Bestival deserts the Isle of Wight for Dorset

The music festival has taken place at Robin Hill Country Park for the last 13 years, but in 2017 organisers plan to move to the site of Lulworth Castle in Dorset. The response has been very mixed.

Bestival crowd

Bestival, the annual Isle of Wight music festival, that since 2004 has taken place at Robin Hill Country Park, will not longer take place on the Isle of Wight.

A statement was posted to Bestival Facebook page this morning explaining that a licence application has been submitted to move the September, four-day festival to the site of Lulworth Castle in Dorset – the home to the family focused Camp Bestival.

da Bank: “Super excited about our shiny new Bestival adventure”
The statement by Rob da Bank reads,

“Hot off the press – yes Bestival is moving! We can confirm we have submitted a licence application for a new site at the Lulworth Estate in Dorset and we’re super excited about our shiny new Bestival adventure. We have an incredible line-up, headliners confirmed and ridiculous new stages and installations coming your way in 2017.

“We remain fully committed to supporting the Isle of Wight through music, charities and projects and will be giving Islanders an exclusive ticket offer for the new site. Plus we’re working towards a new event for the Island. Watch this space.”

Mixed response
The news has been met with a mixture of joy and disappointment.

Many have blamed the ferry companies for the move.

Been on the cards for years
OnTheWight has asked Bestival HQ for the real reason behind the move, a Bestival spokesperson advised,

“Bestival has been considering a move for a number of years for a number of reasons. We feel this is the right time for a change that benefits both the business and festival-goers.

“It’s common knowledge that last year presented a lot of challenges for the festival marketplace, Bestival included. The move for us addresses some of the more commercial challenges but also the site offers us a world of exciting opportunities that will keep Bestival top of its game for the long haul.”

Nurtured by Islanders
Those who have been going to Bestival since the early days will know that it was Islanders who helped the festival grow and develop.

There’s no doubt that the Island’s fun-loving creatives helped make the festival what it became.

Troubled 2016 festival
Without any notice to punters, last year’s festival was drastically reduced in size, with many acts cancelled and the number of marquees reduced by 50%.

Some were deeply upset by the last minute changes, others (like us) found the lower numbers much more enjoyable and reminiscent of the early days of Bestival.

There will be a great many people very sad about the decision by organisers to leave the Island.

Thornton: “We all owe the Bestival team a huge debt of gratitude”
David Thornton from Visit Isle of Wight responded to the news, saying,

“2.7million visits are currently made to the Island every year; numbers are on the rise after a considerable decline over decades. More than 40 major festivals and events every season help to attract visitors from the mainland, and the Isle of Wight is fortunate to have so many companies, organisations and groups of volunteers who deliver popular events throughout the year.

“Bestival has played a significant role in putting the Island on the map, especially in the minds of young people. We all owe the Bestival team a huge debt of gratitude for their hard work and creative inspiration.

“Rob da Bank is a terrific ambassador for the Isle of Wight, and I am certain that he will continue to work with the Island in innovative ways. But, as one door closes another opens, affording us new opportunities to develop visitor markets that deliver growth in our visitor economy.

“At Visit Isle of Wight, we believe that September offers great potential for increased short breaks and longer holidays, and for the last two months we have been planning new campaigns to make the most of the opportunities in front of us.”

Article edit
8.20 Comment from Visit Isle of Wight and statement from Bestival spokesperson on the reason for the move added.

Thursday, 15th December, 2016 7:55am



Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Music, The Arts, Top story

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40 Comments on "Bestival deserts the Isle of Wight for Dorset"

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To quote Rob Da Bank on why Bestival is leaving :- “Its the obvious, its just the mechanics of being on an island”

Dare I comment more???????


Jsut don’t mention the ferry costs and inconvenience!

Oh no, they’d be nothing to do with Bestival clearing off to Dorset.

No siree.

40,000 people just got slashed out of Thornton’s ‘numbers are on the up’ rhetoric. I’m sure they’ll be up next year, too… in his mind anyway.

Mason Watch

Here we go again… Same old tired views, blame it on the ferry which takes no account of what is happening to the UK festival scene. You just have to read the comments on this year’s event to realise that the Bestival bubble had burst. When there is a coherent plan for an alternative to the current transport infrastructure then lets have a debate

Old Knobby
We went to it from the start, but stopped going the year before last as it had lost it’s original vibe, the type of acts being booked were moving away from anything that interested us and it just didn’t feel like it was worth the money anymore. Still sad to see it go, but hopefully Rob might do something smaller and more in keeping with the original… Read more »

I agree.
The acts were not up to scratch. He will struggle where ever he goes if he doesn’t up his game.
The IoW festival is still here, doing wonderfully.

Island Monkey
Strange and sad that they don’t identify the principal cause, it’s not been a secret that the cost of production, stage, equipment, artists on the ferries has become a bigger problem. Move the event to Dorset, and that problem and substantial cost disappears. A sad day for the Island. Those of us living here are still seriously affected the separation issue. The Bestival has addressed the elephant… Read more »
I went to several and the quality of acts over the years went downhill. I’ve often said we don’t need two big music festivals every year. I think Glastonbury is now having one every TWO years. Rob said only 5% of islanders ever attended, the only people who made money from this event were ferries,buses and Morrisons. It’s not the end of the world and like he… Read more »

Is that the same elephant the IoW festival has to deal with?
Whilst it is a loss, and any area in the country would feel it losing an event like this,
roll on the recently announced Pride event, one door shuts, another one opens.

Island Monkey
Pride event, do you think they compare in any way? The Isle of Wight Festival is a completely different event from Bestival. It relies on dozens of big name global superstars, where as Bestival was more reliant on what I believe is called ‘the vibe’ to sell tickets. Both have seen declining ticket sales, but I guess the owner of the festival is a little better equipped… Read more »

Where have I said they do compare?
But I would say they are both occasions and events we should be proud to of hosted, and to host.
And yes, I would see the IoW festival gaining tickets sales, and more than likely that will be some disgruntled mainland punters who look forward to the Bestival, and coming to this lovely Island.

Bob Seely
I am looking forward to hearing Rob’s reasons in detail in the CP tomorrow. However, he is saying that economics are the issue. This is, clearly, a reference to ferry prices. This means the levels of debt that the ferry companies have built up: to the tune of tens of millions of pounds. There have been other costs too, such as cleaner fuel costs, etc., but every… Read more »
Island Monkey

Never going to happen is it? Unless..

What about if you were our MP Bob, could you achieve this and seal the deal with islanders?

Bob Seely


Thanks, that is not really the point. The point is, it’s specific evidence, rather than general, that ferry prices have had a significant effect on the decision to move a major event away from the Island. We all need to be working together to get a better deal from the ferry companies.



Luisa Hillard
That makes a lovely sound bite but what exactly do you think can be done to change the prices of privately owned companies that have debts to service and shareholders to answer to? I’m intrigued to know what influence you think can be applied. Your government thinks we are a peninsula of Hampshire and have to be reminded that we are an Island. They have refused us… Read more »
Steve Goodman
BS, Thanks again for engaging openly and positively OTW, which is a valuable step towards us all working together, and so much more welcome and helpful than contributions like that of your colleague Chris Whitehouse. Would you care to help us with some evidence that you and your colleagues are as concerned as we are about CW being needlessly unpleasant here and causing further offence by using… Read more »
Bob Seely

Steve, I have answered your allegations on another thread.
Kind regards


Perhaps we’ll begin to get our Island back.

Steve Goodman

Thank you Bob; I’ll take a look later.
Kind regards

Stewart Blackmore
More than a bit disingenuous, Bob Seely. The government, of which you are an avid supporter, believes utterly in the capitalist system which includes companies building debt and then using cash cows to service them. Two of the most successful companies at doing this are -surprise – Red Funnel & Wightlink! There are only two answers to this problem (which is not going away). 1. Build a… Read more »
bob seely
Louisa, To answer your points. First, you are in power, so what have you done about it in the past three and a half years? Second, you don’t have to be a socialist to believe that debt can be written off. The introduction of a ferry competitor in time might be an incentive. Third, why are the only answers you propose one’s that can’t be achieved? Nationalisation… Read more »
retired hack

What would you actually do, if you were in a position to do anything in the future, about your option (2)? The present MP talks about it from time to time, but to no effect.

Luisa Hillard
1. It is not within the ability of ferry companies to write off their own debt. Only their lenders and/or parent companies can do this. I think you are naive if you believe that it is a) likely that debts would be written off, and b) that ferry prices would subsequently reduce. 2. A public service provision is added into the ferry contract? Contract with whom? Who… Read more »
Steve Goodman

The finances and folly of failing to nationalise our major public transport services has been well documented in Private Eye and elsewhere.

Failtrack is notable example; renationalised mainly because too many people were killed during the privatisation period.

Currently our government is happy that much of our infrastructure and utilities have varying degrees of state control, so long as it’s not our own state.

Steve Goodman
In this evening’s HIGNFY (BBC iPlayer) PE’s editor once again called for rail nationalisation. The government’s deal with the appalling Southern rail service providers means that the taxpayer, not the company, is having to pay compensation for the millions of lost and delayed journeys to work, study, and so on, while the company (main owner Go Ahead Group; profit last year just under £100 million) continues to… Read more »
Not the fixed link again. People have not thought this through. A bridge is out of the question because of Solent shipping needs. A tunnel would be a massive engineering task, and if it was a road tunnel would need ventilation shafts in the Solent. Otherwise it could be a rail link, as in Eurotunnel which ends up being at least as expensive as the ferries. Either… Read more »
Two things will now happen. Giddings will throw another wobbly and threaten to pull out, followed by the IWC giving him the Fairlee grounds and facilities for next to nothing. Whilst I’ve no doubt some of these events have a shelf life, few people will address the real issue here of the cost to get onto the Island, or off of it for that matter. As residents… Read more »

fixed link – get in


I’ts called business.It is not profitable here.


After the IW festival the ‘evil’ Jon Giddings announced that he was considering moving the Festival off the IW if he didn’t get reduced costs for council rentals and services…… later recanted.

After a cocked up and, unannounced, severely reduced September Bestial the ‘saintly’ Rob de Bank announces the end of Bestial IW.

Who is the worst capricious chancer?


I said it was the end x

I think this is a shame but if anyone wants to go Dorset isn’t that far. Perhaps it will be nice for people from the island island to have a change. I, for one, have always found Red Funnel to be good for value especially if you travel out of peak times. Red Funnel deliver vouchers to every household on the island – we use them! I… Read more »
Steve Goodman

(As is the notion that RF, instead of improving it’s own ugly site, should be paid for a needless greedy land grab which would harm existing jobs, businesses, and homes!)


RF Vouchers can indeed be good value. The problem I find a lot is that they often aren’t available for the sailings I want to use whereas if I pay the full rate then the sailing is available, so its nothing to do with space, its all about money which is not that good a deal. It’s still more than WL offer though

Its worth noting that the off-peak day return on the Red Jet is £16, while travelling at the same times on the RF car ferry is £42 for a day return. If there are three or more intending to travel, it is actually cheaper to take the car over. if 4 people are travelling it works out at £10.50 each, 5 people £8.40 and, if you have… Read more »
Luisa Hillard

As a family of 6 I’d have to agree that it’s usually cheaper (and easier) to take the car. Unless it’s August.

I have found that it can be cheaper to buy two day returns (and use half of each) than a long stay ticket. I’ve done that with Wightlink before. Incidentally my ferry to France was cheaper than my cross-Solent ticket.

Karl Love
Bestival is a very sad loss to our Island. Speaking as an individual…. Lots of businesses benefit from the Bestival including my B&B in East Cowes as does the local camp sites, taxi drives, work men and those who work at Robbin Hill and on the Ferry’s. It’s relative to us all as lost revenue increase other costs and we are all try to make a living.… Read more »



Beware, Luisa.

The day return trick is in contravention of both Red Funnel’s and Wightlink’s terms and conditions.

They can legitimately refuse carriage and insist you buy a new ticket if they find you doing this.


I’m not surprised people were complaining about the quality of Bestival’s acts, sound and stage after a certain someone went and blew the budget on the Toronto Bestival. It’s great that he’s trying to branch out and all but he should have started small there and used the money it raised for itself to expand it, rather than using the IW budget.