Bournemouth Air Festival: Best Family Event?

Red Arrows flying in full formation with white smoke trailing at Bournemouth Air Festival 2017 Best Family Day Out UK

With four days of free entertainment by the sea, the Bournemouth Air Festival is one of the best weekend events to visit with children and a definite highlight of the year for the seaside town. The Bournemouth Air Festival takes place in August or September, on whichever of the last two weekends of the English school holidays isn’t the bank holiday. With regular flying from a range of aircraft including the incredible and much loved Red Arrows; beach landings and assaults; Army parachute displays; military villages; funfairs; stalls and fireworks there is plenty to keep everyone busy and best of all this all takes place on the beach.


This post is NOT a collaborative post and I have not received anything for writing it or for any of the recommendations within it. I have attended the Bournemouth Air Festival for most of the previous years and want to share the key information with you so you can make the most of your visit.



Entertainment for the Bournemouth Air Festival is focused around the Bournemouth Pier and lower gardens area and then along the promenade between Bournemouth and Boscombe Piers and on the East Cliff which is the clifftop road between Bournemouth and Boscombe Piers.



In 2018 the Bournemouth Air Festival will take place from Thursday 30th August until Sunday 2nd September.



In 2018, to celebrate 100 years since the end of WWI there is a vintage theme and Bournemouth’s East Cliff will become a vintage tribute with dancing, classic cars and entertainment for all the family.


The Red Arrows hold a special place in the hearts of most of the locals and they have been flying over the town and drawing the crowds for many years. They will be displaying Thursday 30th August at 5:30pm, Friday 31st August at 3pm and Saturday 1st August at 12pm. If you want to be in the best place to see them then I highly recommend standing about half way between the two piers either on the beach or the cliff tops. They will perform their main display and cross overs between the two piers. However, if you have littles or people who are not so keen on the noise then Southbourne cliff tops (just along from Boscombe) or Durley Chine Beach (the other side of Bournemouth pier) will also offer a great view.


Bournemouth Air Festival Red Arrows flying in full formation. Best Family Days Out UK


Also in the air, the Aerosuperbatics Wingwalkers make for a great display as do the Blades. I am looking forward to seeing two new additions to the Bournemouth Air Festival this year –  the Super Pitts Muscle Plane which looks like it will get my heart racing with it’s daredevil antics and the Breathing Jet Team. The RAF HC2 Chinook is always a popular site with the kids (big and little alike) and I love to see the wartime duo of the Spitfire and the Hurricane.


Chinook flying in Bournemouth Air Festival 2017 Best family day out UK


On the ground you will find the military villages where you can meet pilots and members of the military services to chat to. You will also find plenty of souvenirs, stalls, food and a funfair. Just a warning – if you want an authentic Red Arrows souvenir buy it from the official Red Arrows tent which last year was in the Royal Air Force Village at Pier Approach. We were disappointed when we bought some bits from what we assumed was the official stand (it certainly looked like it) only to discover this was not the case. The food stalls always smell delicious, but they can be expensive, so if you want to keep the event completely free bring a picnic with you. The funfair is located between Bournemouth and Boscombe piers and has lots of fun rides, so bring plenty of change if you would like to play.


The fun doesn’t stop as the evening rolls in, instead night air showcases the Breitling Jet Team, the Fireflies and Twister Pair, Otto the helicopter and the Tigers Freefall Team on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Alongside the nighttime air displays you will find family entertainment between 6 and 9pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings in the Bournemouth Lower Gardens which join the town centre to the pier and beach. This includes the Royal Marines demonstration at 6.30pm, circus workshops, bird of prey demonstrations, face painting, fire performances and magic fun. Down by the pier there will be the Bournemouth Stage with live music between 6 and 10pm. To finish off the evening, Firework displays will be set off from Bournemouth Pier on Friday and Saturday at 10pm.




Photo by Paul M on Unsplash


The timetable will be available in the official Bournemouth Air Festival brochures which you can purchase, but you may also get key information of timings from the Bournemouth Echo twitter account on the day although you are not guaranteed mobile phone signal if on the beach so I recommend you have a look before you head down.




If you are looking for something extra special why not pay for a ticket to the hospitality tent? The Sunday hospitality day is hosted by the John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation, a charity which I support and have fundraised for in the past. The charity has also recently supported J and for this we will be forever grateful – more information in a future post. Tickets for their hospitality package cost £90 and includes:

  • Exclusive marquee with private beach space.
  • Delicious buffet served from 12-2:30pm.
  • Cream Tea served from 4pm.
  • Tea and Coffee.
  • Access to VIP bar and viewing deck.
  • Exclusive silent auction with exciting raffle prizes.
  • Opportunity to meet passing display teams who may pop in for refreshments.



Travel and Parking

The Bournemouth Air Festival is very popular and it is advisable to plan your travel.

Park and Ride is available in two locations:

  • Kings Park (BH7 7AF). £10 per car Thursday and Sunday. £12 per car Friday and Saturday. Open 9am Thursday-Sunday. Last bus 11pm Thursday-Saturday and 7pm Sunday.
  • Redhill Park (BH9 2SW) £12 per car Friday and Saturday, £10 per car Sunday. Open 9am Friday-Sunday. Last bus 11pm Friday & Saturday and 7pm Sunday.


If you are driving please be aware that free parking is available but will disappear early and is further away than the car parks. There are some road closures which are on the Bournemouth Air Festival website. If you are a blue badge holder please check the accessibility options.


Red Arrow Heart Bournemouth


Bournemouth Air Festival – Best Family Event in the UK?

I love the Bournemouth Air Festival and have many happy memories from previous years and some shared community tragedy and sadness. If the weather plays ball then I really don’t think you can beat it for a free or cheap family weekend of entertainment.

  • FREE entry! FREE Air Displays.
  • Red Arrows.
  • Exciting plane displays.
  • Navy boats in the sea.
  • Meeting pilots.
  • FREE evening entertainment.
  • Beautiful views.
  • Clean, sandy beaches.
  • Plenty of Toilets.
  • Loads of beach and cliff top space to sit and play.
  • Funfair.

Really what isn’t to love?


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