(28 January 2020) In 2019, the Isle of Wight was named one of the country’s best-rated destinations in TripAdvisor’s annual Travellers’ Choice awards. It was also recently awarded the UNESCO Biosphere reserve status, which celebrates the Island’s sustainable relationship between people and nature. And it isn’t hard to see why. With around 57 miles of coastline, part of the Jurassic coastline, award-winning beaches, expansive views, rolling countryside, historic towns and villages and hundreds of family-friendly restaurants and attractions, the Island is the ideal escape from the stresses of everyday life and should be at the top of every family’s to-visit list this half term.
Getting to the Isle of Wight is passport and flight free; simple for families who can load up the boot and board one of Wightlink’s car ferries from Portsmouth or Lymington. Or take the train, bring bikes for free and travel on foot. Within minutes of leaving Wightlink’s ferry ports on the mainland, passengers enter the Biosphere Reserve, and are on the Island itself in 45 minutes or less. With an on-board cinema, soft play area and plenty of food and drink available, the journey is the ideal way to get you into the mood for Island life. And once on the Island, there are numerous events and activities that are guaranteed to keep both children and adults entertained.
By making use of Wightlink’s Kids Go Free offer, a family of four can experience any one of these activities on a day trip to the Island for just £34 (based on a day return crossing as foot passengers). Or for a longer break, prices start from £112 for a family travelling by car (based on travelling out on Monday 17th and returning on Saturday 22nd February). More information on routes and prices can be found here: https://www.wightlink.co.uk/
Here are Wightlink’s top recommendations for family fun this February half term:
Celebrate Chinese New Year at Robin Hill
After 2019’s record-breaking event, the vibrant Spirit of the Orient festival returns to Robin Hill woodlands from 14-22 February 2020. Robin Hill has become renowned for its stand-out events that attract visitors from across the country; from Diwali-inspired celebrations to spectacular Halloween shows, it caters for all. The award-winning Spirit of the Orient illuminations and entertainment run daily between 6-10pm, featuring an impressive 12-metre long dragon procession, incredible light shows, pyrotechnics and traditional lion dances. Tickets start from £15.50 and guests can upgrade for £9 to include an authentic Chinese meal. More details can be found here: https://robin-hill.com/spiritoftheorient/
Create and inspire at the Isle of Wight Story Festival
Taking place on 21 and 22 February, the inaugural Isle of Wight Story Festival includes appearances from big names in the world on children’s books, including author-illustrator Nick Sharratt, famous for his work with Jacqueline Wilson. As well as storytelling from these famous names, there will be a drama production, shadow puppet stories and performances from local creative artists. Families can create their own stories on old typewriters and make a variety of crafts too. Tickets for individual sessions start at £3 per person. More details can be found here: https://www.iwstoryfestival.com/
Stand in the footsteps of dinosaurs (literally) at Compton Bay
Known as ‘Dinosaur Island’, the Isle of Wight has the richest source of dinosaur remains in Europe. There’s no better place to search for hidden fossils than Compton Bay, where over 20 different species of dinosaur have already been discovered. Arguably the thing about Compton Bay is the giant dinosaur footprints that visitors can stand on; measuring 1-2 feet across, these three-toed footcasts are a must-see that will impress the whole family. Find out more about fossil hunting at Compton Bay here: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/compton-bay-and-downs/features/searching-for-fossils-around-compton-bay
Get Hands on with History at Osborne House
Known for being the home of Queen Victoria, Osborne House attracts visitors to the Island throughout the year. This February half term, families can get hands on with history at his world-famous estate. The event runs from 15-23 February and is free for English Heritage members. For non-members, tickets start at £11.10 and family tickets are £48.10. More details can be found here: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/whats-on/osborne-get-hands-on-with-history-big-house-15-23-feb-2020/
Junior Track Days at Wight Karting
Wight Karting is the Island’s only all-weather outdoor 520m floodlit track and this half term kids have the chance to put their skills to the test with Junior Track Days. Running from 9am until 1pm every day, these courses will teach children how to safely master go karting and provide feedback on their performance so they can earn their ‘Adrenaline Junkie’ certificate at the end of the day. For just £45 per driver, the session includes safety kit, teaching, a medal and lunch, with groups split into cadets (8-11 years old) and junior (12-15 years old). Find out more and book at: https://www.wightkarting.co.uk/product/junior-track-days-1/
Experience nature up close at Tapnell Farm
Open all year round, Tapnell Farm is a family favourite whatever the weather thanks the wallabies, meerkats, goats and other farmyard animals that visitors can get up close and personal with. As well as animals, it has an indoor adventure barn with side-by-side zip wires, a pedal go-kart track and a giant straw bale pyramid for climbing. Outside there is also a full-size go-kart track, perfect for bigger kids and adults, and giant inflatable bouncing ‘pillows’. Tickets purchased in advance online start at £6.50 per person or family tickets start at £30. More details can be found here: https://tapnellfarmpark.com/