High-flying weekend in store as Fylde gets set to welcome visitors galore

A previous St Annes Kite Festival
A previous St Annes Kite Festival
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Fylde is gearing up to welcome tens of thousands of visitors as St Annes' re-arranged International Kite Festival leads off a busy programme of events this weekend.

The eighth annual Kite Festival was postponed from its originally scheduled date in early August because of forecast severe weather and will now take place this Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 5pm, preceded by an evening fly with fireworks from 7pm on Friday.

A previous St Annes Kite Festival

A previous St Annes Kite Festival

The weekend will also see a British Land Sailing Mini Yacht Fun Day. complete with 'Come and Try' sessions, being being held on St Annes' North Beach on Saturday, a regatta complete with a host of water-based features at Fairhaven Lake on Sunday and a display of classic motors hosted by the Blackpool Vehicle Preservation Society on Sunday, all from 10am to 4pm.

All the events are free and Coun Cheryl Little, chairman of Fylde Council's tourism and leisure committee, said: “What a fantastic jam-packed weekend it promises to be."

It's also the second weekend of Blackpool Illuminations and coincides with the Southport Air Show - with aircraft galore likely to be clearly seen from the Fylde coast - and, after an estimated 80,000 visitors headed to the Kite Festival when it was held in September for the first time last year, business owners are relishing the fact that, after last month's weather intervention, it is back on the same date.

Colin Ballard, chairman of the St Annes Enterprise Partnership, said: "It was a shame to see the Festival called off in August - it means a fair few of the international participants who came for that date won't be around this time, but the overwhelming feedback we have received from local traders is that early September is an ideal date for the event.

Bill Swindlehurst, chairman of Blackpool Vehicle Preservation Society, with his 1952 Jowett Jupiter which will be among hundreds of classic vehicles on show on Lytham Green on Sunday

Bill Swindlehurst, chairman of Blackpool Vehicle Preservation Society, with his 1952 Jowett Jupiter which will be among hundreds of classic vehicles on show on Lytham Green on Sunday

"There is so much to attract visitors and we will make them very welcome.

"Out of the adversity of last month's weather intervention, it's a win, win for everyone and the forecast is looking good."

Stuart Robertson, co-owner of St Annes Beach Huts and Apartments with his wife Zoe, said: "I think that September is a better date for the Kite Festival.

"Demand for beach huts and apartments during the summer holidays is already high and tends to fall when all the kids go back to school, so it’s a good incentive to keep the visitors coming back and prolong the 'summer' bookings.

"I completely understand why the Council cancelled the Festival, and I was impressed how quickly they rearranged the event which was great for the visitors and allowed us to pick up a number of bookings for the new date.

"Fingers crossed the weather is favourable."

Tony McLaughlin, proprietor of the Beach Cafe on St Annes' South Promenade, said: "We are really looking forward to the Festival - it's great for St Annes.

"Staging it in September for the first time last year was a great success and I actually prefer it this weekend to the August date which was originally planned."

While there is also the opportunity to sample land yachting at the North Beach on Saturday, the following day's regatta at Fairhaven Lake will offer the chance to try kayiakng and sailing among a host of features.

They include a model boat display, performances by the RNLI Sea Shanty group, a paddleboard demonstration and a Ribble Cruising Club race, along with stalls hosted by the RNLI, Lytham Coastguard and the Friends of Fairhaven Lake.

The events at Fairhaven and St Annes mean Blackpool Vehicle Preservation Society's annual display of classic motors, which hgas a histery datuing back some 30 years, is being staged at Lytham Green this year and chairman Bill Swindlehurst said Society members are really looking forward to it.

"It's a wonderful setting and we hope to have more than 300 vehicles on display from all sorts of eras," said Bill, himself the proud owner of a 1952 Jowett Jupiter sports car.