A WEEKEND celebrating the brilliance of flying displays will take place in Bournemouth this summer - but with a 'take off' of a different kind.

The Bournemouth Air Festival was due to be held for the 13th year in August before it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, organisers have teamed up with a town centre business to provide a unique alternative for fans of the event to enjoy all things land, sea and air.

Bournemouth Echo: The Red Arrows display at the 2018 Bournemouth Air FestivalThe Red Arrows display at the 2018 Bournemouth Air Festival

Working with Centre VR in Bournemouth, an online virtual air festival will be available live between Friday, August 21, and Sunday, August 23.

The event, which can also be followed on social media, will broadcast from one of Europe's largest virtual reality centre's in the town centre with support from Live TV.

Bournemouth Echo: The Royal Navy Blackcat helicoper at last year's Bournemouth Air FestivalThe Royal Navy Blackcat helicoper at last year's Bournemouth Air Festival

BCP Council leader Cllr Vikki Slade said: “The air festival is an integral part of our events calendar one which is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people.

"We want to broaden the programme to reflect the plans for 2021 to appeal to a wider audience, engaging both residents and visitors.

"The team have worked really hard to make sure we don’t miss the air festival. It’s a shame we’re not on the beach but the line-up is impressive with something for everyone.”

Entertainment will have hourly themes including Friday’s Royal Navy, Night Air and Air Festival Celebrations, Saturday’s Royal Air Force hour, the Red Arrows and Festival Fun and Sunday’s Daredevil Flying, Vintage Hour and an Army slot.

There will also be the chance to find out more about the festival’s nominated armed forces charities: the Soldiers Charity, Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity, Royal Air Force Association and RAF Benevolent Fund.

Supported by Wave105, Daily Echo and Hotel Miramar, there will also be an art and craft session with Martin Bridge, who created his own mini air show in his back garden for his family which went viral at the start of coronavirus lockdown’ and a specially recorded acoustic music set from Roy Stride, lead singer from Scouting for Girls, who have previously appeared at Night Air.

Bournemouth Echo: The Tigers Freefall Parachute Display Team at the Bournemouth Air FestivalThe Tigers Freefall Parachute Display Team at the Bournemouth Air Festival

Squadron Leader Martin Pert, Red 1 and Team Leader of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the virtual Bournemouth Air Festival – it’s one of our favourite, best-attended venues of the display season, and if we can’t be over the Pier or at a meet-and-greet on this occasion we’ll be online, doing something a little different for 2020.”

The virtual festival will be presented by Andy Marlor who has previously fronted Air Festival TV and the familiar festival tones of George Bacon, who has commentated on the event since its inception in 2008.

Bournemouth Echo: Bournemouth Air Festival Night Air favourite Otto the HelicopterBournemouth Air Festival Night Air favourite Otto the Helicopter

David Bailey, chairman of the BCP destination management board, said: “The tourism industry always looks forward to the air festival, the footfall, the incredible amount of money spent within the local economy and the chance for us to really showcase our wonderful resort.

"It’s important we keep going in these unprecedented times and a move for 2020 to a virtual event is going to be great fun – we are obviously looking forward to welcoming festival goers back next year.

"Huge thanks to everyone who has given their support including pilots, display teams the armed forces, local businesses and of course Centre VR for their incredible team, venue and technology!”

Viewers can engage with competitions - including the chance to win exclusive prints and even help to design next year’s brochure front cover - fancy dress Friday, online voting and Facebook Q&A sessions with star pilots!

Audiences can tune in on the hour as well as watch back online via the official YouTube channel Love Bournemouth – so you can pick and choose what you want to watch without having to watch it all day.

The full Bournemouth Air Festival is scheduled to return to the town in September 2021.