s worst year ever – bring on 2013.