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’ll also pop together some more in-depth guides which will come very soon. Enjoy…
Abbotsbury Food Fair – 11th April 2020. A food fair hosted at Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, with over 30 stalls showcasing local produce surrounded by the spring colours of the gardens.
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Quayside Music Festival, Weymouth – 11th April 2020. A much-loved local music festival held at Weymouth Harbour every bank holiday.
Shaftesbury Food and Drink Festival – 3rd May 2020. 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!
Sherborne Abbey Festival – 1st – 6th May 2020. An annual celebration of liturgy and music.
Blandford Georgian Fayre, Blandford Forum – 8th May 2020. This year will be the 75th anniversary of VE Day, so the festival is being held to coincide with this.
Christchurch Food Festival – 8th – 10th May 2020. A 3-day event taking over Christchurch in celebration of locally made food and drink.
Dorset Knob Throwing Festival, Kingston Maurward College, Dorchester – 2nd May 2021 (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.
Wimborne Minster Folk Festival – 12th – 14th June 2020. A celebration of all things folk, with music, dance, and comedy.
Folk on the Quay, Poole – 29th June 2020. Traditional dance, morris dances, and outdoor music stages along Poole’s historic quay.
Beaminster Festival – 27th June – 5th July 2020. An art festival covering a great range of local and international artists.
Bourne Free (Bournemouth Pride) – 3rd – 4th July 2020. Bournemouth’s Pride festival is one of the biggest and most popular in the county.
Cerne Abbas Music Festival – 9th – 12th July 2020. Chamber music performed by one of the world’s elite Ensembles in the Village Church.
Jurassic Fields, Bridport – 10th – 11th July 2020. A coastal music festival with COAST headlining this year, along with Dreadzone, Arcarde Hearts, Sam Green, and many others.
Larmer Tree Festival, near Tollard Royal (on the border with Wiltshire) – 16th – 19th July 2020. A rich lineup of local, national and international artists covering music, outdoor theatre, live performances, arts, and comedy.
Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival, Tolpuddle – 17th – 19th July 2020. The Tolpuddle Martyrs were six local farmers who formed a union in 1834, and were arrested and sentenced to seven years transportation (exile in Australia). Today, they’re celebrated for being among the first to stand up for workers rights.
Camp Bestival, Lulworth – 30th July – 2nd August 2020. A family-friendly music festival in the grounds of Lulworth Castle.
Bournemouth Air Show – 20th – 23rd August 2020. 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.
Melplash Agricultural Show, near Bridport – 27th August 2020. One of the South West’s premier agricultural exhibitions.
Great Dorset Steam Fair, near Blandford Forum – 27th – 31st August 2020. An enormous country fair showcasing traditional steam engines, as well as workhorses, rural displays, and craft marquees.
Bridport Hat Festival – 5th September 2020. It’s “Haturday”! A celebration of all things hat – with music, competitions, and all kinds of inventive headwear!
Dorset County Show, near Dorchester – 5th – 6th September 2020. 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.
Food Rocks, Lyme Regis – 5th – 6th September 2020. A food festival with a focus on local seafood, founded by local restaurant owner and celebrity chef, Mark Hix.
Swanage Folk Festival – 11th – 13th September 2020. A weekend of concerts, workshops, and traditional dance displays – including morris dancing.
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Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival – 12th-13th September 2020. A celebration of cheese, held in the home-town of the famous Dorset Blue Vinney cheese.
Purbeck WALX festival – 18th – 20th September 2020. Formally the Purbeck Nordic Walking Festival, this event offers hundreds of walks to suit all levels in iconic locations along the Jurassic Coast.
Enchanted Illuminations at Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, Abbotsbury – 17th October – 1st November 2020. The picturesque gardens are spectacularly lit up every October, with everything from floodlights to flickering candles creating a breathtaking atmosphere as you explore.
Bournemouth Christmas Tree Wonderland – 13th November 2020 – 3rd January 2021. Bournemouth’s very own winter wonderland, with over 100 glittering trees, an pop-up ice rink, and an alpine Christmas market.
Front Live New Years Eve, Weymouth Seafront – 31st December 2020. Weymouth’s New Year’s Eve celebrations have been ranked among the best in Europe. All the bars along the seafront come together, so you buy one ticket for entry to all. The party spills out on to the esplanade, creating an epic street party.
Are there any Dorset Festivals I’ve missed from this list? Scroll down to leave a comment, or get in touch on social media!