If you’re looking for fun things to do in Bournemouth, whether that be with friends, family or as a couple, then why not try Bournemouth Air Festival? With its exciting array of entertainment in the air, at sea and on land, there’s plenty to enjoy during your day out here.
Since 2008, this four-day event has been drawing in visitors from all over the UK and beyond. Its impressive displays showcase aircraft of the past and present, while the festival’s funfair is bound to be a hit with the kids.
Travelling to Bournemouth couldn’t be easier with South Western Railway. Our comfortable trains regularly serve Bournemouth station from plenty of locations, and you can even make the most of rewards and discounts in Bournemouth with SWR Rewards. Read on to find out how to get to Bournemouth Air Festival, including where to stay nearby and what there is to do.
Bournemouth Air Festival takes place between the Boscombe and Bournemouth Piers, and can be enjoyed from the vast stretch of beaches either side of Bournemouth Pier. Its address is Pier Approach, Bournemouth, BH2 5AA.
Since the Air Festival is likely to draw a crowd, taking the train is an easier and less stressful way of getting there. The nearest station to Bournemouth Air Festival is Bournemouth, which is served with regular trains from stations such as Southampton Central, Poole, Weymouth and Woking.
Bournemouth station is around a 20-minute walk from Bournemouth Pier, or you can catch the 4 or 5a bus towards Bournemouth which will take around 10 minutes.
Visiting Bournemouth Air Festival
There’s so much to see and do at Bournemouth Air Festival. From shows to stalls, you’re guaranteed a day of entertainment. To make things even better, the festival is a completely free event, though you can pay for VIP hospitality tickets should you wish to. Here are just some of the things you can get up to during your day in Bournemouth.
In the air
As the stars of the event, the jaw-dropping aircraft displays are bound to keep you entertained. Over the course of the four days there will be a variety of shows in the skies, with pilots showcasing their daredevil skills as they perform nail-biting loop-de-loops, dives, aerobatics and more. The time that the flying begins will vary each day, but you can usually expect the first planes to take to the skies early in the afternoon. Here are some of the performers you don’t want to miss:
- RAFAT Red Arrows
- RAF Typhoon
- The Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) "Lest we Forget"
- Ultimate Warbird Flights
- RAF HC6A Chinook
- PG 63 Royal Navy Wildcat
- Super Pitts Muscle Plane
- The Fantastic Fireflies
- The Rolls Royce Supermarine Spitfire PS853
- Blades Aerobatic Display Team
There are also night air displays taking place throughout the festival, complete with fireworks, parachutes and more. Night shows include The British Army Tigers Freefall Parachute Display team, The Fantastic Fireflies and RAF Typhoon dusk displays.
Between the thrill of the air shows, Bournemouth’s iconic pier is a great place to see what’s happening out at sea. Keep your eyes peeled for luxury yachts and boats scouring the horizon, as well as a Royal Navy boat or two.
Armed Forces Village and Royal Air Force Village
The villages are located a short stroll down the beach in Zone 2, offering a great opportunity to have a chat with British soldiers. If you’re feeling brave, take a hands-on look through the equipment and vehicles, and why not ask one of the soldiers to give you an interactive demonstration? This is also the best spot for donating to a charity, should you wish to.
Funfairs and entertainment
With all the entertainment on offer at Bournemouth Air Festival, there’s practically zero chance of the kids getting bored. In fact, the entertainment section is so vast that it spans over the Seafront, up on East Overcliff and even in the Town Square! The funfair, with rides for both kids and adults, is a great place to visit in between shows. Meanwhile, you can always head down to Bournemouth’s award-winning beach for some paddling, sandcastle building and rock pooling.
As well as fun and entertainment, Bournemouth Air Festival is also somewhere to learn more about your hobbies and passions, or perhaps uncover new ones. The STEM Marquee up on the East Overcliff runs a series of fascinating talks from high profile companies and individuals on matters of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The Lower Gardens is the best spot for grabbing a drink and soaking in the atmosphere around you. It’s also where you can watch the talented Army Bands perform, from the Prince of Wales Army Band to the Unarmed Combat Display.
Bournemouth Air Festival Fireworks
If you’re sticking around for the Friday or Saturday evening, the festival’s spectacular firework display is not to be missed. As the skies fall dark, head to a spot near Bournemouth Pier and marvel at the bright colours, showers of stars and all the bangs and whizzes that accompany them.
The Big Screen
Take a moment to put your feet up and enjoy a movie at the festival’s brand-new open-air cinema. Located in the Bournemouth Lower Gardens, it’s the perfect place to unwind and enjoy any one of the family favourites on the schedule.
Tips for enjoying Bournemouth Air Festival
- Since the flying starts early afternoon most days, we recommend arriving at the festival early in the morning. That way you can make the most of everything else before the shows begin.
- There’s plenty of space to get a good view of the planes in action; the huge stretch of beach between Bournemouth and Boscombe piers is a popular spot to watch, as is East Overcliff.
- Remember beach safety; if you’re planning on swimming then choose a lifeguarded beach between the red and yellow flags and don’t swim by yourself.
- Some of the jets can be very noisy, so younger children might prefer to wear ear defenders, and while dogs are permitted, it may be better not to bring them.
- Do your bit for the environment and travel to Bournemouth Air Festival by train. By doing this, you are also avoiding the hassle of parking and busy roads.
Things to do near Bournemouth Air Festival
From long stretches of coastline to maker’s markets, there are so many places to visit in Bournemouth. Bournemouth Observation Wheel is a great way to see the coastal resort town from a bird’s eye view – just make sure you bring your head for heights! Other fun activities include Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf, Westbourne’s Royal Arcade and the Russell-Cotes Museum, so there’s plenty to keep you busy.
Food and drinks
The excitement of the day will soon get your appetite working! Save money and bring your own packed lunch, or discover a selection of food stalls on site between the Piers and along the East Overcliff area.
Where to stay in Bournemouth
No matter your budget or group size, there are plenty of places you can stay near Bournemouth Air Festival – though since this is such a popular event we recommend booking in advance. Budget hotels include Royal Bath Hotel and Hermitage Hotel, while Premier Inn Bournemouth Central hotel and Travelodge Bournemouth Seafront are both great family-friendly options. Those after a more luxury experience can choose between Hotel Miramar and Marsham Court Hotel.
Bournemouth Air Festival accessibility
Bournemouth Air Festival aims to provide an accessible environment for people of all abilities and needs. You can find accessible toilets, parking and wheelchair access at the seafront, though it’s worth noting that disabled parking is limited. Accessible car parks include the Winter Gardens in Bournemouth Town Centre and another at Sea Road on Boscombe Overstrand.