Never been to Bournemouth Air Festival before? Here are some handy hints and tips from traffic to where's best to stand and what else is going on. 

How do we get there?

You can see all the nearby car parks on our map here - but driving all the way into town can be a risky business; not so much getting in as getting out again. There’s no parking on East Overcliff, Grove Road, or Manor Road and roads in Boscombe and Southbourne are usually very busy by mid-morning.

We would recommend using the Park and Rides at Kings Park, Littledown or Redhill if you are bringing your car – it’s £10 per vehicle with a maximum of seven people per car, or there will be buses running every five minutes from the railway station to Bournemouth Square. 

What about disabled parking?

Disabled parking is available but limited. The disabled parking drop-off point is at the bottom of Sea Road at Boscombe Pier. Accessible car-parks are at Sea Road BH5 1BN (70 spaces) and the Winter Gardens BH2 5AQ (250 spaces). There is accessible viewing available at Monkey Island BH1 3EZ (80 car parking spaces).

How busy is it at the pier?

Very. The central flight line for the festival runs directly between Bournemouth and Boscombe piers, and there are stands, stalls and activities all along the beach. We recommend arriving early to get a decent spot, particularly at the weekend, when the Red Arrows are flying or when the Vulcan is expected.

People stake their claim on the best spots on the overcliff and beach from 7am onwards, so if you can’t or don’t want to wait all day, try further up the beach in both directions. Southbourne is usually much quieter although getting parking can be tricky.

The view may not be quite as good but you’ll still get to see everything, just with a bit more elbow room.

See also: Six places to watch the Air Festival you might not have thought of

Who can help if I have any questions?

Look for the 'festival makers' who will be giving out maps, advising on what’s going on when and where and generally helping people find their way around at this year’s air festival. 

What time are the Red Arrows? What time is the Eurofighter? 

The Red Arrows will be flying on all four days at this year's Air Festival. More schedule information will be available in the coming months.

We'll be live blogging each day to keep you up-to-date with what's happening, latest traffic and parking information, plus answer any questions you may have. 

See also: When are the Red Arrows on? 

What's new for this year?

The Swiss Air Force has revealed it will be bringing the F/A-18 Hornet - a twin-engine, supersonic jet - and the Super Puma Cougar helicopter.

More schedule details as we get them.

How loud does it get? Can I bring my toddler?

The noise level varies from plane to plane, with the Eurofighter Typhoon the loudest of them all (and that’s really loud). How scared your child will be depends on how they usually react to noise, but we would recommend ear defenders or ear plugs for children and anyone who doesn’t really like loud noise.

Weather

Cloud and wind can affect some of the displays or lead to cancellations but we'll keep up-to-date on this in our daily live blogs. Keep an eye out for our running weather forecast closer to the Air Festival. It can be windy on the seafront, so bring warmer clothes than you think you might need, and don't forget the sun cream!

See also: Is it going to rain?, our forecast story updated daily

Things that aren’t planes:

There’s lots to do and see away from the flying – from funfairs to falconry and face-painting for the children. There will be entertainment in the Lower Gardens between 6pm and 9pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Plus, trade stalls, food and drink stands and a funfair on the seafront. 

There will also be a villages for the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, plus numerous displays going on at the Air Festival Beach Assault Arena. 

Night Air:

As well as flying during the day, there are usually dusk displays on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 

There are also concerts at Boscombe Pier; these events are usually ticketed.  

A variety of tribute acts will perform at Bournemouth Pier at night but you won't need a ticket for this. 

More details as they're announced.

See also: What's on at Night Air at the Piers 2015

Fireworks:

There are fireworks displays at 10pm on Friday and Saturday. 

Lost children:

The LV=KidsZone on the seafront will be operating as usual (more details here) but a tip from a reader – write your mobile number on your child’s arm, in case you get separated away from the beach. It’s always worth having a designated “meet here in case of emergency” place if your child is old enough.

First Aid:

St John Ambulance are providing medical cover working alongside the NHS ambulance service.

Four treatment centres will be ready to help those in needs of any medical attention. 

SJA are providing six ambulances, Cycle Response units (CRU) and over 40 First Aiders.

Toilets:

All the toilets along the seafront are open, as are those in the gardens. See where they are here

Is there food at the seafront?

Yes. There are catering points along the beach front and on East Overcliff, where there will be a range of foods from noodles to fish to a hog roast. It’s always worth bringing water and snacks though, in case you don’t want to give up your prime viewing spot on the beach.

Don’t forget: 

A chair, sun cream, water, binoculars, a wind break, some warm clothes in case it’s windy and something waterproof in case there’s a sudden shower.

Don’t:

Try and leave as soon as the flying ends – either duck out early or hang around and explore the gardens, go for something to eat (but make sure you book as everywhere fills up very early) or relax and wait for the dusk displays.

Do:

Take your litter home with you!

Send us your best pictures for our Air Festival competition

Remember to check bournemouthecho.co.uk/air or bit.ly/bmthair from a mobile for live coverage throughout the day, the best pictures and videos and all the information you could possibly need.