Bourne Free to party come rain or shine

T'Kisha George July 16, 2008
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Cloudy skies did not keep supporters away from Bournemouth’s fifth annual Bourne Free Pride Festival. More than 4,000 people took part over last weekend.

The Bourne Free is a “colourful celebration of equality and diversity in Bournemouth – through entertainment and awareness.”

This year’s turn out at the three day event surpassed 2007 and with the exception of a minor protest, the day was trouble free.

“It’s totally amazing, a fantastic feeling,” said Peter Lovegrove, chairman of the Bourne Free committee.

“There were not just gay supporters but business support too.”

The celebrations began with a brand new Jazz Night on Friday 11th July, which provided three hours of free entertainment.

Despite a few early showers, more than 300 spectators gathered in the Lower Gardens and enjoyed smooth sounds from musicians including Esther Vernon and Bafaana.

Saturday sunshine encouraged 3,000 people to attend the Support our Services themed parade through the town.

Naughty nurses, shirtless sailors, police and firemen marched alongside open top buses, fire engines, colourful floats and a huge rainbow flag.

The trademark Bourne Free show on Saturday afternoon featured top acts including Jamie Watson, The X Factor‘s Dolly Rockers and The Boy George Experience.

The event attracted many more people than last year.

“I looked down at the bandstand and was gobsmacked,” said Mr Lovegrove.

The Mayor of Bournemouth, Councillor Stephen Chappell, officially opened the show and the council flew  rainbow flags at both the Town Hall and at Pier Approach.

A massive Street Party in the evening provided more live performances from the pink sequinned Sheilas from the Sheila’s Wheels adverts, Rozalla with her five Top 20 hits, gay hip-hop star, QBoy, and Bournemouth favourite Nicolette Street.

Teams of dancers, stilt walkers and fire eaters all added to the atmosphere.

When the party finished, 2,500 revellers continued partying across many of Bournemouth’s gay pubs, bars and clubs.

On Sunday 13th July, there was a Caribbean Affair at Jimmys, The Branksome and Bent plus a Raffle Draw at The Xchange.

“The Jazz evening was a bit of a wash out,” Mr Lovegrove said, “and there was a minor incident where heterosexuals were protesting at the ticket gate.

“They were removed by authorities. But other than that it was a completely trouble-free event.”

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