Things to do in Dorset after May 17th

The Plaza Cinema in Dorchester stands against a sunny sky, a handful of people and cars are passing by.

Many venues can't wait to open again from May 17th - Credit: Ben Sutherland, Flickr

With restrictions lifting across England from May 17th, there are plenty of things to do that have been closed for almost a year. We've put together a list of some great ideas for days out in indoor spaces

Please do remember to practice social distancing wherever possible and don't forget to take your mask. We recommend booking ahead when you can to avoid disappointment.


Where once we took them for granted, the big screen feels like a distant dream for many nowadays. Cinemas will be throwing open their doors once more from the 17th with extra spacing and other measures to keep viewers safe. There are plenty of big productions coming out including Oscar winner Nomadland, as well as Godzilla vs Kong, Peter Rabbit 2, and horror film Spiral.

Where to go: 

  1. Plaza Cinema, Dorchester: With all the big new blockbusters but small prices, The Plaza is a local favourite and worth a visit any day.
  2. The Colosseum, Bournemouth: The countries smallest cinema can't wait to welcome guests back and have used the closure as a chance to upgrade their systems and kit the screen out with luxury leather seating.
  3. The Rex, Wareham: This small town cinema first opened all the way back in the 1920s. It still keeps much of the deco charm but with modern screens.
  4. Odeon, Bournemouth & Dorchester: You can't go wrong with big names like Odeon. Although they're a little more on the pricey side, you're guaranteed to see the biggest films and live streams around. 
  5. Cineworld, Weymouth & Poole: Another big name in the cinema world, there's always multiple films on at once to satisfy any visitor. 

Live performances

More up close and personal than the cinema, May 17th will also be the time to welcome back theatres across the country. Seating has been carefully updated so groups are distanced from each other and other precautions have been taken to ensure your safety at venues.

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Where to go: 

  1. Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne: This wonderfully restored theatre was almost demolished in the 70s. We're so glad it wasn't as it continues to have a great line up every year.
  2. The Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis: Part of Lyme's history for more than 125 years, they always have a fantastic choice of live music, talks, comedians, and plays to choose from. 
  3. Lighthouse, Poole: the town's art centre always has a wealth of events going on, both indoor and outdoor. Lighthouse: OUTSIDE is back for a second year and will host a multitude of restriction-friendly events for all the family.
  4. Electric Palace, Bridport: Since 1926, The Electric Palace has been hosting events from cinema, to live music, to acting, to stand-up. Its original art deco style remains, as does its fun atmosphere. 

Indoor play areas

The kids have all definitely earned some playtime after the last 12 months and indoor play areas are a great place for them to let loose and meet other children. Most venues also have food and drink options so you can really make a day of your visit.

Where to go:

  1. Crazy Monsters, Blandford Forum: These guys can't wait to be open again and have been making the place looks its best for reopening .
  2. StreetLight Centre, Wimborne Minster: If you have a mix of younger and older kids, then StreetLight may be the perfect spot. With a brand new soft play area, plus an indoor skate park and table games, the whole family can enjoy. 
  3. The Palm House, Weymouth: This delightful café has a mix of indoor and outdoor play areas for under fives, plus a brand new pancake house. Often there will also be the chance to try out some art and crafts too. 
  4. Sharky's Fun Factory, Weymouth: Not only does this place have a great soft play area, teeming with stuff to climb, but there is also an outdoor area and a Quasar to test your skills. 
  5. Lemur Landings, Poole: One of the biggest soft play centres in the county, Lemur Landings has everything your kids need to go wild. Not only that, but they also have a role-play centre for children to test their imagination.


For something a little quieter, a museum is the perfect place to relax and take in some history. That being said, many institutions in Somerset offer fun for all the family from ancient history all the way to the modern. The county is alive with the past and the handful of favourites below only just skim the surface. 

Where to go:

  1. Russell-Cotes, Bournemouth: One of the last Victorian mansions ever built, this museum was once the home of intrepid explorer Sir Merton Russell-Cotes. Now it hosts four incredible galleries of art and sculpture, plus a beautiful garden.
  2. Lyme Regis Museum: Once called "a gem" by Sir David Attenborough, this museum has something for the whole family. As of May 17th, they will be taking small groups on fossil tours once more.
  3. Dinosaurland, Lyme Regis: Another fossil themed museum (it's what Dorset's good at!) with over 16 000 specimens on show. It's the perfect place to be swept back in time and learn about the prehistoric world.
  4. The Tank Museum, Bovington: With exhibitions covering military vehicles of the last century, this is a fascinating day out for all the family. There's plenty going on for younger visitors including the chance to drive your own mini-tank!
  5. The Tutankhamun Exhibition, Dorchester: Of course, no list of museums in Dorset would be complete without this one. Its a great opportunity for kids and adults to learn about the wonders of the Egyptian world. 


Bowling is a great way to let off steam as a family with some healthy competition. Sometimes, being bad at it can make the experience all the more fun and there's usually some snacks to go with it that make the whole experience worthwhile. 

Where to go:

  1. Bowl Central, Bournemouth: This is a great fun spot with food and drinks (including cocktails) available as you bowl. Had enough bowling? Then move on to the arcade to try and win prizes.
  2. Hollywood Bowl, Poole & Bournemouth: Fun for all the family, you can also book out a VIP lane for something a little more special or try your hand at Hyper Bowl with video game-style competition.
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