I couldn't make it to the Isle of Wight Festival this year due to a couple of lovely friends rudely inviting me to their lovely mainland wedding.
This was a distressing situation.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the Festival over the years, even in 2017 when I was accompanied by a child who was much keener on Milkshake Live Party Party than checking out some indie band I'd read about in Melody Maker (kids, ask your parents).
Guessing the headliners has become one of my favourite annual traditions, up there with singing Auld Lang Syne, tossing pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and forgetting my brother's birthday.
I've had mixed success with my predictions in previous years but I've got a new theory which will almost certainly succeed.
There are certain artists which have appeared several times at the Isle of Wight Festival. Starsailor have been there so often that they are rumoured to permanently live in the Premier Inn at Seaclose Park as it's a convenient commute. Suzanne Vega has also appeared regularly, as has Iggy Pop. By my count, they've appeared 13 times between them.
After about 7 seconds of Googling you'll discover that they are all managed by Solo, of which John Giddings is Managing Director. I'm not sure if they have always been managed by Solo, but they are now.
If you then take a look at the roster of other Solo Music Agency artists you'll see that nearly all of them have appeared at the Isle of Wight Festival at some point.
Here's a nearly complete list:
This makes a lot of sense.
If Pharrell Williams' contact number is on your Filofax or fruit-based device then you're going to ask him to play at your festival.
Another cat amongst the pigeons is that big-player Live Nation is now a majority owner in Solo. I must admit I don't know if that increases the chance of a Live Nation artist appearing but it is presumably a foot in the door. Live Nation acts include Beyonce, Barbara Streisand, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Shakira and U2.
So, when it comes to predicting the Isle of Wight Festival lineup for 2019 we can conclude that:
I'll admit that leaves us with a pretty hefty list, but I'll be surprised if we haven't at least picked out one of the headliners for 2019.
But then again, I thought we'd vote to stay in the EU and that Gareth Gates would win Pop Idol in 2002.
If you're interested in Isle of Wight Festival 2019, tickets are on sale already.
*Guaranteed to be wrong, obviously
If I was forced to guess, I'd say that we've been to about 80% of the Isle of Wight's attractions by now.
I'm not exactly sure under which scenario I'd be pressured to make such an estimate, but there you go. Most of the ones we haven't been to are basically shops and I try to avoid taking my small children anywhere with a "breakages must be paid for" sign.
Monkey Haven has been an omission from our collection. I prefer tigers and dinosaurs to monkeys and owls but the Haven won a major award last year and the reviews are very good.
The monkeys and owls are obviously well looked after with their own play equipment which is in a better state than some council parks.
Much like Isle of Wight Zoo, there's a game where you collect stamps as you tour the park and solve a few riddles. Robin Hill recently did something similar with letters hidden around the park and Mottistone Gardens has a flowerpot people trail which transforms it from an attraction for your grandma into something that will fill time with a toddler.
Simple things like this go down well with our five year old, whose excitement goes up another gear when she realises there may be a prize at the end.
At Monkey Haven it was trickier than most, so I was able to earn a few dad points by offering solutions.
The whole place is clearly a labour of love with no signs of flakey paint or grubby playgrounds. In fact, there are two small play areas for different age groups which shows an unusually good awareness that 3 year olds and 9 year olds don't want the same thing.
We spent about 90 minutes there, including a picnic stop, although we do have a reputation with relatives for touring attractions at a rapid pace. If you're looking to fill a bit more time then I'd go for Robin Hill (which costs about twice as much) or Tapnell Farm Park (which costs about the same).
If you've got a couple of hours to spare and a child to entertain, I'd certainly give Monkey Haven a visit.
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