This week an ambitious scheme for the redevelopment of the old Winter Gardens site in Bournemouth got the green light from the council’s planning board. The £150 million makeover is one of the biggest the town has ever seen. This is the latest in a string of major infrastructure projects that is redefining our town as a must-do destination for business as well as pleasure. Proposals are also underway to shape a cultural-led mixed-use development overlooking the beachfront on land currently used for car parking near the Bournemouth Pavilion and Lower Gardens. The intention is to link the new Cultural Quarter to the beaches, town centre and Winter Gardens development via a new, elevated Grand Garden Walk.
A decade of transformation
Bournemouth has gone from retiree country to a vibrant cosmopolitan centre for arts, culture, business and entertainment. We are a major incubator of innovation and enterprise. Two universities add a further 19,000 graduates a year to the population. Both are centres of digital and creative innovation. Bournemouth University’s Faculty of Media & Communication is recognised as the only Centre for Excellence in Media Practice in the UK. Both campuses have produced Oscar-winning performances in screenwriting and animation for box office hits The Full Monty, Slumdog Millionaire, Interstellar, Gravity, Ex Machina, with plenty more behind-the-scenes in costume design and special effects make-up.
Silicon Republic recently described Bournemouth as “a surprising haven for digital visionaries working on cool new products and services… something of a tech and fintech hub.” In 2017 according to the UK’s Tech Nation 2017, Bournemouth had spawned close to 200 start-ups, with almost 16,000 people employed in the digital sector. Bournemouth plays host to the the world’s premier animation, film and games BFX Festival and last year hosted the country’s first major wellbeing event, Fit Living UK, attracted around 10,000 visitors over a weekend.
Unsurprisingly, countless new eateries, drinkeries, clubs and activities have mushroomed up to meet the demands of a truly diverse and bustling local and visitor community, creating an infectious vibe of arts, culture and entertainment, where young, old and in-between happily rub shoulders in the night spots.
There’s an almost bewildering choice of food, drink, fun and interest. We’ve got micro breweries, gin distillieries and cider making. Street food, fast food, world food and five-star dining. The best of the world’s rock, pop, indie and comedy acts, a generous sprinkling of opera and musical theatre, and a vibrant dance scene. Everything from beach yoga and volleyball to paddleboarding, jetski safaris and bay cruises. Food safaris, bushcraft, high ropes adventure and the first pier to shore zip wire in the UK. Once a year we host the biggest air show in the country bringing thousands into Bournemouth to mark the official end of summer. Although this year, that went on well into October.
All these things are within walking distance of one another. And that’s brilliant news for the many thousands of delegates who visit every year to attend major conferences and exhibitions and a big plus for organisers looking to create landmark delegate experiences. Even during the dark winter months, there’ll be music playing and hearty food and drink to enjoy somewhere nearby.
Christmas in Bournemouth.
This year, Christmas has been given an extra touch of magic, with a bigger German market, ice skating, a fabulous alpine bar and a stage for live musicians to entertain you. Light and pyrotechnic spectaculars daily. Oh. and not one, more than 100 Christmas trees of all shapes and sizes, lining our garden walks and streets, including a Tree of Light and canopy of cascading lights over Pine Tree Walk. Standing as high as the Angel of the North and decorated with 30,000 LED lights, is the centrepiece – the Bournemouth Wonderland Tree. It’s the perfect setting to let the sun go down on 2018. Especially when the fireworks start lighting up the sky across the bay.
Quoted in the Bournemouth Echo, Martin Davies, Town Centre BID chairman, said: “After all the planning it is fantastic to see Christmas Tree Wonderland come to life in such a spectacular fashion and provide such a superb showcase for the town. It has created a real buzz which Bournemouth businesses are well placed to capitalise on as the town develops and raises its profile as a Christmas destination.”
He couldn’t have said it better.
Make yourself at home this Christmas in Bournemouth.