My brother's family recently had a wintery trip to the Isle of Wight. Despite my advice that there were quite a few winter days out to choose from, he decided that they would visit Tapnell Farm Park six times in seven days.
By the end of the week he was handing out unwanted advice to passers by on how to achieve a good lap time on the go-karts and asking the manager if he could deliver a talk on mini-beasts.
Now, I'm certainly a big fan of Tapnell Farm Park, particularly in winter but I think it's time we look at some of the new stuff coming to the Isle of Wight in 2020 for people who are stuck in a rut of visiting the same stuff every year (are you reading this, Brother Guru?).
So here are 6 new things coming to the Isle of Wight in 2020:
1. 1970 Festival celebrations
Back in 1970, the world and his scantily-clad dog turned up at the Isle of Wight Festival. Some estimates reckon that 600,000 or 700,000 people were there, although no-one knows for sure because they don't make clickers which go up that high. Some of the locals found it a bit much and needed to lie down in a darkened room for 32 years before the Festival returned to the Island in 2002.
In 2020, a reunion festival called Experience 1970 is taking place on the original site.
Meanwhile, the Isle of Wight Festival will no doubt mark the occasion in one way or another. The current lineup includes Lionel Richie, Duran Duran and Snow Patrol. Seeour festival guide for more info.
2. The Sandown Sprint
Some wags might claim that young men have been racing along Sandown seafront for years, but 2020 will see a legal option with up to 100 cars taking part in the Sandown Sprint. The roads will be closed and cars will race along the seafront against the backdrop of Bembridge Downs.
3. Sandown's High Nets Course
I haven't managed to find an opening date for Sandown's new high nets course, but I have a hunch it will be in 2019. Sandham Gardens has seen a number of upgrades recently including the new dinosaur themed minigolf course which is turning it into a decent attraction which will eventually fill several hours on a sunny day.
It was originally going to be high ropes, but it turned out there was a slight risk that it might fall to pieces thanks to the sea air.
4. Tapnell Farm's Aqua Park
The thought of falling into a lake doesn't seem especially appealing in mid-December, but I'm sure that will all change by the Spring when the Isle of Wight's 'first outdoor floating aqua park' opens. I guess it'll be a bit like that Total Wipeout programme where Richard Hammond made sarcastic remarks from his lounge whilst a presenter on the other side of the world did all the running around. Perhaps they'll call it Total Wightout?
And here's a photo of how it is coming along, from one of my brother's many trips to Tapnell Farm...
5. Er, something new at Shanklin Seafront's Summer Arcade
I'm afraid I don't have a lot of insider information on this one, but our last trip to the Summer Arcade on Shanklin Seafront revealed a couple of big changes.
The outdoor space has now got a roof on it (see the first photo) and the bumper cars and inflatable slides have gone to make way for...something.
Meanwhile, the indoor mini go kart section in the arcade has gone too (see the second photo).
We shall return in the spring to see what's arrived.
6. Premier Inn on SAndown seafront and Priory Bay Hotel
OK, so we don't know for certain that these two hotels will be opening/re-opening in 2020 but I thought they were worth a mention.
Premier Inn has been on the cards for some time and the official updates website says it hopes to open in Spring 2020. This may sound like a great big plug for one hotel, but there aren't many chain hotels operating on the Island and they generally aren't in prominent seafront locations.
Meanwhile, Priory Bay Hotel is one of the poshest hotels on the Isle of Wight. It was bought a couple of years ago and has been undergoing a big redevelopment across its 60 acre site.
It even has its own beach which is one of my favourites thanks to its ability to look paradisaical on a summer's day. My father told me that the sand on the beach was imported to make it extra golden but it's quite possible he made that up. We don't have an opening date for that one yet - Google tells me that it is 2020, but the official website just said TBC when I checked, so don't get your dinner jacket dry cleaned just yet.
Have we missed any major new events or attractions opening on the Isle of Wight in 2020? Feel free to give them a plug in the comments section below.
I bought a new front door a few months ago.
It came in anthracite grey and has a small diamond shaped window, a bit like the shape of the Isle of Wight on its side.
The guy who sold it to me (Keith) was full of praise for its ability to withstand repeated beatings from masked intruders carrying sledgehammers. He offered to show me a video on YouTube on his phone.
I tried to explain that I live on a cul-de-sac in a quiet village, surrounded by retirees, and that the risk of rioting was minimal unless there was an unexpected result in the Strictly dance-off.
I offered Keith a cup of tea. Keith was persistent so I coughed up £1200 and said thankyou.
It was perhaps the most boring way that I have willingly spent money and I'm still getting over it.
As an old man would say, you don't get a lot for your money nowadays.
With this in mind, I want to make the exact same argument that I made last year that the Isle of Wight Festival is good value.
Here's the lineup so far, in case you missed it.
If you were quick off the mark, you could have bought the early bird Islander tickets in June 2019 for £115 or £126 including the booking fee. The full price tickets will be £185 and the Islander rate is £145 (plus fees) -they go on sale on Friday or there's a deal with Barclaycard for another 10% off.
So how does that compare to individual gig tickets?
Let's assume that you wanted to see Lionel Richie on tour after watching his famous Glastonbury performance at the local cinema. You paid £30 for two cinema tickets and a bucket of popcorn and you'd like to relive the magic.
Tickets to see Lionel Richie at the one day Hampton Court Palace Festival 2020 start at £115 (although when I looked, the cheapest pair of tickets on Ticketmaster was actually £148 each plus booking fees).
So, a one day 'festival' costs the same as the early bird price for the whole three/four days of the Isle of Wight Festival including camping. And the actual price you can get tickets for is about the same as the standard Islander rate for the weekend.
Perhaps though you don't like Lionel Richie. Perhaps you don't want to stand in Seaclose Park and sing Dancing on the Ceiling.
Perhaps you'd rather put a glostick in your straw hat and dance to Pete Tong's Ibiza Classics at the O2 in London. That'll be £40 please...plus a booking fee.
Or how about Lewis Capaldi at the SSE Arena? That's £32 please, sir. How will you be paying today? Did I mention there's a booking fee?
How about the Kaiser Chiefs for another £27 or Supergrass for £43? Can I take the long number from your credit card please?
Sam Fender in London? That's £26 please. Primal Scream in Nottingham? That's £30 please - can I take the three digits from the back of the card please, sir?
James Arthur at the O2? That's £34 please, or can I interest you in a 'platinum' ticket for £174? Dido in London? That's £42 please.
You'd rather see Snow Patrol at the Royal Albert Hall? That's £66 please. Will that be VISA or Mastercard, sir? Did I mention that there's something called a 'handling fee' which is entirely necessary even though the ticket is digital and can't actually be handled? Would you also like to pre-book parking in Central London for the same cost as a new car?
But you're a Duran Duran fan? I'm afraid they aren't touring at the moment, but you could have headed over to the USA and paid £250 to see them if you wanted? Don't forget to plant a couple of trees to offset all that guilt.
I'm sorry, I got carried away.
Now, obviously you're not going to want to see every single act at the Festival, but if you're interested in one or two acts per day I reckon it's good value. And that's without all the other festival stuff, like the kids' zone and the smaller stages.
Ah yes, but you've got to pay to get to the Isle of Wight. Isn't it the most expensive crossing in the world, or something like that?
Yes, it's certainly true that the ferry can be expensive but if you travel as a foot passenger it's £11 return with Red Funnel, £16 with Wightlink, or 50% off with Hovertravel.
And let's not forget that the rest of the lineup hasn't been announced yet.
If you'd like to put on a better value festival, please go ahead and I'll buy the first ticket.
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