As England’s sunshine isle, the Isle of Wight is one of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations. So we spoke to Sue Emmerson of Visit Isle of Wight to find out what’s new for 2016.
You can listen to our interview or read the transcript below.
What are you most excited about for 2016?
This year sees the return of the Festival of the Sea. Our third annual festival will run from 18th June to 3rd July and it is getting bigger and better every year.
As well as lots of maritime activities happening all around the island, we have also got a fun event planned on Ryde seafront, which will be turned into Shipwreck Isle from 18-19th June. Expect two days of madness with people dressing up as pirates, having sword fights and having lots of fun. It is one of those things that the kids love because the grown ups are acting a bit silly as well.
This year the Festival of the Sea will have a new highlight with the Solitaire Bompard – Le Figaro, a major French sailing race, which will dock in Cowes Yacht Haven on 22nd June.
After sailing 510 miles from France the sailors will be absolutely exhausted as they’ve sailed single-handedly, it’s a real test of their endurance.
The race will restart on Sunday, 26th June and I’ve been told it is a fantastic sight as the skippers set sail for the finish line in La Rochelle.
Of course it’s not just about the racing. There is going to be a race village with a funfair, a food market and lots of activities for visitors, including the opportunity to get afloat with the UK sailing academy.
What’s new on the Isle of Wight for 2016?
Brand spanking new from Easter, Tapnell Farm in Yarmouth will be offering visitors a new indoor soft play barn, a mini tractor course, lots of outdoor play with peddle go-karts and a new ‘mooseum’ – aptly spelled because kids can learn about cows in the farm’s former milking parlour.
Can you give us an insider’s tip – where’s your favourite beach?
My firm favourite is Steephill Cove in Ventnor. It has got this timeless charm about it, with a small beach and a very traditional beach cafe, and there’s a really fabulous seafood restaurant down there.
You can get to the beach quite easily by walking along the coastal footpath from Ventnor, you just continue on past the Spyglass Inn. Or you can park at Ventnor Botanic Gardens and have a look round there and then head down to the beach.
If you go to Ventnor Haven Fishery on the seafront, they serve this delicious crab on chips. It is best eaten from the wrapper and out of doors.
Tell us about a surprising tourist attraction on the Isle of Wight
There is a new Churchill Trail that will enable visitors to travel around the island and visit 12 locations that have connections with Winston Churchill’s family.
I don’t think people realise there are quite so many connections. For example, we have Churchill China in Brook, where Winston regularly visited his friend Captain Jack Seely – he of War Horse fame. There’s also Cowes, where Winston’s parents first met and became engaged.
There will be a new leaflet explaining the trail available from tourist information points and island attractions from early May.
For holiday parks on the Isle of Wight, go to: https://www.breakfreeholidays.co.uk/caravan-park-holidays/uk/isle-of-wight-and-hampshire
To find out more about tourist attractions of the Isle of Wight, you can go to the website, www.visitisleofwight.co.uk.
All images, copyright Visit Isle of Wight
Except Tapnell Farm, copyright Tapnell Farm