What’s on

Our guide to What’s on in Dorset (annual events).

January 2021 update – Please be aware that due to coronavirus, some of these events will not be taking place.

If there is an annual event you think should be listed please let us know by contacting us with details.


Poole Bath Tub Race. 1 January, Poole Quay. cheer on the crews as they take their specially constructed bathtub vessels out on the water

Wassailing at Bridport Community Orchard – Since 2008. Hot cider, apple juice and an open fire. Traditional Wassailing ceremony led by Martin Maudsley. Musical accompaniment, dancing and singing led by Wyld Morris. Song sheets available.Bring drums, trumpets, whistles or anything to make a noise to frighten away the bad spirits. www.bridportcommunityorchard.org.uk


Wimborne Minster Pancake Race. The race around the minster takes place takes place on Shrove Tuesday. The first heat is run as the Pancake Bell rings out. The race starts at the North Porch and competitors toss their pancakes at the four corners of the church. Open to all.

Shaftesbury Snowdrop Festival. A series of snowdrop events for all the family at various sites around Shaftesbury.

Purbeck Literary Festival www.purbeckliteraryfestival.info


Lambing weekend at Kingston Maurward

Flower Festival, Athelhampton House near Dorchester

Spring bulbs and daffodil weekend, Sherborne Castle


Dorset Food and Venison Festival, Lytchett Minster – Started in 2015 it’s a celebration of the best of Dorset produce with an emphasis on local venison. dorsetvenisonfestival.org

Powerstock Cider Festival, Powerstock, near Bridport. Around 20 cider producers attend this festival as well as local food suppliers

Fish and Ships: In 2014, Portland Marina held their first ever Fish & Ship festival celebrating Dorset’s finest both on, under and above sea

Various St George’s Day events


Lyme Regis Fossil Festival. The festival looks at 200 million years of geology. It includes fossil-hunting walks on the beach, collectors showing their finds and scientists analysing the past, present and furture of geology. www.fossilfestival.com

Teddy Rocks. Music festival raising money for the Dorset charity Teddy20. Charisworth Farm, Blandford, Dorset

Plant & Garden Fair Upton Country Park Poole BH17 7BJ Free entry but donations welcome. Refreshments available

Lytchett Matravers Village Fayre. With over 60 stall holders and everyting from welly throwing with the Scouts to face painting to Zorbing down the hill for the more adventurous. lytchettmatravers.org.uk

Athelhampton Flower Festival. Athelhampton House & Gardens. Raising money for local charity. Themed flower festival by Owermoigne Flower Club.

Dorset Knob Throwing, Cattistock. As well as Knob Throwing there will be additional fun knob attractions including Knob Eating, Knob Painting, a Knob & Spoon Race, Guess the weight of the Big Knob, Knob Darts and a Knob Pyramid.  An enjoyable day out with a difference. www.dorsetknobthrowing.com. Photos of Dorset Knob Throwing.

Blandford Georgian Fayre. Georgian Fayre with events taking place throughout the town during the day. Includes dancing, fair rides, street markets, food stalls, re-enactments, animals, craft stalls, music including brass bands, childrens activities and more. www.blandfordgeorgianfayre.co.uk

Boat show at Poole Quay Boat Haven, launched in 2015. www.pooleharbourboatshow.co.uk

Christchurch Food & Wine Festival. The award-winning Christchurch Food & Wine Festival takes place over a week in May. The International Food Market takes place on the opening weekend with around 100 traders selling a large range of quality food, drink related produce in the High Street. Free demonstrations by top local chefs and celebrities. www.christchurchfoodfest.co.uk

Spring Tide Festival, Hive Beach, Burton Bradstock, Bridport. This outdoor food event gives you the opportunity to meet and buy from West Dorset‘s fantastic local producers. It shows off Dorset produce at its best, and there’s everything from fresh fish and meat, spring vegetables, artisan bread, cheeses and locally made beers, and ciders. www.spring-tide.org.uk

Lyme Regis Food Festival. www.lymeregisfoodfestival.co.uk

Bournemouth Wheels Festival. UK’s biggest FREE wheels-themed family event – high energy events across the town and seafront – from beautiful historic and classic cars to world class BMX stunts, Monster Truck parades and supercars. bournemouthwheels.co.uk

Cygnets hatching at Abbotsbury Swannery. Watch the cygnets hatch out – great photo opportunities.

Purbeck Arts Week. A celebration of visual art, music, dance, film and story-telling. www.purbeckartweeks.co.uk

Dorset Vintage Motorcycle Club Weymouth Run. Motorcycle run, organised by the Dorset Section of the Vintage Motorcycle Club. It takes in 60 miles of Dorset countryside before forming a static display in the afternoon when the Mayor presents awards. Open to vintage motorcycle club members riding motorcycles at least 25 years old.

Sherborne Abbey Music Festival

Sherborne Castle Country Fair

Lyme Regis Jazz, Blues and Beer Festival

Sandbanks Boat Show


Evershot Country Fair. In West Dorset’s highest village, watch traditional rural crafts demonstrated, taste delicious food in the marquee, sixty different stalls to browse, enjoy ringside entertainment and live music. Take a trailer ride around the beautiful Melbury Estate deer park. www.evershot.org/ecf Twitter @EvershotCF.

Bridport Food Festival, Askers Meadow, Bridport. www.bridportfoodfestival.com

Thomas Hardy Birthday Weekend. Literary event by http://www.hardysociety.org/eventsmanager

Corscombe Fest, Corscombe Court, Corscombe. Music (traditional and modern), dance, side shows, dog show, food and drink from 12:00 – 20:00. Set in the grounds of 13th century Corscombe Court with its Moat and 15th century tithe barn it’s a unique place for a day out. Corscombe-fest.org

Cattistock Midsummer Festival. A rare opportunity to go behind the scenes and visit the private gardens, studios and the kennels for the hounds of the Cattistock Hunt. There’s also a plant sale, home-made teas in the village hall and the church will be open for its Flower Festival, guided tours, organ recitals and bell ringing. www.cattistockfestival.org

Wimborne Minster Folk Festival. Folk music and family fun. www.wimbornefolk.co.uk

Dorchester Carnival

Verwood Carnival. www.verwoodcarnival.com

CorscombeFest. BBQ and music. Corscombe near Beaminster. corscombe-fest.org

Open Farm Sunday. Farms across Dorset open to the public. farmsunday.org

Grand Summer Steam Gala, Moors Valley Country Park. All available locomotives will be in steam, in addition to visiting traction engines, classic cars, a tractor driven saw bench and lots of other exhibits.

Swanage Triathlon Festival. www.swanagetriathlonfestival.co.uk

Tankfest, Tank Museum

Lyme Regis Crab Festival. All things crab.

Race to the Bill

Poole Festival of Running. poolefestivalofrunning.com

Beaminster Festival of Music and Arts

Ashmore Filly Loo. Celebration marking the longest day and the filling of the village pond and is held on the Friday nearest June 21st. View photo gallery


Larmer Tree Festival. A wide range of music, entertainment and craft for all the family, held in the beautiful Larmer tree Gardens.www.larmertreefestival.co.uk

Dorset Seafood Festival, Hope Square, Weymouth. Weymouth harbour is transformed into a Seafood Village and you can see plenty of different species of fish and shellfish will be landed, prepared and cooked outside, ready for you to eat.You will also find live music, demonstrations and displays throughout the day. www.dorsetseafood.co.uk

Bridport Charter Fair, South Street, Arts Centre and Borough Gardens

Wareham Carnival, Town Centre. www.wareham-carnival.org.uk

Bournemouth Carnival. www.bournemouthcarnival.info

Camp Bestival. Family festival held in the grounds of Lulworth Castle. www.campbestival.net

Big Grove Summer Festival, Portland. Musical acts, open mic sessions on the second stage, fun fair, children’s corner, traders, food outlets and a fully licensed bar.

Portland Gooseberry Fayre, Southwell Business Park, Portland. Funfair, horse show, donkey rides, stalls, music and arena displays.

UK Boogie Woogie Festival, Sturminster Newton. Boogie woogie and blues music www.ukboogiewoogiefestival.co.uk

Swanage Regatta and Carnival. 2 mile carnival procession, live bands playing on the Main Stage and in the carnival marquee, firework displays, art competitions for children and adults, talent show, treasure hunts, dog show, parachute jumps, water and land sports, Red Arrows and more. www.swanagecarnival.com

Chedington Street Fair

Bridport Raft Race for RNLI. Normally held on the last Thursday in July. Home made rafts race down the River Brit.

Milton Abbas Street Fair. 18th century festive atmosphere, home made bunting is hung across and up and down the street. Residents and stall holders dressed in eighteenth century costume – visitors welcome to join in.

Lyme Regis Lifeboat Week www.facebook.com/LymeRegisLifeboatWeek

Thai Summer Fair, Kings Park, Bournemouth. Organised by Bournemouth Thai Language and Culture School.


The Great Dorset Steam Fair, Tarrant Hinton, Blandford Forum. A steam lovers paradise with over 220 full size steam engines, vintage vehicles, heavy shire horses, rural crafts, over 2000 stalls and a steam funfair.It takes place over 5 days and is recognised as the leading event of its type in the world. An amazing blend of entertainment and nostalgia can be found at this typically British event. www.gdsf.co.uk

Great Dorset Chilli Festival, Wimborne St Giles. A family-friendly event with lots on offer for chilli lovers, as well as options for those who prefer their food less spicy. www.greatdorsetchillifestival.co.uk

Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival and Rally, Tolpuddle. This event commemorates the bravery of the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ struggle against poverty and authority. It features a wide range of music, speakers, comedians and poets.

Gillingham and Shaftesbury Agricultural Show, Motcombe Turnpike Showground, SP7 9PL. Events and activities include double harness scurry driving, show jumping, terrier and ferret Racing, live music, heavy horses, cookery theatre, real ale bar, horticulture, birds of prey, dog show, food halls, hog roasts and more. www.gillshaftshow.co.uk

Melplash Show, Bridport. One day agricultural show with something for all the family. Livestock, horticulture, homecrafts, motor cycle stunt show, local food and producers plus much more.  Twitter: @TheMelplashShow. www.melplashshow.co.uk Photos of Melplash Show

Swanage Lifeboat Week. Entertaining week culminating in the raft race on the Saturday.
The event raises vital funds for the RNLI.

Bournemouth Air Festival bournemouthair.co.uk

Sherborne Castle Country Fair. Held in the grounds of Sherborne Castle in Dorset this spectacular lakeside event highlights traditional rural skills, as well as those more modern.www.sherbornecountryfair.com

Weymouth Carnival and Fireworks. Weymouth Seafront.

Stock Gaylard Oak fair. A day for those inspired by the countryside, timber, conservation,  crafts and local produce. www.stockgaylard.com/oak-fair/oak-fair-at-stock-gaylard.html

Dragon Boat Racing.Weymouth Beach.

Lyme Regis Carnival. Fireworks, carnival procession, regatta races, activities and events for all ages raining money for local good causes. lymeregiscarnival.co.uk

Buckham Fair, Beaminster Old fashioned fair, police dog displays, heavy horse displays, vintage cars and scooters plus trade stands. Organised by TV personality Martin Clunes and wife Phillipa, raising money for local charities. www.buckhamfair.co.uk

Forever Sun Festival. Dorchester. Music festival started in 2013. www.foreversun.co.uk

Bridport Carnival and Torchlit Procession www.bridportcarnival.co.uk

Bridport and West Dorset Open Studios . 3 day open studio event

Chettle Fete

Nothe Fort Victorian Fayre

MG Car Rally, Athelhampton House and Gardens, Dorchester

End of the Road Festival. Music festival held at Larmer Tree Gardens. www.endoftheroadfestival.com

Woofstock, Marnhull. Dog show. www.woofstockuk.co.uk

Summer Breeze on the Quay, Poole. Live music, varied street entertainment, activities for all the family, themed nights and fireworks finale.

Bestival. The music festival moved from the Isle of Wight to Dorset’s Lulworth Estate in 2017. www.bestival.net


Dorset County Show, The Dorchester Showground, Dorchester. An action packed weekend for all ages including motorbike display teams, carriage driving, falconry, gun dog displays, terrier racing, sheep shearing and cookery demonstrations. www.dorsetcountyshow.co.uk

Bridport Hat Festival

Lyme Regis Arts Festival

Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival


Bournemouth Marathon Festival. 2 festival of running started in 2013. Includes a half and full marathon on the Sunday. www.run-bmf.com

Pack Monday Fair, Sherborne. Street market dating back to medieval times, held on the first Monday after 10th October – old Michaelmas Day. Although no longer an agricultural fair, it is still a major event in Sherborne with four of the town’s main streets becoming full of street traders and food stalls for the day, and a funfair is usually held on the edge of town on the Monday and the days preceding it.

Wimborne Food Festival, Minster Green, High Street. A showcase of independent food producers, winemakers, brewers and chefs. There is an emphasis on locally sourced, sustainable produce. chefs showcase, food tasting, book signings, country craft demonstrations, street performers, food market and more. Free. www.wimbornefoodfestival.co.uk

Sherborne Literary Festival. 5 day literary event. www.sherborneliterarysociety.com

Sherborne International Film Festival

Best of Festival, Kingston Lacy, Wimborne. Food festival with over 150 local producers and vendors, alongside family friendly entertainment including live music, free face painting, a bouncy castle and a helter skelter.

Enchanted Floodlit Gardens, Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, Bullers Way, Abbotsbury. Take a magical evening walk along colouful candle-lit pathways into enchanted glades.Gardens open until 8.30pm. Photos of Enchanted Floodlit Gardens

North Dorset Folk Festival – Held indoors at the High School in Sturminster Newton. www.northdorsetfolkfestival.co.uk

Pumpkins in the Park. Greenhill Gardens, Weymouth. Halloween fun.

Autumn Colours Weekend, Sherborne Castle

Wimborne Beer Festival. Three day beer festival with all profits going to charity. thewimbornebeerfestival.co.uk


Bridport Literary Festival

Firework displays across the county


Christmas Light Switch on’s in towns and villages throughout Dorset.

Blandford Yuletide Festival blandford-yuletide-festival.org.uk

Chase the Pudding. Weymouth Beach. 5k charity Santa run.

The Great Christmas Pudding Race, The Marine Parade, Lyme Regis. Charity pudding race event started in 2012.

Macmillan White Christmas Dip, Boscombe Pier, Christmas Day morning. Charity swim raising money for Macmillan www.whitechristmasdip.co.uk

Lions Club Christmas Swim. 25th December, Weymouth Harbour. The event started in 1948 with a bet between two local men and has grown from around 30 swimmers to an average of 200 plus, and thousands of spectators.

West Bay Wallow – A charity fancy dress swim at midday on Boxing Day. Run by Bridport Round Table.