Portsmouth's Armed Forces Day celebrations return for 2023, bigger and better than ever.

On Saturday 17 June, the community gathers together to celebrate and give thanks to the members of our Armed Forces. In Portsmouth it's more important than most - the city being home of the Royal Navy for centuries. Surely enough, the city is pulling out all the stops for a huge event on Southsea Common for everyone to enjoy.

Armed Forces Day logo


What is Armed Forces Day?

Armed Forces Day takes place across the UK, allowing people across communities to show their support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces. This includes everyone from currently serving troops, to service families, veterans and cadets.

This year's national Armed Forces Day celebrations take place on 24 June, but the event in Portsmouth will be one week earlier, on the 17th.

Photograph of a person parachuting with a Union Flag billowing below them


Portsmouth's Armed Forces Day celebrations

Southsea Common will be the setting for Portsmouth's Armed Forces Day event, where an action packed day of activities has been lined up from 10am to 4pm. There will be:
- A parade of serving members of the armed forces, cadets and veterans, led by The Band of His Majesty’s Royal Marines
- A parachute display from the Royal Navy Raiders and REME Lightning Bolts display teams
- Performances from the Rose and Thistle Pipe Band
- A cannon and musketry display from Fort Cumberland Guard
- A Battle of Britain memorial spitfire flyover

Elsewhere, local schools and cadet groups can also put their field gun skills to the test. There will also be stalls from military charities and veterans' groups, as well as a full programme of live music hosted by Live at the Bandstand. Kids can enjoy the climbing wall and obstacle course, whilst the grown ups marvel at the military vehicles on display from the Joint Helicopter Command tactical supply wing and helicopter from 6 Regiment Army Air Corps Reserve.

Find out more about Portsmouth Armed Forces Day on our event page.

This free event is sponsored by BAE Systems, and supported by partner sponsors: south coast car dealership Snows, and Wightlink.

A line of people in military uniforms


How to get here

The roads into Portsmouth (and especially around Southsea Common) are expected to be very busy during Armed Forces Day, as people from all over head into the city to enjoy the celebrations. For this reason it's recommended that everyone travelling in by car allow extra time for their journey and plan for disruptions.

Alternatively, use other sustainable transport methods that are not only greener but could be easier and less stressful too!

Portsmouth Park & Ride will be open throughout the weekend, with services running to Clarence Pier (a very short walk from Southsea Common) every 30 minutes from 9.35am. The return service from The D-Day Story runs every half hour until 7.35pm, so you'll have plenty of time to get back after the event, too (even if you stay on for a bite to eat in Southsea).

Train services will run as usual to Portsmouth and Southsea railway station (the nearest to Southsea Common, at around a half hour walk away). No industrial action is planned, nor scheduled works, so the services are set to run to schedule - with direct links to Southampton, Brighton, Chichester, Winchester, London, Bristol, Bath, Cardiff and beyond.

Likewise, bus services are expected to run as usual, so too the ferry service from the Isle of Wight and Hovertravel's regular crossings also.


What else to see and do

Whilst you’re visiting for Armed Forces Day, why not make the most of your trip and explore some of the other great things to see and do, all just a stone's throw from Southsea Common.

The D-Day Story is located on Clarence Esplanade and puts visitors at the heart of what went on during the Normandy Campaign. From the prep work that went into the operation, to what the soldiers felt when crossing the channel, and all that has gone on in its legacy - the museum tells a fascinating and important story (which is, of course, illuminated with awe-inspiring displays and objects from the time). The museum is also where you'll find LCT 7074, as well as the Overlord Embroidery.

LCT7074 at dusk

If you're looking for a place to rest and recharge at the end of Armed Forces Day, central Southsea will be mere minutes away. Along Palmerston Road and Osborne Road you'll find a host of restaurants, pubs and cafes, offering a vast selection of food from across the globe. Whether you want somewhere to duck into quickly or a place to spend much of the evening, you're sure to find somewhere to suit.

Alternatively, if the kids haven't quite had enough entertainment, Exploria at Portsmouth Pyramids will provide the solution. Its soft play and bounce part activities are suitable for all ages - with set areas so your youngsters can enjoy themselves safely.

Of course, if you really want to make the most you can book to stay the night at one of the city's many great hotels, guest houses and B&Bs - to extend your weekend at the coast and explore everything else there is to enjoy, such as Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the Mary Rose Museum, Spinnaker Tower, Gunwharf Quays and a whole load more besides.




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