We’re Dorset Tourism Awards Finalists!

We’re Dorset Tourism Awards Finalists!

We’re thrilled to announce Sherborne Abbey Festival is a finalist in the 2017 Dorset Tourism Awards.

We are one of the top four entries in the category of Tourism Event/Festival of the Year – guaranteed to collect a Gold, Silver or Bronze award at the Dorset Tourism Awards finals on 16th November at The Lighthouse (Centre For the Arts) Poole. The finalists in this category all demonstrated innovation, distinctiveness and clear evidence they make a significant contribution to the economy of a Dorset destination.

Festival Chairman John Baker says: “This award is an accolade to our Festival volunteers who work tirelessly throughout the year, enabling us to stage a world-class annual event where more than seventy percent of performances are free entry. Our success means we can support other local music and arts initiatives, and encourage young talent through charitable grants, as well as raising the profile of Sherborne and Dorset all year round as a destination for tourism, the arts, and music in particular”.

Find out more about all the finalists and highly commended entrants.

We’re proud to be at the top with other great events – in a category sponsored by Bournemouth University Department of Tourism & Hospitality www.bournemouth.ac.uk/tourism

The TOP FOUR Tourism Events & Festivals are:

This year’s awards sees an increase of 15% with 123 entries across 23 categories and a new category for Guided Tours, along with the former Experience category split into three.  Entrants went through a 3-stage judging process, taking into account websites, reviews, social media and over 90 visits by judges to businesses. All evidence was then presented to an independent judging panel which met on 3rd October. Finalists are from across the county including Lyme Regis, Sherborne, Christchurch, Poole, Weymouth, Bournemouth, Blandford Forum and Cranborne.

Robin Barker of Services for Tourism, who created and manages the awards, commented: “It is so rewarding to see the increase in entries and also the further raising of standards across the county.  Judging this year has been tougher than ever, with evidence of excellence from businesses that are investing significantly in their facilities and people.”

Successful businesses in the Dorset Tourism Awards will automatically be considered for matching categories in the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in February 2018 with the chance to go on to represent Dorset at the National VisitEngland Awards later in that year.

See Sherborne Abbey Festival’s image and media story from 2017 and see why the judge’s were so impressed with the quality of what we do. Next year’s Festival takes place from 4-8th May 2018.

New! Dorset Tourism Association

New! Dorset Tourism Association

Illustration by ‘graphic scribe and doodler’ Emma Paxton www.imagistic.co.uk


The Festival was delighted to be invited to join the newly-formed Dorset Tourism Association recently;  John & Jacqui Baker, along with Liz Burt, attended its inaugural conference on 28th March 2017. Sherborne Abbey Festival and its volunteer team are proud winners of many tourism awards. We aim to contribute all year round, not just at festival time, to local and Dorset-wide tourism – with an emphasis on local arts.  We are therefore pleased that the county now has an association to represent everything that is great about visiting this part of the UK.



Find out more about the DTA

Established in 2016, the purpose of the Dorset Tourism Association (DTA) is to promote, market and develop tourism in Dorset.

Tourism is a strategic sector for Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (Dorset LEP).


Dorset Tourism Association is a ‘free to join’ membership organisation working with tourism trade membership associations, partnerships and individual businesses.

To promote trade and commerce in tourism, and improve the overall awareness, effectiveness and quality of tourism provision, in Dorset for and to the benefit of the members, Dorset’s residents, tourists and visitors.


The Dorset Tourism Association is:

  • Representing and communicating with tourism trade members across Dorset using website, annual conference, e-newsletter, social media and PR.
  • Gathering intelligence (e.g. research, data, case studies, trend information) for market and visitor analysis.
  • Understanding changes in tourism trends, economic or other factors (e.g. technology and connectivity) and how these impact Dorset tourism businesses. Supporting initiatives that maximise the opportunity for Dorset tourism.
  • Lobbying and helping with co-ordination of activities to maximise grant making and other funding opportunities.
  • Encouraging close working and co-operation between all the Destination Management Organisations, economic development teams in the local authorities and the tourism trade throughout Dorset.
  • Providing a link into Dorset LEP and other public sector bodies as well as a point of coordination for other organisations in Dorset.

Dorset Tourism Association Board 

The aim is to have representation across tourism in Dorset, to cover the range of tourism trade businesses and organisations including accommodation, attractions, food and drink, arts and culture as well as senior local authority representation.

The Dorset Tourism Association Board is Chaired by Richard Smith, Director, The Tank Museum and Dorset LEP board member.


Dorset Tourism Association is a ‘free to join’ membership organisation working with the tourism trade membership associations and partnerships in Dorset. Any Dorset tourism business or organisation is welcome to join the DTA, either as an individual business or as part of a group or association.

Member organisations and benefits.

Annual conference for members

The first conference of the DTA was on Tuesday 28 March 2017 at Kingston Maurward College.


If you are interested in joining the DTA please contact Janet Schofield at office@dorsetta.co.uk

Tickets on general release for 2016 Festival

Tickets on general release for 2016 Festival

As of 1st March, tickets for the 2016 Sherborne Abbey Festival are on GENERAL RELEASE.

From atmospheric acoustics to rousing sea shanties, Sherborne’s annual music festival guarantees to delight music lovers of all ages.

With a seventeenth season in 2016, and many awards for tourism under its belt, Sherborne Abbey Festival can justifiably be described as a well established event. There can be no doubt that, in Sherborne, the first weekend in May now means only one thing – wonderful music of all kinds!

This year’s programme, taking place from 29th April – 3rd May is no exception; full of exciting and adventurous performances, with something for all tastes and ages.  The Festival is unique in that seventy percent of all performances are free entry, making it one of Dorset’s most welcoming and accessible musical events.

This year welcomes back Sir James Galway, accompanied his equally accomplished wife, Lady Jeanne Galway, with The Juventus Ensemble and Ruth Rogers who are performing a repertoire from Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn.  An internationally acclaimed virtuoso flautist, born in Belfast and nicknamed ‘The Man with the Golden Flute’, Sir James’ recordings have sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.

The Festival also features a performance of devotional music, From the Cradle to the Cross, by globally renowned British vocal ensemble VOCES8, established as one of the most versatile and best-loved singing groups in the world, who will also stage a workshop for pupils at Sherborne Primary School as part of their visit to the town.

Audiences will enjoy one of the world’s finest early music vocal ensembles, Stile Antico, renowned for their vibrant and expressive performances of music from the Renaissance. Presenting The Touches of Sweet Harmony, an enticing programme devised to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.

As a complete contrast, direct from London’s world-famous jazz club, The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars take to the stage with world class jazz to celebrate The Ronnie Scott’s Story.

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, Leweston and The Gryphon School (performing Ahoy! Sing for the Mary Rose, a fusion of Tudor-style music and British Sea Shanties).  Sherborne School’s Swing Band performances are now legendary, attracting such a large audience that they have moved to a larger venue to accommodate fans.

A much anticipated highlight is the performance by Sherborne Festival Chorus, a non-auditioning community-based choir of 140 people, created in 2006 by John Baker on behalf of Sherborne Abbey Festival, to enable and encourage local people to sing to a high standard within an informal environment. Together with The Sherborne Chamber Choir and Chameleon Arts Orchestra they will present an all-English programme featuring two of our best-loved twentieth century composers, Vaughan Williams and Howells.

The Festival is an exciting celebration of contrasts in music and performance – from improvisation workshops, poetry and close harmonies to salon baroque, madrigals and classical ukulele. Whether audiences are looking for atmospheric acoustics, or rousing sea shanties, the early May bank holiday weekend in Sherborne is definitely the place to be.

For more press information and images contact:

Liz Burt, Press Officer:  liz@sherborneabbeyfestival.org

Concert in aid of Save The Children

Concert in aid of Save The Children

Bryanston School’s new Music School will be the venue for this year’s annual concert, organised by the Blandford Branch of Save the Children on Thursday 9th April.

During the evening, a highly talented group of seven choral scholars and a pianist from St John’s College, Cambridge, will provide a delightful programme of music ranging from the early 16th century to close-harmony arrangements.

All the proceeds will help support the Ebola Appeal and a Families and Schools Together (FAST) programme.

The concert will be held at 7.30pm in The Mark Elder Concert Hall.

Tickets (adult £15, student £8) are available from:

The Sapling, 51 East Street, Blandford DT11 7DX (Tel/Fax 01258 452640).

More awards success!

More awards success!

*STOP PRESS* Latest 2015 Awards for Dorset Tourism and Love Sherborne



Bronze accolade for Sherborne Abbey Festival

Michael Eavis & Nathan Outlaw amongst 98 South West Tourism Award winners

‘A record finale to a record year’ was one description of Awards night on February 12th, as 10 months of work culminated in the presentation of 98 trophies to the South West’s leading tourism businesses and events, including Sherborne Abbey Festival, at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards 2014-15,  presented on the Grand Pier at Weston Super Mare, in association with Source for Business.

The evening was hosted by ITV’s Kylie Pentelow, with adventurer, Monty Halls, as special guest. Watch the highlights video:

Amongst the category winners there were 2 Outstanding Contribution awards, the first going to Glastonbury’s Michael Eavis, whose vision has brought millions of visitors to the region, and a second going to Carol Wager for her passion in delivering outstanding customer service to 7,000 tourism employees across the region.

The awards broke the previous record for entries with 425 submissions being considered, each going through a rigorous 3-stage judging process of marking, visits and panel meetings.

Winners in the Tourism Event of the Year Category, sponsored by Bristol Airport  www.bristolairport.co.uk were:




Chair of Judges, Alistair Handyside, said:

“The list of finalists really does look like a who’s who of the best in the industry in the South West. Once again the entrants have surpassed themselves in showing that investment, innovation and creativity remain at the heart of the visitor economy in the region.

The full list of Finalists and Highly Commended entrants is shown HERE

Event photos can be downloaded from http://nickwilliamsphotographer.co.uk/p17512906

The Awards hashtag is #SWTAwards


In other awards news… VisitEngland Awards for Excellence

Sherborne Abbey Festival was one of up to six award winners from each SW Tourism category to be nominated to represent the region at the National Enjoy England Awards for Excellence and it was the only winner in its category to be an entirely volunteer-run event!  We received superb feedback on our entry, with VisitEngland assessors commenting on our ‘pride and passion’ for the Festival and ‘unique accessibility with 70% of all performances free entry’.  They concluded we are “Obviously a successful event and one to watch for the future”.


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