IT'S time for take-off. The Bournemouth Air Festival returns today for the first time in two years.

The popular four-day event, which runs until Sunday, last took place in 2019 when it drew crowds of over 800,000 people.

Last year's event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Air Festival Director, Jon Weaver said: “It has been one of our biggest challenges but we’re so pleased it’s finally here, the hard work has paid off and we can’t wait to welcome people and have them enjoy a first class free air festival.”

Air Festival favourites the Royal Air Force Red Arrows, one of the world’s premier aerobatic display teams, will be taking to the skies along with iconic warbirds the Ultimate Fighters, the Blades Acrobatic display team, the RAF Chinook, the Aerosuperbatics Wingwalkers and the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Along with air-borne displays, there will be a Sunseeker Parade on Saturday, a chance to visit the RAF village at East Overcliff, a real aircraft cockpit in the Bournemouth Lower Gardens and a Sunday Service in the bandstand.

And it’s not just day-time entertainment, at dusk the Fireflies will be offering twilight pyrotechnic displays, along with the Rolls Royce Spitfire, RAF Typhoon and Tigers FFT Parachute Team, who will be flying during the day and night.

There has also been a push for sustainability from organisers this year, with festivalgoers being encouraged to attend via public transport and recycle their litter.

Councillor Philip Broadhead said: “I’m really excited to see the Air Festival back in action this year and will be enjoying the full four days with my family.”

Councillor Drew Mellor, Leader of BCP Council, said: “We are all very excited for the return of the Bournemouth Air Festival for the first time in two years. We’ve got a full itinerary of events planned alongside the best RAF line up of display aircraft in five years with the Red Arrows, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and Typhoon displaying all four days.

“Since the start of 2021 we’ve been determined to make this the year of ‘bounce back’. To engineer the fastest possible recovery for businesses and for jobs – and to help people back outdoors. Festival Coast Live! has led the way this summer and we have no doubt that tomorrow’s Air Festival will be a massive boost for everyone!

“We are all proud to stage such a fantastic event along our coastline of opportunity.”

Air Festival Director, John Weaver added: “Trying to organise this event has been incredibly challenging for everyone involved - across the council, service and stakeholders and it’s a huge thank you to those people who have worked so hard to bring this iconic festival back to the town.

“Last year, as with all major events, we missed the 2020 Air Festival, but with all the hard work that has gone into it, this is just the boost we need, we can’t wait to welcome everyone tomorrow.”