Regarded as the greatest land, air and sea event in the UK, it’s with much anticipation and excitement that the UK’s leading resort will be welcoming in excess of a million people*, aviation enthusiasts, friends and family, to the free Bournemouth Air Festival starts today and finishes Sunday. Staged across 1.5miles of beach and clifftop the four-day festival will host RAF and civilian display teams and aircraft as well as family entertainment, Pier to Pier trading, night air flying and outdoor films.
First hosted in 2008 the Air Festival is estimated to generate more than £30million to the local economy and this summer is one of only a handful of large free non-ticketed outdoor events taking place this summer.
Jon Weaver, Air Festival Director since it first started in 2008, said, “Trying to organise this event has been incredibly challenging for everyone involved – across the council, service and stakeholders and it’s a huge thank you to those people who have worked so hard to bring this iconic festival back to the town. Last year, as with all major events, we missed the 2020 Air Festival, but with all the hard work that has gone into it, this is just the boost we need, we can’t wait to welcome everyone.”
With robust planning procedures in place with stakeholders, emergency services and industry support the festival is encouraging visitors to take responsibility and importantly help everyone attending have a safe event by not coming if they have had covid symptoms. On site there are one way systems in place for more popular trading areas, onsite sanitiser stations and festival goers can even get walk in covid vaccinations at Bournemouth International Centre open across the four days of the festival.
Added Jon, “As is done every year a robust event management plan has been developed by the Council working with, Public Health Dorset and emergency service partners. We are ready and prepared for eventualities and have planned for the festival based on previous statistics, research and intelligence. The beach replenishment scheme means we have more beach to accommodate people and we ask they download the BeachCheck app in advance so when they get here they know where to find their perfect spot of beach.”
In the skies will be a host of awesome aircraft and display teams which includes the greatest RAF line up in five years – with the Red Arrows, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and Typhoon displaying all four days. Back to wow the crowds will also be the RAF Chinook, The Blades, Fireflies, The Tigers Freefall Parachute Display Team, Rich Goodwin, Ultimate Warbirds, Royal Navy Black Cat, SuperAeroBatics Wingwalkers and Rolls Royce Spitfire. Carrying on into the evening, Night Air entertainment (Thursday, Friday & Saturday) includes Royal Navy Beat Retreat Sunset Ceremony and Royal Marines unarmed combat demonstration, followed by stunning dusk flying from 7.20pm with the big screen in the Lower Gardens showing some great films from 8pm. Finishing Friday and Saturday will be fireworks from the Pier at 10pm.
On the ground, new for this year is the Atlas Elektronik STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) marquee on the East Overcliff, next door to the ever popular RAF Village and on the seafront the Royal Navy, Army Royal Marines villages, complemented by a host of great trading as well as food and drink. In the bay there’s a Sunseeker parade on Saturday afternoon featuring over 35 Sunseekers throughout the ages, and don’t forget to enjoy the Prince of Wales Army Band in the Lower Gardens Bandstand every day from 12noon.
With dates right at the end of the summer holidays, coinciding with the lifting of covid restrictions and social distancing, this meant there was always a chance the Air Festival could and would go ahead. Councillor Beverly Dunlop, Lead Member for Festival Coast Live! said; “Since the start of the year BCP Council has been determined to make 2021 the year of ‘bounce back’ – with a positive recovery driven by Festival Coast Live, and the Air Festival is the jewel in the crown for us all this summer. The objective was to engineer the fastest possible recovery for businesses and to help people, visitors and residents alike to get back outdoors. Festival Coast Live! has led the way this summer and we cant wait for four days of fantastic aviation entertainment!”
*with good weather and repeat visitors.