May is a wonderful time of year to visit Dorset, the days are warm and mild making it perfect for getting out and exploring, the countryside is awash with colour, the sea sparkles in the sunlight and the county has plenty of events and attractions to visit….not to mention that there’s 2 bank holidays in May!  Check out our top picks of why May is great time to visit below.

Baby swans hatching at Abbotsbury Swannery

Abbotsbury Swannery is known for its large population of nesting mute swans and if you visit from around 10th May, you may witness the magical sight of baby swans, known as cygnets, hatching from their eggs.

Swans and cygnets on nest at Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset

Abbotsbury Swannery is the only place in the world where you can walk through the heart of a colony of nesting Mute Swans. A visit to this beautiful place is considered to be one of the best things to do in Dorset.

During the hatching season, visitors can watch the tiny cygnets as they emerge from their eggs and begin to explore their surroundings. The fluffy, grey cygnets are a sight not to be missed. The swannery offers a unique opportunity to witness the beauty of nature up close and is a must-visit for any animal lover.

Sherborne Abbey Music Festival

Hosting world-class performances and showcasing local musical talent, the annual Sherborne Abbey Music Festival takes place from 2 - 9 May 2024.

This classical music festival is open to all with a mixture of free and ticketed events.

Classical performance at Sherborne Abbey Music Festival in Dorset

Dorchester Walking Festival

May is National Walking Month and Dorset is a great area to explore on foot!

Dorchester are holding a Walking Festival between 11 – 19 May and will feature 50 guided walks, ranging from leisurely strolls to more challenging hikes, all designed to showcase the town's rich history, culture, and natural beauty.

The programme will include something for everyone – for all ages, families, and individuals alike.  There will also be a variety of self-guided walks that can be enjoyed at your leisure, from 2-mile trails around the town to more intrepid hikes.

Teddy Rocks Festival

Originally created in 2010, the annual Teddy Rocks Festival raises money and awareness for children’s cancer. The Festival takes place near Blandford Forum over the May bank holiday weekend.

The stage with pyrotechnic display at Teddy Rocks Music Festival in Dorset

© Charlie Raven

Sherborne Castle Country Fair

Taking place on 27h May, the Sherborne Castle Country Fair is an event that promises to be a fun-filled day out for the entire family. The fair is set within the picturesque Sherborne Castle estate, where visitors can enjoy stunning views of the castle and its surrounding countryside. There's something for everyone, from the exciting main ring displays to the wide variety of stalls and attractions.

Watch all of the excitement of the Dragon Boat racing; each crew is composed of a drummer and 16 paddlers who race in Chinese-style Dragon Boats over the 250 metre course.

Dragon Boat Racing at Sherborne Castle

There are also classic cars, vintage tractors, and other interesting exhibits on display. With delicious food and drink options available, the Sherborne Castle Country Fair is a must-visit event for anyone looking for a memorable day out in the beautiful Dorset countryside.

Blooming bluebells!

Bluebells are a beautiful sight in the springtime, and Dorset is known to have some great spots to see them. Some of the best places to see bluebells in Dorset include Fontmell Down near Shaftesbury, Hod Hill near Blandford Forum, Pamphill near Wimborne, Kingcombe Meadows near Dorchester as well as Eype Down near Bridport.

Bluebell WoodRemember to be respectful of the bluebells and their habitat by staying on the designated paths and not picking any of the flowers.

Dawn Chorus at Arne

Enjoy the magical symphony of the Dawn Chorus as well as learning to identify a range of native and migratory songbirds by their calls at the Arne nature reserve. Arne is a beautiful and diverse nature reserve that is home to a wide variety of birds, including warblers, finches, thrushes, and many others.

RSPB Arne Nature Reserve near Wareham in DorsetGet up early and join an expert guide for one of spring's best wildlife spectacles.  You’ll witness the murmurs in the woodland daybreak and enjoy the wonderful acoustic performance of the dawn chorus. A unique experience well worth getting up early for….and you’ll finish at the café for breakfast!

Spice it up at the Cheese & Chilli festival!

Come and experience the ultimate cheesy and spicy adventure at the Cheese and Chilli Festival in Christchurch! With a wide variety of cheeses and chilli products on offer, this festival promises to tantalize your taste buds like never before. From mild to super-hot, there's something for everyone.

Christchurch Cheese and Chilli Festival in DorsetSample delicious cheese from local artisan producers, indulge in some fiery chilli sauces, and even try some unique cheese and chilli combinations. Enjoy live music, cooking demonstrations, and children's entertainment too.

So come along with your friends and family on 18th and 19th  May and make some unforgettable memories while savouring the flavours of cheese and chilli!

Dorset Art Weeks

Dorset Art Weeks starts on 25 May and runs into June and is a chance to discover Dorset’s creative community. There's contemporary work from over 500 artists and makers showcasing their work in open studios, group shows, galleries and events. This biennial event is a great way to see some art and craft whilst exploring the beautiful regions of Dorset.

Dorset Art Weeks