THE annual Air Festival will be back with a bang after going virtual last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Whether you're a seasoned veteran and have been to all 12 previous festivals, or this is your first one - we've pulled together some handy tips and advice to help you have a great time (and hopefully get the best view). 

When is the Air Festival? 

Thousands are expected to flock to the town for the four day event running from Thursday,  September 2, to Sunday, September 5.

How do we get there?

The town is always really busy, so you're risking long queues and delays if you choose to drive all the way in.

We recommend using the BCP Council's park and ride service from Kings Park.

Bournemouth Echo:

Parking is free but there is a charge to use the bus (£10 Thursday and Sunday, £12 Friday and Saturday) which will drop off at Manor Road.

Tickets entitle up to 7 people to use the bus (return).

A number of bus services will also be running across the weekend. 

The council confirmed in a public notice that 13 roads would be closed during the festival, with certain exceptions, between August 31 and September 6.

See full list of Road closures for Bournemouth Air Festival weekend.

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  and the Winter Gardens BH2 5AQ (250 spaces).

There is accessible viewing available at Monkey Island BH1 3EZ (80 car parking spaces) and there is an accessible viewing area on the promenade outside the Surf Steps School (BH5 1BN).

How busy is it at the pier?

It gets very busy at both Bournemouth and Boscombe piers, with stands, stalls and activities all along the beach. 

We recommend arriving early to get a good spot - especially at the weekend. 

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.

Who can help if I have any questions?

There will be lots of people and volunteers on hand, advising on what’s going on when and where and generally helping people find their way around at this year’s air festival. 

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.

What's new for this year?

At sea will be the new Sunseeker parade and on land the new Atlas Elektronik STEM marquee along with Armed Forces Villages. 

Is there anything else other than planes?

There’s lots to do and see away from the flying – from funfairs to  face-painting for the children plus, trade stalls, food and drink stands.

In the Lower Gardens, the Prince of Wales Army Band will be performing plus the gig screen will be showing Hairspray on Thursday, Back to the Future 3 on Friday and Grease Sing-a-Long on Saturday. 

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 dusk displays on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Bournemouth Echo:

The displays will feature RAF Typhoon, Belgian Air Force's 'Razzle Blade', The Fireflies and also The British Army Tigers Freefall Parachute Display team. 

However, this year there is no pilot meet and greet session and no Night Air concerts.


Friday, September 3 at 10pm (as part of Bournemouth Air Festival)

Saturday, September 4 at 10pm (as part of Bournemouth Air Festival)

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

It can get incredible loud, though obviously the noise leels vary depending on the plane. 

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.


The weather can affect the visibility of the displays and even lead to cancellations - we'll keep you up-to-date on this in our daily live blogs. 

We'll be providing weather forecasts in the days immediately before the big event begins. It can be windy on the seafront, so bring warmer clothes than you think you might need, and don't forget the sunscreen.

Lost children:

The LV=KidsZone on the seafront will be operating as usual 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:

South Western Ambulance Service will be providing medical cover. 

Three treatment centres will be ready to help those in needs of any medical attention - one at Boscombe Pier, Bournemouth Pier and East Cliff zigZag - the exact locations can be found on the official app. 


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, as well as a range of pop-up bars. 

Bournemouth Echo:

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. There's 1.5 miles of traders and a variety of veritable vendors.

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.


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.


Take your litter home with you. 

Remember to check back for our live coverage throughout all four days - delays, weather and flying updates as well as much, much more.