13th - 14th July 2024
Following cancellation in 2021, the Southport Airshow was back with a July show for 2022 but moved to September for 2023. For 2024 the show goes back to mid-July.
Unfortunately, the 2023 show didn't get off to a very good start. The Red Arrows were due to display first on Saturday. However, a brief but heavy shower at their host airport, Blackpool, caused the cancellation of the display, replaced later in the afternoon by a flypast. See the pink box for reasons why this kind of weather interlude, even a brief one, can prevent a display.
Because the Red Arrows were due to be the first display on Saturday, quite a large number of would-be visitors would have missed them anyway, because of traffic issues in the area. Conditions meant that the beach could not be used for car parking, so motorists had to be diverted elsewhere. This, and the heavy traffic associated with events of this kind, caused massive congestion and huge delays - some people reported delays of around three hours. Others said that they abandoned their visit to the show altogether.
The traffic and parking issues; cancellation of the Red Arrows - a star attraction for many; general difficulty and huge delays gaining access to the viewing area; the condition of the beach; lack of facilities; lack of a public address system in some areas and consequently poor communication to the audience and long gaps between displays, combined to cause considerable disquiet especially on Saturday.
The schedule for Sunday was updated and the timings were much tighter, but there were still gaps where a few displays were cancelled or shortened. By and large, there were far fewer issues on Sunday, possibly because visitor numbers were lower than on Saturday. The lower Sunday numbers may be because the Red Arrows were expected on Saturday but not Sunday and because the weather forecast for Sunday was poor.
The local authority's response to complaints immediately after the show was largely defensive. Hopefully there will be some further consideration of the arrangements and different logistic, marshall training and contingency planning for the show in 2024.
On the positive side, the RAF Typhoon display was very well received, as it has been everywhere, and the Chinook, Bronco and Team Raven displays were also very popular.
Credit, too, to the model airplane pilots. It was not what most of the crowd came to see, and there was some upset that models dominated much of both days, but at least the pilots did arrive, fly, and provide entertainment, even if their efforts were not universally appreciated by the crowd.
It may be clear, dry and sunny at the location of an airshow, but sometimes conditions are not suitable for a display.
There are several reasons for this.
One is that the aircraft may be coming from a different location and the conditions may be worse either in that other place or somewhere between that place and the show. This happened at Southport, where the weather was fine at the venue but a heavy shower and low cloud at the airport prevented the display.
Modern RAF aircraft can cope with much worse conditions but many of the aircraft that display at airshows are older and less technically advanced, with fewer safety features. The Red Arrows, for example, do not fly modern combat aircraft, but Hawk T1s, designed primarily as trainers, that have been in service for around fifty years. Whereas some modern aircraft can land in a very short space, the Hawk T1 has a conventional braking system and requires a much longer runway to enable safe landing: even longer when the runway is wet. A case in point is Blackpool airport, which was The Red Arrows' base for the Southport airshow, where the runway is not long enough to allow a safe wet landing.
So why can't the time of a display be changed to a time when the weather allows? When the Red Arrows, and other teams, fly in formation, they have to give prior notice of their route to the Civil Aviation Authority, so that other aircraft can keep out of the way. The Red Arrows need a clear air corridor throughout their journey. Because of the need to make sure that everyone else knows about this well in advance, the time that the clear airspace is needed cannot be changed at short notice. The displays, and the journeys to and from displays, are timed very carefully with extremely little flexibility.
The organisers have their own Southport Air Show web site.
|Displays in 2023|
|The 2023 flying list is provided to indicate the kind of show to expect. It will be replaced by the schedule for 2024 when announced|
|Red Arrows (9th only) CANCELLED because of conditions at Blackpool, the host airport. They did make a flypast on the way to another airshow.|
|Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 (RAF) (both days)|
|BBMF Lancaster 'PA474 Leader' (both days)|
|Hawker Hurricane Mk IIc PZ865 BBMF 'Last of the Many' (both days)|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX (BBMF) (both days)|
|Chinook (RAF) (both days)|
|Team Raven (both days)|
|Tigers Parachute Display Team (both days)|
|Slingsby T67M Mk2 Firefly G-BNSR (both days)|
|North American P-51D Mustang: Rolls Royce Heritage Flight (Sunday only)|
|Vickers Supermarine Spitfire PRXIX PS853 G-RRGN: Rolls Royce Heritage Flight (Sunday only)|
|Grob Tutor (RAF) (both days)|
|Strikemaster pair, G-SOAF and G-RSAF (both days). Reduced to a solo.|
|Great War Display Team (display abbreviated on Sunday due to local storm)|
|North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco|
|Hawker Hurricane Mk Xlla G-HURI 'R4175 RF-R' (previously 'P3700 RF-E') (Historic Aircraft Collection) (both days). Cancelled.|
|Black Cats (RN). Cancelled.|
|de Havilland DH.100 Vampire FB.52 (Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron). Cancelled.|
Appearances are always subject to technical, weather and other constraints.
Southport, Merseyside, is on the coast of the Irish sea, not far from Liverpool. There is a very deep expanse of sand. As well as the sand, another backdrop for the displays is the very old but modernised Southport Pier, the second longest pleasure pier in Great Britain.
The Southport airshow is unusual in three respects. Firstly, because the beach is so deep there are displays over the sand, whereas at other seaside shows the aircraft would always be over water. The second novel feature is that Southport charges, so you have to buy tickets to get the best views. Southport has managed to make this work, unlike unsuccessful charging experiments at seaside shows elsewhere. Thirdly, subject to the conditions, some light aircraft can land on the beach before the main displays, so there is potential for ground aircraft movements, whereas at other seaside shows all displays would fly in and fly out.
Use the postcode PR8 1RY until you get close enough to pick up the airshow direction signs. Follow the signs in preference to the sat nav once you see them, as there may be traffic diversions in place.
There are links to other route planners in the Travel Advice section.
Northern Rail operate direct services to Southport from Manchester city and airport, Bolton and Wigan. Merseyrail go direct to Liverpool airport and city. From Manchester and Liverpool there are connecting services nationwide.
It is best to book as far as possible in advance. This is not only because nearby hotels and guest houses tend get booked up well before the date of an airshow but also because prices can be better when you book early online.
There are plenty of booking agencies. We find that many of the well known ones are better at finding hotels from international or larger UK chains and may suggest hotels in main towns or cities quite a distance from the show site.
Premier Inn have one hotel in Southport itself, another just outside, in Ormskirk and more in Liverpool and Preston.
Travelodge have one hotel in Southport itself and more in Lytham St Annes and Blackpool.
Click any of the blue names to go to the corresponding web site. The links already have the location built in, but please check, and change as necessary, the dates, number of rooms and number of guests.
A full 7 day Southport weather forecast from the UK Met Office
The Met Office 7-day forecast includes actual and "feels like" temperatures, the likelihood of rain, wind speed, wind direction, wind gusts and visibility: the latter can have an impact on the viability of displays.
The BBC's 14-day forecast has overall conditions including and hourly estimate of temperature, wind direction, wind speed and UV range.
Click the blue-text link to go to the forecast. The location is already built into the links.
July 13 - 14
Southport Town Hall
Tickets available in early 2024.
Gates and attractions open at 10:00
Sat Nav PR8 1RY
For links to other travel and route planning web sites, click the 'Getting there' tab