Today I’m going to Bourne Free; Bournemouth’s annual Pride celebration. I’ve not been before, mainly because I moved here from London, where the Pride Parade is so massive and amazing that I feel anything else can’t help but be an anti climax. In general, I hate that kind of London snobbery, so it’s off to Bourne Free.
One thing to note for an old bird such as myself is that it’s quite a long day. The Parade is from 11 am to 12, then the Festival from midday until 10.30 pm. And it’s a scorcher of a day. And I’ve already got up early and run a painfully hot parkrun. I’m not sure I’ve got the stamina for the event in its 11.5 hour entirety.
To be accurate, the event actually started on Friday evening with a family friendly event, with activities such as a fun fair, bouncy castle, face painting and zorbing for kids. In theory, wristbands could have been collected then, but there was a problem with the IT system.
This year’s theme is Bourne Free goes Green and the focus is on being environmentally friendly. Now I’m all for saving the planet, but equally I do love a good float. The parade is pedestrian only, so I opt for a post parkrun shower and heading straight for the Festival.
The Parade starts in the Triangle in the centre of Bournemouth, then heads to Meyrick Park just north of town. It’s the first time in 15 years that the Festival has taken place in the park; previously it was held in The Triangle, so this is a larger and much better location. However, the relocation is not without its teething problems.
Entry costs £20 per adult (children are free). You are encouraged to book in advance, but need a wristband to enter. There is only one entrance; at the top end of the park, the furthest point from the town centre. The queue to enter is enormous as people who have paid, but need to collect a wristband and people who haven’t bought a ticket yet, all queue together the length of the hill (people are complaining on social media that they have been in the queue for up to two hours). I haven’t been on social media (I’ve been sweating my whatsits off running round a different park) so am oblivious to all this. As I live in Boscombe, I actually arrive from the opposite direction, don’t see the queue and walk straight to the entrance and am in the bag search area happily wearing my wristband before I even notice there was queue!
Once inside, I meet up with some friends. As we’re all getting on a bit, we’ve come prepared with chairs and settle down in front of the stage to enjoy the entertainment. It’s very hot and we were not allowed to bring drinks on site. There is free water, but it is dispensed from tanks placed in the sun, so is very warm. Hence, the only way to keep cool is to drink cider; a new one to me – Kingstone Press Wild Berry Cider, which is very good. (Note, this isn’t exactly true, they do sell Diet Coke at the bar but it’s £2 a can: my logic is that if I’m going to have to pay a lot for a drink, it might as well be cider!)
Most of the acts come courtesy of either Britain’s Got Talent or The X Factor, neither of which I have watched for many years. No matter, first up is Twist & Pulse, who were runners-up in 2010.
Next is Anthony Costa from boy band Blue, who delights the audience (well certainly my section of the audience – straight middle aged ladies) with all of Blue’s top hits. After the performance he comes to the front of the sage for selfies. Much to our excitement!
The afternoon progresses with a succession of singers and dancers and drag queens. And cider! Until 7.30, when my phone is almost out of charge. There’s something very weird going on in the park with IT. My phone battery has discharged at an alarming rate, interspersed with several episodes of showing lower, then higher, then lower battery life. There are also issue at the bar, where the tills keep losing the ability to take card payments. Every now and again, they become cash only and people with cash are ushered to the front of the queue. I need my phone to pay fore my bus fare home. More importantly, my friend’s phone is behaving similarly and she is on standby auntie duty as her sister is in labour. We decide we’ve had enough sun and cider, and depart. Which is a bit of a shame, because we were hoping to see Sinitta. But there’s no running order, just a list of performers, so her performance could be another three hours away. It turns out to be the right decision; my friend’s sister’s waters break as we’re half way down the hill. And I managed to catch my bus with 7% battery remaining.
All in all, despite not having any diesel emitting floats and not pulling the sort of big names that London Pride can attract, we had a great day out with great entertainment, a wonderful atmosphere, and did I mention the cider? I shall certainly be returning again next year!