52 Weekends in Dorset
1-3 (BH) Resolutions & Rubber Ducks
On New Year’s Day, partake in two of Lyme Regis’ bizarre New Year’s Day
events. Dress up in wacky fancy dress and join the Lyme Lunge for a dip in the
freezing sea before heading into town to cheer on your rubber ducky as it races
from Woodmead Waterfall. www.visit-dorset.com/site/whats-on/new-year-events
What better way to work off those extra Christmas pounds than to take a brisk
walk or run along the South West Coast Path. With splendid coastal views
accompanying every step, it beats the treadmill hands down! www.swcp.org.uk
7-9 Refresh & Rejuvenate
West Dorset is the proud home of Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, whose
tranquil spa was listed in Tatler’s 101 Best Spas in the World 2009. Take some
time to rejuvenate for the New Year ahead by indulging in one of their
sophisticated spa packages.
T: 01935 48 2000 www.summerlodgehotel.co.uk
Why leave out the children? Mums, take your daughters along to Zooma where
they can be pampered just like you! T: 01202 483918 www.zoomafun.co.uk/
14-16 The Best Things in Life are Free
It’s that time of year again when everybody’s pockets are feeling the strain of
Christmas overspend. But who says you need money to enjoy yourself? Try a
spot of fossil hunting at Charmouth – always more rewarding in the winter
months and you may uncover a worthy find!
T: 01297 560772 www.charmouth.org/chcc/
Nothing beats a winter stroll across the rolling Dorset countryside. Stumble upon
the pretty rural hamlets and diverse wildlife along the way and finish with a
traditional pub dinner beside a roaring fire. True, unspoilt bliss!
21-23 Dorset’s Military Trail
Discover Dorset's top military attractions and uncover the past on the Dorset
Military Trail. The Tank Museum at Bovington, home of the world’s best collection
of tanks, Nothe Fort, the Military Museum, Royal Signals Museum and ghostly
Tyneham together both document and bring alive Dorset’s wartime past and
creates a poignant but thrilling weekend out for any military enthusiast.
28-30 Plenty to do in the Rain
January is traditionally one of the wettest months of the year in the UK but don’t
let that stop you from having fun as Dorset has a wide variety of wet weather
attractions to enjoy when the weather doesn’t deliver.
If you missed a panto this Christmas, take the family to Beauty and the Beast at
the Regent Centre – a perfect way to liven up an otherwise dull and damp
evening (22nd-29th Jan). Tickets: £10, Concessions £9, Children (under 16 years
old) £8. Except final performance Sat 29 Jan 7:30pm All seats £12
T: 01202 499199 www.regentcentre.co.uk
During the day, choose from indoor play centres like Sharky’s or fascinating
museums such as the Dorset County Museum. For the creative amongst you,
take an arty trip to a pottery painting studio.
Feeling active? Dorset’s all weather leisure centres provide plenty of indoor
sporting opportunities – get your friends together for a spot of competitive
badminton or join a fun fitness class.
For more information on these wet weather activities, visit www.visit-
4-6 Beer, Ancestry and Skiing!
Head to Dorchester this weekend for the ever popular Beerex festival, held in the
historic Corn Exchange and featuring over 80 real ales and ciders. With live
entertainment from local bands, this is an evening of merriment not to be missed
(4th – 5th Feb). Ticketed afternoon and evening sessions from £3.
T: 01305 267992 www.beerex.co.uk/
If you think you hail from ye olde county of Dorsetshire, why not follow in the
footsteps of the celebrities and find out who you think you are! With many
historical record offices across the county documenting family history, embark on
a revealing weekend of self discovery. For more information, visit:
Going skiing this half term? Best warm your limbs up and get some practice in at
Snowtrax – Christchurch’s dry ski slope. As well as its artificial slope ( which also
offers ski bobbing and ringo-ing), Snowtrax has trampolining, a zip wire, climbing
wall and a fully licensed bar and restaurant making for a fun filled family day
out. T: 01202 499155 www.snowtrax.eu
11-13 Love is in the Air
Yes, it’s Valentines weekend! Wine and dine in style at one of Dorset’s finest
celebrity restaurants or take advantage of the great valentine’s offers to be had at
the best romantic restaurants across the county. www.visit-dorset.com
On Saturday, be a traditional romantic and take your date star gazing at Durlston
Country Park. Don’t know your Hercules from your Orion? Good job there’s an
expert guide on hand to tell you! If you still can’t make out the constellations, you
can always tell your girlfriend which star you have just named after her...”aaah”.
Tickets cost £3 adults, £2 children. T: 01929 424443 www.durlston.co.uk
If a wedding is on the cards, Kingston Maurward is holding their popular wedding
fair on Sunday 13th for couples to plan their big day. Not quite there yet? What
better place to take a first date than ice skating. The BIC’s winter rink provides
the perfect setting for lots of hand-holding and giggles. Tickets cost £6.00 per
adult and £5.00 per child
T: 01305 215000 www.kmc.ac.uk
T: 0844 5763000 www.bic.co.uk/
18-20 Dorset’s County Town
Dorchester may be one of the smallest county towns in England but it is packed
full with history, culture and activities. Discover 6,000 years of history by
exploring Maiden Castle, Europe’s largest hill fort, where Dorchester’s first
settlement arose, the Roman Town House, the trial of the Tolpuddle Martyrs and
so much more.
Dorchester has some excellent museums to explore ranging from teddy bears to
Tutankhamen. Why not take some time out of your day to visit one (or all!) of
these interesting museums.
If you are spending the weekend in Dorchester, don’t forget to visit Poundbury –
a modern extension of Dorchester designed by Prince Charles. The village is
famous for its impressive architecture and design and is dotted with little
independent boutiques and specialist shops.
For more information on visiting Dorchester, contact the Dorchester Tourist
Information Centre on 01305 267992 or visit www.westdorset.com
25-27 February Half Term
Make the most of the last weekend of half term by visiting some of Dorset’s top
visitor attractions. Many of the leading attractions such as the Fleet Air Arm
Museum and the Tank Museum hold special themed half term events and fun
days. Get creative and visit one of the country parks and join in some craft
making activities or go to one of the art centres and enjoy some half term shows.
Further information on these attractions is available to view at www.visit-
4-6 Music & Lyrics
Get your groove on and head down to the Swanage Blues Festival this weekend.
Enjoy free admission to 50 gigs in 15 venues and the chance to show off your
own musical talent at the open mic nights.
T: 01929 422885 www.swanage-blues.org/
Brighten up the cold evenings with a trip to the local theatre. In Dorset, you are
spoilt for choice with a large range of varying venues. From quirky and intimate
performances at your local arts centres to extravagant all singing, all dancing
showstoppers at the Bournemouth and Weymouth Pavilions, whatever your
dramatic tastes, there is sure to be something to keep you entertained and out of
the cold this weekend. www.visit-dorset.com/site/whats-on
11-13 Spring Lambing Weekend
Come and marvel at the annual lambing weekend at Kingston Maurward,
Dorchester. See the adorable little lambs being born and learn about how the
farm looks after and raises the new arrivals. Children have the opportunity to
cuddle and bottle feed the lambs and also enjoy tractor rides. Admission to the
Animal Park is included in the ticket price.
T: 01305 215000 www.kmc.ac.uk
18-20 Jurassic Coast Explorer& Flower Festival
Marvel at the Dorset coast and countryside as it bursts into Spring colour from
the top deck of the award winning X53 Jurassic Coast bus. With an all day
explorer ticket costing just £6.50 for unlimited travel, you can enjoy all of the
highlights of the Jurassic Coast without breaking the bank. Walk a section of the
coast path, visit one of the Jurassic coast attractions or even use the bus to take
you on a picturesque ride to a day of shopping in Exeter of Poole. The
possibilities are endless. For a timetable, visit:
Finish the weekend off by a trip to Athelhampton House’s flower festival. Take
your mum and grandmother to stroll round the spectacular themed display and
indulge in a lovely Sunday afternoon tea.
T: 01305 848363 www.athelhampton.co.uk/
25-27 Spring Migrants & Tower Park
Towards the end of March and beginning of April, the UK starts to see the
welcome arrival of some of its spring migrants. Bird watching is an exciting and
highly satisfying hobby and makes a fun and educational family day out. Dorset
is home to 4 RSPB reserves, take your pick and don’t forget your binoculars.
For a fun filled Friday, Saturday or Sunday, grab some friends and head to Tower
Park for guaranteed non stop entertainment! Go bowling, watch a blockbuster hit
or play laser tag. Get wet at Splashdown Water Park, jump around the soft play
centre, drop in to the casino or have a game of bingo. If all that action makes
you hungry, Tower Park has a great selection of some the UKs favourite
restaurants to fill those empty tummies.
T: 01202 722 917 www.towerparkcentre.co.uk/
1-3 Mother’s Day Weekend
Treat your wonderful Mum this weekend with a Mothering Sunday Lunch at
Bennetts Water Gardens. Set over 8 acres, the gardens hold the National Plant
Collection of Water Lilies with a Monet style Japanese Bridge, Tropical House,
Woodland Walks and Museum. Tickets: Adult £6.95, Child (under 16yrs) £3.95,
under 4s free, Family £18. T: 01305 785150 www.waterlily.co.uk/
For a day out your mum will love, take her on a surprise trip to one of Dorset’s
abundant stately homes and castles such as Forde Abbey or Sherborne Castle.
Many hold special Mother’s Day events so stay tuned to our website for details.
Picturesque villages with quaint tea rooms are abound in Dorset and a visit will
be sure to go down a treat on Mother’s Day. Indulge in a scrumptious cream tea
followed by a gentle amble, taking in the pretty cottages and sweet aromas
drifting from the country gardens. Several Dorset villages have open gardens at
this time of year or local art exhibitions on a Saturday or Sunday so see what you
can uncover as you explore some of Dorset’s hidden gems.
Explore Dorset’s villages on www.visit-dorset.com
8-10 Thrills & Shrills
Despite its natural beauty and renowned tranquillity – life is far from slow paced
in Dorset and can make the ideal location for an action packed adventure
weekend. Henley Hillbillies is the ultimate adventure centre offering quad biking,
hovercrafts, archery, clay pigeon shooting and much more! Not too far away, an
adrenaline filled bunch can have fun at the Skirmish or Mega paintballing ranges.
If that still doesn’t get your heart racing, then rolling down a hill in a giant
inflatable ball is sure to do the trick. Add water, and you’ve got yourself a human
washing machine! All at Zorb South UK!
For a whole day of super charged adventure, contact Land and Wave, our
extreme sports specialists who can organise a day of coasteering, climbing, high
ropes and much more.
For the young thrill seeker, Adventure Wonderland offers more than 30 rides and
attractions for those under 12.
Further information on these activities can be found at www.visit-
15-17 Easter Holiday Fun
A week in to the Easter Holidays and the children are already moaning that
they’re bored. Sound familiar? Why not take them to some of Dorset’s top
attractions this weekend and let them burn of some steam.
Toddlers will love Farmer Palmers or Putlake Farm where they can play with the
animals and jump around in the soft play. For the older animal lover, Monkey
World is the destination of choice. One of Dorset’s top attractions, children and
adults alike will love watching the antics of the chimps as they go about their
If your children are more into fast cars, Haynes Motor Museum will excite those
Top Gear fans and the Museum of Electricity is sure to intrigue a young scientist.
More Easter holiday ideas can be found on www.visit-dorset.com from the
beginning of April.
22-25 (BH) Pirates & Easter ‘Eggs’travaganzas
Ahoy Me Hearties! Nothe Fort will once again be holding their successful Pirate
Day on Easter Sunday. The Pirate Ghost Walk, Treasure Hunt, Fancy Dress and
Walk the Plank will be among the many activities and entertainment before the
mock battle between the Nothe Fort Artillery and the pirates takes place with lots
of smoke, gun fire and shouting. A fantastic event for all young buccaneers!
T: 01305 766626 www.nothefort.org.uk
If you fancy staying in, why not get creative and make an Easter Bonnet for this
year’s Lyme Regis Easter Bonnet parade on Sunday? T: 01297 442138
Plus don’t forget – there will be Easter ‘Eggs’travaganzas taking place across
several of Dorset’s top attractions. The Tank Museum, The Sea Life Centre,
Adventure Wonderland, Bennetts Water Gardens (to name but a few) will all be
holding Easter Egg Hunts and themed fun this year. www.visit-dorset.com
29-2 (BH) Violins, Fossils & Knobs!
This Bank Holiday weekend, there is no excuse not to get out and about with our
pick of four fantastic events!
On Friday evening, attend one of the performances of the Sherborne Abbey
Music festival. To encounter great music in such beautiful surroundings is
something rather special and an experience not to be missed.
T: 01935 812452 www.sherborneabbey.com
On Saturday, the ever popular Fossil Festival returns to Lyme Regis. Take the
family and enjoy a fascinating fusion of science and art.
T: 01297 444042 www.fossilfestival.com
Sunday presents the chance to take part in one of Dorset’s more quirky traditions
– the Dorset Knob Throwing Festival! Teamed with the Frome Valley Food
Festival, this event occurs annually in the village of Cattistock and challenges
participants to hurl a Dorset Knob biscuit as far as they can. With games,
entertainment and some of the counties best food producers all in one place, this
event always attracts the crowds!
T: 07909 697 256 www.dorsetknobthrowing.com
6-8 Festival Weekend
This weekend, get your walking boots on and participate in the second Swanage
Walking Festival (30th April – 8th May). The Isle of Purbeck offers something for
everyone and the walks have been designed to show as much of the area as
possible. Some include a pub lunch in a typical Dorset village, others a ride home
on the steam train and one even offers a coastal cruise with lunch.
T: 01929 422885 www.visit-swanage.com
If you’re a fan of fine foods and wine, then head to Christchurch instead for the
Food & Wine Festival. With renowned chefs, an international food market, kid’s
kitchen, workshops and demonstrations – it’s a foodie’s paradise.
T: 01202 471780 www.christchurchfoodfest.co.uk
13-15 Exploring Thomas Hardy’s Dorset.
Thomas Hardy, internationally renowned poet and novelist, spent most of his life
in Dorset. Follow the Hardy Trail this weekend and explore where he lived,
places he wrote about and the church where his heart is buried. See where
popular TV adaptations of his novels were filmed and even join a Blue Badge
Guided tour of Hardy’s Wessex. For more information on discovering Thomas
Hardy Country, contact the Dorchester Tourist Information Centre on 01305
267992 for a leaflet and details of tours.
20-22 Ferry to France
As the weather warms up, take advantage of Dorset’s links with France and The
Channel Islands by hopping on board Condor for a spring day trip. Discover the
delights of Guernsey, Jersey, St Malo and Cherbourg and take advantage of the
duty free shopping on the way there. On your return, both Poole and Weymouth
are bustling towns with vibrant nightlife, providing plenty of opportunity to party
well into the night. For more information on Condor’s destinations, please visit
www.condorferries.co.uk or telephone 0845 609 1024.
27-30 (BH) Sport, Swans & a Country Fair
The Bournemouth 7s festival kicks of on Friday, setting up for a whole weekend
of netball, rugby and entertainment on the south coast. Enter your local squad or
just sit back and enjoy the competition as 380 teams from across the country
battle it out to be the best! T: 01202 545630 www.bournemouthsevens.com
May is always an exciting time of year at the Abbotsbury Swannery as the
cygnets start to hatch. A truly unique experience, Abbotsbury Swannery is home
to the only colony of nesting mute swans that can be visited anywhere in the
world. The Swannery pathways and streams will be covered with baby swans at
this time of year and some lucky visitors will even be able to witness and take
photographs of the cygnets hatching before their eyes. If you’re in Dorset at this
time of year, do not miss this off of your itinerary! Tickets: Adult £9.50, Child (5-
15yrs) £6.50, Family £26. T: 01305 871858 www.abbotsbury-tourism.co.uk
Sherborne Country Fair returns this bank holiday Monday and brings with it all
the fun of the fair. The day is packed with fun activities and displays: from Dog
Shows and Agility Dog displays to Dragon Boat Racing, arena displays to heavy
horses, there really is something to suit everyone. Advance tickets: Adult £9,
Senior £7.50, Child (5-14) £3, Family £20.
T: 01749 814041 www.sherbornecountryfair.com/
3-5 Wet & Wild
Half term is here and June signifies the real start of the sunny weather. Cool off
and take the plunge with some of the best watersports around.
Dorset is hosting the Olympic sailing events next year in Weymouth so take
advantage of our world class waters and try some sailing. The sheltered
harbours of Poole and Christchurch also offer a fantastic variety of watersports
including kitesurfing, windsurfing, kayaking, jet skiing and lots, lots more!
You don’t have to go abroad to find safe, colourful snorkelling. Kimmeridge
Marine Centre has opened an underwater nature trail, giving visitors the chance
to get up close to marine wildlife. Snorkelling equipment and a trail guide can be
hired from the centre.If you are a little more experienced, diving is also a popular
and fascinating watersport. Organisations like Fathom & Blues and West Bay
diving offer some great underwater expeditions.
For more information, visit www.visit-dorset.com/site/active-dorset/water-sports
10-12 Nightjars, Folk Music & a Colour Changing Lake
Experience the mysterious call of the nightjar as it fills the evening air. Join our
expert on this delightful walk at Avon Heath Country Park on Friday evening and
you may even catch a glimpse of this elusive bird. Cost: £3.50 adults, £2.50
children. T: 01425 478082 www.dorsetforyou.com/avonheath
Concerts, ceilidhs, dancing displays and children’s entertainment...celebrate
Dorset’s deep folk roots at the annual Wimborne Folk Festival on Saturday 11th.
T: 01202 623 740 www.wimbornefolkfestival.co.uk/
The Blue Pool is one of Dorset’s most unique and tranquil beauty spots. Set
amongst the Purbeck Hills, fine clay in suspension in the lake diffracts the light in
different ways producing a spectrum of colour sometimes green sometimes
turquoise. The Pool is surrounded by 25 acres of heath woodland and gorse
interlaced with sandy paths that seem to take you to another world - the perfect
destination for a relaxing summer Sunday afternoon out. Tickets: adult £5, child
(5-14) £2.50, senior £3.80, family £12.50
T: 01929 551408 www.bluepooltearooms.co.uk/
17-19 Carnival, Food, Father’s Day and a Rather Bizarre Competition
The Dorchester Carnival kicks off this June weekend with a funfair, four-legged
pub charity crawl, street fair and party in the park, cumulating in the main
procession on Saturday the 18th. T: 01305 267992 www.dorchestercarnival.co.uk
Head west for even more jollity as the Bridport Food Festival gets underway. The
restaurants of Bridport will be celebrating the lead up to the event by offering
varied and exciting menus and fantastic discounts. Follow the Bridport Food Trail
around the town and enjoy some of the live bands that will be on hand to
entertain you while you eat. The main festival is also on the Saturday.
T: 01308 427683 www.bridportfoodfestival.org.uk
It's probably one of Dorset's most unusual events, but competitors come from all
over the world for the World Nettle Eating Championships - one hour of eating as
many stinging nettles as your stomach can bear! If you’re brave and bonkers
enough to give this a go, see you at the Bottle Inn, Marshwood on Saturday.
T: 01297 678254 www.bottleinn.co.uk
For Father’s Day this Sunday, take your dear Dad on a boating trip to remember.
Fishing trips go out from Lyme Regis, West Bay, Poole and Christchurch and can
provide a full or half day sea fishing experience that dads will love. If your dad
just likes to sit back and relax rather than get his hands dirty, one of Dorset’s
Jurassic Coast cruises will be right up his street. Visit www.visit-dorset.com for
24-26 Festival Frenzy – Take One
The quaint town of Beaminster hosts its annual music and visual arts festival this
week. Why not pop along and enjoy performances from some of the county’s
finest musicians. T: 01308 862 943 www.beamfest.org.uk
It’s an explosive weekend at the Tank Museum - Tank Fest 2011 is here! Visitors
can expect a thrilling day out watching live action displays, mock battles and see
history brought to life before their eyes! Booking advised. Advance day tickets:
Adult £16, Child (5-16)/Senior £11.50, Family £45.
T: 01929 405096 www.tankmuseum.org
1-3 Festival Frenzy – Take Two
Get your dancing shoes on for the Christchurch Music Festival. Three days of
bops and beats to get you in the summer spirit.
T: 01202 471780 www.christchurchfestival.co.uk
On Saturday, visit one of Britain’s most famous streets – Gold Hill in Shaftesbury.
Known to the nation as the Hovis Hill, the street was used to film one of the best
loved adverts in television history. Explore the beautiful north Dorset town of
Shatesbury today and enjoy the eclectic mix of craft and jewellery stalls, fun fair
attractions for children, dance and musical performances.
T: 01747 853 514 www.shaftesburydorset.com
8-10 Jazz, Jets, and Jellied Eels!
This weekend, boogie on down to Swanage for the town’s popular Jazz Festival,
which promises a soulful array of top class jazz by the seaside. What a refined
way to spend a relaxing summer’s day on the Dorset Coast.
T: 01929 422885 www.swanagejazz.org.uk
Yeovilton Air Day is one of the biggest highlights on the Dorset calendar. Watch
fighter jets from the past and present send shivers and shock waves through an
astounded audience as they amaze you with their incredible acrobatic displays
and death defying stunts, As well as the favourite helicopter and plane routines,
there will be performances from some of the UKs best wingwalking and skydiving
teams plus lots of entertainment on the ground together making this a fantastic
family day out. T: 08445 780 780 www.yeoviltonairday.co.uk
On Sunday, seafood lovers will be flocking to Weymouth for this year’s Seafood
Festival. The Sunday event is the foodie highlight of the nine day Spirit of the
Sea Festival and will feature some of the regions best produce. Stalls line the
harbour providing you with the chance to taste the culinary delights, watch
celebrity cooking demonstrations and buy cooking accessories.
T: 01305 785747 www.spiritofthesea.org.uk
15-17 Tolpuddle Martyrs
Follow the famous story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs this weekend. Start your
journey in the village of Tolpuddle and visit the Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum (free
admission) where you will discover the tale of the six ill-fated Tolpuddle Martyrs,
which initiated the birth of the trade union movement. Travel west to Dorchester
to see the Old Crown Court and Cells, the very courtroom where the Tolpuddle
Martyrs were tried.
The weekend cumulates in the annual Tolpuddle Rally, an important gathering
for the trade union movement with a mix of politics, music, theatre, poetry, stall
and entertainment for all the family.
T: 01305 848 237 www.tolpuddlemartyrs.org.uk
22-24 Animal Magic
The summer holidays have arrived! Take the children out this weekend to some
of Dorset’s top animal attractions for a weekend of furry fun! Children under eight
will adore Farmer Palmers Farm Park where they can cuddle, feed and pet the
friendly animals. A mixed age group will love the Abbotsbury Children’s Farm
where there are fun activities all day, everyday!
For something a little different and exciting, try trekking with llamas along the
Dorset World Heritage Jurassic Coastline or enjoy a day out with a donkey. Load
up your donkey with a pack – be it an easel, picnic or whatever you choose and
take pleasure in a rustic, traditional day out with a loyal companion. All the
ingredients for a memorable family weekend.
For more information, visit www.visit-dorset.com
29-31 Camp Bestival
The ultimate family festival! Aimed at parents in their thirties and forties with their
children, this alternative festival, held at Lulworth Castle, is a whole weekend of
Hi de Hi style fun mixed with all the elements of a contemporary music festival.
Take your tent, dress up, laugh, dance, eat and have an excellent time!
Tickets (weekend, incl. camping): Adult £155, Concession £145, Child (11 to 17)
£77.50, Campervan £60. T: 01929 400 352 www.campbestival.net
5-7 Shakespeare, Swanage Carnival, and RNLI Lifeboat Fun
The Romans are coming! Take a boat ride across to the beautiful Brownsea
Island to experience this year’s open air theatre production of Julius Caesar. This
evening is more than just the performance: the short ferry journey from Poole
Harbour really sets up the evening, and sailing back to shore at night under the
stars is memorable. Why not travel to the island using your ticket from 5:00pm
and explore the island or have a picnic before the show?
T: 01202 251 987 www.brownsea-theatre.co.uk/
On Saturday, be sure not to miss the South’s number one carnival in Swanage
featuring family fun for everyone. With a huge spectacular themed procession,
firework displays, air displays from the Red Arrows (TBC), this event is definitely
one for the calendar! T: 01929 422885 www.swanagecarnival.com
West Bay harbour hosts the RNLI fun day this Sunday, complete with traditional
fairground games and a thrilling search and rescue display given by the
Weymouth Lifeboat, Lyme Regis Lifeboat and HM Coastguard's Portland
Helicopter Rescue Team (weather and emergencies permitting).
T: 01305 424901 www.westbay.co.uk
12-14 Dorset Regattas
It’s double the fun this weekend as two of the best regattas in the south are being
held in Christchurch and Lyme Regis. Don your striped sweater and deck shoes
and come and enjoy the events and the charms of these harbour side towns.
Inspired by the boating events? Try it yourself! Highcliffe Sailing Club is now
recognised as a nominated training camp for the 2012 Olympic Games so test
your sailing abilities in world class waters. Both Lyme and Christchurch have
pleasure and adventure cruises available off shore and in the harbour and a offer
wide range of watersports for both novice and professional.
T: 01202 471780 www.christchurchcarnival.co.uk
T: 01297 442138 www.lymeregiscarnival.co.uk
19-21 Bournemouth Air Festival, Bridport Carnival & Torchlight Procession
All eyes to the sky this weekend for the Bournemouth Air Festival. By the sea
and completely free, this award winning event promises incredible air displays,
attractions and fantastic evening entertainment.
T: 0845 051 1700 www.bournemouthair.co.uk/
The Bridport Carnival is a highlight of the town's calendar. The fun packed
extravaganza includes a grand procession, fete, games and a fun fair as well as
the traditional Sunday evening torchlight parade from Bridport to West Bay. This
awesome spectacle involves 1,500 blazing torches being carried by families as
they snake their way to the Bay for a celebration with live music and fireworks on
East Beach. T: 01308 424901 www.westdorset.com/site/whats-on
26-28 Corfe Village, Symondsbury Fete and a Dinosaur Hunt!
A visit to Corfe makes for an excellent Bank Holiday day out for the whole family.
Visit the majestic Corfe Castle, owned by the National Trust before seeing the
castle and village in miniature at the Corfe Castle Model Village. Lunch in one of
the reputable pubs is a must before hopping on the Swanage Steam Railway in
the afternoon for a memorable ride. T: 01929 552740 www.corfe-castle.co.uk/
Symondsbury is a large, pretty village of golden sandstone, known for its iconic
landmark – Colmers Hill, which is featured extensively on postcards of the area
and is the subject of many atmospheric photographs. Dorset's largest fete (with
over 5000 visitors) takes place here this Sunday with all proceeds going to
charity. T: 01308 424901 www.symondsbury.org.uk
August Bank Holiday weekend means the Great Dinosaur Hunt is happening at
the award winning Dinosaur Museum in Dorchester (Mon 29 th). The event
involves the whole museum and lets children explore and search out the answers
to the clues of the dinosaur mystery.
T: 01305 269880 www.thedinosaurmuseum.com
2-4 Great Dorset Steam Fair and the Dorset County Show.
The Great Dorset Steam Fair is a typically British event offering a unique blend of
nostalgia and entertainment. For the first time visitor, seeing the Great Dorset
Steam Fair can be quite an awe inspiring and impressive site, a sea of marquees
and attractions that can take your breath for a moment. There is no other event
like it anywhere in the world which is why over 200,000 visitors attend each year
both from the UK and from all over the World! Visit this colourful show once and
you'll be hooked for life. Tel: 01258 860361 www.gdsf.co.uk
Also this weekend is the Dorset County Show, offering a fun-filled, action packed
weekend for all ages. The whole family will love the all-day entertainment
schedule in the Main Ring featuring dare devil motorbike stunt teams, falconry
displays and much more. The show also features over 450 trade stands, the
Dorset Food Hall and traditional agricultural fare and animal show competitions.
Tickets: Adults £10 or £13 on the gate. Under16s free.
T: 01305 264249 www.dorsetcountyshow.co.uk
9-11 World Dancing and Cheese Galore!
Bustling Swanage fronts another of its fantastic events this weekend as the Folk
Festival comes to town. Dancers and musicians from all over the country arrive
to display their talents on the seafront. Featuring diverse dance styles from all
over the world, this colourful extravaganza is perfect place to spend the last of
the summer days. T: 0870 4420680 www.swanagefolkfestival.co.uk
Calling all cheese lovers! On Saturday, take a trip to Sturminster Newton to
sample and buy some of the finest cheeses from the South West. Local crafts
are also showcased as well as local producers of some fantastic cheese
accompaniments such as wine, pickle and chutneys.
T: 01258 454770 www.cheesefestival.co.uk
16-18 Bridport Hat Festival & Walk for Wildlife
The Bridport Hat Festival made its successful debut in West Dorset last year and
will be returning again on Saturday 17th Sept! Dust off your trilby, beret, cowboy
or whatever takes your fancy and come and enjoy a lively day of stalls, music,
competitions and more! T: 01308 458224 www.bridporthatfest.org
Pull on a pair of walking boots and bring the family, friends and dog for a great
day out in the heart of the stunning Purbeck countryside! Choose between three
different walks, designed to suit each age and level of walker and raise some
money for the Dorset Wildlife Trust.
T: 01305 264620 www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
23-25 September Sunshine & Go Ape!
September can be one of the most glorious months and for the past few years,
England has certainly enjoyed an Indian Summer. Why not make the most of the
late summer sunshine by spending it on one of West Dorset’s beautiful beaches.
Relax under the golden Burton Cliffs or enjoy sunset fishing off of Chesil Beach.
Take the family for an afternoon of beach games on the sandy beach at Lyme or
do a spot of rock pooling at Charmouth. Visit www.visit-dorset.com for further
Bring out your inner gorilla at Go Ape! Take to the trees and experience an
exhilarating course of rope bridges, tarzan swings and zip slides...all set high
above the forest floor. Adult £30, Child £20 (minimum age 10yrs)
T: 0845 643 9215 www.goape.co.uk
30-2 Brewery Tours and Heavy Horse Rescue
Take a tour with a difference at two of Dorset’s most famous breweries –
Palmers and Hall & Woodhouse. Discover about the art of brewing with the
opportunity to taste the malt, smell the hops, work the machinery and drink the
T: 01308 422396 www.palmersbrewery.com
T: 01258 452141 www.hall-woodhouse.co.uk
Dorset Heavy Horse Farm Park and Rescue Centre offers a unique mix of
educational fun for all ages. Set amongst splendid countryside views, the park
offers free tractor and pony rides, a daily timetable of hands on activities with the
animals, fun straw barn, a western themed café and so much more! Whatever
the weather (lots of the park is undercover) the whole family will find the centre
great value and a terrific day out. Adults £7.75, Child (2 - 14 years), £6.75
Family 25.95, Concessions £6.75.
T: 01202 824040 www.dorset-heavy-horse-centre.co.uk
7-9 Dorset Islands
Visit two of Dorset’s Islands this weekend – Brownsea and Portland. As the
leaves start to gradually turn to their rich autumnal hues, it is clear to see why
October is the optimum month to visit Brownsea Island. Follow one of the
different nature trails around the island and hear the haunting deer rut, spot the
red squirrels as they dart from branch to branch and sit in one of the bird hides
and watch the migrating birds over Poole Harbour. Magical! Cost: Adult £5.50,
child £2.70, family £13.70. Free to National Trust members.
T: 01202 707744 www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brownsea/
Although not officially an island (Portland is joined to the mainland by Chesil
Beach), The ‘Isle’ Portland has a lot to offer the day visitor. With Areas of
Outstanding Natural Beauty and historical architecture made from the world
famous Portland Stone, you're never far away from sensing the history and
nature of this rugged 'island'. Small, scattered communities can be found
throughout the Island, each with their own distinctive character. Exploring the
Island for the first time is intriguing and surprising and is certainly a worthy day
trip. T: 01305 785747 www.visitportland.co.uk
14-16 Houses & Gardens
Come and soak up the atmosphere at some of Dorset's finest stately homes and
gardens. Have a great autumn day out to Lulworth Castle and Park, built in the
early 17th century with displays, exhibitions and woodland walks. Stroll around
the beautiful Kingston Lacy House and Gardens exploring the Edwardian
Japanese Gardens, waymarked trails and Egyptian artefacts. Why not take the
chance to enjoy a relaxing lunch or afternoon tea surrounded by the magical
settings of these beautiful buildings. http://www.visit-dorset.com/site/history-and-
The Abbotsbury Sub tropical gardens are a must visit this weekend. Fabulous
Autumn colours are magically uplighted with theatrical floodlighting creating
exquisite colour filled avenues for visitors to walk along. The route through the
garden is dominated by the architectural shapes and shadows of the exotic tree
canopy, and is lined with candles in lanterns. An enchanting evening for all.
Tickets: Adult £9.50, Child (5-15yrs) £6.50, Family £26.
T: 01305 871387 www.abbotsbury-tourism.co.uk/
21-23 Dorset’s Literary Links
Follow in the footsteps of your favourite authors this weekend and see what
inspired some of the world’s best loved novels. Thomas Hardy, internationally
renowned poet and novelist, spent most of his life here adopting Wessex
(Dorset) as the fictional setting for his novels including 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles'
or 'The Mayor of Casterbridge'. Jane Austen was a frequent visitor to Lyme Regis
where she wrote 'Persuasion' and John Fowles set his classic novel 'The French
Lieutenant's Woman' in and around the town. Enid Blyton also had a passion for
Dorset. The beloved children's author stayed in Purbeck regularly and some of
her best known works were inspired by the area. Come and discover the real life
locations for some of these author’s most famous fictional settings and bring your
imagination to life! http://www.visit-dorset.com/site/history-and-heritage/literary
28-30 Spooky Fun
Half term weekend in Dorset means that many of the top attractions will be
holding Spooky half term fun events. Take the children to Farmer Palmers for
some low key scary fun or the Weymouth Sea Life Centre to see the terrifying
terrapin trail. Join in on a spine chilling ghost walk around Portland Castle or
Weymouth Harbour – definitely not for the faint hearted! Visit our website
www.visit-dorset.com for information on all of the Halloween events this
For those not interested in ghosts and ghouls, take a leisurely stroll around the
magnificent Forde Abbey and marvel at their autumn colour weekend. The
variety of tree species in the surrounding landscape puts on an unrivalled show.
Cost to both house & gardens: adults £10.50, seniors £9.50, children under 15
free. T: 01460 220231 www.fordeabbey.co.uk
4-6 Sparks and Sparklers
Get your woollies on and get ready to wow at some of the dazzling fireworks
displays around Dorset this weekend. Watch a lakeside display by Sherborne
Castle or be amazed by a breathtaking show accompanied by an explosive tank
display at the Tank Museum. Watch a seafront spectacular or join in the
community spirit at your local display. Visit www.visit-dorset.com for details of all
the best fireworks displays in Dorset.
If all those whizz bangs and pops weren’t enough, ignite some sparks of a
different kind at the museum of electricity. Set in a genuine Edwardian power
station in Christchurch, Dorset, the museum is dedicated to the history of
electricity. There's interactive fun and nostalgia for the whole family and is both
an enjoyable and educational day out. Cost: Free.
T: 01202 480467 www.scottish-southern.co.uk/museum/
11-13 Ancient Sites and Dorset Landmarks
Start your trip with a visit to Maiden Castle, the UK’s largest hillfort, dating back
4000 years. Enjoy the views over Dorchester before exploring the Roman Town
House - the only Roman Town House to be seen in its entirety in Britain. Travel
to Cerne Abbas where you'll find the famous Cerne Giant, a 180ft high male
chalk figure believed to be an ancient symbol of fertility. Then make your way to
Abbotsbury to enjoy the picturesque views from St Catherine's Chapel. Take a
picnic and watch the sun set over Chesil Beach and Dorset’s Jurassic Coast.
The second day touring begins at Shillingstone where you can visit Hod Hill, a
Site of Special Scientific Interest which has fantastic views of the River Stour and
its neighbouring Hambledon Hill - a National Nature Reserve which used to be an
extensive Neolithic settlement. Then head to Wimborne to see Knowlton Rings
and learn about its religious roots. In the afternoon, take a trip to Pilsdon Pen, the
highest hill fort in Dorset with the best views of surrounding countryside. Travel
to the beautiful village of Powerstock and find Eggardon Camp which has nearly
500 depressions believed to be the indentations of huts and storage pits.
18-20 West Dorset Pedal
Cycling is the ideal mode of transport to observe and absorb West Dorset's finest
scenery. The West Dorset Pedal consists of five cycle routes are designed to
help you pedal and eat your way around West Dorset's beautiful landscape and
discover our delicious local produce along the way. Choose from The Valley of
the Stones, Bridport's Market Garden, Hillforts & The Vale, The Frome Valley or
Eggardon Hillfort. Routes available to download from:
25-27 Get Involved!
Why not get hands on this weekend and partake in one of the splendid arts and
crafts courses that happen across Dorset? Head off to a rural retreat where your
inspiration can flow and your creative side can blossom. Varied courses are
available all year round at the Kingcombe Centre and Highway Farm.
T: 01300 320684 www.kingcombe.org
T: 01308 424321 www.highwayfarm.co.uk
If you love the wildlife in Dorset, then come and make a difference to how it
flourishes. The Dorset Wildlife Trust, Dorset Countryside and many other nature
organisations here in the county rely on volunteers to help manage the
countryside to encourage wildlife. Have a go at butterfly surveys, rhododendron
clearance, path making and lots more to help these worthy causes!
T; 01305 264620 www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
T: 01305 221000 www.dorsetforyou.com/countryside
2-4 Christmas Shopping in the Dorset Towns
December is here which means Christmas is just around the corner! Visit
Dorset’s towns this weekend where you will be guaranteed to find some fantastic
gifts. Dorset’s County Town of Dorchester is emerging strongly from the
recession and boasts a wide variety of independent shops and unique retailers.
Choose to shop here and you will be certain to leave with a treasure trove of gifts
to put under your Christmas tree. If you prefer the mainstream chain stores,
Dorset’s urban conurbations of Poole and Bournemouth have all of the big
names on the high street. Many Dorset towns have seasonal festivals and carol
singers on the weekends leading up to Christmas so for some atmospheric and
stress free shopping, head to Sherborne, Christchurch or Blandford. www.visit-
9-11 Santa Specials
Treat the children this weekend by taking them to see Father Christmas at one of
Dorset’s attractions. Wander through snow lined Christmas trees and small
animals to see Santa in his grotto at Stewarts Gardenlands, Christchurch;
children under 8 will love to visit Father Christmas in his grotto at Farmer
Palmers; the Swanage Steam Railway hold Santa Specials in December so take
the children on a magical steam train ride to meet Father Christmas. Adults can
enjoy mulled wine and mince pies while Santa makes his way through the
carriages with gifts for all the good boys and girls. Santa Claus will be making an
appearance at many other attractions this December so stay tuned to www.visit-
dorset.com for more details.
16-18 Pantomime & Chase the Pudding
Why not enjoy a fun packed family night out at a show near you. You can find all
of the best pantomimes happening in the area on www.visit-dorset.com. A great
night out the whole family can enjoy, everybody loves a pantomime. All together
now... "It's behind you!!"
For a more quirky way to celebrate the run up to Christmas, take part in the
annual 5k Santa Dash on Weymouth Beach. Hundreds of Santas race across the
sand in an attempt to catch last year’s winner, who traditionally dresses up as a
23-26 (BH) Carols by Candlelight and Festive Recipes.
Get some inspiration from Dorset’s best loved chefs and impress your friends
and family at the dinner table this Christmas. Try the Lesley Waters Christmas
Pudding or Mark Hix Mulled Wine. Sure to go down just a treat!
To get you in the mood for Christmas, head to one of our candlelit carol services
in our festively adorned churches. Details of all of the Christmas and Advent
services feature on our website so take some time to sit back and enjoy the
melodious voices of a Christmas choir in a truly atmospheric setting. www.visit-
30-1 New Year’s Eve Fancy Dress Revelry
Join in the festivities and celebrate New Year's Eve at one of Dorset’s fantastic
events! Weymouth's New Year's Eve fancy dress party is not to be missed - join
over 20,000 revellers in the town centre and harbourside to celebrate the start of
2011. The popular Swanage New Year's Eve Party is also known county wide
and takes place on the high street where thousands of people join the party
atmosphere. Some of the larger Dorset Hotels run special New Year’s Eve
packages so come along and enjoy a dinner a dance with friends and family for a
warmer way to see in the New Year! See our festive website for details: