2024 is a year full of promise. With award winning beaches and B&Bs, new restaurants and exciting events, there’s lots to feel positive about for the year ahead in Dorset.

Here’s what we got to look forward to in 2024…

See a giant sea monster

If you're planning on watching the BBC’s ‘Attenborough and the Giant Sea Monster’ on New Years Day at 8pm (available on iPlayer afterwards), we hope you'll be inspired to find out more about the Jurassic Coast and the huge marine reptiles which swam in our seas millions of years ago.

David Attenborough and Pliosaur skull at The Etches Collection in Dorset copyright BBC

In the BBC One programme, Sir David Attenborough meets a team of local experts and fossil hunters as they carefully extract the skull of a huge Pliosaur from the cliffs of the Jurassic Coast in Dorset.

The Pliosaur skull is the star of the show in a new exhibition at The Etches Collection Museum of Jurassic Marine Life from 2nd January 2024.

Winterwatch 2024

The BBC’s Winterwatch returns to RSPB Arne Nature Reserve from 16th January.

Your favourite presenters will be exploring Dorset’s wonderful landscapes as well as spotting local wildlife at the fantastic Arne reserve, located on the shores of Poole Harbour.

Back in May 2023 RSPB Arne hosted the BBC's Springwatch, where presenters Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Megan McCubbin were treated to 3 weeks of glorious weather, as well as some spectacular wildlife sightings including ospreys, red squirrels and rare orchids.

The BBC's Springwatch returns to RSPB Arne from late May 2024.

Enjoy a tipple or two (responsibly of course!)

Opened in late 2023, the foyer of the old Regent Cinema in Lyme Regis has been transformed into a Vodka Espresso Bar - The Black Cow Saloon.

Black Cow Vodka is distilled and bottled in West Dorset using the milk from grass-grazed cows. For cheese lovers, the company also makes Duluxe Cheddar Cheese!

Watch for dolphins from Portland Bill

From January 2024, you can join Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Sea Watch at Portland Bill to keep a look out for dolphins and other marine animals. No previous experience is necessary and the Wildlife Trust will give you tips on how to spot them.

The first 3 events will be held on 11th January, 8th February and 7th March 2024.

Find out more on the Wildlife Trust’s website.

Focus on wellbeing

If recent years have taught us anything, it’s how to take a pause, reset and appreciate the simple things in life.

Dorset is a fantastic destination to escape the everyday and connect with nature. From yoga in the woods to just relaxing and watching the waves roll in and out, you’ll be able to truly unwind and de-stress.

Two people in the Hydrotherapy Pool at Monart Spa, Poundbury in Dorset

You might like to try a seafront sauna, go forest bathing or splash out on a spa day.

Find out more about our Health and Wellbeing Breaks.

Visit the theatre

There’s nothing like the atmosphere of a packed auditorium, the excited hum of the audience, rustling of sweets and the orchestra tuning their instruments ready for curtain up.

Visiting the theatre is something that many have missed out on over recent times, but there are lots of shows and performances to look forward to in 2024.

Life on Two Wheels - The British Motorcycling Story

Haynes Motor Museum’s major new exhibition gives a fascinating new perspective on the social history of the motorbike and the impact bikes have on society, technology and the economy.

Innovative displays will allow up-close access to dozens of historically significant bikes, alongside interactive and hands-on activity stations and interpretation designed to engage visitors of all ages and interests.

Visit the best cold weather beach in the world!

Topping the list of Lonely Planet’s best beaches for cold weather is Dorset’s very own Charmouth Beach.

Known for being a great place to hunt for fossils and one of the local beaches which famous fossil collector Mary Anning used to visit, Charmouth Beach is just as popular during winter as in the summer months, thanks to fossils being revealed after the rough seas of winter storms.

Discover more about fossil hunting at Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre.

Explore Sculpture By The Lakes

Last year Sculpture By The Lakes - a lakeside garden, sculpture park and art venue - was given Botanic Garden Status. It is the only garden in Dorset with this accreditation and joins a list of seven other gardens in the UK with the Status, including The Eden Project.

Sculpture By The Lakes in Dorset by Simon GudgeonPhoto by Simon Gudgeon.

As well as exploring the gardens, be sure to stop by their shop, gallery and café while you are there.

A blooming marvellous Spring Show

This brand new event for 2024, brought to you by the organisers of Dorset County Show, will be held at Kingston Maurward on 27th and 28th April.

Get ready for a fusion of food, farming, flowers and more at Dorset Spring Show!

Experience captivating demonstrations, exhilarating entertainment, have-a-go sessions, indulge in local shopping, savour delicious treats, explore educational zones, and even make the acquaintance of a lamb!

200 Years of the RNLI

2024 is the 200th anniversary of the formation of the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution).

With Poole being the home of the RNLI College and lifeboat stations located all along the Dorset coast, there will be many celebratory events taking place throughout the year.

Cheer on your favourite team

Nothing beats watching live sport and 2024 will be another a great year for sporting events.

From AFC Bournemouth and Sandbanks Sandpolo to the Harlem Globetrotters World Tour and Weymouth Beach Volleyball Classic, there’s lots to get the adrenalin pumping. Goooo spike!

Choose which sports event to attend.

Stay at one of the best B&Bs in the world

Gloucester House on Weymouth Esplanade was given a ‘Best of the Best’ award as a result of its excellent reviews on Tripadvisor during 2023 and sits in 6th position of best B&Bs in the world.

Gloucester House bedroom with balcony overlooking Weymouth Beach in Dorset

This beautiful boutique B&B has sea view rooms with balconies and is just a few steps away from the golden sand of Weymouth Beach.

Dorset Art Weeks

Dorset Art Weeks takes place every other year, and returns for 2024 from 25th May until 9th June.

With art events, pop-ups, open studios and lots more across the county, the festival continues to get bigger and more popular every year.

Be sure to look out for the Dorset Art Weeks signs as you drive around the area.

Dine out at a new restaurant

Thirteen opened in Poole during 2023. This family owned fine-dining restaurant with award-winning Head Chef Alex Naik has a 13 course tasting menu alongside lunch, dinner and Sunday menus. If the reviews are anything to go by, this restaurant will soon be one of Dorset’s top destination eateries.

Smoke On The Water is planned to open during springtime in Swanage. Overlooking Swanage Bay, the restaurant will be part smokehouse and part tap house.

Rockwater Branksome which opened in late 2023 right on the seafront at Branksome Beach is soon to be joined by Rockwater Sandbanks in spring 2024.

D-Day 80th Anniversary

On 6 June 2024, it will be 80 years since D-Day and the Normandy landings in France.

Events will be held in Dorset to commemorate and learn about one of histories most remembered military operations involving land, air and sea.

Visit one of the filming locations for Wonka

Eagle eyed viewers of the new Warner Bros. Pictures movie Wonka may have noticed that one of the film set locations is in fact The Cobb at Lyme Regis.

A scene from the world of pure imagination transformed the harbour into a winter wonderland with fake snow sprinkled all along the walls of The Cobb.

Warner Bros. Pictures Wonka movie filming location at The Cobb harbour in Lyme Regis Dorset

The world’s last surviving steam drifter, 1930’s Lydia Eva, was moored in the harbour for the scene which sees the young Willy Wonka arrive in England. The Cobb which curves around the harbour provides a grand entrance for Willy as he arrives on top of his van having disembarked from his travels around the world.

Read our Wonka blog for more information.

Elisabeth Frink Exhibition – A View From Within

Bringing together objects from public and private collections, a new exhibition at Dorset Museum celebrates the enduring legacy of famous sculptor Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930-1993). 

Elisabeth Frink lived in north Dorset, and now over 80 of her sculptures, drawings and prints are being showcased until 21 April 2024.

The exhibition includes original plaster sculptures, personal possessions and photographs showing the life she shared with family and friends. 

Live music events

Oh how we love a good boogy by the waterfront at the Quayside Festival, throwing our hands in the air at Camp Bestival and tapping our toes to the beat at Swanage Jazz Festival.

There’s a music event for all interests and budgets and we can’t wait for festival season to start!

Find our more about music events in Dorset.

Siam Photography Exhibition

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the wonders of 19th-century Southeast Asia as seen through the lens of the intrepid adventurer and photographer, John Thomson.

The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum in Bournemouth is proud to present an enchanting new exhibition Siam: Through the Lens of John Thomson on display until 14 April 2024, inviting visitors to embark on a captivating journey through time and space.

Discover the real life Famous Five locations

If you’ve seen the new BBC Famous Five series, you might be wondering where the famous children’s author Enid Blyton got her inspiration for all the books she wrote.

Enid Blyton spent over 20 years holidaying in Dorset and it was during this time that the local people and landscapes sparked her imagination.

Enid Blyton's Famous Five characters at Corfe Castle in Dorset

From Corfe Castle and Clavell Tower to Brownsea Island and the Blue Pool, you too can visit the places which feature in Blyton’s books.

Follow the Enid Blyton Trail to find out more.

Wimborne Minster Plein Air

Presented by Otter Gallery, Wimborne Minster will have it’s first Plein Air event on 4th May 2024 – part of the May Bank Holiday weekend.

Expect an open-air celebration of art, culture and creativity as artists descend on this pretty riverside town.

Tasting local delights at Dorset’s food and drink festivals

Dorset is well known for its fantastic calendar of culinary festivals.

From cheese and chilli to fish and seafood, there’s something for all tastebuds and many of them are free to enter!

Choose which Food & Drink event to attend in 2024.

Your next staycation!

January is a great time book your next UK holiday or short break to give your something to look forward to.

We’ve got plenty of ideas, inspiration and suggested itineraries on our website.