Great things to do in Dorset in May 2022

A still from the play Cupid's Revenge by the award-winning New Art Club

Cupid's Revenge by the award-winning New Art Club is at Swanage and Sturminster Newton - Credit: newartclub.org

From a fairy festival in Swanage and Sherborne Abbey Music Festival, to forest bathing with the dawn chorus and the chance to visit hundreds of open art studios, here are some of the exciting events happening across Dorset this month

Sherborne Abbey Music Festival: This annual celebration of music with its mix of free and paid events, has yet another wonderful selection of concerts. This year’s line-up includes BBC Young Musician of the Year finalist, the renowned saxophonist Jess Gillam, Tenebrae perform choral music composed for the Virgin Mary in Sherborne Abbey, and Waterperry Opera Festival’s period-perfect production of Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park sets Jane Austen’s witty world to music in the grounds of Leweston School. April 29 – May 6 sherborneabbeyfestival.org 

Young woman bathing in forest bathing

The concept of forest bathing originated in Japan - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Forest Bathing in Dorset: Also known as Shinrin-Yoku, Forest Bathing originated in Japan where scientists found that time spent in forests, slowing down and tuning into senses, was both beneficial to physical health as well as improving emotional wellbeing. Dorset Forest Bathing is leading a number of guided forest bathing experiences this month, a form of ecotherapy which will help you connect with nature, without getting your feet wet. Dawn Chorus Forest Bathing (May 1) coincides with International Dawn Chorus Day, so it’s an early start in Holt Woods. The others are at RSPB Arne (May 17) and Larmer Tree Gardens (May 18) both start at 10am. dorsetforestbathing.co.uk 

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Concerts: Music by Mozart, Mendelssohn and Schubert features in Brilliant Mendelssohn (May 4). I Was Glad (May 11) features Parry’s coronation favourite, alongside Christopher Palmer’s reconstruction of Walton’s film score for Henry V and Tchaikovsky’s Tempest Fantasy. In Musical Discoveries (May 22) the National Open Youth Orchestra and BSO Resound perform Alexander Campkin’s What Fear We Then? as well as new arrangements of Spring by Vivaldi and Time by Hans Zimmer. lighthousepoole.co.uk/01202 280000 

Man dressed up as Queen Elizabeth I with a Tudor man on stage

Virgin on the Ridiculous - Living Spit's take on Queen Elizabeth I - Credit: Graham Burke

Virgin on the Ridiculous: Described as ‘The Morecambe and Wise of Weston-Super-Mare' the duo don ridiculous ruffs and ginger wigs to take us back to 1558 when England is divided by religion and politics, and Elizabeth I is taking no nonsense from anyone. Hysterically historical horseplay at its very best. May 5: Dorchester Corn Exchange 01305 266926; May 11: Bridport Arts Centre 01308 427183; May 24: The Exchange, Sturminster Newton 01258 475137; May 25: Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis 01308 424901 

Scene from the stage play Dr Jekyell and Mr Hyde at Lighthouse Poole 

Dr Jekyell and Mr Hyde comes to Lighthouse Poole - Credit: blackeyedtheatre.co.uk

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and My Hyde: A thrilling adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s dark psychological fantasy, which he penned just down the road from Lighthouse Poole, where this is playing, at his house in Bournemouth in 1886. Immerse yourself in the myth and mystery of 19th century London’s fog-bound streets where love, betrayal and murder lurk at every chilling twist and turn. Gripping, stylish and thought-provoking, this is unmissable theatre. May 6 & 7 lighthousepoole.co.uk/01202 280000 

Scene from the play Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at Lighthouse Poole 

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde comes to Lighthouse Poole - Credit: blackeyedtheatre.co.uk

Video Games in Concert: If you love video games then this could be the concert for you. It features epic video game music from Halo 3, Final Fantasy 7, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Fortnite, Assassin's Creed, Shadow of the Colossus, Legend of Zelda, Civilization VI, Bioshock and Super Mario performed by a full symphony orchestra and choir. It’s a fully immersive experience with soundscapes from the moment you arrive at the O2 Academy Bournemouth, dressing as your favourite game character encouraged! May 7 academymusicgroup.com 

Wimborne Literary Festival: Returning after a two-year break, the 2022 event features an eclectic mix of fascinating talks, writing workshops and town walks. Topics include poetry, dogs, psychology, history, fairy tales, gardening, forensics, adventure, politics, nature and a life-changing chef. Events are at the Allendale Centre. May 7 –15 facebook.com/WimborneLiteraryFestival 

Cupid’s Revenge: The award-winning New Art Club bring their acclaimed show to two Dorset venues. Perfectly blending the lines between theatre, comedy and dance, they combine the themes of unity and love in everyday life in a performance that is as funny as it is tender and heart breaking. May 13: The Mowlem Theatre, Swanage 01929 422239; May 14: The Exchange, Sturminster Newton 01258 475137 

Award-winning company Balletboyz dancing on stage

Balletboyz: Deluxe - thrilling dance at Lighthouse Poole - Credit: balletboyz.com

BalletBoyz: Deluxe {image use this large please} 
Bold, boisterous and beautiful: BalletBoyz, eight extraordinarily talented young dancers, are winners of numerous awards due to their original and innovative way of blending achingly beautiful dance, both exhilarating and graceful, with stunning music and film. Deluxe features work by some of the world’s most exciting artists, including choreographer Xie Xin, composer Jiang Shaofeng, Punchdrunk’s Maxine Doyle and jazz musician and composer Cassie Kinoshi of the Mercury-nominated SEED Ensemble. May 14  lighthousepoole.co.uk/01202 280000 

Dorset Art Weeks: Running from May 14-29, Dorset Art Weeks provides artists and audiences with another opportunity to celebrate the county's creativity after a challenging 18 months. From individual studios to galleries, workshops to collectives, pop-ups to projects, the event caters for all tastes and interests in the visual arts, covering a wide variety of art forms - ceramics, jewellery, film, installation, painting, printmaking, sculpture, textiles, woodwork and more. It's a great way to appreciate the breadth and depth of talent that resides in the county. Dorset Art Weeks Directory on their website and in print, and download the free Dorset Art Weeks app to plan your tour. dorsetartweeks.co.uk 

Painting of a Dorset village by Dorset artist Vanessa Bowman

Work by Vanessa Bowman who will be exhibiting at this year's Dorset Art Weeks - Credit: vanessabowman.co.uk

The Navy Lark: Three classic episodes of this much-loved comedy are brought to life in the style of a radio performance in front of a live audience. Starring James Hurn known for portraying such iconic characters as Tony Hancock, Sid James and Kenneth Williams, alongside Richard Usher and Mark Earby (The Goons Tour and The Lost Hancock Vacant Lot), step aboard HMS Troutbridge for an evening of nostalgic belly laughs. May 20 Dorchester Corn Exchange 01305 266926 

Swanage Fairy Festival: This delightful two-day family festival at Sandpit Field overlooking Swanage Bay, is where fairy wishes could come true. Enchanting entertainment throughout the day includes magic shows, a Fairy Queen or two and her entourage, mischievous pixies, mermaids and pirates, bubble disco, fairy fashion show, treasure hunts, circus acts, magical workshops, unicorn fairies, handmade fairy doors, face painting, hair braiding and street food. Runs 10.30am - 6pm. May 28 –29 swanagefairyfestival.com 

The ruins of Corfe Castle on a misty morning

Corfe Castle photographed by Rehan Zia - Credit: Rehan Zia 

Purbeck Art Weeks Festival: From Saturday May 28 to Sunday June 12, Purbeck Art Weeks Festival (PAW) is celebrating an inspiring mix of visual and performing arts across Purbeck. There are 35 Open Studios to explore where you can meet artists keen to talk to you about their work. There’s also the renowned PAW collective show at Rollington Barn where you can see paintings, prints, sculptures, textile art and more by nearly 100 artists, with Purbeck’s Young Artists showing off their creations in the adjacent byre. New for this year is the Rollington Pop-Up Studio (adjacent to Love Cake!), a demonstration tent that will feature Purbeck artists in action. In the evenings enjoy a stellar selection of concerts with world class musicians, including the Gabrieli Consort & Players, Inner City Brass, Tenebrae choir, and the Monteverdi String Band with Hannah Ely (book tickets now). There’s also outdoor dance theatre and Eko the giant puppet.  PAW 2022 brochures (free) are available at venues across Purbeck. For more information or to book concert tickets visit purbeckartweeksfestival.co.uk 

Oil painting of Weymouth Bay by John Constable 1816

Oil painting of Weymouth Bay by John Constable 1816 - Credit: Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Hardy’s Wessex Exhibitions: Prized manuscripts of Hardy’s novels, and paintings from prestigious national collections are to go on display at museums in Dorset and Wiltshire. Hardy’s Wessex, which opens on May 28 (until October 30), is a partnership exhibition that spans Dorset, Poole, Salisbury and Wiltshire Museums. It tells the story of novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy, amidst the Wessex landscapes that shaped his view of the world. The exhibition will be the largest collection of Hardy objects ever displayed at one time. Each museum will have a ‘star’ object and for Poole Museum this is a painting by John Constable of Weymouth Bay (see above), on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum. wessexmuseums.org.uk