England’s countryside, renowned for its rolling hills, quaint villages, and friendly locals, is the canvas for a rich tapestry of rural life. This vibrant backdrop is the scene of a variety of unique festivals and events. From traditional folk music festivals to cultural food fairs, there are plenty of opportunities to experience the local customs and traditions of each region throughout the year.
Laura and Nathan, your knowledgeable co-hosts at English Cottage Vacation in the enchanting Dorset countryside, are deeply rooted in this community – and their local expertise significantly enhances these experiences.
In this article, we’ll guide you through some of the top festivals and events that rural England has to offer, helping you plan your perfect English countryside getaway.
Whether you’re seeking an enriching dip into the region’s history or a fun-filled day out, these events and festivals promise something special for everyone. Step into this world with us and prepare for an unforgettable journey into the heart of rural England!
Unmissable Festivals And Events
SEAFEST – The Dorset Seafood Festival
Celebrated annually in the charming seaside town of Weymouth, Dorset, SEAFEST is a two-day, award-winning seafood festival that takes place each September. Showcasing the richness of the local marine life, SEAFEST offers a fantastic platform for understanding and appreciating the magnificent seafood sourced just off the beautiful British shores.
Featuring over 100 stalls, the festival provides a rare opportunity to sample an array of seafood delicacies from local suppliers. From succulent lobsters and crabs freshly hauled from the sea, to subtly smoked fish and shellfish, your taste buds are in for a real treat. It’s not just about tasting though – live cooking demonstrations from renowned chefs and food writers aim to equip attendees with the knowledge to prepare these sea treasures at home.
Amidst the culinary delights, the air resonates with the foot-stomping tunes of local bands and DJs, further enhancing the festival atmosphere. A dedicated children’s area offers face painting, arts and crafts, and even a petting zoo to ensure a memorable experience for younger guests.
SEAFEST also provides learning opportunities beyond cooking. The BLUE Seas feature is dedicated to spreading awareness about ocean health, echoing the festival’s commitment to sustainable seafood consumption.
Whether you’re a dedicated foodie, a music lover, or a family seeking a fun-filled day out, SEAFEST serves up a delightful mix of experiences, combining delicious seafood, enriching learning opportunities, live music, and more, all set against the picturesque backdrop of the Weymouth Peninsula.
The Bridport Hat Festival
Every year, the charming town of Bridport in Dorset becomes a canvas of creativity, colour, and fun during the annual Bridport Hat Festival. This vibrant event is not just a celebration of hats in all their diverse glory; it’s also a fundraiser for head-related charities, an end-of-summer town party, and a delightful occasion for visitors. The best part? All of this is orchestrated by dedicated volunteers.
Embrace the spirit of the festival by donning your most inventive, stylish, or quirky headwear. From millinery masterpieces to whimsical creations, the variety and originality on display is astounding. It’s not just about the visual spectacle though – the festival also features numerous hat stalls, hat-making workshops, and even hat-inspired fashion shows. Whether you’re an avid hat enthusiast or new to the world of headgear, you’ll find opportunities to learn from experienced hat-makers and deepen your appreciation for this art.
But hats are just the tip of the iceberg. The festival is brimming with activities, offering live music, competitions, demonstrations, games, and even a hat auction. It’s a day out for the whole family, with a dedicated children’s area complete with face painting, arts and crafts, and a petting zoo.
The Bridport Hat Festival culminates in a mass hat-wearing photoshoot in Bucky Doo Square on ‘Haturday’, creating an unforgettable tableau of colour, creativity, and communal spirit. So grab your most loved hat, or create a new one, and join in on this wonderfully eccentric celebration.
The Great Dorset Steam Fair
The Great Dorset Steam Fair is one of the largest steam fairs in England and has been held for over 50 years. It takes place each year at Tarrant Hinton, Dorset and is a celebration of traditional rural life and technology.
The event showcases some of the best examples of steam powered vehicles, historic rides, crafts and demonstrations that reflect rural traditions from times past. There are also many other attractions such as horse-drawn carriages, motorbikes and vintage cars.
As well as this there are plenty of stalls selling food, drink, clothes and accessories to browse through. Visitors can also enjoy live music performances and activities for children throughout the weekend.
At the heart of the event lies its dedication to preserving traditional ideas and providing an exciting experience for all who attend. From tractor pulls to antique machinery displays; it provides a unique opportunity to explore the history behind these wonderful machines while having fun at the same time.
With something new every year, it’s sure to be a memorable visit for everyone involved. With so much on offer, it’s no wonder why The Great Dorset Steam Fair continues to draw crowds each summer. The next event will be held in 2024.
The Chippenham Folk Festival
Deep in the heart of Wiltshire lies Chippenham, a rural town tucked away amongst rolling hills and leafy forests. Here, for two days each May, something special happens: The Chippenham Folk Festival comes to life.
A celebration of folk music and country life, this festival has been running since 2011 and is one of England’s largest events of its kind. The event brings together some of the best traditional music acts from all over Britain, as well as local performers who are passionate about their craft.
As with any folk festival, there is plenty of dancing and singing along to be had; but the Chippenham Folk Festival also offers workshops where attendees can learn more about traditional instruments such as fiddles, harmonicas or accordions. There’s even an area dedicated to children’s activities – arts & crafts, storytelling sessions and singalongs – so that families can enjoy it too!
For those looking for non-musical entertainment, there is no shortage either. Craft stalls offer unique pieces made by local artisans while food vendors serve up delicious treats throughout the day. And after dark? Fireworks light up the night sky above Chippenham Park while revellers dance until late into the night.
As a reflection of true English countryside living, The Chippenham Folk Festival provides a wonderful opportunity to experience tradition and culture at its finest.
Set within the stunning grounds of Lulworth Castle in Dorset, Camp Bestival is a four-day festival that unfolds each July. With a rich tapestry of music, this festival is a mecca for enthusiasts, spotlighting both chart-topping artists and emerging talent. But it’s not only music that keeps the festival buzzing: comedy, circus acts, and children’s entertainment bring their own unique flair, supplemented by an array of workshops and activities.
The festival is well-loved for its laid-back ambiance and unwavering commitment to sustainability. Its power supply comes from renewable sources, and several initiatives are implemented to keep waste to a minimum. Camp Bestival is a beacon for family-friendly bands, having hosted acts like The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, and The Specials in recent years.
For those who love the outdoors, a range of camping choices await, including the charm of bell tents, the rustic appeal of tipis, and the luxury of yurts. The lineup for Camp Bestival 2023 includes such greats as Grace Jones, Craig David, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and The Kooks.
If you’re scouting for a festival brimming with fun, family-friendly experiences and an uplifting atmosphere, Camp Bestival has it all.
Festivals And Events: Final Word
By now, you should be filled with anticipation and excitement at the prospect of these unique experiences that only rural England can offer. From sampling delicious seafood at the Dorset Seafood Festival, marvelling at the engineering prowess on display at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, discovering splendid headgear at the Bridport Hat Festival, or enjoying music in the great outdoors at Camp Bestival – there is truly something for everyone.
At English Cottage Vacation, Laura and Nathan are ready to help you make the most of these and many other festivals and events. With their insider knowledge and passion for local traditions, your stay will be more than just a luxury holiday – it will be a journey into the heart of England’s vibrant countryside.
So why wait? Book your stay today and immerse yourself in an authentic, unforgettable English countryside experience. Let Laura and Nathan guide you towards the best local festivals and events that will make your holiday truly special!