Increasingly, Dorset is being recognised for its many festivals and events – the major county ones are described below.
Some visitors come for specific Festivals (Bournemouth’s annual Air Festival is a good example); but the majority can be pleasantly surprised to find a huge variety of events going on while they are staying in the county, as this gives them an added event to experience. Why not find out what is going on near you at different times of year, so that you can suggest festivals as an added attraction?
Some of the biggest festivals are as follows:
The Bournemouth Air Festival is held at the end of August in Bournemouth. It is the largest free Air Festival in Europe, and brings millions of people into the town.
The Great Dorset Steam Fair is a five day show in August, held at Tarrant Hinton near Blandford Forum. It features working traction engines and other heritage vehicles.
The Dorset County Show is held just outside Dorchester in September and features traditional agricultural stalls, show jumping, animal shows and a myriad of other events and demonstrations.
Dorset Art Week is one of the largest open studio events in the country. It takes place every two years and brings artists and visitors together in different ways, allowing them to experience art outside public galleries.
The Inside Out Dorset festival presents high quality, large-scale, outdoor arts events combining huge artistic works in some of the most beautiful locations in Dorset.
In Purbeck Art Week over 100 artists show their work in open studios across Purbeck. The Festival centres on Rollington Barn near Corfe Castle and The Fine Foundation Gallery near Durlston Castle, Swanage.
The Dorchester Arts Festival takes place every two years in the county town with a range of music, performance and visual arts events, many of them free.
There are music based festivals throughout the year featuring jazz at Swanage, folk music at Wimborne and Purbeck and classical music at Sherborne Abbey. The most well-known is probably Camp Bestival – a huge family music festival in August at Lulworth Castle. The Larmer Tree Festival on the Wiltshire/Dorset border between Salisbury and Blandford fuses music and comedy in a unique festival , which has been established for 25 years.