Following an unprecedented two successive years of cancellations due to Covid restrictions, Swanage Carnival is finally back, bringing fun and good humoured mayhem to the town.
At Sandpit Field, the music marquee is up, the bars are fully stocked, the fairground rides and stalls are in place and the carnival team has got everything ready in time for the start of eight days of carnival fun from Saturday 30th July 2022.
On Sandpit Field, the Carnival Arms Bar and the music marquee are all setting up for eight days of events
“It’s going to be really special on Sunday”
The theme this year is ‘Once Upon a Time’ but the cancellations over the last two years have been less of a fairytale and more of a nightmare for those who plan their holidays and their social life around the carnival week.
Secretary of Swanage Carnival, Kevin Langdon said:
“After all the waiting and waiting and more waiting, it’s suddenly here – Swanage Carnival is back and things are all happening again, thank goodness.
“We are quite a unique event with 108 events over eight days. Typically most carnivals are one day or possibly over a weekend but not in Swanage – there’s so much organised that it takes more than a week to fit it all in!
“It’s going to be really special on Sunday to see the carnival procession back with the added attraction of the air display – it promises to be a real spectacle along the seafront.”
The stalls are ready and the inflatables just need to be pumped up
Key carnival events 2022
- Saturday 30th July – Carnival kicks off with the beer tent opening at 11 am and the Pimms bar at 12 noon. Black Eagles acrobatic display team in the afternoon and fireworks at 9.45 pm. After the fireworks, the Abba tribute band, Abba’s Angels perform in the music marquee
- Sunday 31st July – Carnival procession in the afternoon from 3 pm, along with Rich Goodwin’s aerobatic air display. Perform in the evening in the music marquee are Penthouse 5, followed by the Sway Allstars
- Monday 1st August – Local arts and crafts in the marquee with music from Swanage Jazz Machine. Swanage Bay swim competition and evening bingo
- Tuesday 2nd August – The Biathlon, a swim followed by a short run along the beach during the day with the carnival barn dance in the evening in the music marquee
- Wednesday 3rd August – The four mile fun run and the dog show in the afternoon. Fireworks at 9.45 pm followed by the Black Kat Boppers in the music marquee
- Thursday 4th August – Electronic house music EHM at Prince Albert Gardens with new start time of 3 pm and finishing at 10 pm. Yard of Ale drinking challenge, Swanage Carnival gig racing and local band The Reptiles in the evening at the music marquee
- Friday 5th August – The iconic wheelbarrow race! Competitors gather from 6.45 pm for a 7.30 pm start from Swanage Information Centre on Shore Road. The band The Bournemouth Rat Pack in the evening at the music marquee
- Saturday 6th August – Dinosaur show throughout the day with the Lancaster air display in the afternoon and fireworks at 9.45 pm, followed by Jess Upton and the Guilty Pleasures in the music marquee to close the event
Swanage Carnival treasurer Mandy McDonald adds extra glitter to the marquee
Carnival committee members put up the banners from supporters, including Swanage.News. Left to right: Kevin Langdon, Dave Sealey and Becky Mack
Full printed programme available to buy
There’s lots of things happening every day and full details and timings are in the printed programme, which is available to buy for £3 from the Carnival Information Caravan on the terraced area next to Swanage Information Centre on Shore Road or at shops throughout the town.
All the events are free to attend, so it’s the proceeds from the programme and donations that enable the carnival to go ahead. On top of covering costs, one of the aims is to donate as much money as possible to local good causes. For 2022, one of the main charities to benefit will be Swanage Hospital’s Stanley Purser Ward, which is being refurbished.
The Carnival Arms Bar opens from 11 am
“You can feel a real buzz around town!”
In charge of the go-kart racing during the week but helping all year round to keep the carnival equipment properly organised in storage is Dave Sealey, who’s been part of the carnival team since 2005. He said:
“Those who run the carnival are excited and those who are coming to watch it are excited. After two years, lots of people are looking forward to it – you can feel a real buzz around town!”
The roots of the Swanage Carnival date back to the mid 1800s when the first sailing regatta was held in Swanage Bay. Several years later, in the early 1900s, a carnival was held to celebrate the finale of the sailing regatta, and so the Swanage Regatta and Carnival became an annual event.
There is still a fun rowing event, which this year is on Thursday 4th August 2022, but it’s now more of a carnival, with proper rowing races taking place at other times of the year in Swanage.
The good old days of the greasy pole event at Swanage Carnival
“It has just got bigger and bigger over time”
Kevin Langdon, who was chair of the carnival from 1988 to 1992, before returning to the committee as secretary in 2017, said:
“Back in the day, the carnival just took place over a weekend – it has just got bigger and bigger over time. In the 1980s there was no bar, a number of activities mainly for children, the procession and one firework display.
“We did have the greasy pole event, when you had to shin it up a soapy pole in order to cut free a leg of lamb from the top. Unfortunately, one year someone broke their shoulder and it had to stop.
“The main traditional events that still survive today are the drinking a yard of ale and of course, the famous wheelbarrow race. We just want everyone to have fun!”
“It’s all about entertaining the community – if we make any money, we just give it away!”
Finishing touches at the crystal stall on Sandpit Field
There’s more details about the events on the Swanage Carnival website