Popular Swanage festival scales up to cater for all tastes

Swanage’s fish festival is back with new branding for summer 2024 following its triumphant return last year after a three year absence.

Now called the Swanage Fish and Food Festival, it will take place on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th June 2024 with a broader emphasis on food and drink than before.


Chef demonstrations are a favourite part of the weekend festival

A greater choice of foods on offer

While there’s a name change, the aim is to retain the same inclusive, family friendly events throughout the day, which have made the fish festival an unmissable part of the town’s events calendar.

Explaining the rebrand, festival spokesperson Jackie Lane said:

“We originally started out as The Swanage Fish Festival in 2015 with the aim of promoting our beautiful town and celebrating the delicious range of produce from the waters around us.

“But as we’ve evolved as a festival, we’ve come to realise that not everyone loves fish quite as much as we do, so we have invited other non-fish local food businesses to provide a greater choice of foods on offer.

“We have also decided that our logo should reflect this, keeping our branding in line with these changes and more accurately representing our festival.

“We missed three years from 2020 because of Covid restrictions and then because we had a small committee trying to take on a huge commitment, but we were encouraged by the huge success in 2023 and know exactly how we’d like the festival to look.”


The flavours and aromas of the festival will be much more than just fish in future

“We’ll remain intimate and quirky”

Jackie Lane added:

“We will remain intimate and quirky, we’ll continue to offer delicious fish and shellfish with fabulous chef demonstrations and we’ll still raise much needed funds for our three chosen charities.

“But we now have a larger offering for those who prefer something other than fish dishes to sample, from Dorset lamb to Thai street food or Caribbean jerk chicken.

“We are aiming to make the festival as local as possible, with most of the stalls from Purbeck or wider Dorset, and also as sustainable as we can.

“We have banned single use plastics and anyone who has a stall signs a contract to say that they won’t use any packaging which cannot be recycled. Last year everyone conformed to that which we were really pleased about.”


The much loved Swanage Jazz Machine will provide music for the weekend

New activities for children

Swanage Bay Fish, Carve Coffee, the Dorset Brewing Company, the Book and Bucket Cheese Company, Weymouth Cider and Zeen Cuisine are among those already confirmed to be attending the June festival, with a full line up to be released nearer the time.

Music will also be an integral part of the festival, with the Swanage Jazz Machine, Kelp and the Seafury sea shanty crew performing over the weekend, along with other guests.

Another new addition will be a special children’s area called Little Fishes where staff from Swanage Library will run activities on the Saturday afternoon and will hopefully feature a story teller.

There will also be a fancy dress competition for children, with prizes on both days for everyone who dresses up.

Confirmation of the Swanage festival follows a month in which a similar event, Weymouth’s Seafeast, was first cancelled after a drop in sponsorship and a rise in costs, and then reinstated – although full details of the rescued event have yet to be announced.

Fine food, fantastic views and a sunny weekend – what could be better?

Festival ’24 was never in any doubt

However, Jackie Lane said:

“We have had quite a few people ask us why the Swanage event was cancelled, as they had confused us with the Weymouth fish festival.

“We cannot stress enough that we are definitely going ahead with the Swanage Fish and Food Festival in June and it was never in any doubt.

“We did think about moving the festival to Sandpit Field at one point, but we felt that it would take people out of the town.

“Where we are located at the moment in Prince Albert Gardens, people walk through the town centre streets to reach us, and see the local shops and pubs, so the traders benefit from extra footfall – we are actively encouraging people into the town.”


Come and try some new flavours at the Swanage Fish and Food Festival 2024


Drinks on offer at the 2023 festival even included a seaweed botanical vodka

Festival donated £3,500 to charities

Each year, the festival makes donations to Swanage Lifeboat Station, the Fishermen’s Mission and the National Coastwatch Institution Swanage, donating £3,500 in 2023 as well as a substantial donation to Swanage Gig Rowing Club for their continued support.

The total raised included match funding of £700 from the employers of one of the festival volunteers, which was ring-fenced for the three main charities.

Swanage Fish and Food Festival is sponsored by Cumulus Outdoors, the Black Swan Inn, the Grand Hotel Swanage, Hull Gregson and Hull estate agents and the Weymouth Cider Company.

There are still opportunities for other local businesses to sponsor a picnic bench at the festival for £30 where they can display their company details.

The festival committee is also looking for new volunteers for the 2024 event and is holding an evening at The Old Stables delicatessen on Tuesday 27th February 2024 for anyone who would like to join in the fun.


Meet the friendly festival committee at the volunteers evening and get involved

“There can never be too many helpers!”

Jackie Lane said:

“We have a small number of volunteers who support us loyally year after year and we are very grateful to them, but we would like more – there can never be too many helpers!

“We are encouraging people to come and help us – it doesn’t have to be for long, a couple of hours litter picking in the morning or the afternoon would be fantastic.

“It’s in areas like keeping the site clean and tidy, helping to sell raffle tickets or helping with the teas and coffees where we really need extra people, but if we can get the numbers we can work it on a rota system so that people are not busy all the time.

“We’re inviting all of our wonderfully supportive team to join us at The Old Stables for nibbles and a drink, but we would also love to see any new faces who would be interested in helping us this year!”

Further information

  • Stay up to date with festival announcements on the official website

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