When someone mentions the Isle of Wight Festival, most people automatically think of music.The Isle of Wight has one of the best music festivals in all of Europe, but there is another, very different festival that takes place on the island.
This is the annual Garlic Festival.
Its look and feel will remind you of Woodstock in the late '60s mixed with a county fair. Add fresh, cooked and processed garlic to the mixture, sprinkle with music and more local food, and you'll end up with something unique to the Isle of Wight. The Garlic Festival began as a fundraiser for the local school in 1983. Since then visitor numbers have grown from a small group of locals to 20,000 people.
The festival coincides with the harvest of the local garlic farm's crops and is usually held at the end of August. Newchurch Garlic Farm, the spiritual home of the festival, started when the current owner's mum grew her own garlic back in the 1970's.
The superior quality of the crop, compared to store purchased garlic, encouraged her to search out even more information and varieties. Today the Garlic Farm grows enough to supply the country with an alternative to imported garlic.
Each year the festival highlights the produce of the island. Just picture the mouthwatering Dunesberry Farm lamb and imagine the inviting smells as it is grilled, broiled, stewed, or cooked in any number of enticing ways. Of course, it has to compete with the food from booths around the island serving every possible recipe for garlic you can imagine.
Music and fun are also part of the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival. There is entertainment, antique vehicles, sporting events and beautiful arts and crafts. All money made still goes to the island charities, so whatever is spent also does a great deal of good for the island and its communities.
There are various ways to get you to the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival. Travelling to the Isle of Wight from the mainland is easy with Red Funnel, the Isle of Wight Specialist. Vehicle ferries run regularly around the clock from Southampton, which is within easy reach of the M3 and M27. For further information visit Red Funnel or find them on Facebook!
Day trips from the mainland are also a popular option, as are escorted coach tours starting from many places around the country. But for a real treat, you should consider a longer stay. Try a farm holiday or stay at a local bed and breakfast or guest house.
There's much to see on the beautiful island. Besides the Garlic Festival, there are plenty of other things to do:
So, don't worry about vampires or your breath since everyone smells of garlic at the festival! Just bring your appetite for garlic and other good food, your sense of adventure and a desire for a tasty, fragrant and exhilarating outing.
I promise that once you're back home, you'll have the most wonderful, unusual story to tell your friends! And while you're at the festival, don't forget to learn the Official Garlic Festival Song to accompany your story.
For dates, timetables, places to stay and what to do, please check out the offical website of the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival here.