With its strong farming heritage, mild climate and fertile soil, Dorset has everything it needs to grow some of the finest local produce in the country. Couple this with its close proximity to the sea for the freshest seafood and you're presented with the perfect combination to deliver Dorset visitors with high-quality ingredients and award winning dishes. It's easy to see why Dorset food and drink is critically acclaimed far and wide and has attracted so many celebrity chefs to this remarkable region of the UK.
The importance of local produce
We are now more interested in the origin of our food than ever before. Organic produce, healthy eating and sustainability and welfare about where and how our food is produced is important to many of us. While we are on holiday, or visiting new areas, many of us will go to extra effort to seek out places that fulfil our expectations. Whether it's through asking local people on arrival, checking reviews on TripAdvisor or asking us here at Dorset Hideaways, we know food is a very important element of your holiday. Our guide to Dorset food and drink is designed to give you an overview of some of our favourite Dorset food and drink festivals, events, markets and much more. However, if you have any further questions about Dorset food and drink which are not covered here, please don't hesitate to get in touch. We never tire of answering your questions and will be glad to help.
Dorset Food and Drink - What not to miss!
We love all things quirky, and Dorset certainly boasts its fair share including the World Nettle Eating Championship (we kid you not, check out The Bottle Inn in Marshwood) and the infamous Dorset Knob throwing competition which runs alongside the Frome Valley Food Festival. Alongside these tongue-in-cheek events, there are of course the more serious foodie events. The list continues to grow each year, with the calendar covering all seasons to please Dorset food and drink lovers both near and far. Some of our favourites include: The Spring Tide Food festival Hive beach, Burton Bradstock Though it might not be one of the biggest Dorset food and drink events, it is one of the longest running. Now entering its eighth year, The Spring Tide Food Festival is held each May in the spectacular setting of Hive Beach in Burton Bradstock on the Jurassic coastline. The great family friendly atmosphere and strong association with the local community make this a popular local event with visitors and residents alike. In addition to the local Dorset food & drink on offer, festival-goers can enjoy live music and family entertainment to really soak up the laid back festival vibe. Whether it be artisan bread, locally-produced chocolate or gourmet burgers, theres something to suit everyone's palate. Where to stay: North End Farmhouse is an impressive Grade II listed farmhouse just 15 minutes west by car. It's situated a few miles inland from the coast and set in a pretty valley surrounded by rolling hills and fabulous walking country. The property's 6 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms and all the creature comforts of home make this an ideal base to enjoy the company of friends & family as well as explore the local area. The Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival If you're a seafood lover, this is definitely the festival for you! Every July the historic harbourside in Weymouth plays host to what is the largest free seafood festival in the UK. It also ranks no.4 in The Independents top 10 food festivals making it a definite highlight in the Dorset food and drink calendar. As well as the opportunity to sample champagne and oysters, you'll also get the chance to experience some of the country's most well-known chefs showcasing Dorset's local produce. You can feast your eyes, as well as your tastebuds as they share their skills in a series of workshops and demonstrations. Theres also a Dorset Food and Drink pavilion where you can browse around a dozen local producers. From cheese and chocolate to pies and locally made preserves, there's plenty for you to pick up to take back to your self-catering property or home as a memento or gift. For those of you who enjoy a tipple or two, the Piddle Experience run by local, organic apple producers Liberty Fields is not to be missed. As this event shows, Dorset is certainly no slacker when it comes to keeping up with national trends with its very own gin and vodka! Made from late-harvested deep red Dorset and Somerset apples, Liberty Fields Porters Perfection Vodka is a smooth sipping vodka with a peppery finish making it the perfect base for long drinks. As well as their cider, balsamic vinegar and 'apple aperitif' offerings, the inventive team at Liberty Fields have also created their very own Dorset themed cocktail list including the Bloody Perfect Mary using Dorset Naga chillies and the Weymouth Seabreeze, specially created for the seafood festival. Where to stay: Jasmine Cottage is just under 5 miles away in the quaint coastal village of Osmington. A delightful character cottage with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms and a mix of double and twin rooms, its perfect for larger families or 2 families holidaying together. Additional info: Gin officianados will be delighted to know that Dorset also has its very own low batch copper pot distilled gin check out Conker Spirit Dorset dry Gin distilled in Bournemouth - a classic gin with Dorset overtones of marsh samphire, elderberries and New Forest gorse. Food Rocks Rounding off the summer and heralding autumns arrival is Dorset native Mark Hix's event, 'Food Rocks.' Held in early September, the event specifically promotes and pays tribute to produce and suppliers in the Lyme Regis area. The event is also held alongside 'Guitars on the Beach' to create the ideal combination for many - food and music, whilst raising funds for charity (Cancer Research UK in 2016). Visitors can enjoy the usual chef demonstrations and sample some exquisite Dorset food and drink including pulled pork, crispy oyster baps, fresh donuts, hand roasted coffee, locally produced cheese, Purbeck ice cream and artisan chocolates. You can also experience some supplier masterclasses from the Lyme Bay Winery on wines, cider and meads. With so many foodie delights on offer, you'll be truly spoilt for choice. Where to stay: Within strolling distance is Lyme Cottage - a former coastguards cottage but now a stylish, boutique style retreat. With 2 bathrooms and 2 double rooms (one of which can be configured as a twin), this is the perfect choice for families or friends. There's a fantastic choice of pubs & restaurants on offer nearby making this a foodies dream escape. Additional Info: For Lyme Regis and foodie fanatics, this town also hosts a food festival in May The Wimborne Minster Food & Drink festival This annual festival usually takes place in October half term, and is attended by over 100 Dorset food & drink producers. Some of the best attractions include The Wine Crew in the Corn Market, the travelling market stalls at Deans Court, local producers on the minster green and a farmers market in the town square. Wimborne is an attractive market town to visit at any time of year, though it truly comes alive during this event. Offering a sophisticated twist on a traditional market and local fete, it's guaranteed to appeal to everyone a sure-fire half term winner! Where to stay: Within walking distance of the town and nestled within the Deans Court Estate are a number of options. The charmingly rustic Plum Cottage sleeps 4 and is great for couples or young families. Or, opt for The Gate House - a beautiful Georgian country home sleeping up to 14 guests. Next door to Plum Cottage is Apple Cottage - a tasteful and stylish retreat which sleeps 6. Additional Info: The towns namesake Wimborne St Giles hosts The Great Dorset Chilli Festival in late July, and is of course billed as the hottest day out of the year! When it comes to Dorset food & drink, the locals really know what they're talking about and can certainly teach us a thing or two! We hope you feel youre already spoilt for choice with the selection on offer here but for anyone looking for more information, the Dorset AONB websiteis a fantastic resource. If our guide has inspired you to book a trip to Dorset, you can browse through our selection of Dorset cottages on our website.