The Isle of Wight has a lot of carnivals – up to 20 or so in a typical summer. Across the years Isle of Wight towns have fiercely competed with each other to host the biggest and brightest parades through their streets. Some of these events are big ones, too. There are marching bands, floats, crazy costumes, samba, wacky vehicles, loud music, and all sorts of shenanigans. These events are hugely popular and carnival-style parades and costumes turn up as part of various other community events too, because if you’ve gone to the trouble of making the float you’re going to get it out as often as you can.

Most carnivals happen in the daylight, but some towns host an illuminated carnival where the procession parades after sunset, with lights and displays that are a treat to see. All carnivals are free to attend and are very popular, with tens of thousands of people lining the streets to take part in the celebrations, so make sure you arrive early to grab a great viewing spot. It’s definitely a family activity, and it’s often the one night when all the kids get to stay up with the grown-ups.

The last carnival of the year, and the biggest, is Ryde Illuminated. This tends to have floats and marching groups from all the other carnivals so if you are only going to attend one, this is the one. Sometimes there is a funfair in town as well.

As well as being quite a spectacle, the Isle of Wight carnivals have their own claim to fame. The town of Ryde hosts the oldest carnival in the UK which has also won the “UK’s Most Popular Carnival” award chosen by the UK’s rental giants