The ultimate guide to summer in Dorset and Hampshire

PUBLISHED: 16:54 22 April 2014 | UPDATED: 16:57 23 April 2014

Studland - (C) Dorset Tourism

Studland - (C) Dorset Tourism


From the summer 2014 edition of Destination South magazine - looking for something to do over the holidays? We’ve put together the ultimate guide to keep you busy throughout the summer

Camp Bestival - credit: Victor FrankowskiCamp Bestival - credit: Victor Frankowski

Family festivals

Once the sun comes out all thoughts turn to spending as much time outside as possible; and what better way to get some fresh air than by enjoying yourself at a fabulous festival. We’ve scoured the area to find the top three family festivals that are not to be missed.


Larmer Tree FestivalLarmer Tree Festival

Freshfields - New Milton

This two day, family-friendly, community festival in New Milton is the brainchild of Lisa Thompson. Her vision from the beginning was to bring the community closer together and she was lucky enough to find a great group of people to work with so she could put on the event and have something there for everyone.

The festival (whose patron is local lass and MOJO award winning singer, Rumer) has two bars; a VIP tent with its own bar, food and free fizz and four stages: the main stage, acoustic blues and a dance tent – which is full of local talented DJ’s.

There will be a face painter and things for kids to do and there will also be break dancers and graffiti artists running workshops with young people. Other highlights include a hula hoop workshop, Zumba presentation, poi artists, stilt walkers and a show by The New Forest Players. The festival will take place on the weekend of the 16 and 17 August with tickets starting from £7 available to buy at


Camp Bestival - Lulworth

This multi-award winning festival combines an all-encompassing family festival experience with an action packed camping holiday.

Set in the majestic grounds of Lulworth Castle, on Dorset’s dramatic Jurassic coastline, Camp Bestival is jam-packed with entertainment, from stellar musical morsels and cultural delights to stunning sideshow attractions and lashings of family fun.

Featuring a truly enormous kids’ area your little’uns will be utterly spoilt for choice. With a host of thrilling activities from soft play and circus skills to go-carts and glitter, there’s plenty of excitement for kids of all ages. Plus, there are kids’ shows and performances on the Castle Stage and in the Big Top, daring antics to be had at the Freesports Park, and fairytale escapism in the Dingly Dell.

Camp Bestival’s amazing music line-up is curated by BBC Radio 1 music specialist Rob da Bank whose penchant for eclecticism has seen the legendary likes of Chuck Berry, Madness & Blondie playing alongside hordes of up and coming acts including Florence & the Machine, Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding, Mumford & Sons, London Grammar and Gabrielle Aplin. From folk and dub to drumstep and jazz jungle, there’s guaranteed to be something to get you and the kids throwing shapes long into the summer evenings. This year’s festival will take place from 31 July to 3 August with weekend tickets costing £195 for adults, £113 for 15-17 years, £88 for 11-14 years, £20 for 5-10 year olds and free for under 4s. Visit to book.


Larmer Tree - Salisbury

What started out as an idea based on the Bracknell Jazz Festival 24 years ago has grown to see the likes of Tom Jones and Tom Odell on the line up at this year’s Larmer Tree Festival. Staying completely independent, the festival has its roots deep in the heart of the local community, remaining sponsor-free and relying on local businesses and hundreds of volunteers from the local area. In the last couple of years the festival has been awarded Best Family Festival and Best Toilets at the UK Festival Awards and has become a real favourite with visitors from near and far. Expect a broad range of musical talent alongside a carnival atmosphere with workshops, story telling, circus, children’s shows, film clubs and more across the weekend. This year’s festival will be running from the 16 to 20 July at Larmer Tree Gardens nr Salisbury. Tickets start from £160 per adult to £60 per child for a three day ticket. Individual day tickets can be purchased, as can luxury camping facilities and a whole holiday experience. Visit to find out more.


On the water

From windsurfing to wakeboarding and kayaking to kitesurfing the Hampshire and Dorset coastline offers a wealth of exhilarating watersports to try as well as expert tuition.



The Dorset and Hampshire coastline is made for sailing with more than a 100 sailing events taking place in the waters last year. Weymouth may have hosted the Olympic sailing events in 2012 but it is also home to the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA), which offers world-class facilities to both able and disabled sailors. Dinghy sailing is a great sport for anyone to try, whatever their age or ability. The Sailing School at WPNSA is operated by SailLaser, an RYA recognised training centre, and offers bespoke tuition, class race training events, pre-regatta training and boat hire. ( or Just along the coast Poole Harbour with its sheltered shallow waters is an ideal spot for beginners to learn. There are lots of sailing schools around this huge natural harbour as well as some excellent marinas. For experienced sailors wanting to go further afield the Isle of Wight and Dorset’s magnificent Jurassic coastline beckon. If you’re more of a ‘sit back and enjoy the view’ kind of sailor then let a trained skipper charter you around the coastline for a really special day out. For lessons and boat hire try Rockely Watersports ( or Hamworthy Outdoor Education Centre ( For yacht charters try Spinnaker Yachts ( or Lymington Yacht Charters (


Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)

Stand-up paddle boarding is perfect for those who find surfing too full on. You simply stand on a board, similar to a surfboard, and use a full length paddle for propulsion. It’s quick and easy to master - use it for a leisurely paddle or an energetic upper-body workout. The shallow waters of Poole are perfect for this trendy sport, if you’re feeling really energetic you could paddle from Bournemouth to Poole! For board hire and lessons try: Sorted Surf Shop at Boscombe (, Bournemouth Surf School (, The Watersports Academy (, Poole Harbour Watersports (, Rockley Watersports ( and Land and Wave ( The windsurfing centre at WPNSA also provides paddle boarding both for hire and coached sessions (



Exploring Dorset’s coastline by kayak gives you the chance to get closer to wildlife as well as get away from the crowds. There is a wealth of venues around Poole harbour offering kayak hire and tuition. A great way to see what lies beneath is to take a guided kayak safari in one of the clear-bottomed kayaks from Dorset Wildlife Trust at Kimmeridge Bay. ( For lessons and kayak hire try the following: The Watersports Academy (, Poole Harbour Watersports (, Rockley Watersports (, Land and Wave ( and Sorted Surf Shop at Boscombe ( In Christchurch, which also has a lovely safe harbour, try Shore Sports (, Christchurch Kayaking ( and Avonmouth Watersports (



For beginner windsurfers the shallow, sheltered waters of Poole Harbour offer a safe place to get to grips with this exciting sport. For those who are more experienced the coastline is used as a training ground by Olympic champions such as Nick Dempsey. At the WPNSA is the Official Test Centre (OTC) - a purpose built centre which showcases the modern sport of windsurfing. The OTC’s affiliated RYA Training Centre teaches windsurfing at any level and the onsite shop - Puravida Boardrider - provides a unique opportunity to compare the latest boards and sails in favourable conditions. For Poole harbour try Pool Windsurfing (, The Watersports Academy (, Poole Harbour Watersports ( and Rockley Watersports (



For a wonderfully exhilarating way to discover the Hampshire and Dorset coastline try a jetski safari with an expert instructor by your side. Jetski Safaris in Poole will take you on a tour of Poole Harbour, the second largest natural harbour in the world, before taking you off to explore areas such as the chalk pinnacles at Old Harry Rocks, Dancing Ledge and Lulworth Cove. If you want to see this special part of the coast in a different way this is the watersport for you! For more details visit


On the beach

For a free family day out there is no better place than one of Dorset’s stunning golden beaches. Challenge the kids to a sand sculpting competition, string up a volleyball net or simply relax and enjoy the rays.



Poole is rightly proud of these pristine golden sands which run parallel to Banks Road. There is a designated area for barbecues and clearly marked areas for swimmers and boarders. If you need a break from the sand, head to the shore for a round of crazy golf - you will also find a children’s play area and slacklining course. Watersports include kayaking, windsurfing and stand up paddle boarding. The Sandbanks Beach Café offers refreshments and the area above Sandbanks beach 
towards the chain ferry is an all year round dog-friendly beach.



Hop over the water via the Sandbanks Ferry (or drive there) to reach this National Trust owned nature reserve of sand dunes and heath with three miles of golden sandy beaches from South Haven to the distinctive white chalk stacks of Old Harry Rocks. Beaches include Shell Bay with accessible sand dunes to play in and a designated naturist area; Knoll Beach & Middle Beach are popular with families and offer water sports hire, a café and barbecue area; and South Beach a sandy cove that is a short walk down hill from the car park.


Canford Cliffs

Backed by steep sandy cliffs this is a wilder more tranquil area than Sandbanks and is situated between Shore Road and Branksome Chine. The beach is accessed from Cliff Drive where you will find off-road parking. The pretty wooden beach huts along the chine, dating from the Twenties, lend an air of nostalgia to this lovely stretch of sand.



A popular sandy beach with an award-winning pier and an artificial surf reef. The beach offers a variety of watersports and during the summer holidays the Bournemouth Beach Sports Academy sets up shop opposite the Urban Reef café, teaching beach football, beach volleyball, beach tennis, surf life saving and beach rounders to 8-16 year olds during week days (cost £15 a day pp). Nearby the GreenFlag award-winning Boscombe Chine Gardens offers crazy golf, water play area for kids and a café.


Fisherman’s Walk

One of four Blue Flag beaches in Bournemouth this wide sandy beach is where the locals go. There is a children’s play area, cliff-top café and cliff lift to the beach. Lifeguard cover runs from May to September and a Kidzone will make sure your little ones stay safe.


Alum Chine Beach

This wide sandy beach Blue Flag beach is a popular spot for families. Nearby are the lush topical gardens of Alum Chine with children’s play park and water play area. The designated barbecue area is situated to the west of the beach.


Family attractions

As a special treat, head to one of these great attractions to entertain the whole family. From waterparks to tree top adventures, Dorset and the New Forest has it all.


Go Ape

If you’re looking for days out in Dorset, there’s no doubt you’ll leave Moors Valley Country Park (near Bournemouth) with a monkey sized grin. Go Ape’s classic Tree Top Adventure features a new zip wire and some 1000 metres of high ropes crossings to make sure you won’t forget this epic outdoor adventure in the New Forest. You can also get off road and enjoy the epic forest adventure with Go Ape Forest Segway - an awesome segway experience with a down to earth twist.

For junior tarzans, there’s the Go Ape Tree Top Junior adventure - up to an hour of exploring the tree tops for all to enjoy. Adults £32, children £24 (


Paultons Park

Home of Peppa Pig World, Paultons Park is a family theme park located in the New Forest. With plenty of rides and attractions, including a rollercoaster, log flume, Water Park, adventure golf, 4D cinema, birds and animals, beautiful landscapes and gardens and much more, you are sure to find something there for the whole family to enjoy. For the younger members of the family, Peppa Pig World is Peppa’s very own theme park with seven fun rides and attractions including Peppa’s Big Balloon Ride, Miss Rabbit’s Helicopter Flight and George’s Dinosaur Adventure Ride. Adults and children over 1m £23.50 in advance. Visit ( for more information.



Splashdown Waterpark in Poole is a great family day out with some of the UK’s most exciting waterflumes – for big kids and for little ones. For the thrill-seekers, brave the Screamer with its sheer vertical drop. Plunge into darkness on the Black Thunder. And hold on to your pants as you shoot down the Spacebowl like a human pinball. Or if that sounds a bit like hard work, just go with the flow on the Mississippi Drifter. There’s the fabulous Little Buccaneers SplashZone with a starter flume, water play area and Buccaneer Bay, their toddler swimming pool. And, on a hot summer’s day, Buccaneer Beach is the perfect spot for a splash with the little ones. There’s even somewhere to play for little landlubbers. Tickets start from £10 for two hours or £12.50 for all day access. To find out more visit



Lemur Landings

Open all year round and passionate about play, Lemur Landings in Poole is one of the largest indoor soft play centres in Dorset. More than a massive multi-lvel playframe; complete with multi-slide, bridges, tunnels, ball pools and cannons; the centre is also home to a dedicated area for toddlers and a super sensory area for the under 5’s. The more adventurous, can also challenge themselves on the fantastic climbing wall.

Relax with a quiet cuppa and a bite to eat from the café while keeping a watchful eye on all the action. £6 for children 1-3 years, £7 for over 4s and £1.25 for adults. Find out more at (


Monkey World

Set amongst the Dorset woodland lays 65 acres of sanctuary for over 250 primates. Monkey World was set up in 1987 by Jim Cronin to provide abused Spanish beach chimps with a permanent, stable home and today it works in conjunction with foreign governments from all over the world to stop the illegal smuggling of apes out of Africa and Asia. With 59 chimpanzees to see, you can have a great day out and learn more about the rescue and rehabilitation of our closest animal relatives. Family tickets cost £35 for two adults and two children. For more information visit (


Longdown Activity Farm

Enjoy a fantastic family day for everyone down on the farm with a daily schedule of activities which run throughout the day. You can bottle-feed the kid goats and the calves, feed the ducks, meet the pigs, donkeys and ponies and cuddle the baby rabbits, chicks or maybe even a piglet! There are plenty of brilliant farmyard buildings to explore as well as fabulous indoor and outdoor play areas including the trampoline barn, a soft play area and The Farmer’s Straw Den. Don’t miss the Longdown Farm Shop for a large range of delicious locally sourced produce, the tearoom, gift shop and picnic areas. £8.75 for adults, £7.75 for children Visit ( to find out more.

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