THE GATES have opened and thousands of music fans have been setting up camp at the Isle of Wight Festival on Thursday.
Festival-goers have battled with delays, suspended ferry and bus services and mud to make their way on to the Seaclose Park site ahead of tonight's opening performances by artists including Primal Scream.
Police said hundreds of police officers, staff and volunteers are working closely alongside festival organisers and other emergency services to make the event safe.
Hampshire Constabulary’s Isle of Wight District Chief Inspector Nick Heelan said: "The Festival is one of our largest policing challenges each year as the population of a small town converges on the Island.
"We are determined to play our part in keeping crime levels low, maintaining public safety, and preserving the festival’s family-friendly, relaxed reputation.
"There will be high visibility foot and cycle patrols in and around the event 24 hours a day, and a police campsite office based near the 'white one’ campsite.
"We are expanding our presence on social media networks with our own dedicated FestivalCop Twitter channel http://twitter.com/#!/FestivalCop in addition to the force’s main Twitter channel. http://twitter.com/#!/hantspolice
"Hampshire Constabulary wants to make the most of new technology and this extra Twitter channel is communicating crime prevention advice and official updates from the police operation at the festival."
Chief Inspector Heelan added: "Unfortunately a small minority of people coming to the Festival will try to use it as an opportunity to commit crime, mainly stealing from tents. We remind festival goers regularly to take precautions while partying to protect themselves from criminals."
Isle of Wight County Press festival team Lorraine Parker and Emily Pearce will be Tweeting updates throughout the weekend, using the hashtag #IOWFestival, via @iwcponline.
Find out more about what's happening this weekend with our 32-page Isle of Wight Festival guide, with map, running orders and interviews.
For an exclusive interview with one of the festival's top acts see tomorrow's Weekender supplement.
The festival bus station. Picture by James Marsh Photography. www.jamesmarshphotography.co.uk
Picture by James Marsh Photography. www.jamesmarshphotography.co.uk
The campsite. Picture by James Marsh Photography. www.jamesmarshphotography.co.uk