Events and things to do in Dorset - July 2016

Hamlet is performed in the grounds of Shaftesbury Abbey

Hamlet is performed in the grounds of Shaftesbury Abbey - Credit: Archant

From outdoor theatre to a brand new history festival Helen Stiles rounds up her pick of events happening around Dorset this month


This exciting new living history event, to be held over the weekend of 16-17 July, is set to bring Wimborne’s past vividly to life. Roman legions return to the site of their vexillation fort at Lake Gates, a key base for Vespasian and his legion, Legio II Augusta, from AD42-44. Meet legionaries, a military doctor, a midwife, and citizens at the Roman village and experience the sights and sounds of a slave market recreated by renowned re-enactment group Legio Secunda Augusta. In addition, Roman artefacts found in the area will be on public display.

At the festival site at Lake Gates, on the outskirts of Wimborne Minster, visitors can try ancient craft activities, watch demonstrations and visit working Bronze and Iron Age encampments. But watch out because rumour has it the fearsome Ulfhedinn Vikings will also be raiding Wimborne!

Moving forward in time the English Civil War Society will re-enact moments from local history, and the town’s own militia will be at a mustering field camp from the time of the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685.

In town heritage attractions including the Minster Church, Priest’s House Museum and Model Town, will be hosting a variety of local history events, such as guided walks and talks. There’salso a chance to meet Henry VIII’s wife Katherine Parr, not to mention the opporutnity to admire a working scale model of Wimborne’s former railway system.

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, local councils and Wimborne BID, this colourful history festival is free for children up to 17 years old. Get tickets online at or in person from Wimborne Tourist Information Centre or East Dorset Heritage Trust.

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Boogie Woogie Festival - 1-3 July

Weekend of toe-tapping music and dance at 15 different venues around Sturminster Newton.

Find out more at

The Big Mix - 2 July

A vibrant outdoor music festival in Lyme Regis with the sensational Jurassic Coast as backdrop.

Find out line-up at

Jurassic Fields Music Festival - 8 - 10 July

Family-friendly festival at Askers Meadow, Bridport, headliners include Doctor and the Medics and Fun Lovin’ Criminals.

Swanage Jazz Festival - 8 - 10 July

Nearly 50 sessions featuring bands from across most of the spectrum of jazz perform.

Chettle Fete - 9 July

Village fete famous for its traditional frolics and strawberry cream teas.

Jurassic Ukes - 9 July

Lyme Regis hosts this monster ukulele day of workshops and evening gig featuring some of country’s leading exponents of the ukulele including The Mother Ukers.

Larmer Tree Festival - 13 – 17 July

The Stranglers, Jamie Cullum, Caro Emerald and 30 other music acts feature at this boutique festival of music, poetry, comedy and arts on the Dorset/Somerset border.

Piddlehinton Church Fete - 15 July

The Old Rectory, Piddlehinton hosts a church fete which this year has a Wild West theme. So all you Dorset cowboys and cowgirls its time to break out your chaps and Stetsons.

Stoke Abbott Street Fair - 16 July

Events start at 1.45pm with the traditional ‘Stoke Abbott Sick Club’ parade. From 2pm stalls, live music plus a Children’s Fancy Dress and Dressing the Well.

Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival - 17 July

Annual festival with a wide range of music, speakers including stand up comedy, poetry and family entertainment.

Bluegrass Festival - 22-23 July

UK and USA Bluegrass, Country Blues and Jugband music accompanied by 35 real ales and ciders in Branksome.

International Music Festival at Milton Abbey - 24 – 31 July

Summer School, hosted by renowned British vocal ensemble VOCES8, which combines masterclasses with performance to improve your vocal skills whatever your age or ability.

Full list at

Dorset Opera Festival - 26 – 30 July

Enjoy Verdi’s Macbeth featuring Grammy Award-winning Afro-American bass-baritone Mark S Doss and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin with celebrated British ‘barihunk’ Mark Stone. Coade Theatre, 01202 499199.

Purbeck Pirate Festival - 29 – 31 July

Inaugural pirate-themed festival to raise money for the Save Swanage Pier appeal. Expect sword-fighting, cannon fire, shanty singing and lots of piratical ‘shiver me timbers’ stuff and nonsense.


Hamlet - 1 July

The Festival Players Theatre Company, an all-male company, performs Shakespeare’s play in the grounds of Shaftesbury Abbey.

Tickets from

Hay Fever - 3 & 10 July

The Wessex Actors Company perform Noel Coward’s fabulous frothy farce indoors and out. 3 July: Upton Country House; 10 July: Wareham Swans Rugby Club - both at 6pm. Also 8 July at Regent, Christchurch (indoor) 01202 499199.

The Barber of Seville - 10 July

The Garden Opera Company brings Rossini’s comic masterpiece to Marshwood Manor in Bettiscombe. Live chamber orchestra, tapas and sangria tent. Gates open 4pm, performance 6pm, 01308 424901.

Midsummer Night’s Dream - 13 July

Magic and mischief feature in this performance by Illyria in the gardens at Kingston Lacy.

Box office 0844 249 1895

Life’s A Dream - 15 July

Maumbury Rings, near Dorchester, provides the stunning setting for Miracle Theatre’s epic tale of love, war and destiny.

Tickets 01305 266926

Shakespeare in the Garden - 15 July

Amateur Players of Sherborne perform scenes, speeches and music from the Bard in the Paddock Garden, Newland, Sherborne. Starts 7.30pm. Tickets E B Marsh or Winstone’s Bookshop.

Ballet Under the Stars - 15 & 17 July

Hatch House, just over the border in Wiltshire, hosts dancers from the Royal Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, English National Ballet and Bejart Ballet.

The Tempest of Lyme - 16–24 July

Performance at Theatre Square, Lyme Regis which blends Shakespeare’s play with the true story of local naval hero George Somers, whose shipwreck allegedly inspired The Tempest.

Much Ado About Nothing - 19 – 30 July

Bournemouth Shakespeare Players performance in Priory House Gardens, Quay Road, Christchurch. (No performances 24 or 25 July).

Tess of the D’Urbervilles - 21 July & 22 – 23 July

SISATA Open Air Theatre Group perform Hardy’s tragic tale on Pentridge Village Green (21 July) which is Tantridge in the novel and at Hardy’s Dorchester home Max Gate (22 – 23 July) where the novel was written. Starts 6.30pm.

Two Gentleman of Verona - 27 July – 12 August

Brownsea Open Air Theatre performs Shakespeare’s comedy about friendship and infidelity on this beautiful island in Poole harbour.


Summer Dreaming - 2 July

Weymouth Pavilion hosts this musical homage to the 50’s and 60’s performed by Razzamataz Theatre School.

Box office 01305 783225

Toyah: Acoustic, Up Close & Personal - 8 July

Experience Toyah in an intimate setting where her music and stories take centre stage.

Corn Exchange, Dorchester 01305 266926

Broadway Showtunes - 14 – 16 July

The Big Little Theatre School perform songs from musicals at Pavilion Theatre, Bournemouth.

Box office 0844 576 3000

Son Yambu - 14- 17 July

A new generation of Cuban musicians continue the Buena Vista legacy. 14 July: Cecil Memorial Hall, Cranborne 01725 517883; 15 July: Corfe Castle VH 07590 352219; 16 July: The Pamela Hambro Hall Winterborne Stickland 01258 880920; 17 July: Portesham VH 01305 871925.

Midsummer Night’s Dream - 16 July

La Nova Singers perform a Shakespeare-inspired summer concert at Christchurch Priory.

Summer Spectacular - 27 – 30 July

The Glad Rag Production Company are in their yellow coats in this sparkling summer musical.

Regent, Christchurch 01202 499199

The Tap Dancing Mermaid - 30 July

Story-telling with puppetry and live music in Prince Albert Gardens, Swanage at 10am, 12pm & 2pm.

Box office 01929 425806


Paws in the Park - 24 July

BBC Antiques Roadshow jewellery expert John Benjamin hosts a valuation surgery at this charity dog walk held in the glorious grounds of St Giles House, in aid of the animal welfare charity WVS.