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A Guide to Cowes Week

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If youre into sailing, youve probably already heard of the world-famous Cowes Week regatta. If not, heres our guide to joining the party!

For sailors, Cowes Week is a big yearly event. Boat races sail across the Solent by day with the opportunity for teams to win trophies and accolades. Private bars and exclusive sailing clubs often host dinners and drinks in the evening while open-air bars and live music stages are open to all.

Cowes Week is held in Cowes, Isle of Wight in early August each year. Future dates can be viewed in advance via their website calendar.

Whether you plan to race or spectate from dry land, heres your guide to Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight.

What to Know

Teams planning to race need to sign up online before a deadline date and pay an entry fee. More information can be found on the Cowes Week website. Theres lots of information available for first-timers and everything sailors need to know about this years events.

Cowes Week isnt only for seafarers, though! For the whole week, Cowes Marina gets decked out with pop-up bars, food stalls, and a stage hosting international acts. Open until late, its always a party. There are also paid-entry pop-up clubs and exclusive venues for hospitality guests and sailors to end their nights in style.

Ladies Day is held on the Tuesday of every Cowes Week, celebrating the successes of womens sailing. It aims to encourage women to take the helm of the ship and offers the Royal Southern Ariel Trophy for the female captain with the best result on the day.

The first Sunday of the regatta marks Family Day with lots of child-friendly entertainment, activities, and RIB rides.

Across the whole week, Cowes Old Town is alive with things to do and see. Ride the Ferris wheel, visit the stately Northwood House, watch live music, and stay for the famous Friday night closing fireworks display across the water.

Where to Stay

There are many accommodation options throughout this holiday town.

  • The Caledon Guest House: A Victorian guest house in the heart of Cowes, its a short walk from the Yacht Haven and Shepards Wharf. Staying in Cowes is a great idea to be close to the action, especially if youve got an early morning at sea!
  • Mimosa Lodge: a 4-star B&B offering three rooms (book quickly!) all with ensuite bathrooms featuring both a shower and bath. Fill up with a full English breakfast before the days activities. Mimosa Lodge is a perfect location for a quiet nights sleep while still being in the centre of Cowes Week fun.
  • The Fountain Inn: This pub, bar, and inn is right on Cowess high street with views across the Solent. Watch the races from your bedroom window or from the pub patio while enjoying a drink! This is the place to stay if you plan to party all night and dont want to be woken by the festivities in the Marina practically next door!

What Else to Do on the Isle of Wight

Fancy a break from Cowes Week chaos? Venture further afield to enjoy much more of what the island has to offer.

  • Visit the lovely Thorness Bay, only a ten-minute drive from Cowes on the north-west of the island.
  • Northwood Park has family-fun activities going on throughout Cowes Week. There are live jazz performances, gourmet burger catering, and chill-out marquees for those looking for some refreshment after sailing!
  • Go shopping on Cowes high street. Find fashion boutiques, sailing shops and lots of lovely cafes like Tiffins of Cowes and Graces Bakery.

Check out our list of things to do on the Isle of Wight for more suggestions!

How to Get There

If you own a boat, youre already set for getting to the island. Cross the Solent and moor your boat in the Marina! Otherwise, the Red Jet passenger ferry docks straight into Cowes step off the boat and right into the mix.

Other visitors can cross from Southsea, Portsmouth, Lymington, or Southampton. The best form of transport on dry land around the island is definitely by car. Hire one from Southampton or Portsmouth before you cross!

If youre flying into England for the Regatta, you can hire a vehicle from both Gatwick or Heathrow. The drive down to Southampton or Portsmouth takes only 90 minutes. From there, board a car ferry for an hours crossing!