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Top Isle of Wight Attractions
The Best Isle of Wight Tourist Attractions (and a little about them)
Although surrounded by water, the Isle of Wight still manages to offer endless activities for tourists - so much so that the population doubles in the summer! From the average 140,000 to over 300,000, the beaches, beauty and uniqueness of 'the Island' (its local name) manages to keep tourists entertained and coming back for more!
Apart from the obvious natural beauty found in its forests and beaches, there are many events and companies devoted to offering high quality tourist attractions to make each Island visit relaxing and enjoyable.
This article sets out the top attractions using the following broad categories in order to match your interests to appropriate activities:
-The Isle of Wight Festival
- Seaview Wildlife Encounter
- Amazon World
- The Isle of Wight Zoo
-Ventnor Botanic Gardens
- Entertainment Parks/Museums
Isle of Wight Festival Information
Once pulling ~600,000 people in its 1970 event, the Isle of Wight Festival consistently attracts ~60,000 people to the Isle of Wight each year in early-mid June in its four day event. Visitors enjoy a warm atmosphere and a variety of big names like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Bon Jovi, Biffy Clyro, The Prodigy and Jay-Z.
The unique selling point of the Isle of Wight concerning Festivals is that its population is only ~140,000 (2010). This means that there is little to detract from the festival vibe as almost everyone around you is there for the same reason! The (mandatory) ferry ride will be packed with excited festival goers and is the perfect symbol of what's to come. The expression 'we're all in the same boat' has never been so literal.
For the current line-up check: https://www.isleofwightfestival.com/line-up.aspx
At a Glance: The Isle of Wight FestivalClick thumbnail to view full-size
Bestival - Information
Held each year over four days in early September, the Bestival also attracts ~60,000 people consistently and is known for its unique vibe and friendly atmosphere.
Notably, it was voted the best major UK festival in 2010 and 2012, and the Fans Favourite Festival (2011) in the UK festival awards - heralded as 'the festival world's Oscars'.
Whilst it is the Isle of Wight Festival places which places more focus on big acts, no festival would be successful without popular acts and recognising this the Bestival also brings in famous names from varying genres like Stevie Wonder, Snoop Dogg, Florence and the Machine, Emili Sandé, The Prodigy, Pendulum and Dizzee Rascal.
For the next line-up check: http://2014.bestival.net/line-up
Note: it should be stressed that the general vibe of the two festivals is different. In simple words, the Isle of Wight Festival is more mainstream whilst the Bestival more hipster. That said, both are guaranteed great experiences and if you can swallow the weekend camping ticket prices of ~£200 (camping) for each, you need not face the trouble of choosing!
Flick Through to get a Glimpse of the Bestival!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Seaview Wildlife Encounter Information
Previously known as Flamingo Park, animal lovers have long fled to Seaview Wildlife Encounter to interact with the penguins, meerkats, owls, wallabies, alpacas and many more for a family friendly day with friendly and exotic animals!
A few favourites from Amazon World.Click thumbnail to view full-size
Amazon World Information
A zoo with a rainforest theme holding endangered and rare species - some of which not available to view anywhere else in the UK or Europe!
Boasting an immense (hundreds) variety of animal species, the zoo contains family favourites such as lemurs, howler monkeys, ocelots, armadillos and slow lorises, as well as dozens of birds and insects indigenous to the Amazon rainforest!
For the full list of animals click here: http://www.amazonworld.co.uk/about_our_animals.htm
The Isle of Wight Zoo
With the goals of 'care, conservation and education' the Isle of Wight Zoo is the Island's 'zoo on the beach' and features big cats like tigers, lions, cheetahs and jaguars.
Animal enthusiasts will remember that the TV show 'Tiger Island' was filmed exclusively on the Isle of Wight and focussed on the lives and care of the Zoo's now semi-famous tigers!
Site link: http://www.isleofwightzoo.com/
For those that love refreshing walks by the seaside, a trip to Tennyson Down will provide a breezy, high altitude alternative!
Its namesake of course owed to Lord Tennyson, the famous poet would walk on the Down nearly every day during his 40 years residence on the Isle of Wight in Farringford House. He famously exclaimed that the air there was worth 'six pence a pint' and many take trips solely to see the monument erected in his commemoration atop the Down.
The Needles comprises of three huge chalk stacks that protrude from the sea and has long been an extremely popular site due to the uniqueness of its sea views. A chairlift is readily available to take you from the top of the cliff in Needle's Park down to Alum Bay, making great photos an easy feat.
The park also offers other various and unusual activities such as glass blowing, 4D cinema, 'jurassic golf' and boat trips around the Needles themselves.
Pictured below is also the Needles Battery. Once used as a military base for artillery related conduct, it now showcases the old rocket testing facilities that were once in use there!
For more information on Needles Park and the activities it offers, see: http://www.theneedles.co.uk/
The NeedlesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Ventnor Botanic Gardens
This wondrous garden boasts an array of plants rarely seen in the UK due to its specific placement. Capitalising on the protection it receives from the chalk downs, many warmth-necessitating plants are able to flourish without the cold northernly winds other UK areas receive. Mixed in with its relatively high mediterranean rainfall (28 inches yearly), sub tropical plants are not a rarity out in the open at this unique garden.
With its vast grounds open to all, long relaxing walks and picnics are abound!
Explore the Garden!
The magnificently opulent Osborne House was built in 1845 and then used as a summer house by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It is now no longer royal property - instead, it is open for the public to gaze at the vast collections of precious artifacts and paintings still held within the house.
Visitors are advised to bring picnics and relax in Osborne House's open grounds: near the gardens or fountains, or even on what was Osborne's House private beach - you can even have a swim!
A castle that was in use for 800 years, fought off the Spanish Armada and an invasion from the French, Carisbrooke Castle is a well known place amongst many history-enthusiasts. Famous for its imprisonment of King Charles I, the castle's websites boasts that guests can play bowls on the same lawn that the king himself used to play on!
Featuring a beautiful Edwardian garden and the chance to dress up in medieval wear, Carisbrooke will always remain an excellent family-day out or history trip!
A commemoration of the strong link between the Island and dinosaur fossils, this museum offers animatronics and sculptures of dinosaurs, as well as time with experts in the field of paleontology to those that visit.
The museum claims to be the first of its kind in Europe, designed specifically for the purpose of educating the public about dinosaurs through interaction.
See the video below for more!
More about Dinosaur Isle
Opened in 1843, the experience of Blackgang Chine is entertainingly and thoroughly showcased in the video below!
Footage of the Park @3:45
The Isle of Wight has of course much more to offer than the above exhaustive list and so it would be unfair to ignore a mention of the other candidates for the title of 'top' Isle of Wight attraction!
Below is a series of links to attractions that didn't quite make the list along with links to their respective websites.
- Robin Hill - Adventure Park and Gardens - Isle of Wight
Robin Hill Adventure Park and Gardens, perfect for a family day out, is an 88-acre theme park located in the village of Downend, outside of Newport, Isle of Wight.
- Brading Roman Villa | Welcome
'Brading Roman Villa is one of the finest Roman sites in the UK. Our award winning Visitor Centre and Museum offers a unique insight into Roman life in Britain from beautifully preserved mosaic floors to an extensive collection of Roman archaeology.'
- Fort Victoria Marine Aquarium - Aquarium in YARMOUTH, West Wight - Isle of Wight Tourism Website
An aquarium concentrating mainly on sea life found around the Isle of Wight. A separate section contains some of the spectacular and beautiful inhabitants of tropical reefs.