Isle of Wight festival organisers promise no repeat of last year's chaos as revellers board ferries for the 2013 event


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The Independent Culture

Thousands of music-lovers have been piling on to ferries to the Isle of Wight for the first of the major summer music festivals.

Bon Jovi, the Killers and the Stone Roses will headline the Isle of Wight Festival with Bob Geldof reforming the Boomtown Rats after a 26-year break to make a special appearance on Sunday.

Rumours have started to spread that Geldof will join Bon Jovi on stage in the festival climax on Sunday.

Speaking to Absolute Radio, he said: "I know this sounds really matey but usually when he plays here, I get up on stage and do a tune with him because he is a mad Rats fan."

When asked if he would do the same at Isle of Wight, he said: "Maybe, maybe. Say no more."

Speaking of Jon Bon Jovi, he added: "He's a seriously good guy and he has been a good friend. And for all that stuff that we have done, like Live Aid and Live 8, he has pitched up and done it whenever we have asked him with the full band.

"When he comes over, usually I get up and do a Rats song with him because he likes doing them. So I am really more than happy to do warm-up for a mate."

When asked how it was when the Rats got back together in the rehearsal room, he said: "Yeah, awkward, after 27 years of everyone going off their separate ways and going around the world doing this, that and the other - all coming back and the only foundation you have together is this music and this band.

"We were glad to see each other and you have a coffee and that, you're having a bit of craic, but the jokes are all from 26 years ago or 30 years ago, whenever we started in '75. And then suddenly you are playing and that brings it right up to the moment."

Festival-goers have been promised by the organisers that there will not be a repeat of last year's scenes of chaos when heavy rainfall turned the car parks into mudbaths.

The traffic queues even led to ferries becoming stranded in the Solent because they were unable to unload any more vehicles on to the island.

John Giddings, promoter of the festival, which is now in its 12th year, has invested in larger car parking fields with asphalted entrances to help prevent a recurrence.

Among those heading across from Portsmouth to the island were Tazz McCarthy, 22, and Bronia Burlinska, 21, both from north London, who are returning to the festival for the second year.

Miss McCarthy said: "I'm so looking forward to it. The atmosphere at the Isle of Wight Festival is amazing. It's the second time we've been to it and I'm still wearing my wristband from last year."

Adding that the poor weather last year and the heavy winds hitting the island today had not put her off, she said: "Last year, I saw our tent lopsided with a couple of bags on it and said 'I feel sorry for whoever's tent that is' and then realised it was ours."

Clare Thornhill, 26, from Preston, Lancashire, who was heading across with friends Charlotte Gillett, 22, and Lucy Judge, 23, said: "We're used to the bad weather. We're from up north, this is nothing to what we get at home."

Martin Payne, 36, from Helston, Cornwall, was arriving with 13 friends to celebrate his stag do.

Pushing a trolley with a dozen crates of beer and cider, he said: "We're going to have four days of drinking and cavorting, well, not too much cavorting.

"The wedding's not until September so I've plenty of time to recover."

As well as the practical improvements, Mr Giddings has created new attractions away from the main stages, with additions including a bohemian wood, cabaret club, extended dance tent 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 sculpture during the weekend.

The luxury side of the festival has also expanded, with hot tubs and barrel saunas being available in a new spa area, and in the campsite, Tangerine Fields is providing hundreds of campers with pre-pitched tents with extra luxuries such as a pamper parlour and phone-charging.

A spokesman for the company, which has been operating for 10 years, said: "All of Tangerine Fields' tents are re-used until they can't stay up late any more, then their good bits are taken and passed on to younger models, getting the maximum use out of everything before it is retired.

"All of the left-over sleeping bags are donated to various local and national charities including Oxfam and Crisis and His Church and so far over 40,000 homeless people, Scout groups and hostels have directly benefited from Tangerine Fields and the kindness of their guests."

Some Bon Jovi fans have been disappointed that guitarist Richie Sambora will not be performing after he recently quit the group's North American tour.

Other acts performing at the festival, which runs until Sunday at Seaclose Park, Newport, include Paul Weller, Emeli Sande, Jake Bugg, Everything Everything, Blondie, Imagine Dragons, Ellie Goulding, Rizzle Kicks and Republica, with the music starting tonight for campers with The Farm and Happy Mondays.

Police will be patrolling the festival site and have helped develop traffic plans to prevent a repeat of last year's problems.

Chief Superintendent Dave Hardcastle, of Hampshire Police, said: "Our focus is on helping to ensure such a large influx and exit of people is handled safely and with the minimum of impact."