Fancy that! FiFi’s repeats a Swanage window win from 1976

A nostalgic moment of inspiration has helped long established Swanage fancy dress shop FiFi’s to repeat a winning moment from nearly 50 years ago.

Swanage Carnival Committee has just pronounced the shop in Institute Road as winner of the best dressed shop window in a new event for 2023 – but the staff had a surprise for Carnival secretary Kevin Langdon when he broke the news to them.


Fiona, Jane and Chris collect FiFi’s best dressed window award from Kevin Langdon

Public vote decided the best entries

The carnival’s media team selected their favourite five windows from the town, which were then revealed on Facebook for a public vote to decide the winner.

Hundreds of locals voted and placed FiFi’s in first place, followed by Sue’s Cards and Gifts in second and Curiosity in third, with Serendipity and York House residential home also in the top five.

But shop owner Fiona revealed that FiFis won first prize in a very similar best dressed window competition from 1976 with an underwater theme that featured a dummy dressed up as a scuba diver – even though he wouldn’t stand up.

The winning window with its Swanage Carnival Under The Sea theme

Repeating success from the 1970s

Fiona said:

“We are really honoured to have won it. We had a really good feeling about the theme of Under The Sea as we had won a competition back in the 70s with our Underwater World of Jacques Cousteau and thought we could do it again.

“It brought back real memories for us – apparently there is a photo of us in wetsuits and things from all those years ago.

“We are working all the time, so it was really nice for us to be able to stop now and again and have a bit of fun putting the window display together.”

In second place in the public vote was Sue’s Cards and Gifts…

… while Curiosity’s display was voted into third place

Blown away by the reaction

Swanage Carnival secretary Kevin Langdon said:

“The idea was completely new to us this year – we thought it would be a bit of fun and then so many shops entered and the quality was so high that we decided it had to be a competition.

“We thought we would have to make people enter, but everyone got the bug about Under The Sea and it just took off, so we just had to make it into a competition, even though it was a bit last minute.

“Next year we will have a specially engraved trophy and organise it better, but we were taken aback this year by the number of shops that got involved without any prompting, so it’s nice to give something back as an appreciation to our local businesses.

“We were just blown away by the reaction, so it is now going to become an annual event, the best dressed window with a carnival theme. We have some good ideas already for next year’s theme, but we won’t be announcing that until autumn.”


Summing up Swanage Carnival week – great entertainment and complete chaos!

“Full of fun – and complete chaos!”

For Kevin, highlights of the week included the procession which attracted more floats than normal and lasted 90 minutes and the wheelbarrow race with 75 entries, which he said summed up the whole carnival – ‘full of fun, great entertainment and complete chaos!’

He added:

“Considering the weather, we had a really good week, everyone enjoyed themselves, it still brought an awful lot of people into Swanage, and that’s what it’s all about.

“More and more businesses want to get involved and sponsor events, which is great for us, so we have already started planning next year’s carnival, which is from Saturday 27th July to Saturday 3rd August 2024.

“We basically have a couple of days off to recover and then start all over again – we are always looking at ways to improve and new events to try out.

“If we do anything wrong the locals are very quick to tell us, but we have had so many positive comments after this year’s carnival, it has been very encouraging!”

Further information

  • Answers to the adult treasure hunt and What’s Not My Line competitions can be found on Swanage Carnival website

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