The Southend Airshow first ran on 26th May 1986 as the finale of the Southend Spring Festival and is the largest free airshow to take place in Europe.
Southend Airshow has attracted many aircraft and display teams in the past including; The Concorde, The Red Arrows, Frecce Tricolori, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, RAF Falcons, the Sally B Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, A10 Thunderbolt, Hawker Siddeley Nimrod, Avro Shackleton, Hawker Sideley Harrier, Vulcan, F117a, Vickers Viscount, Boeing 737, 747, 757, 767, the Saab Draken and a Catalina flying boat.
Naturally the airshow is a highly popular annual fixture for Southend-On-Sea and in the nearly three decades since it launched it has drawn millions of attendees from all over the United Kingdom and Europe.
Campaign to save the airshow
In 2013 by Southend Borough Council announced its intention to cancel the event citing budget cuts and lack of sponsorship.
In response to this announcement Thomas Curtis and John Delaney formed a campaign to ‘save the airshow’ and raise awareness of the Council’s impending vote. What followed was a whirlwind of social media, newspapers and radio interviews including: BBC Online, BBC Essex, Radio Southend, Heart Essex, GatewayFM, Evening Echo, Southend Standard and the Yellow Advertiser. Sadly in spite of the effort and the largest demonstration ever seen at the Civic Centre, the Council chose to cancel the event.
Goodbye Southend Airshow, hello Southend Airshow and Military Festival!
However all was not lost as Thomas and John decided to continue working to return the event to Southend! In the short time since, both Thomas and John have been working hard to secure funding, expertise and partnerships to make the event a reality.
On the 26th July 2013 the new name for the airshow was unveiled: Southend Airshow and Military Festival! The team has also elected to move the event from the traditional May bank holiday weekend to September. The reasons behind this are simple, the weather is generally better in September which will ensure that we can run a full flight card and by having the event later in the year we can provide an added boost to the local economy in an otherwise quiet period.
The event will continue to be free to attend and we are anticipating in excess of 500,000 attendees bringing with it millions of pounds in revenue for the local business community.