5 free things to do on the... Isle of Wight

Date Posted: 11/10/2012

Pictured: Enjoy free entertainment during Cowes Week, one of the biggest events in the sailing calendar.

Pictured: Enjoy free entertainment during Cowes Week, one of the biggest events in the sailing calendar.

The next destination on our ‘5 Free Things’ hit list is the Isle of Wight. Here’s a host of attractions and events you can enjoy for free when planning a group holiday to the island.

1. Visit the famous Farmers Market and Garlic Farm

The Isle of Wight is famed for its local produce, and to see some of its best examples you can visit the regular Farmer’s Market in Newport and Ryde, and the Garlic Farm at Newchurch.

Supported by the Island 2000 Trust, the Farmer’s Market has drawn many people in recent years and has been a regular stop for The Queen and Prince Philip on their visits to the Isle of Wight.

The Garlic Farm is reputed to be the UK’s largest specialist garlic grower. Alongside its heritage centre and summer guided tours, it boasts an array of specialist products for groups of garlic lovers, including garlic beer, pickles and relishes.

2. Cowes Week and Sailing Events

Every August the town of Cowes plays host to one of the biggest events on the sailing calendar with nearly 1,000 yachts taking part across a range of events and classes. With so many races to watch from Cowes seafront and parade, there is rarely a quiet moment during Cowes Week. Throughout the regatta those arranging a group trip can enjoy a whole host of free entertainment, day and night, including live bands and music for all ages.

The traditional finish to Cowes Week is a spectacular firework display over the water which lights up the many boats across the Solent.

3. Arts and Literature

The Quay Arts is the Isle of Wight’s leading art gallery, situated in a converted 19th century brewery warehouse in the island’s capital town of Newport. The gallery houses a number of regular exhibitions by local and international artists across its three galleries, along with a café area. It also hosts special events in its Minghella Theatre - named after the Isle of Wight-born Oscar-winning director, and the centre itself plays host to a number of workshops and talks.

Walk the Tennyson Trail.

Pictured: Walk the Tennyson Trail and enjoy stunning views across the Isle of Wight.

With so many famous literary figures including Charles Dickens, Wadsworth, Keats and of course Alfred Tennyson with links to the Isle of Wight, it is no surprise the island now hosts its own Literary Festival. Taking place in October there are a variety of free talks and workshops to attend with a number of well-known guest speakers and authors in attendance.

4. Take a walk through history along the Tennyson Trail

Beginning at Carisbrooke Castle, the fort in which Charles I was famously imprisoned before his execution in 1649, and finishing at the Needles old gun battery; the Tennyson Trail takes in some of the most spectacular views and coastline the Isle of Wight has to offer.

Ideal for special interest parties or hiking groups, this challenging 15-mile walk will take you across the beautiful Isle of Wight downs, through Brighstone Forest, and along to the rugged cliffs and landscape of Freshwater Bay. From here you join the coastal path, climbing up past the striking Tennyson Monument (dedicated to the famous poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson), then finally along to the Needles Battery. The battery itself is free for National Trust members, and offers access to the best available views of the famous Isle of Wight Needles.

5. Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary

Established in 1987 to provide a permanent home for any donkeys in need of care and attention, the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary is a great place for children and family groups to visit. Having helped over 200 animals over the years, the sanctuary has a number of volunteers on hand to chat to visitors about the donkeys and show them round.

The Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary relies entirely on donations and fundraising activities, but there are donation boxes dotted around and the option to adopt a donkey is also available. 

For further group travel information visit www.islandbreaks.co.uk.

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