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.

January:

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

February:

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

March:

Lambing weekend at Kingston Maurward

Annual lambing weekend attracts thousands of visitors.

Flower Festival

Athelhampton House near Dorchester.

Spring bulbs and daffodil weekend

Sherborne Castle.

April:

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

St George’s Day events

At various locations around the County.

May:

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

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

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Sherborne Castle Country Fair

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Lyme Regis Jazz, Blues and Beer Festival

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Sandbanks Boat Show

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June:

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

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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

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Lyme Regis Crab Festival

All things crab.

Race to the Bill

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Poole Festival of Running

poolefestivalofrunning.com

Beaminster Festival of Music and Arts

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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

July:

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

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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.

Weymouth Food Festival

Weymouth Food Festival is at Lodmoor Country Park (DT4 7SX. There will be over 60 food, drink, arts and retail stands, a live music stage, man vs food competition, companion dog shows, dance performances, storyteller, the ‘Great Weymouth Bake Off’, bubble parties and lots of free children’s activities. weymouthfoodfestival.co.uk

August:

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. Photos of Buckham Fair.

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

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Nothe Fort Victorian Fayre

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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

September:

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

b-side Festival

Dorset based arts organisation working with artists, residents and young people to make site responsive work revealing the marginal, sometimes forgotten and less commercial aspects of our coastal towns and communities. b-side festival returns to the the Isle of Portland, Dorset 9 -12 Sept with four days of brand new artworks you won’t see anywhere else. See spectacular projections on ancient castles, ride the No 1 bus like never before, get a make over in the unnatural beauty parlour, take a tour of a secret city where daily life is stranger then fiction join in with, witness and experience some remarkable events and artworks inspired by this fascinating island. Most events are free www.b-side.org.uk

University Hospitals Dorset NHS Charity – Walk for Wards

Walk raising funds for local hospitals. More info

Bridport Hat Festival

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Lyme Regis Arts Festival

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Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival

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October:

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

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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

November:

Bridport Literary Festival

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Firework displays across the county

Held at various venues.

December:

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. Photos of Lyme Pudding Race.

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.