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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Windermere air festival

CROWDS descended on the Lakes for an annual air festival.

Around 40,000 people visited Bowness at the weekend for the Windermere Air Festival.

Planes from a range of eras swooped over the town, with visitors also enjoying festivities on the ground.

The event culminated on Sunday afternoon with a performance from British institution the Red Arrows, who performed an array of daring and spectacular stunts.

After 10 years of growing from strength to strength, the air show has been rebranded as a festival with more activities taking place this year than ever before.

Festival director Lucy Bennett said that the festival was planned to be more able to adapt to the weather, after several displays were cancelled during last year’s event.

She said: “The weather is a lot nicer than last year, and it’s been a great success so far.

“We’ve tried to put a lot more on the ground this year due to flying displays getting cancelled last year on the Saturday.

“We needed to try and have some other things to do on the ground, so we’ve got things like re-enactment camps, planes to look around, bouncy castles and lots of other different things for people to look at.

“It’s a family event. People like just coming down, sitting on the Glebe and relaxing in the sunshine.

“There’s also lots of activities to look around and there’s something for everyone.”

The show had previously been run by founders the Rotary Club of Windermere, but due to the success of the event they chose to hand the task of organising the festival to Kendal company Bluestone Events.

And Ms Bennett said a mammoth effort goes in to creating the spectacle.

She said: “It’s a huge operation to organise. You have the flying displays, and there’s lots of multi agency meetings with all the local authorities and emergency services. A lot of this has to be very detailed due to what could happen on a flying display and alongside that you have all the organisation of the ground entertainment. It takes about a year to plan in total.”

Plane fanatics enjoyed seeing an eclectic range of aircraft throughout the weekend, including: Spitfires, Red Hawks and Tucanos.

A late addition to the festival was an impressive Avro Vulcan XH558, a large bomber designed in the 1950s.

The last remaining Vulcan was brought to the show after late talks between Bluestone and charity Vulcan to the Sky.

Ian Homer, marketing and events director of Vulcan to the Sky, said he was delighted to see the aircraft fly over such scenic surroundings.

He said: “We don’t do many events like this. We tend to do the true out and out airshows.

“But this is fantastic for us particularly for the members of the team to come here for a different type of airshow. It’s a fantastic atmosphere and the scenery of the lake is a fantastic setting.”

Visitors were also treated to a variety of different entertainment on the ground, including dance shows and a war reenactment.

Jonathan Johnson, from the Civic War Society, led his troops from the Colonel Edward Montagu’s Regiment of Foote in the display, and said his men really enjoyed the day.

He said: “It’s been absolutely wonderful. The people have been so friendly and there has been a lot of interest in what we are doing.”

The event helped to attract many tourists to the Lakes, many of whom had travelled significant distances.

Kenny Dick, 43, brought his family all the way from Ayrshire in Scotland specifically to see the show.

He said: “We missed it last year, so we made sure we were down for this year.

“It’s been great, and has lots of different things going on.

“We go to quite a few of the air shows, but this one is a bit different and it’s set in a really nice place.”

As well as those travelling from afar, visitors also flocked to the event from across South Cumbria.

Mike Hopley, 64, from Windermere, said: “It’s been great. It feels really full this year and I think the weather’s helped.”

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