A SOUTH coast festival is expected to almost quadruple in size in only its second year after being chosen as national hosts.

Organisers of Isle of Wight Pride saw more than 8,000 revellers at the island's very first "beach Pride" this summer but next year expect to see that number reach 30,000.

It comes after the committee was "blown away" to be honoured with the title of UK Pride 2018.

It means next year's event will get extra support from the UK Pride Organisers Network who will "shine a beacon" on the event - set to be the national equivalent to EuroPride and WorldPride.

IoW Pride takes the mantle from Hull, who this year saw a five fold increase in their visitor numbers after they were named UK Pride 2017.

Now founder Joe Finch says the prestigious title couldn't have come at a better time.

He said: "There is an LGBT community here on the island but there's no events or venues. And there's a lot of casual homophobia. Which is more about ignorance.

"But this year local councillor Chris Dupre said he wants to keep paedophiles, pigeons and homosexuals out of public toilets.

"And within about two weeks the Orlando shooting happened. We held a vigil and about 200 people turned up so we knew now was the right time to have a Pride.

"And then an MP called Andrew Turner said he wasn't going to come to the event - so it's been a turbulent year".

He added: "It is testament to the incredible impact that our first ever Pride had that we were given this prestigious event in only our second year. We really want to use the opportunity given to us to not only show off our gorgeous Island to the world, but to make a real impact on the lives of Islanders.

"We also want to use it as a spring board for the rest of the UK, to show other isolated communities the importance and impact of diverse events such as Pride and the difference it can make, and to encourage them to put on an event of their own!."

Andy Train, Co-Chair of the UK Pride Organisers Network said: "Selecting the host for 2018 was a tough choice as we had four excellent bids to choose from. But it's wonderful to be handing the UK Pride mantle over to the Isle of Wight. I look forward to seeing their event develop."

Organiser Yve White said: “Its incredible how far we have come in such a short space of time and we will do everything we can to put on an incredible year of events for UK Pride. It won't be a day, it won't be a week, there will be events throughout the year to support and engage everyone. Everyone will be welcome."

The bid had the high profile backing of veteran LGBT activist Peter Tatchell, and the Isle of Wight's MP, Bob Seeley.

Organisers from Southampton Pride will be working on a number of fundraising activities with Isle of Wight for next year's festivals.

Isle of Wight Pride narrowly beat Pride Cymru to the title, with Liverpool and Exeter also bidding.

It takes place on July 21 2018.