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Things to do in Dorset – Part the First
Get (Dor)set for a whole heap of fun with part one of our fantastic taster guide to this much-loved county!
Dorset has much to recommend it and is a popular place for holiday visitors from across the UK. Tourism is its main export (having taken over fairly recently from agriculture), and with amazing coastline and countryside it’s easy to see why.
Bournemouth houses the best beach in Britain according to Tripadvisor (2018) with 68% calling it “Excellent” and 26% “Very Good”. If you don’t believe all of those Keyword Warrior’s reviews then take a look for yourself; 10 miles of clean and sandy beaches, great amenities on hand, and plenty of space to lay a beach towel even during those busier summer months.
Visit during October for the renowned “Arts by the Sea Festival” or watch the planes go loop the loop at the annual “Bournemouth Air Festival” in August, the biggest event of its kind in the whole world! Surfer’s should feel right at home too with great opportunities to catch some waves plus there’s other water sports available, along with plenty of areas to unwind and top up the tan.
The New Forest
First recorded as “Nova Foresta” in the Domesday Book in 1086 this area of Dorset remains one of the most beautiful and wildlife rich in the UK. It’s packed with a range of animal life: birds, reptiles, amphibians, cattle, pigs, horses and deer, many of which roam the lands freely and often encroach on human settlements with little or no regard to you or your carefully-laid-out-picnic-spread (so navigate carefully through the forest, especially when driving).
Aside from animal spotting there are lots of wonderful places to explore with pubs so gloriously traditional you half expect them to be serving mead in flagons.
Great Dorset Steam Fair
The clue’s in the title – I mean what isn’t great about a steam fair, especially one set in Dorset?
This annual event, taking place in 2019 over the August Bank Holiday Weekend (between Thursday 22nd August to Monday 26th August) is generally held in the village of Tarrant Hinton, near Blandford Forum.
According to the official website the Fair hosts a huge variety of Steam exhibitions and events: Showman's Engines and Old Team Steam Funfair, Heavy Haulage Road Locomotives, Steam Tractors and Lorries, Ploughing Engines, Steam Woodsawing, Steam Threshing, Steam Timber Loading & Haulage, Steam Cars, and Miniature Steam Engines. You might not be entirely sure what all of them are, but they sound fascinating and well worth joining the 20,000 or so who attended the event last year to find out more.
There’s also tons of other exhibits (“Historic Cars” and the “Heavy Horses Display” in particular caught my eye) and live music throughout in a range of styles. So go full steam ahead, and make your way there this summer; I’ll be at bar discussing the finer points of Oscillating cylinder steam engines.
65 million years in the making (it’s part of the Jurassic Coast) this naturally formed wonder is on the same revered list as “The Great Barrier Reef” and “The Grand Canyon” (It was designated England’s first natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001). It’s proof that when time and the power of the ocean get together they really can produce the most stunning, landscaped beauty. All those years of waves hewing and carving the rock just so that you can get the ultimate selfie!
Fun fact: Durdle is derived from the old English word ‘thirl’ meaning to bore or drill (sounds like my old headmaster).
Concerts & Theatres
Dorset is not short on great venues for concerts and theatre including Poole's Lighthouse arts centre, Bournemouth's BIC, and the Pavilion theatre in Weymouth.
Performances from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (founded in 1893 and renowned as one of Dorset's most noted cultural institutions) is a “must-hear” so pack your tiny binoculars. Based in Poole, the orchestra performs over 130 concerts across the UK each year, and sounds nothing short of spectacular. You can find out more and book tickets here https://www.bsolive.com/
We hope you enjoyed our brief, but oh-so-informative tour to Dorset, Part The 2nd coming soon…
Beautiful Christchurch is at the heart of Dorset, and lies between Bournemouth and the New Forest. Here you will find our Sandhills Holiday Park, overlooking the beach and Mudeford Quay.
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