Great Dorset Steam Fair 2015: your essential guide
1st September 2015
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When is it?

The Great Dorset Steam Fair starts on Wednesday, September 2, and finishes on Sunday, September 6.

How do I get there?

The fair is held at Southdown in Tarrant Hinton, which is on the A354 between Blandford and Salisbury. The postcode you’ll need for your sat nav is DT11 8HX

Won’t I just get stuck in traffic?

The Great Dorset Steam Fair attracts around 200,000 people so it will inevitably be busy on the roads. Roads which will be particularly affected include the A354 and the A350, although all routes in and around Blandford town centre are likely to experience considerable congestion. However, this year’s event doesn’t coincide with the Bournemouth Air Festival which should make main routes in Dorset less congested.

Is it suitable for the disabled?

Yes and there is a car park for disabled people on site which you can find by following the signs.

I don’t have a car. Is there any public transport to the fair?

Yes! The nearest station is Salisbury with a direct bus route to the showground. Bus company Damory are running services to and from the fair throughout the event. Buses will stop at Poole and Wimborne. See the weekend timetable by clicking here

What will the weather be like?

At the moment the forecast looks fairly dry. Wednesday is expected to see sunny intervals and highs of 17C, Thursday is cloudy with a temperature of 15C and Friday will be cloudy with the chance of more sunshine and 16C. The Met Office says Saturday is likely to be quite cloudy and cool with a few showers, although these will be mainly in the north and east. Sunday remains on the cool side, but there should be more in the way of bright spells.

Do I need tickets in advance?

Advanced tickets can be purchased from more than 20 Tourist Information Centres across the region or you can buy a ticket on the day when you arrive at the showground. Advance tickets are £16.50 for adults, £15 for seniors or £7 for children aged between six and 15. Tickets for adults and seniors are £10 for Sunday with evening tickets £8 each. 

How much does entry cost on the day?

You can purchase tickets on the day at the Pay Gates. Entry costs £20 for an adult, £17 for pensioners and £8 for children. Sunday tickets are £12 for adults and pensioners and entry is free for children. An evening ticket is £10 for adults and pensioners, children are free.

What about camping?

The deadline to pre-pay for camping at the steam fair has already passed but pay on arrival camping is subject to limited availability from Saturday, August 29. A charge of £20 per night will apply (excluding cost of admission tickets to the show). 

Will it be muddy again?

It should be a lot easier to get around on-site this year thanks to some a new road system which will address problems at last year’s event created by wet weather. Plus, the weather forecast is looking dry at this stage but it probably won’t hurt to pack your wellies just in case!

How easy is it to get around the site?

There have been some major improvements to the layout of the site for this year’s event. Campers will be on one side and day visitor car parks on the other, which organisers hope will greatly improve access and ease congestion. Visitors also now have the ability to camp for just one night instead of the usual minimum of two nights. A new shuttle bus will be operating up and down the campsites throughout each day to drop campers at pedestrian entrances into the showground and bring them back again.

What time does it start?

The main showground opens at 8am with five arenas open at different times throughout the day.

  • Arena One is the heavy haulage arena and is open every day 11am until 6pm (3pm on Sunday)
  • Arena Two features stunts and classic cars and is open from 11am until around 8pm
  • Arena Three is the heavy horse ring and is open between 10am and 5pm Wednesday to Friday, then 8.30am until 5pm on Saturday’s heavy horse show day.
  • Arena Four has commercial vehicles and military vehicles and is open from 11am until mid-afternoon.
  • The Countryside Arena is open from 10.30am until around 5pm.

What is there to see and do?

All sorts. There will be over 20 steam heavy haulage road locomotives at this year’s fair including ones built in the 1890s and early 1900s, such as the Burrell Lord Kitchener and the McLaren Boadicea. Then there’s the old time steam funfair featuring over 60 showman’s engines generating the power for the old roundabouts and swing boats.

Finally, you’ve got steam tractors, steam rollers, steam lorries... you get the idea. But there’s more to the steam fair than, well, steam. The event is popular with animal lovers, music fans (see more below) and vintage car admirers. To cap it all off, there are dancing shows, monster truck displays and a fairground.

What’s not to miss this year?

This year, the fair organisers have arranged one of the most prolific stunt riders in the world to perform. Matt Coulter, a.k.a. The Kangaroo Kid, from Brisbane, Australia, will be carrying out stunts using a quad bike specially fitted with a roll cage and jumping over anything put in his path, be it cars, trucks or tractors. Matt has even jumped a flying aeroplane.

How else can I get up close and personal with the steam engines?

One option is to take a charity trailer ride around the heavy haulage arena. Starting at 10am daily, each ride costs £2 for adults and £1 for children and money raised will be donated to Macmillan and The Alfie O’Neill Cerebral Palsy Treatment Fund.

Tell me more about the music festival...

The music festival consists of six stages with entertainment during the day and into the night. The Outdoor Concert Stage will see performances from Ed Sheeran, Kaiser Chiefs and Bon Jovi tribute acts, as well as a number of chart topping older and original bands. Another four stages are housed within huge entertainment marquees plus an additional smaller outdoor stage situated near the craft tents. You can also see a number of homegrown acts including Blackwater County, The Skimmity Hitchers, Stompin Dave, State of Undress, The Jack Ratts and Lady Winwoods Maggot.

Anything new to see this year?

Don't miss the first ever Dorset Cider Bar which will be located just off the Main Avenue near the fairground and opposite the stages. The bar, which is being run by Fetch The Drinks, will showcase fantastic local and traditionally made craft ciders from around the county with over 10 Dorset cider producers, and between 15 to 20 different varieties of cider. 

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