There are loads of amazing Dorset festivals and events throughout the year! These are a great way to mix up your time in the county and learn a little more about the local culture while you’re here.
From food festivals, to art and music events, to quirky traditional folk fairs… there’s something to suit everyone.
I’ve rounded up all the Dorset festivals I know of in this guide, but there are probably even more. I’ll keep adding to it every time I learn of a new event, so be sure to check back. I’ve also popped together some more in-depth guides to help you find events of specific types. You’ll find links to those posts below. Enjoy…
More Detailed Guides
Music Festivals in Dorset
Food Festivals in Dorset
Winter Dorset Festivals: January – March
ILLUMINATE at The Blue Pool, near Wareham – 19th January to 5th March 2023. A 1km trail of illuminations and music in the woodlands around the Blue Pool. This year, they’re also offering a group VIP ticket where you can hire out our waters edge private ‘speakeasy’ deck.
Spring Dorset Festivals: April – May
Abbotsbury Food Fair – TBC. A food fair hosted at Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, with over 30 stalls showcasing local produce surrounded by the spring colours of the gardens.
RELATED POST: 19 Awesome Food Festivals in Dorset
Quayside Music Festival, Weymouth – Held on bank holidays throughout the year: (exact dates TBC). A much-loved local music festival is held at Weymouth Harbour every bank holiday.
Lyme Regis Fossil and Earth Science Festival – TBC. Celebrating the unique geological heritage of Lyme Regis and the Dorset Jurassic Coast.
Bournemouth Writing Festival – 21st-23rd April 2023. Bournemouth’s first Writing Festival with more than 60 events and activities planned!
Sherborne Abbey Festival – 27th April to 4th May 2023. An annual celebration of liturgy and music.
Shaftesbury Food and Drink Festival – 7th May 2023. Home of the bonkers Gold Hill Cheese Race, where participants race up a very steep hill with a huge (and very heavy) wheel of locally-made cheese!
Dorset Blind Association Motor Show, Lulworth Castle – 21st May 2023. Sponsored by Hendy Group, this standout motor event invites owners of classic & sports cars, motorbikes and all types of motor vehicles to join the majestic Castle showground display.
Dorset Knob Throwing Festival, Kingston Maurward College, Dorchester – May 2024 (every two years). It’s not what you think! A Dorset Knob Biscuit is actually a kind of bread roll. The festival exists to see who can throw one the furthest. Although it’s also full of music, entertainment, workshops, and food stalls.
Christchurch Food Festival – 27th – 29th May 2023. A 3-day event taking over Christchurch in celebration of locally made food and drink.
Dorset Summer Festivals: June to September
Family Fest Dorset, Wimborne – 3rd-4th June 2023. A family-friendly festival set within the stunning Wimborne countryside with traders, musicians, food & drinks, a family funfair and a charity dog show.
Wimborne Minster Folk Festival – 9th – 11th June 2023. A celebration of all things folk, with music, dance, and comedy.
Folk on the Quay, Poole – 2023 dates TBC. Traditional dance, morris dances, and outdoor music stages along Poole’s historic quay.
Chesil Rocks, Langton Herring (nr Weymouth) – 15th-17th June 2023. An annual music and arts festival set on the beautiful grounds of Higher Farmhouse. All proceeds go to the Samaritans of Dorset.
Chunkfest, Poole – 24th June 2023. A hybrid sports and music festival, the first of its kind in the UK, aiming to raise equality and awareness within the fitness community for disabled people and athletes – as well as raising money for a Dorset-based charity and injured ex-military personnel.
Beaminster Festival – 25th June – 2nd July 2023. An art festival covering a great range of local and international artists.
Bourne Free (Bournemouth Pride) – 2023 dates TBC. Bournemouth’s Pride festival is one of the biggest and most popular in the county.
Quinfest, Milborne St Andrews – 2023 dates TBC. A family-friendly charity festival with live music, arts & crafts, games, and more.
Cerne Abbas Music Festival – 2023 dates TBC. Chamber music performed by one of the world’s elite Ensembles in the Village Church.
Jurassic Fields, Bridport – 14th-16th July 2023. A coastal music festival which always has a fab lineup!
Larmer Tree Festival, near Tollard Royal (on the border with Wiltshire) – 2023 dates TBC. A rich lineup of local, national and international artists covering music, outdoor theatre, live performances, arts, and comedy.
Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival, Tolpuddle – 14th-16th July 2023. The Tolpuddle Martyrs were six local farmers who formed a union in 1834, and were arrested and sentenced to seven years of exile in Australia. Today, they’re celebrated for being among the first to stand up for workers’ rights.
Laudemus, various locations – 2023 dates TBC. A ‘festival of choral evensong’; for 5 consecutive evenings, Laudemus perform cathedral-style choral evensong in churches across Dorset.
Camp Bestival, Lulworth – 27th-30th July 2023. A family-friendly music festival with huge acts and fun entertainment held on the grounds of Lulworth Castle.
Bournemouth Reggae Weekender, Bournemouth – 28th- 30th July 2023. A celebration of the diverse African-Caribbean culture in the local community and the rich reggae music heritage Great Britain has to offer.
Melplash Agricultural Show, near Bridport – 24th August 2023 One of the South West’s premier agricultural exhibitions.
Great Dorset Steam Fair, near Blandford Forum – on hold for 2023, returning 22nd-26th August 2024. An enormous country fair showcasing traditional steam engines, as well as workhorses, rural displays, and craft marquees.
READ MORE: Halloween Events in Dorset
Bournemouth Air Show – 31st August – 3rd September 2023. An enormous air show held annually on Bournemouth Beach. Featuring displays from many RAF and other military planes and vehicles, including the famous Red Arrows.
Bridport Hat Festival – 2nd September 2023. It’s “Haturday”! A celebration of all things hat – with music, competitions, and all kinds of inventive headwear!
Dorset County Show, near Dorchester – 2nd-3rd September 2023. For over 175 years the Dorchester Agricultural Society has celebrated Dorset’s rural roots with an annual show dedicated to farming, local produce, and country life.
Swanage Folk Festival – 8th-10th September 2023. A weekend of concerts, workshops, and traditional dance displays – including morris dancing.
RELATED POST: 17 of the Best Things to do in Swanage
SEAFEAST Dorset Seafood Festival, Weymouth – 2023 dates TBC. A celebration of local seafood and other produce, with stalls lining both sides of Weymouth Harbour.
Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival – 9th-10th September 2023. A celebration of cheese, held in the hometown of the famous Dorset Blue Vinney cheese.
Purbeck WALX festival – 2023 dates TBC. Formerly the Purbeck Nordic Walking Festival, this event offers hundreds of walks to suit all levels in iconic locations along the Jurassic Coast.
Winter, Christmas, and New Years’ Eve Events in Dorset
Guy Fawkes Bonfire Night – 5th November 2023. There are loads of great bonfire night fireworks displays across Dorset to enjoy.
The Bridport Literary Festival, 5th-11th November 2023 – a festival born as a result of the internationally renowned Bridport Prize. Welcomes writers from all over the country for an eclectic programme of events including readings, signings and talks.
Illuminate at Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, Abbotsbury – 2023 dates TBC. The picturesque gardens are spectacularly lit up every winter, with everything from floodlights to flickering candles creating a breathtaking atmosphere as you explore.
Christmas Markets – there are loads of fab, festive Christmas markets across Dorset every year.
Bournemouth Christmas Tree Wonderland – November 2023 – January 2024 (exact dates TBC). Bournemouth’s very own winter wonderland, with over 100 glittering trees, a pop-up ice rink, and an alpine Christmas market.
And while you’re in town, here’s a list of all the festive markets and events in Bournemouth for your December calendar!
Christmas Events – Check out my guide to Christmas in Dorset for a full line-up of all events, markets, and lights switch-ons around the county.
Are there any Dorset Festivals I’ve missed from this list? Scroll down to leave a comment, or get in touch on social media!
Laudemus visits Dorser every summer (except for 2020) with what might be described as a ‘festival of choral evensong’. For 5 consecutive evenings we sing cathedral style choral evensong in churches across Dorset, this summer between 13 and 17 July. Check our website for details: http://www.laudemus.org.uk.
Thank you so much for the recommendation Marianne – I’m adding this into the main post now so everyone can see it 🙂
You don’t have listed the Purbeck Film Festival 2022.
Thanks, I’ll get it added. Do you know when it is?
You might like to add HOD22-Discover Dorchester from 16th to 18th September.
Here is a link with more details:
Feel free to contact me if you need any further information.
Thanks so much for the tip Miranda. I was away in September and unfortunately didn’t see this message 🙁 Will the event be back on next year?