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Bournemouth Air Festival (Dorset)

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6 Reviews

Bournemouth / Dorset / England

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    6 Reviews
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    • More +
      02.11.2011 11:56
      Very helpful



      A brilliant air festival displaying a variety of planes yearly down by the sea!!!

      The loudspeaker crackles with the announcement that the Red Arrows will soon be overhead. People wait with baited breath, breathing in the salty air of Bournemouth Sea Front. Overhead a pause, then a drone of aircraft; getting ever closer with each second. Finally a burst of red colour and nine Red Arrow pilots sour over the heads of us, the spectators. The planes bold against the brilliant blue sky with their flame red bodies puffing out coloured smoke to form shapes, a heart and a large arrow. This represents just a tiny portion of what we like to refer to as the Bournemouth Air Festival.

      The Air Show ~

      The Bournemouth Air Festival is a large event which has been held for the past 4 years and has grown ever bigger in the amount of spectators who attend and the quality of the aircraft that display. Every air festival to date has been held on the third weekend in August and has carried over four days covering Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday; however it is worth noting that the 2012 Bournemouth Air Show is being held on the weekend of the 30th to the 2nd September. Unlike a number of other aircraft displays around the country, the Bournemouth Air Show is held along the seafront, providing a perfect place for enthusiasts and holiday makers alike to enjoy the stunning scenes and to take in the sunshine.

      Getting Here ~

      Being based on the South Coast can make Bournemouth a somewhat challenging place to reach in the busy summer season. The main road into Bournemouth if you are coming from the North is the A338, a straight road which feeds off the A31. This is a dual carriageway and leads straight into the centre of Bournemouth with the opportunity to feed off into areas of park and ride as you get closer to the centre. All park and ride facilities are well signposted and allow you to drop the car and catch a bus directly to the seafront. Alternatively, you can drive directly into the centre of Bournemouth which houses a number of large car parks around Bournemouth gardens and additionally a range of family friendly hotels should you want to make a holiday of it.

      There are over seven miles of sandy beaches at Bournemouth and the planes fly along the entire length. This means that should you wish to avoid the masses and find a quieter spot to watch you can do so either on the West Cliff or nearer to the East Cliff at Southbourne.

      The Displays ~

      As with all air craft displays, there is an element of weather dependency associated however, by and large Bournemouth has been blessed with some glorious weather to enjoy the show over the last few years. As the event is held over four days you do notice that a number of plane displays are repeated to allow for visitors to enjoy all the planes on the day that they chose to visit. A brief list of planes that you can expect to see are as follows:

      * The Lancaster Bomber
      * The Spitfire
      * The Blades
      * Sally B
      * The Hurricane
      * Miss Demeanour
      * Matadors
      * The Tigers Parachute Display Team
      * The Sea Vixen
      * The Red Arrows
      * The Typhoon
      * The Tornado

      The displays are very varied and mean that at no point are you bored with the show. Indeed after a Red Arrow performance you might get a parachute air display or the amazing Wing Walkers. Unfortunately the large jets are highly weather dependent and therefore the Typhoon failed to display last year however the smaller planes more than make up for this. For a detailed list of the planes showing at this years' event you can purchase a timetable online at www.bournemouthair.co.uk.

      The Commentary

      Every display is introduced with a short commentary which details the type of plane flying, a summary of the pilot and what the plane was originally designed for. This commentary is usually given by an experienced pilot usually of RAF origin. In my experience this is interesting not only from an educational point of view, but also to give an outline of how the pilots themselves got into their occupation. These broadcasts are given through a network of speakers which can be heard all across the beach and cliff top.

      During the show, the plane is accompanied by a musical rendition, usually of classic music in origin. This really gives a sense of occasion to the flight particularly at the showing of the World War II planes in which the music really adds to the significance of the planes history.

      I have found the commentary to be highly participative, especially given that the entire audience are asked to clap after each performance, really adding to the show element.

      Making a Day of It ~

      As a resident of Bournemouth, I am fortunate to be able to walk to the show from my home. However, should you be travelling down from further afield there are a number of features that will add to your day. Firstly this event is held along the sea front, this means that you can enjoy the view from the beach if desired and enjoy the sea whilst watching the planes overhead. Being at the sea front means that there are a number of large hotels within a walking distance of the cliff top which means that you can enjoy the day and evening displays and make it a short break. A number of hotels do short break offers on this weekend, whilst if you wish to spend slightly more you can enjoy the show from a room facing the sea front.

      The front is also littered with a variety of food and drink options including the hotels who feature barbeque events on this weekend. Bournemouth also has a variety of shops allowing a side activity if the weather fails. Should you wish to watch form the beach, there are a number of activities on the beach itself which include for a bouncy castle slide for young children, crazy golf and volleyball.

      The Cost ~

      The best thing about this air show is the price, it is absolutely free. This makes this one of the best value days out around and will suit the whole family.

      My Experience ~

      I have been to every one of the four yearly weekends that the Bournemouth Air Show has been running. Every year has been different despite the regularity of the planes and this is very much dependent on the weather as to who will be performing that day. I am not a huge airplane enthusiast, however even I love this show, it gets you feeling involved from the first day and you watch with awe as the various demonstrations ensue. Indeed some of the displays cause a shiver to run down your back as you watch the pilots perform 360° turns through the air. The commentary is brilliant, the food and drink readily available and the beach always packed to the gunnels.

      Summary ~

      This is a brilliant event held yearly in Bournemouth that not only is free to attend but also provides a variety of performances for all the family. I am therefore scoring this event 5 stars out of 5.

      Thank-you for taking the time to read this review.

      This review is also posted on Ciao under the same user name.


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      • More +
        23.03.2011 13:56
        Very helpful
        1 Comment



        By the sea and completely FREE!

        By the sea and completely free!

        In August, my fiancé and I took a trip to Bournemouth. The purpose of our trip was primarily to see her Nana who is in a nursing home down there. Sadly, here Nana had a fall two days before we were due to go and wasn't up to having visitors so we couldn't see her. Regardless we still went to Bournemouth as we both deserved a well needed break, besides, the hotel and train were already booked. What we didn't know at the time of booking, or even until we arrived in Bournemouth was that the 4 days we went for was the time of the Bournemouth Air Festival, which now explains the difficulty we had finding a hotel with rooms available!
        I was brought up in Clacton-on-Sea which has an annual air show itself, so I am no stranger to air shows and their contents, however my fiancé had never seen an air show in her life before so it was to be a new experience for her.

        The Experience
        We arrived on the Wednesday and checked into our hotel before taking a leisurely stroll along the beach. Whilst walking we saw a fighter jet flying very low past us, very loudly! This startled us both somewhat, but more so my partner as she had never seen such a thing before. The plane circled and looped and dived for five minutes or so before disappearing into the distance. We later found out that this was a plane called the Mis Demeanour Hunter Jet which was on a practice run as the airshow started the day after on the Thursday. On the way back to the hotel we went into the tourist information centre and found a couple of leaflets about the airshow and attractions that we would see unfold before us over the coming days.
        The next day, Thursday, we arose bright and early, and after breakfast, Sarah dragged me rather reluctantly to Poole for a few hours, I wanted to stay in Bournemouth because I rather wanted to see the planes and all the other entertainment available but luckily we were back within 4 hours so I hadn't missed much at all. After arriving back in Bournemouth we went for lunch before finding a good viewpoint up on the cliffs from which to see the planes, and we weren't disappointed. Quite a few planes flew that afternoon, despite worrying weather prospects, and each one was just as spectacular than the last!
        The thing I really loved about the Bournemouth Air Festival was that they actually do evening displays! I have never seen a display in the evening before but it was fantastic. We went for dinner in the hotel early before returning to the seafront as dusk beckoned to see out the rest of the day.
        Again, we positioned ourselves high up on the cliff side where we had an almost unbroken view of everything going on. I think the highlight of that first evening was a swift glider that had fireworks on its wings. That is one thing I will never forget as I have never seen anything like that in an airshow before.
        Every evening they also had balloon glows in the lower gardens. For anyone who doesn't know what a balloon glow is, it is lots of hot air balloons all lit up at night with the flames. Sadly the first night, we were unable to see the balloons in their entirety as it was quite windy and they had only managed to get one balloon up, although sadly, that also soon became victim to the wind by crashing gracefully into the crowd. Not to be outdone, the balloon people put their balloons away and set about making displays of fire with their basket things in sequence which was just as spectacular. Also in the lower gardens were hundreds upon hundreds of candles all laid out in vertical displays of varying designs which the local children had the job of lighting (with supervision of course), This was also an experience to watch and admire as, although you couldn't really see what some of the displays were supposed to represent, they were very pretty nonetheless.
        Following this we went for a (very) late night stroll across the sand, before retiring to our beds, buzzing with excitement.

        The next day we again woke bright and early, and upon opening the curtains were greeted by a massive navy ship that had appeared on the sea overnight. Things were about to get exciting...
        This time we spent the whole day in Bournemouth, and after breakfast decided to stroll along the seafront in the opposite direction, from Bournemouth Pier to Boscombe Pier as we had already determined that most the action was taking place between the two. (This of course was after we had had a 6 mile walk through the upper gardens, which neither of us had seen on our previous visits to the area).
        All the way along the seafront for what must have been a good couple of miles (maybe more) between the two piers there was stuff going on. I say stuff going on.... I mean literally tonnes of stuff going on! Bearing in mind this was all located actually on the beach there were countless food places (you know the sort that operate out of mobile vans, pizza express, doughnuts, pastys, baguettes, etc etc), a few bars were dotted along the way although for some reason they sadly closed at 6pm. There were numerous fairground rides to be sampled, along with lashings of them "knock the ball off the bottle", "hit 3 bullseyes to win a big teddy" kind of things. The really interesting thing about this particular airshow is that it seemed to involve all of the RAF, Navy and Army. There were plenty of huts and tents dotted all along trying to recruit new people into the services, together with plenty of military attractions. I even had my photo taken in a helicopter!
        We approached an army climbing wall, and stood for several minutes watching kids and dads and granddads alike trying to climb it without much success. I said to Sarah that it looked easy but I bet it isn't easy when you actually try it, so she suggested I try it. To cut a long story short I tried it and got to the top (yay me!), and then fell off.... Bouncing off the safety mat and cutting all my arm open.... Then began the long hunt for a first aid room. That is the only negative of the experience, there were only two first aid rooms, and they were spaced a long way apart. If I had known, the nearest one was only 4 caravans down the line back the way we had come, but we carried on walking towards Boscombe and it was half an hour or so before we found the next one, by this time my arm had congealed. If I could request that Bournemouth council (or whoever is responsible) change one thing for next year, they should have at least one more first aid point and at the very least have them signposted, as I had to go on a half hour walk (needlessly) to find a first aif point when there was one 40 yards behind us.
        Anyway lets forget about my unfortunate mishap as its quite embarrassing!
        I could just go on and on, but I don't want to gush too much. In addition to all the seafront stalls and the planes, there were numerous street entertainers ranging from people sitting (or standing) very still, to stilt walkers, a circus workshop, Punch and Judy and face painters.
        Also in the lower gardens was Liberty Raptor and Reptile Centre displaying a range of hunting birds from owls to eagles which was very impressive and provided you made a donation to the centre you could get your photo taken with one of the birds, although there was quite a queue for this.
        Overall the planes were superb, the entertainment was out of this world, and they even had a kind of music festival on the beach, and fireworks in the evening. We are definitely going again next year, although if you want to go, book quickly as hotels are likely to fill up very early!

        The Planes
        Whilst we were in Bournemouth we saw so many planes it was uncanny. Never before have I been to an airshow that a) lasts for four days; and b) has so many planes and exhibits.
        Among the planes and airbourne displays we saw were:
        * Red Arrows (Friday, Saturday & Sunday)
        * Eurofighter Typhoon
        * Mis Demeanour Hunter Jet
        * Italian Pioneer Display Team
        * Battle of Britain Memorial Flight
        * Dutch-F16
        * Black Cats
        * Blades
        * Sally B
        * Hawk
        * Red Devils
        * Tigers
        * Breitling Wingwalkers - particularly recommended!
        * Tucano

        All the planes were out of this world from the aerial displays to the parachutists and even in the water there were displays from Navy warcraft.

        In the evening
        In the evening there was plenty going on, from the dusk air displays to the evening entertainment and balloon displays in the gardens there was something there to suit everybody of all ages.
        In the evening, in the lower gardens we saw HM Royal Marines Band Collingwood performing the Beat Retreat, the Royal Marines Combat Display Team, fireworks, of course the Balloon Glow, numerous street entertainers and outdoor cinema with aviation themed films.
        For eating and drinking there are countless bars and restaurants all situated within minutes (or even seconds) walk of the seafront so you are sure to find something that suits.

        Getting There
        Easy. Quite simply.
        Park at one of the conveniently located venues: Littledown Centre (Saturday and Sunday only), Kings Park and Bournemouth University (fees apply) and catch a bus to the seafront (fees apply) - it's as simple as that... or catch the train, take a bus or even walk.

        Links for more Info
        By the way this years Air Festival is 18th - 21st August 2011

        And of course visit:
        for footage of this years air festival and to see numerous reports from spectators!

        Also posted on Ciao under my account name TheHairyGodmother


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        • More +
          24.02.2010 00:50
          Very helpful



          Fun for all the family, young and old!

          The Bournemouth Air Festival is an amazing opportunity for tourists and locals alike to witness four days of amazing air displays including World war planes ( a little bit noisy for little ones!), a Vespar, The Black cat helicopter team and wing walker teams to mention but a few. The highlight of the sky shows is the Red Arrows team, their red, white and blue smoke can be seen for miles around!

          Displays can be seen throughout the day from many points on the sea front, pick a spot nice and early and set up your pitch ready to enjoy the show. Last year I found that areas around Bournemouth pier were very busy, where as if you are happy to walk a little further it was easier to find a spot. Food is easily sourced from a range of outlets including KFC, Harry Ramsden's or various stands or bring your own.

          The fun dosn't end there, there a range of stands and exhibitions for example last year there was a car as seen on Top Gear advertising Beaulieau, a helicopter children could explore, fire engines and army experiences. There are also a range of stalls along the seafront offering crafts, sunglasses, Wii games etc.

          In the gardens bands play, hot air balloons glow and other sorts of street entertainment take place into the evening.

          Entrance is free, however you can purchase a programme full of information for £5.00 from The Daily Echo stall or programme sellers. It's a great day out for all the family-make sure you remember a sunhat and sun cream!


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        • More +
          16.01.2010 22:40
          Very helpful



          The best free air show in the south if not england

          The bournemouth air festival is something I have attended now for the two years it has been running and fantastic it is indeed.

          If you saw me in person the last thing you would think is that I am a fan of planes and a bit of a secret spotter but this has to be a winner all round for families and all generational ages.

          The beach front is lined with stalls, exhibits and demonstration vans from the RAF, royal navy, Royal airforce, and air cadets as well as numerous pilots. Its fun with bouncy castles for children, have a go stands with the army to sit in a truck, pose with guns, have your face camoflaged up, and sit in helicopters. My daughter aged 3 adored this section and had immense fun as well as my husband.

          The air show itself lasts for 3 days and is best viewed on the clifftop at Bournemouth centre, the west cliff, southbourne overcliff or east cliff. Take binoculars as some acts are a little furthur out if they are stunt acts so youll get a better view with them.

          This year saw remarkable stunt regimes with air trapese artists, the red arrows, spectacular as ever, a vulcan, mustang and spitfire display and flyover as well as the red bull matadors. Each display was incredible, some were incredibly loud, so people who have ear problems take some ear plugs because the vulcan especially was a severe roar.

          The best thing about this festival is that its completly free, you will see aircraft which rarely displays itself, the most prolific pilots in the industry and stunt acts that will be sure to shock and aghast you.

          A top tip is to take a picnic, a blanket, even chairs and plenty to drink and make a day of it on the cliff tops to view. The more I saw the more I wanted to see and when the sun is shining this is the best event bournemouth showcase.


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          08.08.2009 17:20
          Very helpful
          1 Comment




          The first (and so far only) Bournemouth Air Festival was held in 2008.

          The second event of its kind is coming to Bournemouth at the end of August, 20th to the 23rd 2009.

          I don't have any particular interest in planes (actually, I haven't flown for nearly 10 years because I'm a great bit wimp) but the aviation show in Bournemouth last year was fantastic!

          The atmosphere was amazing, with everybody spellbound at the sight of these planes flying so close, and at such speeds.

          The famous Red Arrows carried out some breathtaking maneouvres, spitfires flew as low as was allowed overhead and there was one amazing plane (I forget which one, sorry) which "thrusted" back and forth by the beach, fire streaming behind it and causing an almighty roar!

          Although this event was something which people of all ages would love, I found that me and my friends (who are all aged 28-40) were more engrossed than the children! Maybe it's that question so many of us adults ask ourselves, how do they stay UP there!).

          It's a free (yes, FREE!) event and all different types of planes fly just infront of Bournemouth Beach, carrying out stunts, showing off their speed etc. This year I understand that there will be several night time fly bys which I can't wait to see!

          There are also lots of beach side attractions, street entertainers, displays and stalls which can be enjoyed, although lots of these do often cost money.

          Even if you don't like planes as such, I don't know anyone who didn't enjoy this last year!

          A word of warning however, if you're coming to see it and you need accomodation, book early! Otherwise, I do have a spare bedroom ;-)

          See you there!


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          • More +
            18.09.2008 15:59
            Very helpful



            If your in the area dont miss it

            I live not far from Bournemouth and at the end of august decided to visit the inaugural More bus Air Festival.
            I am so glad I did!!!!

            *+* OVERAL IDEA *+*
            OK so back around a year ago it was released in the local news Bournemouth was going to put on a free air show that would last for 4 days in the summer. Like many local residents we believed the free part would change and for the first year of the event it had little potential. The idea was for the planes to perform over the sea, just off the beach between the two piers of Bournemouth and Boscombe.
            In the build up to the event some acts were announced the first of these was the red arrows who were not only doing a display one day but would be at the event 3 days out of the 4. Being a big fan of the red arrows since I was a little girl this did encourage me to look into going one day. Little did I know that one day would turn into 2 and some of the best days of the summer.

            *+* THE ATTRACTIONS *+*
            The list of planes and teams read a little like a who's who of air festivals. Headliners for Friday, Saturday and Sunday were of course the ever great Red Arrow display team but they had some serious competition on Saturday. On the bill was The blades display team made up of ex red arrow pilots who managed to control madness to perform a display with only 4 planes that had the crowd gasping at the closeness of the aircraft, with mid air stalling of the engines and flipping one of the planes nose over tail backward it really was a sight to be seen. Lining up alongside the Blades to compete with the Red Arrows was the Yakovlevs. The Yakovlevs are 4 Russian aircraft which are just as close and daring as both the red arrows and the blades smoke flowing from the aircraft.
            The Blue eagles, the army air corps helicopter display team showed just what you can do with a lynx helicopter as it back flipped and barrel rolled in the air just above the sea. It was joined by 3 other varieties of helicopter, a gazelle, scout and an allouette. Even with four completely different craft the display was breathe taking as always. Another highlight of the weekend was the presence of Team Guinot. They are a wing walking display team. The two bi-planes are the stage for some incredible handstands and upside down riding by the girls on top of the wings.
            On hand to help thrill the crowds were a host of rare and rebuilt aircraft including a sea hawk, king air, DC-6, tutor, Catalina (a flying boat), Tucano T1, 2 Falcon 20's and the RAF Falcon parachute display team.
            Added to this list were 3 very special displays. The battle of Britain memorial flight consisting of a Lancaster bomber which cast a huge shadow over the flotilla of boats moored just off of the coast, a hurricane and the ever so symbolic spitfire (the one flying was one that actually took part in WWII). Secondly was the newly restored sea vixen a plane that has to be seen flying for anyone to really appreciate the shape, size and sound of the only flying example of this plane. Talking of sound the last mention goes to the Typhoon Eurofighter F2, the state of the art and almost brand new jet fighter which was the newest flyer in the programme made the crowd cover its ears at it displayed its flying abilities with afterburners on and made windows shake all over Bournemouth.
            Away from the air there was also plenty to do stalls, stands and amusements filled the promenade between Bournemouth and Boscombe pier. Rides and simulators gave the visitors something to do and the chance to sit in the cockpit of a fighter plane was also on offer. A very popular attraction was the presence of RAF Mounts Bay, a supply ship moored just off of the pier which was allowing anyone who had put their name down to be transported out via a landing craft and take a look about the ship (this of course was booked up very quick).
            The evenings saw a balloon glow aerial acrobats and a firework show on the Saturday night crowning off an incredible event.

            There were plenty of food and drinks vendors on the over cliff and promenade as well as the many places within the town. Toilets were also in place and seemed to cater well.

            The viewing of the event was phenomenal with Bournemouth's cliffs above the beach the perfect platform to see everything. Even the beaches which were packed had a great view as the planes performed just off of the coast. The other side of the display are was hundreds of boats varying in size which had sailed from nearby ports and had just as great view of the action.
            The place to be thought for viewing alone was the over cliff and this was where we were both days where you could even see the pilots.

            *+* TRANSPORT *+*
            I attended on the Friday (2nd day) by car we used the park and ride system that had been put in place. This did cost £10 but with 5 people in the car we figured £ each was reasonable. After parking we were transported right to the over cliff by air conditioned coach with no wait and were picked up just as efficiently and returned to the car park. This seemed to work really well and I heard no complaints from anyone we spoke to.
            I returned on the Saturday this time we decided to get the bus from Poole (where we live about miles away) the bus dropped us in Bournemouth square with a 5 minute walk to the sea front. The bus to Bournemouth was fine we left with plenty of time and it was a reasonably empty bus. This wasn't the story on the way home but give wilts and Dorset and more buses their due they had every bus and driver on hand waiting to get people out of Bournemouth and at one point we counted 20 buses in a line picking people up. Obviously the buses were packed solid but the queues were moving quite fast.

            *+* MY OPINIONS *+*
            I loved the first Bournemouth Air Festival and I am glad to say I was there. Saturday was by far the best day for weather and the beach was so busy none of the yellow sand could be seen. We got there early so had a fantastic spot up on the over cliff with the most incredible views as the planes flew straight towards us. The park and ride although a little more expensive was a lot easier to use but all in all it was a great weekend. Even though Sunday wasn't as nice on the weather front with a shower to polish off the day family members who went said they had had just as much fun and enjoyment. The red arrows were as incredible as always and I was blown away by the blades. The Pilot of the Eurofighter deserved an award for spirit turning up for a fly past on Saturday morning even though he wasn't scheduled to, and was on his way to another display and then gracing the crowds on the sun soaked beaches yet again in the afternoon. Unfortunately the appearance of a Vulcan bomber had to be removed from the programme due it not having the right flying certificates but even with the news no one seemed to care as pilots went out of their way to show every one in Dorset the best show of the summer.
            It has been reported that over 750,000 people attended over the 4 days 380,000 on Saturday alone and I am so proud to say I was one of them.
            The dates for 2009 have been provisionally set as 20th - 23rd August and everyone is promising a bigger and better show.

            I can't encourage you enough to make the trip what more can you ask for the beautiful beaches of the south coast with all the thrills of an air show and all for the cost of car parking or a bus fair.


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          • Product Details

            4-day Air show. Everyone gathers at the seafront to watch a spectable of flight!

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