Our Dorset entertainment roundup includes music festivals, theatre events, stunning geological formations dating back millions of years.
Entertainment in Dorset
One of the most impressive theatre spaces in Dorset is the Weymouth Pavilion overlooking the Esplanade. The large area includes a 1,000 capacity theatre and 600-seater ballroom, ideal for live music, stand up comedy and musicals. The Pavillion is also home to the vibrant Piano Bar restaurant and Ritz Cafe which are open daily.
The largest art and culture space in Dorset – and one of the biggest outside of London – is Lighthouse in Poole. The 2,250-capacity arts centre, which recently celebrated its 40th birthday, houses a wide range of spaces including a symphonic concert hall, a mid-scale theatre, a studio theatre, an independent cinema, art galleries, and function room spaces. All of this translates into an excellent, all-round schedule of events spanning drama, musicals, alternative cinema, live music, ballet, opera and more.
With its art deco stylings, the 500-capacity Tivoli Theatre in Wimborne is like taking a step back in time. The programming is a winning mix of theatre and film releases, with weekly plays and performances and the best of the new cinema releases.
The Regent Centre in Christchurch follows suit, as it’s another renovated art deco theatre and cinema hybrid dating back to the 1930s.
As well as plenty of theatre options, Dorset has two of our favourite south-coast festivals. Bestival and its family-friendly spin-off Camp Bestival are held each year in Dorset at Lulworth Estate, bringing together new acts, cult classics and some inventive and colourful tents and arenas. An alternative festival is End of the Road Festival held in Larmer Tree Gardens about 15 miles north of Bournemouth. It’s held at the end of August each year, dealing in alternative rock, indie and folk music.
The Jurassic Coast
Stretching from Lyme Regis to Highcliffe, Dorset’s coastline extends for 88 miles and includes some gorgeous beaches. One of the most exclusive is Sandbanks, a prime sandy slice of real estate near Poole and Bournemouth. The sandy spur opposite Brownsea Island is home to some of the most expensive property in the UK, but the Blue Flag beach is also free-to-visit, with golden sands and BBQ areas.
On the opposite side of the bay is Studland Beach, a sheltered stretch of sand that borders a large nature reserve and reptile discovery trail.
Mudeford Sandbank is another high-profile beach, with pretty sea huts, several excellent cafes and restaurants and plenty of spots for sunbathing, crab fishing and swimming.
Lastly, West Bay near Bridport blends the joys of a busy High Street with plenty of shops and cafes and a large beach that runs for miles down to the Isle of Portland.
The Jurassic Coast
Formed 185 million years ago and stretching for 96 miles from East Devon to Dorset, the Jurassic Coast is packed with architectural wonders and marvels. The cliff-faces are also home to a large proportion of the UK’s known fossils, so keep an eye out for any trilobites when visiting Lyme Regis and Chesil Beach.
Notable highlights include Durdle Door, a natural limestone arch near Wareham and Old Harry Rocks near Studland Beach. A good way to take in many of the highlights at once is via the Jurassic Skyline in Weymouth, a 53m-tall gondola with 360-degree views.