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Bournemouth Air Festival expected to draw more than one-million visitors as first planes take to the skies this afternoon

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BOURNEMOUTH is expected to welcome more than a million people over the next four days for its annual air show which takes to the skies this afternoon.

The free event is staged across 1.5 miles of beach and clifftop, and will host RAF and civilian display teams and aircraft, family entertainment, pier to pier trading, night flying and outdoor films.

Air festival director Jon Weaver, who has overseen the event since it began in 2008, said: “Trying to organise this event has been incredibly challenging for everyone involved, 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 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.”

The programme includes the greatest RAF line up in five years – with the Red Arrows, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and Typhoon displaying all four days.

Back to wow the crowds will also be the RAF Chinook, The Blades, Fireflies, The Tigers Freefall Parachute Display Team, Rich Goodwin, Ultimate Warbirds, Royal Navy Black Cat, SuperAeroBatics Wingwalkers and Rolls Royce Spitfire.

Carrying on into the evening, entertainment on Thursday, Friday and Saturday includes Royal Navy Beat Retreat Sunset Ceremony and Royal Marines unarmed combat demonstration, followed by stunning dusk flying from 7.20pm with the big screen in the Lower Gardens showing some great films from 8pm. And to round off the night on Friday and Saturday will be fireworks from the pier at 10pm.

On the ground, new for this year is the Atlas Elektronik STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) marquee on the East Overcliff, next door to the ever popular RAF Village.

On the seafront will be the Royal Navy and Army Royal Marines villages, complemented by a host of great trading as well as food and drink.

Saturday afternoon will see a Sunseeker parade on the bay, featuring over 35 Sunseekers throughout the ages, and festival-goers can enjoy the Prince of Wales Army Band in the Lower Gardens Bandstand every day from noon.

Cllr Beverly Dunlop, BCP Council's lead member for Festival Coast Live!, said: “Since the start of the year, BCP Council has been determined to make 2021 the year of ‘bounce back’ – with a positive recovery driven by Festival Coast Live, and the air festival is the jewel in the crown for us all this summer.

"The objective was to engineer the fastest possible recovery for businesses and to help people, visitors and residents alike to get back outdoors. We can't wait for four days of fantastic aviation entertainment!”

The show is estimated to generate £30m for the local economy.

On site there are one-way systems in place for more popular trading areas and -sanitiser stations. Visitors can even get walk-in Covid vaccinations at Bournemouth International Centre across the four days of the festival.

Visit bournemouthair.co.uk for more details.

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