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Isle of Wight Festival Nightmare


swampash

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At the end of last year, I secured three tickets to the Isle of Wight Festival in the UK for 2012, for myself, my wife and my 9 year old son. It was the one Festival that I'd always wanted to go to, the lineups were always phenomenal and the weather was always very good, not like Glastonbury where it rains and floods every year. The three headliners this year were Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam. The three tickets cost me €650 and the Ferries needed to get from Ireland to the UK and the UK to the Isle of Wight cost me over €400. After all of this was booked and paid for, we found out that my wife was pregnant with our second child (we had been trying for over 5 years). This mean that my wife was going to be 7 months pregnant when the festival was going to take place. We thought long and hard about this but decided we were going to go anyway.

 

We bought a new tent and all of the required equipment, we also booked ourselves a space in the family camping area. Up until last week, I was a little worried about the weather forecast, which didn't look good for the Thursday (the festival ran from the evening of the 21st of June to the 24th). We set out at 4:30am last Thursday morning and drove 2.5 hours to get to Wexford in the south of Ireland to catch the 8:45am ferry to Pembroke in Wales in the UK. The crossing took four hours. We then had to drive 6 hours to Lymouth in the south of England to catch the 8:25pm Ferry over to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. We arrived early, just in time to catch the earlier Ferry at 6:45pm which was great as it meant we would not be setting up the tent as it was getting dark. From Ireland all the way to the Isle of wight, we drove through constant torrential rain, my car was sometimes aquaplaning on the motorways. We arrived in Yarmouth and drove 20 minutes to Newport which is where the festival was taking place.

 

A lot of the roads in the town were closed and a lot of diversions were in place. We were diverted out of the town along a country road that would bring us back into the town next to the venue. This was when we met the end of a huge traffic jam of cars. And this was where we remained for the next four hours. We moved about 20 feet in those fours hours. We didn't know what to do. We knew it was the only way to the festival car parks. There were no announcements on local radio. Occasionally people would get out of their cars and walk to the top of the jam to find out what was happening. When they came back, they told us that the car parks were flooded due to the torrential rain. They had one tractor that was pulling cars into the car park one at a time. There were literally hundreds of cars in front of us on this country lane and they were occupying both sides of the road. We sat in our car with nothing to eat or drink until midnight. As we sat in the dark, a lady came over and knocked on the car window. She lived in the house opposite and was offering us the chance to park our car in her driveway for the four night we were supposed to be there for £25. We jumped at this opportunity. She told us the festival venue was only 15 to 20 minutes down the road.

 

We parked the car. We had the tent and equipment in a very large canvas case that was on wheels, another large suitcase and a large canvas bag. I had to pull the tent and carry the large canvas bag, which was back breaking. My wife (who is pregnant), took the large suitcase which was also on wheels which she could pull. My son had a little rucksack with his toys in it and had to carry three folded camping chairs in their bags. We set out down the lane and past all of the stationary cars. This was very difficult as there were cars going the same direction on both sides of the road which meant we had to squeeze past them down the middle of the road. We had to do this for about half a mile until we were clear of the cars. We then had to walk another 4.5 miles along a straight road which was closed to cars. This was the longest straightest road ever. Every time we came up a slope, we would hope that when we got to the top, we would see the Festival entrance. Instead it was more straight road as far as the eye could see. Along the way, my son got tired and couldn't carry the camping chairs so myself and my wide had to carry these as well as everything else. Apparently it was raining heavily but I didn't notice I was trying to stay on my feet. It was close to 2am in the morning when we got there.

 

The 15 to 20 minute walk had turned out to be more like 1.5 hours. When we got to the festival entrance, we saw the condition of the Festival site. There was nothing but mud. Six inches deep and running in rivers in parts. All of the walkways and where the tents were pitched were just mud. We collected out wristbands from ticket office. We had to carry each bag in one by one in the air, putting them on the ground was not an option. As each bag came in, I had to get my son to stand guard at them so myself and my pregnant wife could carry the others. We realised this wasn't going to work and found a shopping cart. the tent and the large canvas bag went into it. I had to walk backwards dragging and pulling the cart through the mud. We asked the staff on duty where the family campsite was and not one of them could tell us where it was and none of them were even aware of a family campsite. I was clutching the mud covered email confirmation in my hand showing it to them and they had no clue. All the campsites were colour coded and none of the staff knew which one we were supposed to be in and it wasn't on any of the documentation that we picked up from the ticket office. We started to move around to see if we could find a space in any of the campsites and there was none. There the canvas bag with my clothes and my wife's fell off the shopping cart into the mud. The mud went straight through and into everything inside. Right there we knew we didn't have a change of clothes anymore and only had the mud covered clothes we were wearing, which were covered from my chin to my toes. I told my wife to and son to stand with the bags and I went off to try and found somewhere we could pitch our tent. with every step, the mud was trying to suck the wellington boots off my feet, it was exhausting. After 20 minutes, I could not find anywhere that we could pitch the tent, it was hopeless. I returned to my wife and son. I looked at my son who was standing there staring at me wide-eyed, clutching his green lantern action figure that was covered in mud and looked at my exhausted wife. Both having not eaten in over 12 hours. I felt like crying. I told them that the campsites were full, people had even pitched tents in the mud. She said that whatever decision I made right now, she would support it. I said that we are leaving. We turned around, ate some lousy fast food from a vendor and we dragged all of our bags back out of the festival site and back up the long road to where the car was parked.

 

We brought the shopping cart with us which made things a lot easier going back. It was after 3am when we got to the car. We cleaned ourselves off as best as we could with wet wipes and some clothes from out bag that weren't as bad as the ones we were wearing. All the Hotels and guesthouses on the island were booked up because of the festival. We drove back to the Ferry at Yarmouth to catch the 4:30am sailing back to the UK mainland. We had to sit and wait in the car for an hour. and boarded the ferry. I can't imagine what people thought of us when they saw us but we were too tired to care. When we got back to the mainland I drove for a while and let my wife sleep until she made me pull over so she could drive and I could sleep. We were going to stop at the first Hotel we found but then we realised we had no change of clothes so we decided to keep going to Pembroke and get the Ferry back to Ireland and then drive home. It was 10pm on Friday night when we got back.

 

So, after spending over a €1000 we didn't see one band and endured what was for me the worst experience of my life. It later transpired that the organisers of the festival were not prepared for the rain even though it had been forecasted well in advance. There was no Glastonbury festival this year so the Isle of Wight had been overbooked. This was going to be out only Holiday this year and my son's first time camping and should have been an unforgettable experience.

 

I probably won't get any money back and my wife keeps telling me to let it go.

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Disgraceful. These people make fortunes from these things. It's just like big concerts. They have staff to get you in but no one to help you out. People should boycott these festivals until they set them up properly. With the weather it should have been called off. They must have had insurance to cover it.

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Damn man... well you did the best you could, it's a shame the staff and organizers failed you after you put in so much money and effort. Good luck in getting back what you can, make a huge scene over the phone and demand to speak with supervisors. It's easier to let it go but an experience like that deserves some retribution, their poor planning could've endangered your pregnant wife. If you can't get anything back, at least you have the gift of a child on the way after 5 years of trying!

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Guest farnsbarns

Disgraceful. These people make fortunes from these things. It's just like big concerts. They have staff to get you in but no one to help you out. People should boycott these festivals until they set them up properly. With the weather it should have been called off. They must have had insurance to cover it.

 

In fairness, I know at least one band who played that would have gone bust if they'd cancelled. UK festivals and weather will always be a problem. The irony is, could have got you on the guest list, it costs more believe it or not but separate parking and secure, less crowded camping and a separate entrance with no cue makes it worth the extra, access to the guest area and far less walking, plus your entrance to the stage area is at the front.

 

Personaly I wouldn't take a child but not because it would be dangerous or anything, just inconvenient, I also would nit take anything that didn't fit in a small backpack (tent excepted if course). I am an old hand at festies and throwing care and caution to the wind is necessary to enjoy it, hence I wouldn't take a child, suitcase etc etc.

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Thankyou very much Mr S for taking the time to write a totally fascinating post [thumbup]

 

I am truly sorry for the suffering, inconvenience and disappointment...and lost money...

 

Sad to say...festivals at this time of year have a 50/50 chance of being washouts...Glastonbury is legendary...mudslides a go go...

 

I have always felt that the Isle of Wight is borderline as a festival venue...thinking back to it's inception in 1970

 

With a finite ferry service suddenly stretched to the limit...and quaint country lanes more suited to the leisurely tourist...

 

Personal preference is for single concerts...the thought of a festival is anathema...too much music all at once :blink:

 

Lots of people like the camaraderie and opportunity to flick their lighters in mega-unison [biggrin]

 

An intense, life-changing experience...!!

 

All best wishes to you and your good lady... [biggrin]

 

V

 

:-({|=

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Thanks for the good wishes everyone. :)

 

On the same day that I posted this, I also sent a copy by email to Ticketzone who were responsible for selling the tickets. I got a reply from Ticketzone customer service last Saturday morning saying that they had opened a case. Whoever read my mail didn't read it properly and said "so it looks like you didn't make it to the Festival". They then asked for the codes which were on our wristbands to verify this. I had to correct them and tell them that we had made it onsite and that there was no camping spaces available even though we had paid €650 for Concert and camping tickets. I also sent them a copy of the email confirmation that I got when I booked the family camping. This had a bar code on it and if they were scanning people for this on the day they will see that I didn't make it as none of the staff knew where it was. I also told them that myself and my wife threw away our wristbands but I was able to give them the code for my son's who kept his.

 

Last night, I got another mail from Ticketzone customer service saying that I would hear back from them in the next 14 days on my case. I restated that the issue at the heart of this whole incident was the lack of camping which had forced us to leave. Also, last Tuesday I went on National radio to talk about my experience. I also put the link to the podcast of the radio interview on the email.

 

Here is the link to the podcast: http://www.rte.ie/radio/radioplayer/rteradiowebpage.html#rii=9:3333776:53:02-07-2012:&type=radio&type=share

 

I'm still not very hopeful of getting a refund but I have to try.

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Good luck with it, from your original post you and your family had a terrible time, and the fact that you've gone public with it makes it more likely that you will get some response.

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