BOURNEMOUTH’S inaugural Wheels Festival has been such a resounding success that it will return again next year, organisers have confirmed.
More than half a million people attended the bank holiday occasion, spending around £9million in the town centre.
And those behind the event hope it will go on to emulate the ever-popular Air Festival, which takes place each August and last year drew record-breaking crowds.
See all our pictures, video and coverage at bournemouthecho.co.uk/wheels
Bournemouth Borough Council leader John Beesley confirmed to the Daily Echo this morning that plans were already in place for next year.
The event will take place on May 23-25, 2015.
“It has gone amazingly well,” he said.
“2015 will be our second Wheels Festival.”
The councillor said the weekend’s festivities had acted as a “rehearsal” ahead of next year, adding: “We know now that we have got it right.”
Director of tourism Mark Smith echoed Cllr Beesley’s comments, and said the resort should be known worldwide as “dynamic and happening”.
“People talk positively about Bournemouth because we do events like this really, really well,” he said.
“The weekend is going brilliantly and we are incredibly pleased and proud of this festival.”
He said “record-breaking” numbers of people had visited across the bank holiday break.
“For this weekend, it’s an astonishing number of people,” he added.
Portfolio holder for tourism, leisure and culture, Lawrence Williams, admitted to both “expectation and trepidation” ahead of the event, but praised the weekend as “absolutely brilliant”.
“I did enjoy watching the monster trucks,” he said.
“This is a season-opening event.
We have got the Wheels Festival to start the summer, and then the Air Festival in August, followed by the arts festival in the autumn.”
But it wasn’t just council officials praising the event, with traders also confirming a huge boost in their profits.
Chairman of the Bournemouth Accommodation and Hotel Association (BAHA), Paul Clarke, said: “It has been a massive success, another new experience for the town.
“People have been overwhelmed by the event and there have been very few, if any hotel rooms left.”
He added: “It’s something else Bournemouth has to offer and it has been brilliant.”
Mandy Payne, who chairs the Bournemouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said even newer businesses have been given a boost.
“A new hotel has just opened in Southbourne, and they’ve been fully booked because of this weekend,” she said.
“It’s been really great for business, which is fantastic. I think Bournemouth is becoming known for putting on big festivals with a capital F, and people want to come and see what’s going on.”
Hotel Miramar director David Bailey said rooms have been completely booked on each day of the event.
“It has been a very busy weekend,” he said.
“We’ve been full on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and I think we only have a few empty rooms tonight.”