Isle of Wight Festival organisers make 'major improvements' to roads following last year's mudbath


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The Independent Culture

Music-lovers need not fear bad weather at this year's Isle of Wight Festival following major improvements to the access routes to the site, according to the promoter.

At last year's event, heavy rainfall in the days before led to the car parks turning into mudbaths making them inaccessible and leading to massive traffic queues. This meant that even ferries became stranded in the Solent because they were unable to unload any more vehicles on to the island.

But John Giddings, promoter of the festival which is now in its 12th year, has pledged there will be no repeat of last year's mayhem as he will be providing increased car parking space with asphalt entrances to the car parks and segregated traffic routes to prevent festival traffic from interfering with local traffic.

He said: "What happened last year was we had a month's worth of rain in 24 hours and the car parks just became inaccessible - that will never happen again. To avoid a repeat, there will be twice as much car parking space and there will be proper roads at the entrances and exits."

As well as the improvements to the practicalities, Mr Giddings has transformed many of the attractions away from the main stages with new ones including a bohemian wood, cabaret club, extended dance tent, hot tubs and a bigger beach.

And festival-goers will also be able to experience art in action with a piece of stone the size of a Stonehenge slab being transformed into a piece of sculpture during the weekend.

Explaining the increased attention to events away from the stages, Mr Giddings said: "People like to be entertained, they do not want to watch groups all the time because it's four days in a field which can be gruelling and they want time and space to relax somewhere and chill out.

"They want to be treated properly, it's not the 1970s when you just dug a ditch in a field for a toilet, they want to be looked after."

Describing a typical visitor to the Isle of Wight Festival, he added: "I would describe them as someone who likes music, likes to enjoy themselves, who just likes to experience things."

And Mr Giddings said that he was as excited about this year's line-up, to be headlined by Bon Jovi, The Killers and The Stone Roses, as he was about his first event.

He said: "I am still excited, the moment I'm not, I won't be coming any more."

Mr Giddings added that he enjoyed putting together a varied line-up and choosing up-and-coming bands and seeing them flourish by the time they reach the festival.

He said: "A big part of the fun of putting together the line-up is predicting where a group will Bastille have really taken off and I'm really excited to have them on the Saturday afternoon."

Describing how he chooses the artists, he added: "It's great to have the heritage of the Isle of Wight Festival with Bob Dylan and The Doors, it was the Woodstock of Europe and we have to be true to that and we should never forget that.

"Although we will never have 600,000 people come to the island again - it brought the island to a standstill."

Other acts performing at the festival, which runs from June 13 to 16 at Seaclose Park, Newport, include Paul Weller, Emeli Sande, Jake Bugg, Everything Everything, Blondie, Imagine Dragons, Ellie Goulding, Rizzle Kicks and Republica with the event starting on the Thursday night with The Farm and Happy Mondays.