If your interest lies in pioneering aircraft including WWI, inter-war, up to WWII aircraft then the ideal Airshow venue has to be Shuttleworth (Old Warden), in Bedfordshire. This is a small, relaxed Airshow in the lovely Bedfordshire countryside which houses the Shuttleworth Collection which contains aircraft such as the Bleriot Type XI (1909), Deperdussin (1910), Bristol Boxkite (1910), Blackburn Monoplane (1912), Sopwith Pup (1916), S.E.5a (1917), right up to the Spitfire Mk.Vc (1941) and many more. All of these aircraft are airworthy and many of the Shuttleworth collection are original but it needs to be a calm day to display the early Edwardian examples. There are several full airshows, and evening flying events throughout the season.
Duxford in Cambridgeshire is a very popular venue for warbird enthusiasts. There is an extensive museum which is free to look around during an Airshow and includes many WWII examples. The Museum has a great shop for those of you who like collectables or are just looking for a way to commemorate the day, one of the airfield's t-shirts can be a great way to do that. The museum's t-shirt printing comes in many different designs and are great gifts for all ages. Duxford is home to the Imperial War Museum Collection (IWM), The Fighter Collection (TFC), The Old Flying Machine Company (OFMC), The Aircraft Restoration Company (ARC), Historic Aircraft Collection (HAC), B-17 Preservation Society etc. The airfield itself is an historic site dating back to 1918. In the second world war it was home to the first operational Spitfire squadron. Duxford's fighters were frequently scrambled against the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. Duxford have several Airshows during the season with the popular 2-day Flying Legends Air Show usually being held in July. This is the best airshow if you are interested in WW2 aircraft and warbirds.
Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT)
The Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) is the largest military airshow in the world containing hundreds of modern military aircraft in the static line-up and air display from many different countries around the world. This Airshow is usually held at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire which is a large base used infrequently by USAF deployments which makes it an ideal venue for such a large Airshow. RIAT usually takes place over a weekend in July, with a shorter display now on the Friday. You can also view the aircraft on arrival days and departure day. As with most large airshows it is advisable to get to this event early to avoid traffic congestion.
Farnborough in Hampshire has a biennial commercial airshow. The Farnborough Airshow usually takes place just after the Royal International Air Tattoo so they can share aircraft with this event. There is a mixture of modern civilian and military aircraft from around the world. Farnborough is the oldest active airfield in the UK and is home to the head office of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch. From 2020, the Airshow will run from Monday until Friday as normal but the public weekend will no longer take place. The trade days are in the week days (Monday to Friday) while the public can also attend on Friday.
RAF Cosford Airshow
RAF Cosford in Shropshire hosts a popular air display in the Midlands, usually in June. The display usually includes modern RAF aircraft, sometimes foreign participation, display teams, and historic aircraft. It is also home to the Aerospace museum which is an extension to the main museum at Hendon and includes the new Cold War museum which is well worth a visit. The museum is free on airshow days. The runway is fairly short which means that modern jets are usually operated from nearby RAF Shawbury as they can't land at RAF Cosford. It is advisable to get to the Cosford airshow very early and stay for an hour or so after the show to avoid traffic congestion.
Biggin Hill Airshow
Biggin Hill is a very famous fighter station. Unfortunately, the large Biggin Hill International Air Fair saw its last air show in 2010, after Biggin Hill Airport Ltd gave notice to Air Displays International Ltd to terminate the licence under which the Biggin Hill International Air Fair is run. A smaller airshow called Biggin Hill Festival of Flight can be usually seen in June.
Royal Navy International Air Day
The RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day has changed its name to the Royal Navy International Air Day to reflect that it is now the only Royal Navy Airshow now that the Culdrose Airshow has been cancelled. RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset is home to the Fleet Air Arm's Sea Harrier aircraft and helicopters that deploy aboard the Royal Navy's three aircraft carriers. There is usually an Airshow held here in July. The Air Show which features many Royal Navy aircraft as well as RAF and Army participation usually ends with an exciting Commando Assault Demonstration. Yeovilton is also home to the Fleet Air Arm Museum which has more than 40 aircraft on display with as many again in storage or refurbishment. The Royal Navy Sea Harrier F/A2s retired in 2006 and were replaced with Harrier GR7/9 aircraft until all Harrier operations ceased in 2010 after the Strategic Defence and Security Review. The Harrier is to be replaced by the F-35B 'Lightning II' Joint Strike Fighter which will operate from the new Queen Elizabeth class carriers from 2018.
Abingdon Air & Country Show
Abingdon Fayre first started in 2000 as a small fete. In the years since then the show has grown in stature. Attendances have increased, and at the 2009 show there were over 10,000 people. For many years the show was known simply as the Abingdon Fayre, but in 2007 the show's title changed to Abingdon Air & Country Show to more accurately reflect the show's content. Although held on a military establishment, the show is a civilian event. For the 2020 Abingdon Air and Country Show a decision was made in that, Flying Displays will continue at Abingdon! However - it will be primarily limited to helicopters of all types.
Midlands Air Festival
This is a spectacular new aviation event for the Midlands which began in 2018. This exciting show will take place in the historic grounds of the famous Ragley Hall estate. Which is close to Alcester in Warwickshire.
Little Gransden Airshow
First put on in 1992 with just a handful of cars and single flying act, the show has gone from strength to strength over the years, with show gradually increasing to its current size - with over 300 vehicle exhibitors and a flying display lasting more than 3.5 hours plus numerous other ground-based attractions.
Wales currently has two major displays including the Wales National Air Show in Swansea and the Rhyl Air Show.
Scottish Airshows include Scotland's National Airshow at East Fortune Airfield which usually takes place in July. The Scottish International Airshow did not take place in 2019 and council funding was removed in 2020 which resulted in the cancellation of the Scottish International Airshow 2020.
Northern Ireland Airshows
Northern Ireland has the Newcastle Festival of Flight but the Northern Ireland International Airshow at Portrush in County Antrim has been cancelled in 2020.
Jersey Int. Air Display & Guernsey Air Display
Both of these air displays usually take place on the same day in September every year. The Jersey International Air Display usually includes some interesting aircraft as well as international participants.
Airbourne (Eastbourne) Airshow
The Eastbourne International Airshow, also called Airbourne, is now one of the the world's biggest free seafront airshows which attracts nearly a million people over the four days from Thursday to Sunday in August. Participating aircraft include the Royal Air Force, Army, Navy, Civilian, Display teams, Warbirds, and International aircraft. There are also many ground attractions including a funfair, stalls, exhibits, arena displays, helicopter rides, and plenty of entertainment for the kids including giant inflatables, and trampolining on two designated beach areas.
The Southport Seafront Air Show is recognised as the North West's largest Airshow attracting up to 150,000 spectators over two days. Combining a spectacular air display with a host of ground activities, the Southport Airshow is an exhilarating and fun-filled experience that the whole family can enjoy. The flying programme includes a good mixture of military and civilian aircraft, classic jets, warbirds, helicopters, aerobatics and parachute displays. The show features a whole host of trade stands, interactive and educational displays, simulators and children's activities. In previous years Southport Airshow has included a Military Display including a dramatic simulated battle on the beach involving Army reserve forces complete with explosions and military vehicles. Many of the aircraft that display at Southport operate out of nearby Blackpool Airport.
The Clacton Airshow takes place on the sea front at Clacton-on-Sea in Essex. The show usually takes place on a Thursday and Friday in August and is expected to attract 90,000 spectators. This free, two-day event, includes a good mixture in the flying display including RAF participation along with display teams, aerobatic aircraft, and historic aircraft. On the ground there will be exhibits from the Army and RAF, children's activities, simulator, climbing and entertainment areas along the Clacton seafront. A wide range of trade stands and a food court with a sumptuous selection of refreshments will be on hand. After the show there will be a chance to do some late night shopping with many of the retail stores staying open late.
Bournemouth Air Festival
The The Bournemouth Air Festival takes place over four days in August. The FREE four day spectacular is set against the backdrop of Bournemouth's seven miles of award-winning beaches, beautiful bay and glorious gardens. The Festival includes amazing air displays (from classic flying machines to modern day speed machines!), Sea Displays, Interactive Static Displays, Fireworks, Familiy Fun Attractions, and Music & Live Entertainment. The festival takes place between Bournemouth and Boscombe Piers and in the Lower Gardens and the number of visitors are anticipated to be in excess of up to 200,000 per day.
The Sunderland International Air Show usually takes place over two days on the last weekend of July. The coastline at Seaburn and Roker in Sunderland will be filled with the sights and sounds of one of the largest FREE airshows in Europe during the last weekend in July. With high-speed jets, breathtaking display teams and precision flying in the air and a massive choice of activities on the ground, there's something for all the family at this action-packed weekend.
Weston Air Festival
Weston Air Festival is a free two-day air show which takes place in June. It also includes the 'National Armed Forces Day' celebrations. As well as an air display of over 5 hours each day there is also a static display of helicopters on the beach lawns as well as an Armed Forces Arena, Fun Fair, simulators, inflatables, and trade stands.
Blackpool Airshow is a free two-day event which takes place in August. Blackpool air display takes place over the famous Blackpool promenade between North and Central piers. The air display is usually about three hours long each day and there are also trade stands and simulators etc.
English Riveria Airshow
The first Torbay Airshow took place in 2016 and it was a free two-day event. The stunning bay and unique curvature make for a superb backdrop to the air display. The name of this airshow changed from the 'Torbay Airshow' to the 'English Riveria Airshow' in 2020. The air display usually include RAF participation such as the Red Arrows, as well as classic jets, warbirds and civilian display teams.
The first Teignmouth Airshow took place in July 2019. This event actually took place over three days (Friday to Sunday) with the air display taking place on Saturday. Live music and entertainment was ongoing between each display. Friday evening had live music and there was a family fun day on Sunday.
Tees Valley Airshow
Teesside International Airport will bring back an air show in 2020 called the Tees Valley Airshow. It will feature an air display, static aircraft, a fun fair, motor show, arena, food village and much more for a great family day out.
This website also contains detailed information on any special flypasts such as the Queen's Birthday Flypast which takes place in June every year. There will also be a VE Day flypast over Buckingham Palace in May 2020.
Airshow Tips & using this website
UK weather is extremely unpredictable and it is difficult to know what the weather will be like on an Airshow day so it is best to be prepared for any eventuality.
• A fold-up umbrella and/or fold-up waterproof mac takes up little room but is very useful if you find yourself quite a distance from the car or any shelter during a heavy shower.
• On a hot sunny day it is a good idea to keep drinking plenty of water even if you are not thirsty. Some of the larger Airshows charge an excessive amount for cold drinks so ensure that you bring plenty of your own. You will be surprised how much you drink on a very hot day. Cold bottled water is recommended.
• A hat is also advisable on a hot sunny day especially for children.
• Also use plenty of sun tan lotion even if it is not a hot sunny day.
• Fold up chairs are recommended to watch the air display in comfort.
• Earplugs are also recommended at Airshows that feature modern military jets especially for young children.
• If you arrive by car at a large Airshow then make a note of where you have parked.
• Put litter in the provided bins or take it home with you because litter is a hazard to aircraft.
• Don't take dogs to an airshow and leave them in cars as not only is it very cruel but at major Airshows, animal welfare officers will patrol the carpark, and police will be called to break into locked cars that contain dogs.
• Stay outside of roped-off areas and do not touch the aircraft.
• Do not set your car alarm especially if loud jets are displaying
• If you lose someone or get lost then select a meet up point such as the control tower before the show starts.
• Barbecues and fires are usually prohibited on an airfield because of the fire risk.
• The use of radio transmission including CB radios are strictly prohibited.
• Do not smoke in the vicinity of aircraft, museums, or hangars.
• Photographing aircraft and using scanners etc are usually allowed at UK airshows.
• If you arrive by car then it is best to set out as early as possible to avoid the traffic jams. Also on leaving the Airshow it is sometimes advisable to either wait for an hour after the air display has finished or leave early to avoid traffic congestion.
• Some of the larger airshows such as the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) have off-site car-parking in the fields outside the base due to increased security. It is a good idea to carry everything that you will need with you into the base to avoid having to come back to the car.
• There will sometimes be security checks at the larger shows like RIAT where your belongings will be searched before you are allowed inside the base.
You can click on the Google Map above to see the location of all these airshows.
Clicking on a marker on the map with reveal the airshow and provide a link to more information on this event.
UK Airshow Accommodation: