As the oldest and biggest annual sailing regatta in the world, Cowes Week provides a vibrant atmosphere with something for everyone to enjoy – and thousands of visitors are expected to embrace the festival atmosphere of the event this August.
An iconic part of the British sporting calendar, the regatta began in 1826 and now between 800 and 1,000 boats race every day for eight days. Around 8,000 competitors are expected to participate, including Olympic and world-class yachtsmen. Several classes that were part of the event more than 50 years ago are still racing today, with new classes introduced as they gain popularity.
While visitors can watch the sailing action from the shore or opt to get out on the water aboard a spectator boat, it’s not just the racing that makes for a great time. There will be sailing taster sessions throughout Cowes Week between 10am and 4pm for a donation of just £5, and below we’ve highlighted just a few of the other options.
Family day – Sunday 9th August
This free event will see Cowes Parade Village packed full of pirates. The events will feature children’s entertainers and face painters and also include:
- An appearance by Gemma Hunt, from CBeebies’ game show Swashbuckle. Why not bring the little ones in pirate fancy dress to join in the fun and take part in a meet and greet photo session?
- A chance to learn how to survive on a desert island with the bushcraft experts from the good ship ‘Wood Learn Forest School’. You can find out how to create fire, make cordage and fishing spears. You’ll also get to discover why pirates are actually called pirates!
- A cardboard boat race, organised by UKSA, off Cowes Parade at 3pm. Teams will be required to build their own boats entirely from cardboard and race alongside the parade. There’ll be some great prizes up for grabs!
- Special prices on rides with Solent RIB Charters and the spectator boat service, especially for Family Day.
Ladies Day – Tuesday 11th August
Since 2006 Ladies Day at Cowes Week has celebrated the contribution, commitment and achievement of women in sailing. Highlights of the day will include:
- A best dressed competition with a “dress nautical” theme.
- Spot prizes and special offers for ladies during the day.
- A champagne afternoon tea and prize draw on the Cowes Parade.
- A special evening reception which will see the Ladies Day Trophy awarded to a deserving winner. Nominations for the 2015 winner close at midnight on Monday 27th July, and anyone can nominate via aamcw.co/ladiesday/nomination.
Outdoor cinema – Sunday 9th and Wednesday 12th August
On the Sunday, families can enjoy Big Hero 6, the latest release From Walt Disney Animation Studios. The action-packed comedy-adventure tells the story of the special bond that develops between an inflatable robot called Baymax and prodigy Hiro Hamada.
The second film of the week will be the 1984 classic Ghostbusters on the Wednesday. It’s a chance for fans to remind themselves of how much they love the original film before the franchise is rebooted in 2016. Both screenings will take place at Northwood House.
Other notable events
There will be displays from both the Red Arrows and RAF Typhoon during the week. The Red Arrows display will be on Thursday 13th August at 6:50pm, and the RAF Typhoon display will be on Friday 14th August at 7:10pm. A fireworks display will be held later on the Friday at 9:30pm. Red Funnel has organised two excursions to see the spectacular display from the water. For details, see www.redfunnel.co.uk. There’ll also be plenty of live music at Cowes Yacht Haven and Cowes Parade throughout the week and lots of places to indulge in food and drink.
Nearby attractions worth a look
While you may want to visit the Isle of Wight specifically for the events of Cowes Week, there are lots of attractions not related to the event that may be worth packing into your schedule. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Osborne House
The holiday-home of Queen Victoria, Osborne House is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought the estate in 1845, and visitors today can take a glimpse into the royal family’s life – many of the rooms still contain original furniture and works of art, which were all to the couple’s personal tastes. As well as the state rooms and family rooms, there are also magnificent gardens just waiting to be explored. There are two exciting playgrounds for children, and an added bonus for families this summer is a traditional show of Punch and Judy on Osborne’s beach. Children and grown ups can see Mr Punch and friends getting up to mischief at shows running until the end of August.
- Sir Max Aitken Museum
Described as “a little known gem” and “beautiful and unique” by reviewers on TripAdvisor, the Sir Max Aitken Museum on Prospect Place is home to Sir Max’s personal collection of historic and nautical artefacts. Highlights include a Gaff from the Royal Racing Yacht Britannia, which spans the entire length of the museum! Dating from the 1920s, the gaff is about 51 foot long and weighs about 900 pounds. The museum is preserved by a charitable trust, and since Sir Max’s death in 1985, the museum has remained much the same as he knew it.
Cowes Maritime Museum
This small museum, located within the library, tells the story of Cowes and its maritime heritage through a selection of objects and images. The collection incorporates all aspects of local maritime activity – from shipbuilding to sailing – and is complimented by the library’s collection of maritime books, journals and press cuttings.
- Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week 2015 takes place from the 8th-15th August. For more information and the full event lineup, visit www.aamcowesweek.co.uk. You can also follow @Cowes_Week on social media or use #CowesWeek. To find out more about the Isle of Wight and its attractions, visit www.visitisleofwight.co.uk.