Bournemouth 7’s Festival is the largest sport and music festival in the world!
Bournemouth 7’s Festival is a mash-up of sport, cider, music and sometimes sunshine which takes place (usually) 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 (albeit a little while ago now), I am a little bias about this one, I love Bournemouth 7’s. I’ve been I grand total of 8x to this wonderful festival, playing mixed hockey under the team alias ‘Chicks, Sticks and Dicks’, even winning one year! I have played netball with The Claygate Gators, and even just gone along for the music and bonkers bars.
So whatever you go to this festival for, whether it’s sport, music, food, eye candy or to have a fab time with friends, I guarantee you’ll have awesome weekend!
Good things to know about Bournemouth 7’s Festival
Arriving at Bournemouth 7’s Festival
If you’re playing a sport at the festival, you arrive on Friday and there is the ‘players party’. Essentially this is 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 with other players before the main event kicks off.
If you are not playing, you arrive on Saturday. Arrive early to avoid huge queues and also be able to park closer to the festival. Arriving late only means you have a larger walk and a longer wait. Also why not arrive early, get set up and get into the festival spirit ASAP?!
THERE IS NO ENTRY or RE-ENTRY AFTER 6pm! Every evening at the festival there is a last entry! Be sure to double check with festival staff (and on the website) what the final entry time is!
VIP and VVIP
VIP’s and VVIP’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 games, 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.
Now, I never usually 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 or Netball most years at the festival, 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, I’ve always managed to take advantage of this and I cannot stress enough how nice it is to have.
Parking at Bournemouth Sevens
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 at Bournemouth Sevens
Fancy dress is seen here, there and everywhere at Bournemouth 7’s. 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!
Before Arriving at The Festival
Before arriving, I would always recommend checking their FAQ page and festival rules… it’s always worth checking what to bring to the festival, what you can’t bring with you, where the showers, toilets and other amenities are before rocking up and finding a camping spot.
Accommodation at Bournemouth 7’s
Camping and Glamping
There is camping and even glamping available at 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.
I have however done Glamping at Bournemouth 7’s but as pitches are pre erected and predetermined, I can’t say where is best to camp in the general campsite. That being said, there are the usual golden rules for finding a good camping spot and 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.
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. The same goes for Glamping, those with standard camping tickets are not able to enter the Glamping campsite or use the Glamping facilities.
The other option is Glamping 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.
Staying Off Site – Hotel / Air B&B
A couple of times after leaving Bournemouth University I stayed in a hotel for the festival. It was actually a really nice option and cheaper per person than I expected. 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 only thing with staying off-site which is a pain in the ass is Taxis. Having to get a taxi in and out of the festival is annoying and can take AGES.
Which accommodation option would I recommend?
Glamping really was the best option and the one I would recommend and do again and again!
Taxis at Bournemouth 7’s
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 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 and well signposted, but they do have larger queues. 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… If staying off site, I would (and did) 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. Then each evening we would queue and get a taxi. There are usually flat rates to town or certain hotels so make sure you know the price and ONLY GET INTO A LICENCED TAXI.
Food & Drink Options
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. 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 specialty 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 and vegans amongst us. Although I always take snacks with me, especially as I am playing sport and need a mid tournament pick-me-up, there are plenty of options available.
>> I also like to eat somewhat healthily at a festival and try not eat junk for 3 days solid or spend a fortune. If you think the same, why not check out how to eat more healthily at a festival or some of my delicious, high protein, vegan recipes for festival snacks if you’re keen to save your pennies or trying to keep your diet on track! <<
The Music at Bournemouth 7’s
The music and stages at Bournemouth 7’s are not to be sniffed at! They have seen hug e names play on their stages in recent years and i have seen some amazing artists perform at the festival. Previous headliners and performers have included: Professor Green, Rudimental, James Haskell, Ella Eyre, Majestic, Jaguar Skills, Artful Dodger, and Example.
The stages are really cool as well. They have a ‘Big Top’ as a main stage, which when the headliner is on is absolutely bouncing. They have ‘The Bunker’, a stage/area made from shipping containers and has a real rave vibe. They have ‘Ya Mum’s House’ a bright yellow and pink stage that looks like a house front which plays some absolute bangers. They have a stage in the forest aptly named ‘Funky Forest’, as well as of course, the banging DJ in the ‘VIP Colosseum’ – an exclusive stage and DJ for VIP and VVIP guests.
Getting Tickets for Bournemouth 7’s
Tickets sell out for the event every year! 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 offer student concession 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 I Play At Bournemouth 7’s?
It isn’t just rugby at 7’s. There is touch rugby, volleyball, hockey, netball, dodgeball and even a fitness games on offer at the festival.
The rugby is a very mixed bag of teams. Some are there for the social, fun element and just chuck a ball around, wear fancy dress and have a laugh. Other teams take things far more seriously and use it as a warm up, or even as part of a wider 7’s league they take part in. Games are played on various pitches throughout the festival site, with the main pitch being reserved for more advanced teams, well known teams (which could have famous players) or the final rounds!
The hockey is 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!
In other years I have played netball – We entered into the middle group – between he social and elite level which was perfect. There was actually a really great level of netball being played. I went with my Netball club, and we had an amazing time! The netball is played on Astro turf and teams wear proper kit for their games. Social comp is more ‘social’ and more about just throwing a ball around, having some fun, and is a far more casual affair. Netball places book up really fast, so make sure you get your application/entry in quickly!
The dodgeball looks hilarious! Teams dress up in fancy dress to battle each other for the title. Having not played it before at Bournemouth 7’s I cant say much about the structure, but watching it is a lot of fun!
New in recent years is the volleyball and fitness games. They were been introduced after my last time there and so I can’t say I know too much about them >> If you do, or have taken part in them let me know! Why not write a guest post about them for That Festival Blogger, or simply tell me what they were like! <<
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!
Sophie – TFB