What better start could you want for a festival than the sun coming up, the sky being a brilliant blue and a ferry ride to the island? 

Thousands would agree as Thursday morning saw a steady stream of festival goers making the short trip across the water to start what promised to be an action-packed weekend of brilliant bands, reuniting with friends you only see once a year and the odd football game being shown on the screens dotted around the site.

Thursday is traditionally a night for the early arriving campers to enjoy music in the big top and this year was no different. Many of the people through the gates were dressed in England tops and made their way straight to the big top to catch Peter Crouch and a live version of his podcast that went out for 30 minutes before the England game kicked off and some post-match analysis.

Nearly all of the predictions of the score from the crowd were way off (4-0 to England, anyone?) but when the Three Lions went 1-0 up expectations were high from the thousands spilling out of the tent.

After the match ended and the fans drifted away it was time for the main event which is of course the music. Rick Parfitt Junior, Dagny, Ska’d For Life and Scouting For Girls all delivered excellent sets that sent everyone back to their tents to prepare for the weekend ahead that included Green Day, The Pet Shop Boys, Prodigy and hundreds of other bands across 15 stages.

Day two of the festival dawned bright and sunny and saw people streaming onto packed ferries and buses as they made their way to the first full day of the festival. The campsites slowly came to life as people emerged from their tents after a slightly disappointing afternoon watching the football and a much happier joyous time watching Scouting For Girls get the crowd going as only they can.

The food vendors were doing a roaring trade as people fuelled up for a day ahead that promised everything from The Bootleg Beatles who would have the crowd singing along to some of the best songs ever written, The Darkness that would rouse even the sleepiest punter from their slumbers to the mighty Prodigy.

I decided to spend the morning wandering the site getting my bearings so that I could navigate from stage to stage making sure I caught as many acts as I could as the day moved along. The stages vary from The River Stage that provided a lighter poppier vibe to Cirque da la Quirk supplying some of the more energetic shows of the festival along with a regular supply of pyro, via This Feeling that did an excellent job of showcasing up and coming bands. In fact, I am sure I caught The K’s there a few years ago. With that in mind I set of to catch that very band who have progressed to the main stage and provided an excellent start to the day. Highlights of the day included The Darkness, Mike Skinner of The Streets seemed to spend as much time in the crowd as he did on the stage, Beth McCarthy set the big top alight with her superb set, Crowded House forgot to bring the weather with them but still delivered an excellent set of perfectly crafted songs.

As the weather turned colder and wetter The Prodigy absolutely blew everyone in the main arena away as they delivered one of the most frenetic high powered sets that the IOW Festival has seen since the last time they played here in 2015. As the rain set in that could have been the end of the day but thousands decided to carry on the theme as The Pretenders played in the early hours of the morning. As an added bonus they were joined by Johnny Marr for three songs mid set. To see two musical icons together at the IOW festival certainly sent this slightly older festival goer to bed a happy man.

I headed to bed looking forward to a Saturday that should be warmer and brighter and tantalised with the promise of a headline set from the iconic Pet Shop Boys as well as Keane, Jessie J, Natalie Imbruglia and local dance music hero’s Collective States.

As the final two days of the festival drew to a close and people start to make their way home I spent some time reflecting on what has been a hectic few days. One of the biggest factors that sets the tone for any UK festival is the weather and the IOW was lucky enough to be blessed with gorgeous sunshine for the last couple of days. It just makes everything so much easier when you are warm and dry! People made the most of this on the Saturday and Sunday spending time at the outdoor areas such as the revamped River Stage where I caught Australian sisters Germain delivering their set of joyous pop songs. The crowds at the Main stage were pretty impressive as were the bands that I managed to catch, Natalie Imbruglia, Jessie J and Keane all put on stunning sets before Saturday headliners the Pet Shop Boys closed the main arena with a hit heavy set that started with Suburbia and included favourites Opportunities, Left To My Own Devises, Domino Dancing and the classic West End Girls.

Away from the main stage I made a point of taking in a set from local dance music hero’s Collective States who wowed a large crowd at the Steelers Wheel stage which perfectly complimented the set from Eurovision winner Loreen in the big top that I briefly dipped into.

An earlyish start on the Sunday was well worth the effort as it meant catching Beverly Knight who has what was probably the voice of the festival and is well deserving of a later slot next year. McFly put on an energetic set that proved they can rock with the best of them, Zara Larson drew a large crowd as did Caity Baser another local artist who has taken the pop world by storm and yet again delivered an energetic fun filled set in the Big Top.

Simple Minds as the penultimate band on the main stage are no strangers to stadium shows and had the crowd mesmerised as Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill and band delivered a set of ten songs, each one being a worldwide hit. Kerr is such a fascinating front man who still has that ability to captivate an audience and make them feel like one of the band, joining in on classic tunes such as Promised You A Miracle and Alive and Kicking.

The weekend seemed to pass in a flash and all to soon Sunday headliners Green Day were belting out their own brand of punk rock with Basket Case, When I Come Around, American Idiot and Good Riddance (Time of your Life) all putting in an appearance. As always the weekend passed far too quickly and I had broken my annual promise to spend much more time away from the main stage and just sit and watch the acts at Cirque de la Quirk, The Intoxicated Tea Rooms and especially the Hipshaker tent.