Swanage Carnival theme for 2024 revealed

With the world going fossil crazy and visitors flocking to Purbeck in Dorset to see the newly discovered fossilised marine reptile from the Jurassic era, Swanage Carnival has chosen a very timely theme for 2024.

Jurassic Rocks will be the new theme that will run throughout the eight days of carnival fun from Saturday 27th July to Saturday 3rd August 2024.

Jurassic Rocks carnival theme

A stomping new design for 2024

Thousands visiting Purbeck to see the pliosaur

The fossil museum The Etches Collection in Kimmeridge, just along the Jurassic coastline from Swanage, has seen a staggering number of visitors in the first month since the BBC screened a documentary about its new star attraction.

The TV programme Attenborough and the Giant Sea Monster broadcast on Monday 1st January 2024, followed the discovery of a pliosaur snout on the beach near Kimmeridge by Purbeck artist Philip Jacobs and the subsequent operation to dig the rest of its skull out of the cliffs by local fossil expert Steve Etches.


The newly discovered skull of a pliosaur has gone on display at The Etches Collection in Kimmeridge

Darren Strong at Swanage Carnival 2023
Andy Lyons

Chair of Swanage Carnival Darren Strong with the volunteers that make the annual carnival possible

“Showcase our wonderful Jurassic Coast!”

However, always ahead of the game, the carnival team had already settled on a Jurassic / dinosaur / fossil theme before the documentary captured the attention of the nation and the monster skull, nicknamed Sea Rex, was put on display.

Chair of Swanage Carnival Darren Strong said:

“The committee voted last year on the theme and has been planning how to best integrate it throughout carnival week.

“Since Jurassic Rocks was decided, the amazing documentary about the pliosaur found near Kimmeridge hit our screens, which has given us even more ideas and an even greater opportunity to showcase our wonderful Jurassic Coast!”

Swanage Carnival 2023
Nadine Hudson-Featherstone

Three firework displays are planned but hopefully no comets to destroy the dinosaurs this year!

Jurassic Rock N Roll band at Swanage Carnival 2023
Nadine Hudson-Featherstone

Local band Jurassic Rock N Roll are odds-on to get a repeat booking for 2024…

Dino-mite firework displays and rock ‘n’ roll

The carnival team say that finding out everything about our Jurassic Coast and all its fossils and geology would take a lifetime but it’s hoped that carnival week 2024 will give lots of people a glimpse into Purbeck’s unique history and character.

However with the carnival at the start of the summer school holidays, the emphasis will naturally be on entertainment with just a bit of education thrown in for free.

Expect some roar-some costumes during the traditional parade on the Sunday, dino-mite firework displays and of course lots of rock ‘n’ roll in the Carnival Arms marquee!

Despite all the fun and games (and the inevitable old fossil and dinosaur jokes!) the carnival will again be raising money for lots of local good causes. In 2023 an impressive £27,650 was given to 20 selected organisations.

Nominations are now being sought for the charities and good causes who would like to benefit from the proceeds in 2024.

Swanage carnival committee and team 2023
Claire Richards

In 2023, Swanage Carnival committee distributed £27,650 to local charities and good causes

Carnival classic motor show

The Carnival Classic Motor Show in April 2024 will get everyone warmed up for the main event

Dates for the diary

With summer still a while away, the team will be hosting some fun events over the next few months to get us all in the carnival mood and everyone is invited to come along.

  • Carnival family fun day – Sunday 17th March 2024 from 2.30 pm at the Royal British Legion in the High Street, Swanage
  • Carnival Easter Bingo – Tuesday 26th March 2024. 7.30 pm, ready for eyes down at 8 pm at the Con Club in King’s Road
  • Carnival Classic Motor Show – Sunday 21st April 2024 in the Main Beach car park in Swanage, 11 am to 3 pm
Swanage carnival programme goes on sale

During the Year of the Coast, the theme for 2023 was Under the Sea

Swanage Carnival programme for 2022

The fairytale theme of Once Upon a Time was a popular choice in 2022

The planning starts now!

In 2023, the Swanage Carnival theme was Under the Sea and in 2022 it was Once Upon a Time, which both proved popular.

Now that the Jurassic Rocks theme has been announced, the carnival committee is hoping that local groups and charities will start planning some monster floats for the carnival procession.

The window display competition will be back for 2024, so local shops and businesses will also have a chance to join in Purbeck’s fossil frenzy!

Further information

  • More about Swanage Carnival is on its website

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