When the sun sets a whole raft of lively and delightful options become available in Dorset. Try one of the region’s historic theatres: the Tivoli Theatre in Wimborne Minster features a gorgeous Art Deco interior with chrome and Bakelite fittings; the revived Shelley Theatre in Bournemouth sits in the shell of an 1870 auditorium; the Regent Theatre in Christchurch is another decorative art gem; and the seaside Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis dates back to the 1800s.
For the liveliest nightlife people generally flock to Bournemouth. Clubbers should try Halo, where there are regular DJ nights. Head further up the road and you’ll come across the swanky Bar So, which hosts Bournemouth’s fashionistas and serves more than a few bottles of prosecco on any given night. Between Bournemouth and Poole sits Westbourne, which features more than 50 restaurants and bars. This is the place to go for a more laid-back evening with a trendy crowd. Try Camden Bar for its stylish interior, bare brick walls and wooden bar. If you’re a cheese and wine fan, then Renoufs is for you. Duck has a cool contemporary vibe and relaxed atmosphere and so does Circo Lounge, with its funky wooden furnishings, kitsch canvases and cocktail menu.
Poole Quay is a fun place to go at night, with live music in many of the pubs and in the summer months lots of people drinking al fresco. Head further afield and you’ll find country pubs all over the county, perfect for a great meal, live music and your favourite tipple. For comedy buffs there are a few venues worth checking out. Jaggers Comedy Club has a late licence: Saturday nights are the main stand-up night and tickets can be purchased in advance. The Wimborne Comedy Club has earned itself a reputation for big-name acts appearing as a warm up for their big gigs.
Living up to its West Country roots, Dorset has been serving cider for years, but the recent surge in status of the brew means that cider events now take place all over the county. The Great Dorset Cider Festival is held at the Castle Inn, West Lulworth in June, and there’s a Cider and Sausage festival in October in Lulworth.
The Square & Compass
Worth Matravers, Swanage BH19 3LF
A friendly, family welcome from the staff, locals and customers of the pub is extended to all who visit The Square & Compass – undoubtedly a true gem in the heart of Dorset. Award-winning beers and ciders including home pressed traditional cider brewed by the owner, and are the perfect accompaniment to a traditional hot pasty or pie. Live music is also served up on a regular basis with bands and artists playing at the pub on evenings and Sunday afternoons throughout the year.
Exeter Road, Bournemouth BH2 5AG
Created just after the turn of the millennium, Bar So has been a cornerstone in Bournemouth’s bar and nightlife scene for over a decade. Located just a stone’s throw from Bournemouth’s infamous stunning beaches, it’s easy to see why Bar So is as popular with tourists as it is with the locals. This multi-levelled venue has it all. It boasts two large outdoor terraces – perfect for soaking up the sun whilst enjoying your favourite tipple. There is an upstairs cocktail bar that serves food during the summer season and a downstairs bar that takes on a club-like vibe with its big dance floor, Funktion-One sound system and has played host to some of the worlds leading DJs. Visit website
9 Yelverton Road, Bournemouth BH1 1DA
Genting Casino Bournemouth is housed in the elegant Grade 2-listed Victorian Theatre Royal in the heart of Bournemouth Town Centre. Incorporating the popular Fahrenheit Balcony Restaurant & Grill, you can relax and watch all the excitement from the gaming floor as you enjoy a freshly-cooked seasonal menu. The casino offers live gaming; American roulette, blackjack and three card poker as well as £10,000 jackpot slot machines with progressive prizes reaching up to £20,000! There’s also the latest electronic roulette terminals. Visit website
The Fish Inn
The Bridges, West Street, Ringwood BH24 2AA
A warm welcome awaits you at The Fish Inn, a stunning newly refurbished 16th-century thatched inn with the unique attraction of being Ringwood’s only riverside pub. The restaurant serves home-cooked menu and daily specials including fresh fish and a gluten-free menu. There is also a traditional Sunday lunch menu alongside a children’s menu. The bar stocks a large selection of quality cask ales and fine wines. It hosts a quiz night on the first Sunday of every month from 8pm. The bar iso also dog friendly. Visit website
The Blue Vinny
12 The Moor, Puddletown, Dorchester DT2 8TE
Keeping the very best of the old, The Blue Vinny has a warm and friendly country ambience with a cool, airy, modern interior – part of a style that is reflected in the approach to the food and hospitality. The food is home-cooked, and where possible the ingredients are seasonal and sourced locally from friends or trusted specialist suppliers. The wines have been chosen to complement the menu, and there is always a range of excellent guest ales on tap. Visit website
Like these? Try these…
Dorset restaurants and cafes
Dorset cultural attractions