With a record-breaking 1300 boats in the bay on Saturday alone and total numbers topping 3/4 million, the award-winning Bournemouth Air Festival, supported by Kier, enjoyed its eighth year (20-23 August) in spite of weather extremes – welcoming new displays from the MiG 15 and Hawk T2 Role Demo Team as well as an emotional farewell from festival favourite, the Vulcan against a backdrop of a flotilla of Royal Navy ships.
Two glorious days on Friday and Saturday and unexpectedly clear skies on Sunday attracted wide eyed visitors to the UK’s largest free festival, to enjoy displays from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Chinook, Tutor, Black Cats, Twister Duo, Tigers Parachute Display Team, Eurofighter Typhoon, B-17 Flying Fortress, Blades Aerobatic Display Team and Sea Vixen. While the world-renowned Red Arrows stole the show as usual performing on all four days, 2015 also saw the welcome return of the Matadors Display Team and Patrouille Reva. The keenly awaited Vulcan XH558 gave two star turns in her spectacular final farewell to mixed emotions from South Coast fans on both Saturday and Sunday.
Kenneth Aarkvisla, flying the MiG 15 in her first appearance at Bournemouth, said: “It was fantastic to see such a huge crowd here! It’s a beautiful place to fly. We would definitely like to come back!”
RAF Typhoon Display Pilot Flight Lieutenant Jonny Dowen, said: “Bournemouth is the biggest show of the year – it’s been awesome!”
This year’s new and improved Night Air programme kept the festival flowing into the evening with a host of musical entertainment over three nights at Wave105’s Boscombe Seafront stage. Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Collingwood headlined on Thursday with a special, sea-inspired proms-on-the-beach performance. Friday welcomed a pop music extravaganza with performances from Alesha Dixon, Fuse OGD, Scouting for Girls, Sarah Harding and Lawson. Saturday took crowds on a jet-propelled journey through 25 years of dance music, with live sets from Artful (Mark Hill from Artful Dodger), K-Klass, Black Box, Livin’ Joy and Karen Harding.
The musical entertainment was accompanied by thrilling night-time air displays from the Red Devils Parachute Team, Aerosparx – a brand new pyrotechnic and LED display team – and a debut performance at Bournemouth from the Fire Flies displaying alongside O’Brien’s Flying Circus.
Building on support from the military in previous years, the Royal Navy increased their presence in Bournemouth for 2015. As well as the armed forces’ villages, featuring recruitment stands and meet and greet opportunities, the Royal Navy displayed more ships than ever before including HMS Iron Duke, offering ship visits to hundreds of members of the public and organising one of their largest practical training weekends of the year. Royal Marines Commandos entertained crowds with beach assault and unarmed combat demonstrations as well as the atmospheric Beating Retreat Sunset Ceremony performed by HM Royal Marines Band Collingwood.
Admiral Sir George Zambellas, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, said: “Bournemouth’s wonderful seafront has provided a magnificent stage for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines to demonstrate what we can do at sea, in the air and over the land. None of this was just for show – it’s indicative of what our sailors and marines are doing right now, on operations at home and around the world. Britain is an island nation, a trading nation, with global ambition. So the Royal Navy is working to keep the maritime motorways flowing, to keep British citizens safe, and to protect and advance our interests in this age of global opportunity. I would like to thank the Council, local businesses and the entire community for making us so welcome. We’ve had a wonderful time – we hope you did too – and you can count on us to be back in 2016!”
Recently awarded VisitEngland’s UK Tourism Event of the Year, Bournemouth Air Festival creates an estimated 500 full-time jobs and brings over £30million to the local economy. In addition, the festival receives support from business sponsors including Festival Partner, Kier. It has also built Bournemouth’s profile on an international stage.
Dale Wood, Kier Partnership Director for Bournemouth said: “We’re proud to have been part of this year’s spectacular Air Festival and credit is due to the organisers who put on such a great show for both local residents and visitors. The festival brings a lot of value to the town and supports our commitment with Bournemouth Council to boost local economic growth. We would encourage more companies to support the festival next year – whether it’s as a sponsor or patron – it’s an incredible event for us all to be part of.”
Mark Smith, Director of Tourism said: “The Air Festival has received recognition at a national level with the 2015 VisitEngland Best National Event award and we know that Bournemouth residents are proud to be the hosts for such a popular, World Class event. It’s always wonderful to see local families and visitors alike enjoying the breathtaking displays and on-the-ground entertainment. I would like to pay a particular tribute to the amazing work by the dedicated and highly professional Bournemouth Tourism Events Team, to extensive Council backing and to all the local emergency services and armed forces. We are extremely grateful to Festival Partner, Kier, for their financial support and long may the resounding success of the event continue. Confirmed dates for 2016 are 18-21 August – we hope to see you all again next year!”