The local authority is Bournemouth Borough Council. The town is a regional centre of business, home of the Bournemouth International Centre and financial companies that include Liverpool Victoria and PruHealth. The Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) is a popular venue for the conferences of the major political parties. Paul Verlaine and Oscar Wilde both educated at Bournemouth preparatory schools.
The Winter Gardens of Bournemouth were completed in 1875 and the cast iron Bournemouth Pier was finished in 1880. In the early 20th Century Bournemouth's growth advanced and the town centre spawned theatres, cafes, two art deco cinemas and more hotels. The war memorial was a new building in 1921 and in 1925 the town's concert hall and grand theatre, the Bournemouth Pavilion was finished. The award-winning Central Gardens are a separate major public park, leading for several miles down the valley of the River Bourne through the core of the town to the sea. Bournemouth was the first town in UK to offer and use CCTV cameras for public street-based surveillance in 1985.
The Russell-Cotes Museum is located just to the east of the Central Gardens and includes many 19th century paintings and the family collections. It was Russell Cotes who successfully contested to have a promenade erected. Bournemouth also has a flourishing water sports community with great conditioned beaches for kite surfing and windsurfing. There is a local kite boarding club, Bournemouth Boarding, which is recognised by the BKSA.
Bournemouth is situated exactly to the east of the Jurassic Coast, a 95-mile section of splendid and largely unspoiled immaculate coastline which recently became a World Heritage Site. The Jurassic Coast provides a total geological record of the Jurassic era and a rich fossil history. Poole Bay is regularly used for surfing.
In 2009 the first European artificial reef was installed at Boscombe. It was part of the bigger Boscombe Spa Village development. Bournemouth also has many chines (e.g. Alum Chine) that lead down to the beaches and form a very attractive element of the area. The beaches are subdivided by groynes.
Residing in the same two rooms at the Hotel Miramar, J.R.R. Tolkien spent 30 years on holidays in Bournemouth. He eventually retired to the area in the 1960s with his wife Edith. Tolkien died in September 1973 at his home in Bournemouth and was buried in Oxfordshire. Mary Shelley, the writer and novelist is buried in St. Peter's Church. Bournemouth is known for its popularity with pensioners and it has many residential care homes.
North of the centre there is an out-of-town shopping complex called Castlepoint Shopping Centre with a new development called Castlemore. The town was a major centre for the 1951 Festival of Britain with classical concerts, opera, ballet and a visit from the Salzburg Marionettes; the two weeks in June also featured sea cadet displays, a national brass band competition and ranging sporting events.
Bournemouth is currently host to several annual festivals and since 2005 has had a yearly literary festival. Since 2008 Bournemouth has held its own air festival over four days in August. Featured displays include the Red Arrows as well as appearance from the Team Guinot Wing-Walkers, Yakovlevs, Blades, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight including Hurricane, Spitfire, Lancaster and also the final flying Vulcan. The festival has also seen appearances from modern aircraft such as the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Bournemouth University is one of the largest universities in the South of England. Known as Bournemouth Polytechnic between 1990 and 1992, it has its roots in the former Dorset Institute of Higher Education. It is one of the better-functioning ex-polytechnics in England. The Arts University College at Bournemouth specialises in design, performance, art and media degree courses. Bournemouth is also a main hub for the teaching of English and has copious English language schools. The only chiropractic college in England is the AECC Chiropractic College. It is located in Boscombe, three miles from the town centre.
Bournemouth was broadcast to be the first 'Fibrecity' in 2008 in the UK. The Bournemouth Eye is a local landmark, a helium-filled balloon attached to a steel cable in Bournemouth and carries up to 30 passengers.