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Crowd of people at colourful festival

Dorset is known for its tranquil countryside, and idyllic coves where you can escape from it all. But does that mean you’ll be bored whilst on a break here? Never! Every year, the calendar is jam-packed with exciting, family-friendly Dorset events and 2023 will be no exception.

From Dorset music festivals like Camp Bestival, to carnivals and fossil festivals, you’ll have no trouble finding a fun event to entertain you whilst holidaying in Dorset.

 2023: What’s on in Dorset?

Lyme Regis Regatta and Carnival

Tourists celebrating Carnival

If you’re planning a visit to  Lyme Regis in summer, Lyme Regis Regatta and Carnival has got to be on your list of things to do in Dorset! Hosted in the second week of August, everyone in town comes together to put on a fantastic week of entertainment for all the family.

The celebrations kick off with a torchlight procession and spectacular fireworks display on the Cobb and finish with the Grand Carnival Procession through Lyme Regis town centre. In between, you can expect to enjoy everything from candles down the river to wacky wheelbarrow races!

Dates to Remember:

  • Saturday 5th August to Saturday 12th August 2023

Bridport Food Festival

Customer grabbing food at Dorset event

This upbeat event celebrates everything that is delicious about homegrown Dorset food and produce. It runs for two mouth-watering weeks in June, during which, local producers open their doors to the public and restaurants run special menus to celebrate the occasion.

The most popular events from last year include a food and drinks quiz at the Ropemakers, an Indian Masterclass at the Taj Mahal, and farm walks in the surrounding countryside.

There are no confirmed dates for 2023 yet, but the festival usually takes place for a fortnight in June. So, keep your eyes peeled on the Visit Dorset website for updates on when the festival will take place.

Spring Countryside Show, Shaftesbury

As fluffy lambs roam green fields, and trees start to blossom, the Spring Countryside Show in Shaftesbury opens its doors to celebrate everything daffodils to dog agility! You’ll be spoilt for choice when looking for opportunities to sample local produce and get your hands dirty.

From goat milking demonstrations to a cookery theatre, to classic cars and working steam engines – there is something for all members of the family to get involved in.

Dates to Remember

  • Saturday 22nd & Sunday 23rd April

Lyme Regis Fossil Festival


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One of the best educational events in Lyme Regis, the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival celebrates 200 million years of history in this unique area of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Jurassic Coast.

All the events and talks during the weekend are free, and accessible to any age group, making it the perfect event to visit on a family holiday to Dorset. Highlights from last year include a lively ‘meet and greet’ with Mary Anning and Charles Darwin. This included a game of Guess the Fossil, fossil walks, and even a musical performance by local young people! Speakers expressed their feelings towards the spectacular landscape they call home.

No dates have been announced for 2023 as of yet, but it has been confirmed that the festival will be running in 2023. Last year, the festival ran over the weekend of the 31st of April to the 1st of May.

Dorset Musical Festivals

Camp Bestival


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If you’re looking for an extraordinary festival where adults and kids can let their hair down, embrace their wild side and have an unforgettable camping experience – look no further than Camp Bestival. Set in the stunning grounds of Lulworth Castle, events include a cracking live music line up, fun activities from circus skills to bush craft, and a huge kids garden for the little ones to explore.

Past headliners have included Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding, and Madness, so there is something for everyone to groove to – from folk, to drumstep, to jazz. We can bearly contain our excitement, as the theme for this year’s 15th anniversary festival is Animal Snap – so it’s sure to absolutely pawsome!

 Dates to Remember:

  • Thursday 27th to 30th July 2023

Wimborne Minster Folk Festival

A true celebration of all things folk in Dorset, Wimborne Minster Folk Festival has got to be on any holiday-makers list of Dorset musical festivals to visit. The joyful community event includes live music, traditional folk dances that the whole family can get involved in, art workshops run by local artists, and even microbrewery zones!

If you’re visiting on a family trip, be sure not to miss the child friendly events, like the Lantern Puppet Show, arts and crafts in the Folk Festival Craft tent, and outdoor activities in Wimborne Forest Garden.

 Dates to Remember:

  • Saturday 9th to Sunday 11th June 2023



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This grassroots, family-friendly festival happens every year, smack bang in the middle of the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It’s completely run by volunteers and organised by the local community themselves. The two-day event comprises of fabulous music and entertainment, yummy food stalls, and plenty of activities for everyone to get stuck into.

This laidback festival is perfect for first-time family festival goers – plus all the proceeds go to three local churches, and the Weldmar Hospice.

Dates to Remember:

  • Saturday 16th to Sunday 17th June 2023

Running Events Dorset

Dorset Coastal Trail Run

Close-up of feet at Dorset run

The Dorset Coastal Trail Run takes places in one of the most naturally beautiful places in the UK. Absorb millions of years of history as you run along the unique trails, full of rugged cliffs, rolling fields, and endless sea views. There are four events for all abilities, so no matter your running level you can get involved in a number of runs: a 10k, a half marathon, a marathon, and a whopping 36.6-mile ultra-marathon for the hardcore long-distance runners looking to stretch their legs!

The routes for all the races pass along a historic section of the South West Coast Path, and end in Swanage town centre.

The 2022 race is happening on the 26th of November, with slots still open to book. It’s expected that the 2023 event will take place at a similar time of year.

Beyond Jurassic Trail

View of Lyme Regis from sea

This spectacular race follows the coastal paths that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site Jurassic Coastline. All routes start at West Bay, one of the most popular Dorset holiday destinations. There are trail lengths to suit every runner, with 10km, 11.8km and half marathon options available.

All of the trails take place on multiple surfaces, including tarmac, gravel paths and coastal footpaths. You’re also guaranteed stunning sea views out towards Lyme Regis or Weymouth Bay.

 Dates to Remember:

  • Saturday 18th March 2023

 Christmas Events in Dorset

Lyme Regis Christmas Lights Switch On

A magical night for all the family, the Lyme Regis Christmas Lights Switch On kicks off the countdown to Christmas in style. There is an illuminated carnival and lantern parade, culminating in the grand switch-on of the town’s Christmas lights.

The celebrations start at 2pm, with a lantern making workshop at the Pine Hall (all materials are provided), after which the lanterns are judged in a friendly competition, and paraded down broad street, with the major, the town crier, and most importantly Santa along for the ride! The lights will be switched on at 6pm.

Dates to Remember:

In 2022, the celebrations will be on Saturday 26th November and are expected to be on a similar date in 2023.

Poole Christmas Lights Cruise

riends with hot chocolate at Christmas market

The Poole Christmas Maritime Light Festival will be lighting up the ocean for a special Christmas Lights Cruise across Poole harbour. The boat trips are thirty minutes long, and visitors can cosy up with a hot chocolate and watch the spectacular lights on the Quay and the Old Town.

If you’re planning to visit, there will also be lots of attractions on land to stop by after the cruise, like fun fair rides for the kids, and a Christmas market.

 Dates to Remember:

  • In 2022, the cruises will run from 19th November until 2nd January. Similar dates are expected for 2023.

Dorset Food & Drink Christmas Fair

friends buying treats at Christmas market

One of the most popular winter activities in Dorset, this Christmas Fair takes place every year at the stately Athelhampton House, near Dorchester. The festive atmosphere is complete with around 50 local stallholders selling everything from tasty food and drinks to handmade gifts and beautiful cards.

Indulge in a winter tipple and sample English cheeses, as well as beautiful baked goods. The Athelhampton House Café will also be open, selling warming food and drink, and some of the garden will also be open for the little ones to run around in.

Dates to Remember:

  • The dates for 2022 are Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th November. Similar dates are expected for 2023.

Has this list of what’s on in Dorset got you excited to book a break to the Jurassic Coast? Experience your fill of enchanting Dorset events from the comfort of one of our charming Dorset holiday cottages.