Dorset dates for your 2018 diary

PUBLISHED: 15:06 08 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:07 08 January 2018

Camp Bestival

Camp Bestival


Visit Dorset has some interesting events to help fill the pages of your 2018 diary with an exciting selection of days out

On Chesil Beach

Ian McEwan’s novel On Chesil Beach has been adapted into a powerful drama. Set in England in 1962, it stars Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle as young lovers Edward and Florence whose misunderstandings and fears shape the rest of their lives. The film, due for release in early summer, features cinematic views across Chesil Beach which will undoubtedly inspire many visitors to explore this unique area of coastline in 2018. Enjoy breathtaking coastal vistas from the Heights Hotel on the Isle of Portland, discover the area’s wildlife at the Chesil Beach Centre, explore Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, and from mid-May until late June admire the hatching cygnets from the largest colony of free-flying mute swans at the Abbotsbury Swannery. Further west at Burton Bradstock browse local produce at the Spring Tide Food Festival in May, and for a delicious lunch with wonderful views try the Hive Beach Café or the Seaside Boarding House.

Literary Landscapes

There are a number of thriving literary festivals in Dorset including Bridport, Dorchester and Sherborne. These festivals always attract top notch local writers as well as internationally acclaimed authors. The events take place in the autumn, a wonderful time to discover Dorset. If you can’t wait until then and you want to explore the Dorset landscapes and locations that inspired Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, John Fowles and Enid Blyton there are details of guided walks and trails on the ‘Literary Dorset’ section of the Visit Dorset website.

Tantalise Your Taste buds

With award-winning restaurants, weekly farmers’ markets, and numerous festivals and fairs showcasing Dorset’s food and drink producers, there are ample opportunities throughout the year to sample local produce from across the county. You can also enjoy a spot of Dorset Knob throwing at Kingston Maurward (May), crack a lobster or two at the multi-award-winning Dorset Seafood Festival in Weymouth (July), challenge your taste buds at the Great Dorset Chilli Festival at Wimborne St Giles (August), and stock up on local cheeses at the Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival (September).

Rockin’ to a Dorset beat

Dorset boasts a truly diverse selection of music events happening throughout the year, including intimate performances in rural locations brought to you by Artsreach, a Dorset charity which brings high quality performances of live theatre, music, dance and family shows to village halls around the county. There are also a number of boutique-style festivals offering an eclectic mix of styles from folk to jazz - such as Jurassic Fields in Bridport and the Purbeck Valley Folk Festival, as well as big hitters like Camp Bestival and Bestival who bring an award-winning blend of music and entertainment to Lulworth Castle in July and August.

Dorset Residents’ Week

Held over a week in late spring, this annual event invites Dorset residents to experience local attractions across the county with enticing special offers that make for a fantastic value day out in Dorset. Around 50 local attractions participate in Dorset Residents’ Week, so keep an eye out for details on the Visit Dorset website in the coming months.

Ramble & Ride

If your New Year’s resolution is to be more active and improve your wellbeing, why not make the most of Dorset’s glorious countryside? There is an immense network of paths, bridleways, walking and cycling trails that criss-cross the county that can help you achieve your target.

The Swanage & Purbeck Walking Festival in September has a programme of organised walks for all ages and fitness levels, whilst on 23 September the Weymouth Ironman (70.3) is a more challenging event that requires special training, but supporters are more than welcome to come and cheer on the competitors.

An English Country Garden

There are many glorious country houses and gardens in Dorset, such as Kingston Lacy, Sherborne Castle & Gardens, Mapperton House & Gardens, Minterne Gardens, Athelhampton House & Gardens, Deans Court and Kingston Maurward. In their heyday these houses hosted gatherings of the English aristocracy and famous names. Many hold events throughout the year, from Shakespeare in the garden to country fairs; click here for the latest.

Steaming towards a Golden Anniversary

The Great Dorset Steam Fair celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018 with a spectacular five-day event held over the August Bank Holiday (23–27 August). At their showground at Tarrant Hinton, near Blandford, you can admire the world’s biggest working display of heritage steam, industrial and agricultural exhibits, plus live music, food and craft stalls and one of the nation’s largest travelling fairgrounds. 

Dippy on Tour

The Natural History Museum’s Diplodocus skeleton cast, affectionately known as Dippy, begins its nationwide tour in 2018. It’s fitting that Dippy’s first stop is in the county that is famous for its Jurassic Coast, the birthplace of palaeontology. Dippy is in residence at Dorset County Museum from 10 February to 8 May. Entry is free but visitors need to book a 60 minute slot in advance. There will also be Dippy themed events at the museum and across Dorset in partnership with the Jurassic Coast Trust.

Dancing in the Streets

Throughout July and August a party atmosphere descends on Dorset with carnival processions and regattas taking place in many towns across the county to raise funds for local causes. There are spectacular firework displays, torchlight processions, loads of live music events, and the ever-popular Red Arrows aerial displays entertain the crowds at the Bournemouth Air Show.

Find details on all Dorset events and festivals, attractions and activities, food and drink, and ideas and inspiration for memorable trips in Dorset at

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