Cultural Tourism

Weymouth and Portland

What might visitors expect…..?

Traditional seaside holidays, childhood memories, Punch and Judy, donkey rides, sandy beaches, Georgian splendour, seafood, fishing, harbours, Chesil Beach, Portland Bill, Jurassic coast.

Historic buildings, landmarks and heritage

The standout landmark near Weymouth is the Hardy Monument, a 72-foot high monument on Black Down, owned by the National Trust. Confusingly, this has nothing to do with the Dorset author Thomas Hardy, but is in memory of Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy, a commander at the Battle of Trafalgar, who lived in nearby Portesham. The monument can be seen for many miles and is a landmark for shipping – it is designed to look like a spyglass, with its eight corners aligned with the compass points.

Overlooking Portland Harbour stands one of King Henry VIII’s finest coastal forts, built in the early 1540s to protect against French and Spanish invasion, and which played an important part in both British World Wars. Opposite on the mainland in Weymouth stands the Nothe Fort, a historic coastal fort, and a family visitor attraction.

Portland Bill Lighthouse is a functioning lighthouse; open for tours and an important landmark for visitors. It is Grade II Listed and has its own visitor centre, housed in the former lighthouse keeper’s quarters.

Festivals

Both Weymouth and Portland have many festivals of different kinds. The b-side festival takes place every two years in Weymouth and Portland, exploring and showcasing site-specific artistic work – the next b-side will be in 2018.

One of the most important food festivals in Dorset takes place in Weymouth – the Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival, generally held in July. This is one of the largest seafood festivals in Britain, and is free to everyone. Visitors can also watch local fishing boats unloading their catch in the Weymouth Harbour; which can then be enjoyed in the many local restaurants.

Weymouth Carnival is generally a two day event held on the seafront and other areas of Weymouth, in August to coincide with the height of the season.

The Wessex Folk Festival is a family festival held in Weymouth with two free stages showcasing a range of traditional and modern folk acts. The festival includes Morris dancing, food and craft and traditional music sessions in the local pubs, so is very typical of Dorset culture in many ways. It takes place in June.

Performing Arts

Although many of the local pubs in Weymouth and Portland offer music performances; the main venue in Weymouth is the Pavilion, which dates from the 1930s, and sits right on the water’s edge. It offers a full range of shows and events all through the year; both in and out of season including concerts by Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and a popular family pantomime; to tribute acts and popular music performances designed to attract visitors.

Some interesting cultural facts about Weymouth

The Osmington White Horse is a famous hill figure cut into the limestone of Osmington Hill just north of Weymouth. The figure is of King George III riding his horse and can be seen for miles around – he was a regular visitor to Weymouth and there is also a coloured statue of him in the centre of the town.

Hollywood blockbuster Dunkirk was partly filmed in Weymouth Harbour, starring (yet another, again different) Tom Hardy…the film actor this time.