Tickets now on general release!

Tickets now on general release!

With a nineteenth season in 2018, and many new tourism awards under its belt, the first weekend in May now means only one thing – wonderful music of all kinds at the acclaimed Sherborne Abbey Festival.

The 2018 programme, taking place from 4th8th May is full of exciting and adventurous concerts. There’s something for all tastes and ages with up to 70% of all performances free entry, making it one of Dorset’s most welcoming and accessible musical events. Everything from Intimate Sinatra with Matt Ford, popular Swing, Big Bands and Close Harmony to a Concerto Feast with Adrian Brendel, Rachmaninov to Taverner with the Tallis Scholars, Gospel from the London Adventist Chorale and much more is on offer.

As always, local young musicians and singers have a major role with concerts by jazz, madrigal, choral and chamber ensembles from Sherborne School, Sherborne Girls and Leweston. A much anticipated highlight is the performance by Sherborne Festival Chorus, a non-auditioning community-based choir of 140 people, this year appearing with Sherborne Classical Players presenting Mozart’s Requiem.

Described as ‘A lovely gem of a festival’ by long-time supporter Dr Carol Colburn Grigor CBE (The Dunard Fund),  Sherborne Abbey Festival is organised entirely by volunteers and is centred in and around the 8th Century Abbey Church in Sherborne. The combination of classical music, internationally renowned performers and exploring all that Sherborne and Dorset has to offer, is irresistible to visitors.

Tourism Excellence Silver for the Festival

Tourism Excellence Silver for the Festival


Last night (1 Feb) the best of the South West were announced at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards held in the Arena at the Riviera International Conference Centre in Torquay. Spectacular performances by Bristol-based acrobats Tumbellina and an introductory presentation from Benjamin Mee, whose role as owner of Dartmoor Zoo was taken by Matt Damon in the film ‘I Bought a Zoo’, launched the evening. With 451 people booked, it was the biggest annual regional gathering of South West tourism businesses, with 123 different awards presented following a rigorous judging process in which a record 647 entries were considered.

Sherborne Abbey Festival was delighted to pick up a Silver Award in the Tourism Event/Festival of the Year category, only pipped to the post for Gold by the night’s Winner of Winners, The Contemporary Craft Festival from Devon. Other winners in the category included:




The Winner of Winners award went to Bovey Tracey’s Contemporary Craft Festival for their commitment to excellence, people, partnership, local provenance, education, development and for supporting those who can’t help themselves.

There was a special Outstanding Contribution award given to those looking after South West’s Protected Landscapes – the 2 National Parks, 12 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Coast path, UNESCO Geopark and Biosphere. A further Outstanding Contribution award was presented to Neil Warren for his commitment to helping the region’s businesses and individuals become more sustainable and accessible for more than 15 years.

This year’s awards event was hosted by BBC news presenter Victoria Graham, with an inspiring opening address by travel journalist and Chair of Family Holiday Association Alison Rice, who outlined the work of the charity for which more than £4,300 was raised during the evening.

Entries into the Awards were 7% up on the year before, aided by the launch of new excellence workshops helping businesses reach new heights. Winners were spread across the whole region from the Isles of Scilly and Cornwall in the west to Bournemouth, Dorset and Wiltshire in the east, and from Devon in the south to Somerset, Bristol, Bath and Gloucestershire in the north.

Many finalists in the awards were also nominated to represent the region in the VisitEngland awards, the finalists for which will be announced in March.

All entrants in the South West underwent a rigorous short-listing process with 416 being visited by a team of 45 mystery shoppers. Entry was free, and all entrants received feedback, giving them useful tips for future success.

Richard Stanbrook, Director of Title Sponsors, South West Water Business, said: “As headline sponsors for the South West Tourism Awards, South West Water Business continues to be fully committed to the prosperity of this important and thriving industry – helping businesses save money, improve their green credentials and capitalise on their long-term sustainability.

“We’re privileged to be sponsoring the Tourism Awards again this year and wish the very best of luck to all the finalists.”

Opening the event Robin Barker of Services for Tourism stated: “We have seen a record 647 entries across the South West, and I’d like to commend you – the South West’s leading tourism businesses for your vision, investment, hard work and excellence.

“You have had the courage to put yourselves forward to be judged, have been through a 3 phase judging process, and will all be winners tonight.”

The full list of Finalists and Highly Commended entrants is HERE

Discover the full programme for the 2018 Sherborne Abbey Festival

For press information and images for the 2018 Festival contact: Liz Burt

Sherborne Young Musician of the Year

Sherborne Young Musician of the Year

Sherborne Young Musician of the Year 2018

Sherborne Abbey Festival is delighted to be supporting this event once again.

Competitions will take place during the day on 19th May, with the final concert performance and selection of Young Musician of the Year taking place during the evening.

Closing Date for applications: 31st January 2018

Classes: Woodwind, Brass, Strings, Piano and Voice

Eligibility: You must be resident, or in full time education, within Sherborne’s urban or rural area.

Age: Participants must be in school years 7 – 10 on 1st July 2018

Qualification: You should have achieved at least ABRSM grade 4 or equivalent. You must submit a copy of your certificate or a letter from your teacher saying that you are of the appropriate standard, together with the application form.

Registration fee: Registration is FREE.

Prizes and Awards: There will be certificates and a cash prize for each discipline winner, plus a trophy and additional cash prize for the Sherborne Young Musician of the Year. Participants must be available to take part in the judging round and finalists concert on 19th May 2018.

Performance location: Sherborne School Music department and Tindall Hall, Sherborne School.

Performance Requirements: One or more pieces can be played within the time allowed to show the range and quality of your ability. Copies of the music must be made available for the adjudicators.

Competition Round: max. 10 minutes | Final: max. 15 minutes, the 5 class winners.
You will be notified of performance times and precise location.

Please provide your own accompanist. (However if you require us to provide an accompanist, on the 19th only, there will be an additional charge of £20. Music sent one month before).

Download Sherborne Young Musician of the Year application form


Douzelage International Young Musician Festival in France
For young musicians in school years 11 – 13 (5th form – upper 6th form), or age up to 18 on 30th Oct. 2017 there is a separate opportunity to apply for a scholarship to take part in the “Douzelage Young Musician Festival” 1st – 6th July, in Granville, France representing Sherborne and playing with young musicians from other European towns.

For more information visit:


Sherborne Douzelage is very grateful to all of these organisations for their donations and for the support that they are providing to make the Young Musician project a success:

Barbara Whatmore Charitable Trust
Compton Pianos
Duo Teresa Carreño
The Eastbury Hotel (Three Wishes)
Old Fosterians Association
Sherborne Abbey Festival
Sherborne Arts Link
Simon Digby Charitable Trust
Simon Digby (Sherborne) Memorial Trust
Sherborne Kitchens
Wessex Strings
Wessex Music
Castle Gardens
Riley’s Cycles
Aviation Training International


2018 Festival Programme launched!

2018 Festival Programme launched!

We’re thrilled to announce our programme for the 2018 Festival. Brochures are now available at Sherborne Tourist Information Centre in Digby Road and Sherborne Abbey. You will also find them at Waitrose, Sherborne Station, The Post Office (Cheap Street), Budgens and many other locations. Please see our quick guide to what’s on, plus you’ll find a lot more detail in our full programme. Keep visiting our website for in-depth details of individual performances and much more.

Keep a note of important booking information with key dates for this year.  Tickets are on sale to patrons only from 13th February and then go on general release from 1st March. In the meantime you can browse and plan what performances you’d love to attend – remember, 70% of all concerts are FREE ENTRY.

We’ve won a number of awards in 2017, with more in the pipeline this year; we will be attending the finals of the South West Tourism Awards in Torquay on 1st February. We look forward to welcoming you to our very special Festival in May and hope you enjoy the programme we’ve put together for you.

John Baker, Festival Chairman


We’re South West Tourism Excellence Finalists

We’re South West Tourism Excellence Finalists

Hot on the heels of winning Gold and joint winner Event/Festival of the Year in the Dorset Tourism Awards, Sherborne Abbey Festival is celebrating once again, having been named today as Finalist in the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in the Tourism Event/Festival of the Year category.

Businesses and events from across the South West have been named amongst the Finalists of this year’s Tourism Awards, which saw a record of 645 entries from as far afield as the Isles of Scilly and Wiltshire, Dorset and Gloucestershire, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.

Festival Chairman and Artistic Director, John Baker, said: “We’re simply thrilled that our volunteer-run festival has gone through to the finals of such a prestigious award. It is a huge accolade to all our team, our sponsors, supporters and patrons. It firmly puts Sherborne and Dorset on the map as a great destination for tourism and events, filling us with anticipation as we prepare to launch the exciting programme for our 19th Festival which runs from 4th-8th May”.

The events and festivals up for Bronze, Silver or Gold and overall Winner in this category are:

Judging involved judges poring over entries, studying website and review sites, looking at use of social media and 416 business visits, most of them unannounced mystery visits. Reports and recommendations were then submitted to an independent panel which made the final decisions.

The awards have seen a further increase in entries since 2016, reflecting their importance to entrants in showcasing the quality of their offering and as well as giving benchmark ideas for future improvements. As stated by Liz Lamport from Bulleigh Barton in Devon, a Finalist in the Dog Friendly Tourism Business category: “We really feel that the whole awards process has allowed us to develop our business.”

The awards will be presented at a black tie dinner in the Arena at the Riviera International Conference Centre in Torquay on 1st February, the culmination of a 10 month programme. They are also the official scheme for the South West, with many finalists also nominated to represent the region in the national VisitEngland awards in April 2018.

Up to six finalists have been announced in each category, but all will have to wait until 1st February to learn whether they have won Gold, Silver or Bronze at the prestigious Awards Ceremony.

Richard Stanbrook, Director of headline sponsors South West Water Business, commented: “As headline sponsors for the South West Tourism Excellence Awards, South West Water Business continues to be fully committed to the prosperity of this important and thriving industry – helping businesses save money, improve their green credentials and capitalise on their long-term sustainability. 

We’re privileged to be sponsoring the Tourism Awards again this year and wish the very best of luck to all the finalists.”

Robin Barker, Director of Services for Tourism Ltd, who manage the Awards, commented: “Excellence is elusive.  It requires patience, vision, consistency, commitment, drive, hard work, skill and often a bit of money.  That’s not an easy list and I’d like to commend this year’s finalists for once again blowing the socks of the judges.  You are a credit to tourism and the region is proud of you.”

The full list of Finalists can be seen HERE

Please follow the Awards on Twitter at @SWTourismAwards and Facebook  The Hash tag is #SWTAwards

Festival GOLD in 2017 Dorset Tourism Awards

Festival GOLD in 2017 Dorset Tourism Awards

‘Just beautiful’ as the Festival wins in the Dorset Tourism Awards

After much anticipation, we’re delighted to announce that Sherborne Abbey Festival has won GOLD in the 2017 Dorset Tourism Awards, jointly awarded BEST EVENT/FESTIVAL OF THE YEAR. This is a huge achievement and we held our own against very tough competition. Judges deemed our Festival to be ‘Just beautiful’ and we couldn’t agree with them more.

We couldn’t have achieved this without the support of Sherborne Abbey and the PCC, our Presidents, Patrons and sponsors and the other churches and schools who participate. We especially thank our very many volunteers, and our Festival Committee, who work tirelessly throughout year to make the event the huge success it has become.

Thank you, and here’s to the 19th Festival coming up next year from 4-8 May.  John and Jacqui Baker

Read all about the finals below:


A record audience of 297 guests witnessed 66 trophies being presented to tourism businesses from across Dorset at the Dorset Tourism Awards dinner, held for the first time at The Lighthouse in Poole on Thursday 16th November.

Now in its fifth year, the Awards broke all records in celebrating the best of Dorset tourism and also as the route for Dorset businesses to win in the South West and national Visit England awards.  This year saw 4 new categories for Spa & Wellbeing, Active & Sporting, Artistic & Learning Experience and Guided Tour at the celebratory dinner, with awards presented by national tourism leader Bernard Donoghue.

All parts of the county saw winners – from Swanage and Portland to Cranborne and Blandford Forum, from Ferndown to Lyme Regis, Christchurch to Sherborne, Bournemouth to Poole.  Winners had been through a rigorous judging process involving initial study of entry forms and online presence, a programme of visits – often mystery visits – and ending with decisions by an independent panel.

Amongst the winners were two big surprises: an ‘Outstanding Customer Service’ award to Katie Davies at Moors Valley Country Park, for going the extra mile in researching and looking after autistic visitors, and the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Tourism’ award to the Jurassic Coast Team, for their long-term contribution to the coast and helping put Dorset on the international map.

The prestigious Winner of Winners trophy went to a business just 2 years old, Loose Reins, who also picked up two Gold awards.  Another double Gold winner was The Town Mill in Lyme Regis, whilst Moors Valley Country Park, All Hallows Farmhouse – Cookery School and Mellulah Therapy & Yoga Retreats took the other attraction and experience Golds.

Food and drink Golds were collected by The Acorn Inn, Guildhall Tavern and Taste Café at Chesil Beach, with accommodation Golds going to Dorset House B&B, Higher Moor Farm, Rockley Park, Christchurch Harbour Hotel, Greenwood Grange, The Alexandra Hotel and The Grange at Oborne.

Cross-sector Golds went to Golden Acre Holiday Bungalows for being Dog Friendly, BOD Bournemouth for Access and Inclusivity, and Bagwell Farm Touring Park for Sustainable Tourism. The Visitor Information Gold was awarded to Swanage Information Centre with the Italian Villa taking Gold for Venue and Business Tourism, whilst the Tourism Event category saw joint Golds awarded to the Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival and Sherborne Abbey Festival.

Nick Fernyhough of headline sponsors Saffery Champness said:  Saffery Champness Accountants are delighted to be the headline sponsor for the fifth consecutive year. Tourism within the UK is an ever-growing sector, particularly in the light of the exchange rate movements due to Brexit.  We are keen to see that Dorset is well placed to attract as much business and attention as possible, by delivering the highest quality product possible.  These awards reward and celebrate that excellence which is essential in this sector.

“We wish congratulations to all the finalists at this year’s awards. Standards have, as always, been particularly high.”

Chairman of the Judges, Professor Peter Jones commented: “As chairman of the Dorset tourism awards judging panel I’m delighted to report that the work of the panel becomes harder year-on-year. This is not just because of the number and the quality of the applications, but is a reflection of the commitment of the tourism businesses of whatever size and type in enhancing and developing the true authentic Dorset visitor experience.”

The Dorset Tourism Awards have seen year on year growth since their launch in June 2013. Robin Barker, who has developed the awards from first concept to their current success has been delighted with progress, saying: This year has seen record entries, more sponsors and our biggest Dorset event ever. Many congratulations to all the winners, who we look forward to working with in their quest for ever higher standards.”

Successful businesses in the Dorset Awards will now be fast tracked into the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in February 2018 and possibly on to the National Visit England Awards in April 2018.

The full list of winners can be seen HERE

Photos from the evening can be downloaded free of charge from

Twitter @DorsetTourAwds  HashTag #DorsetTA

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