THE Festival of Flight will literally take off the ground this week.
County Down is gifted with a beautiful and dramatic coastline and making it more dramatic is a challenge… but tens of thousands of people will see how it’s done when Newcastle’s promenade becomes the stunning setting for the B/E Aerospace Festival of Flight.
This magnificent location, where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea, will once again play host to the one day aerobatic spectacular on Saturday 11 August.
International aviation displays will include a thunderous Typhoon (fast jet) Display, a visit by a Hunter jet, first visit to Co Down of a Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk XI built in 1944 and amazing performances by the celebrated Aerostars, one of Europe’s most a celebrated civilian display teams, and the ever popular Irish Air Corps with their four ship graceful Pilatus PC-9M.
The B/E Aerospace Festival of Flight will also bring to the area a week-long programme of events and attractions, many of them free and all of them designed to drive visitor numbers.
Mark Mohan, Senior Tourism Initiatives Manager from Down District Council explained the programme is part of our ambitious year-round events strategy, “Research shows that, right around the world, major events are key drivers for tourism and that even long-established and highly successful resorts can benefit from the heightened profile which they create. Benefits are enjoyed not only during the events, but for some time afterwards.
“In today’s highly competitive environment nowhere can afford to ‘rest on its tourism laurels’. While Newcastle and the Mournes have traditionally enjoyed buoyant business, we believe very strongly that we must continue to support the region’s tourism industry with a well considered strategy that includes crowd-pulling, family-friendly events such as this.”
Tens of thousands of people will flock to the region to enjoy the 2012 B/E Aerospace Festival of Flight, all ready to spend money in local shops, cafes and bars and many planning overnight stays in caravan parks, B&Bs and hotels. That tourism spend will bring an important mid-Summer boost to the local economy, with the hope that many of those who enjoy their Festival of Flight visit will return at a later stage to see the region in more relaxed mode.
Ann Moreland, Events Development Officer said: “It is wonderful to see the natural amphitheatre of the Newcastle promenade used to such dramatic effect one day each year. The roar of the jets, the swoop and soar of both modern and vintage aircraft and the excitement and bustle of on the ground events combine to make this an astonishing, thrilling occasion, while the surrounding programme of attractions and entertainment ensure that the fun lasts right throughout the week.
“Don’t miss the static helicopter display in Donard Park from the visiting Belgian Air Force and an amazing air and sea rescue demonstration by the Irish Coastguard and the MCA Newcastle officers. Other GI themed displays will include the Ulster Military Vehicle Club along with the Ulster Model Aircraft Club in Donard Park, while you can also catch sight of the American GI’s from the Wartime Living History Association as they mingle amongst the visitors in their ‘Dodge’ Jeep.
“Stationed in the Newcastle Library will be the US Army Air Forces in Northern Ireland in WW11 exhibition by the Ulster Aviation Society so there’s no excuse not to soak up the atmosphere of this special era and enjoy their fascinating selection of artefacts and photographs!”
To bring the Festival evening to a close, U105 will be presenting James Huish and his eight piece Tribute Band and they will enchant you with an evening of sheer entertainment including all your favourite hits from the 40’s and 50’s! Businesses in the town have also embraced the spirit of the festival and have laid on many special events throughout the celebrations, including Hat Fitz & Cara Robinson with their ‘Take Flight’ Tour at O’Hare’s Bar while a dance competition with the Finbarr Keaveney is taking place at The Donard Bar and the Retro Party with DJ Si at Quinn’s Bar will keep you entertained to the wee hours. Look out also for the many ‘nostalgia and retro’ themed window displays which will bring a smile to your face as you explore the town during the festival.
Mrs Moreland added: “While the Festival of Flight is a much-appreciated and much-enjoyed highlight of our Summer activity schedule, is it one facet of a broad tourism development programme. Those who are passionate about the aura of peace in the area and its more natural beauties can be assured that we will never let occasional events overshadow those vital attributes.
“The secret of success for tourism development in the region lies in our capacity to provide something for everyone, achieving a balance between active leisure opportunities and more laid back leisure.
“Fortunately we have a region which shows both sides of the coin and we hope that the end result will be the development of tourism as a sustainable asset, benefiting all of us who have a stake in securing a strong economy here in the Mournes.”
On Saturday 11 August ample free parking will be provided at various locations close to Newcastle. FREE park and ride facilities will operate from 11.00am to 9.00pm at Northfield on the Castlewellan Road, so why not take advantage of a stress free day and follow the signs on approach to Newcastle.
With over 30 events running throughout the festival from Monday 6 – Sunday 12 August and many with FREE admission it’s worth checking out the full festival programme available now at www.downdc.gov.uk or follow us on www.facebook.com/DownFestivals or pick up a FREE brochure at the Festival Office on 028 4372 2222.