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Downpour warning for Isle of Wight festival

Tens of thousands of music fans are heading to the Isle of Wight this weekend for the first of the summer's music festivals being headlined by former Beatle Paul McCartney.

And early arrivers today faced a major downpour as forecasters issued a Weather Alert for the south-east of England, including the Isle of Wight.

A total of 55,000 people will be attending the Isle of Wight Festival for acts which include Jay-Z, The Strokes, Blondie and Pink.

And to mark the 40th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's legendary performance at the festival, his last major event before he died, a special show by tribute act Are You Experienced? was held for campers last night.

Other acts in this year's bill include Florence And The Machine, Editors, Orbital, La Roux, Crowded House, The Saturdays, Spandau Ballet, Suzi Quatro and Biffy Clyro.

Christian O'Connell, DJ for Absolute Radio which will be broadcasting from the festival, said: "The Isle of Wight Festival is the original British music festival and for many people, the best.

"It still captures that laid back hippie vibe of the 70s and pulls off a line-up that comfortably mixes Paul McCartney with Jay-Z and The Strokes.

"It's also the official start of summer festival season, not to mention the World Cup, so there's no doubt the crowd will be on top form and ready to celebrate."

Football fans will have a chance to watch the key World Cup matches over the weekend on a large screen.

And the crowds will be called on to join in a mass sing-along of football anthem "Three Lions" to send a message of support to the England team in South Africa.

Hampshire police will be patrolling the festival site on foot and bicycle to ensure safety and to stop drug and counterfeit wristband offences.

A man received a two-year prison sentence at the island's crown court in April 2009 for his role in a conspiracy to supply counterfeit wristbands at the 2007 Isle of Wight Festival, headlined by The Rolling Stones.

The event, held at Seaclose Park, Newport, will be in its ninth year since it was reincarnated in 2002.