Bournemouth 7’s is the largest sport and music festival in the world!
It’s a mash-up of sport, cider, music and sometimes sunshine which takes place every May bank holiday weekend in Christchurch, Bournemouth.
If you want an excuse to watch (mostly) good quality rugby, enjoy a drink … or two … or three, dance until the early hours of the morning, play some social sport and enjoy the bank holiday with your mates in beautiful Bournemouth, then this is your place!
As a Bournemouth Uni graduate, I am a little bias about this one… but I love Bournemouth 7’s. I have been for the last 6 years and played in their mixed hockey competition under the team alias ‘Chicks, Sticks and Dicks’, even winning one year!
As players, you arrive on Friday and there is the ‘players party’ basically an extra night of dancing and drinking before the main festival takes place. It’s a great chance to meet old friends, see familiar faces and have a boozy evening before the main event.
Now, I never buy VIP at any festival, but Bournemouth 7’s is a different story. I have always got VIP tickets and it is definitely worth paying a bit more for it if you can. As I play hockey every year, we get a nice new kit (I mean who doesn’t love a bit of team stash) every year. I organise this for the team and always buy it from Viper10. They sponsor the event and supply kit to many of the teams. They also regularly have a deal where the first 20 teams to order their kit with them get upgraded to VIP for free! Result! Me being super organised, have always managed to take advantage of this and I cannot stress enough how nice it is to have.
VIP’s at Bournemouth 7’s get fast-track entrance into the festival, a seating area next to the main rugby pitch and a totally separate tent with its own DJ and bar. I mean, not queuing for a drink is enough to want VIP in itself, but the tent with the DJ is the best place to party in the evenings. It is always busy, even with a celeb or two, but there is plenty of room to dance and you don’t get pushed around or have drinks spilt on you from those retreating back from the overcrowded bar like you do in the standard tents.
Good things to know…
There is parking available at Bournemouth 7’s however, it can be quite a lengthy walk to the entrance and there is an additional cost so be prepared!
The car park is also where a lot of people decide to pre-drink for the festival. In typical student style, people don’t want to spend all their student loan on drinks at the festival so they crank up the car radio, drink and party in the car park. Officials are cracking down on this but it does still happen, and I must admit I am guilty of it. I love a pre-drink and not having to spend the extra money in the main festival is nice. Car bonnet beer pong is always a winner!
This does, however, create a few problems for drivers. When you leave the festival on the last day be aware that people will have been drinking in the car park, which means there could be glass and cans scattered all over the grass which can really damage your car! I have no issue with people bending the rules slightly and enjoying a drink by their car, but pick up your rubbish! Glass, cans, cups and other litter doesn’t just look vile and is bad for the environment but it can do serious damage to people’s cars!
Fancy dress is seen here, there and everywhere at Sevens. From sailors to pirates, cave people to the armed forces, even a mankini or two can be seen strutting around the festival, I suppose like with any festival ….anything goes!
There is camping and even glamping availableat Bournemouth 7’s. As I used to live in Bournemouth as a student I never actually camped but I can imagine like at any festival the rules are the same. Pitch a tent, alcohol is limited or forbidden in the campsite, no fires or bbq’s and bag searches are the norm. As I haven’t camped at 7’s before, I have only glamped, I can’t say where is best to camp, but I do have some useful tips for getting the best spot for those that might be popping their festival cherry or just need some advice. Rule wise… I would advise checking on their website.
Also, be aware that those that don’t have a camping ticket cannot enter the campsite, even if you know people camping and just want to say hello. The campsite is exclusive to those with camping tickets, so just arrange to meet your friends inside the main arena.
Once I left uni at Bournemouth I stayed in a hotel, it was actually cheaper per person than camping and much, much more comfortable. I stayed at the Premier Inn, and I must admit it was perfect. A 10-minute taxi from the festival, big double room with en-suite and opposite a 24-hour Sainsbury’s, it was by far the best choice of off-site accommodation. The other option is of course to camp in style and Glamp at Bournemouth 7’s – which actually costs the same as an off-site hotel! A lot of people choose to stay at the hotels in town, which although seems great, and means you are close to the beach and the hustle and bustle of Bournemouth Town centre, it means a very long and expensive taxi ride every day to the festival. It also means that if you just want to pop back after playing sport for a shower, or if you forget something you have at least a 30-minute taxi ride back to your hotel! Not ideal! It also means that parking at the hotel if your travelling by car can be very limited and/or expensive. The hotels outside of town seem to have more freely available parking.
A word of warning, taxi companies book up very quickly as you can imagine. 30,000 people all going to the same venue which is really only easily accessible by car or shuttle bus, means taxi companies will be chockablock with bookings.
So, be organised, book early or share a ride with a friend to avoid getting caught out.
Taxi’s home during the night ( or for many the early hours of the following day) is easy, but do have a bit of a queue. Taxis come in their thousands and there is a designated area to get a taxi home but as with everything, at peak times the queue can be quite large so just be prepared to be very British and stand in a queue.
Me personally… I drive to the festival on the first day, taking everyone’s bags and hockey kits etc. It means one less taxi to get there but also means there is a base for everyone to keep their sticks, kit, spare clothes, wellies etc during the festival.
Food and Drink
Like most festivals, there is always loads of choice when it comes to food and drink. Last time I went they had an amazing cocktail garden offering delicious fruit slushies and refreshing cocktails. There was also a Hooch tent, with oversized beach chairs, and a Somersby Cider tent and many many more. I still always take food with me just so that I don’t have to spend a fortune or eat junk for 3 days solid. Have a look at my post all about healthy eating at a festival or some of my delicious recipes for festival snacks if you’re keen to save your pennies or trying to keep your New Year resolution on track!
Price wise it’s about the same as other festivals, expect to pay about £4 for a pint, £5.50 for a single spirit and mixer and up to £8 for a cocktail or speciality drink.
The food was great the last time I went, they had an amazing pizza stand with a proper pizza oven, huge burrito van, massive BBQ stall, the obligatory noodles stand and plenty of choice for the veggies amongst us.
Tickets do actually sell out for the event. The closer it gets to the festival weekend the higher the price. Early bird tickets are relatively cheap and of course, there are different tiers of tickets; including and excluding camping, VIP and VVIP, players tickets and standard tickets.
As well as all that, as it’s a popular student festival they do offer student tickets! Hurray! They do ask for proof of ID and proof of student status when you collect your wristbands at the entrance, so don’t assume you can buy a student ticket and not be a student! Tut tut if that was your master plan!
What sports can you play?
It isn’t just rugby at 7’s; hockey, mixed hockey, netball and dodgeball are all on offer.
The hockey is however played on grass, so don’t expect the level to rival the Olympics but it’s a bit of fun and the standard really isn’t bad considering you are going back to the good-old-days of playing on grass. There is both single gender and mixed hockey on offer, and as you can guess, my team being called Chicks, Sticks and Dicks is a mixed hockey team. For team names the more creative, and sometimes the cruder the name, the better! Hearing the poor bloke on the mic having to read out the scores when teams have names like ‘Smack My Pitch Up’, ‘Balls of Glory’ and ‘That’s not my stick’ is hilarious!
I love 7’s, whether I am playing sport there or just taking it all in from the sidelines, it’s a fab weekend and something I would definitely recommend, especially if you are a student. So grab your gang and enter a team, or just get your hands on a ticket and go along, I’m sure you will have a brilliant Bournemouth 7’s!