The Festival


It's going to be a scorcher - the 13th Great Dorset Chilli Festival

We're busy planning the 2024 festival, and we'll be holding the chilli plant growing competition on the Saturday, and the chilli sauce competition on the Sunday. All weekend there will be talks on growing chilli plants, cooking-with-chilli demonstrations, and of course the chilli eating competitions on both days. This year we have both a Curry Cook-Off (Saturday) and a Chilli Cook-off competition (Sunday), so this is sure to be a great day out for chilli enthusiasts, food lovers and families. So if you enjoy the sensation of steam coming out of your ears then this is the Chilli Festival for you! We have some of the country’s most respected chilli companies showcasing their plants, seeds and condiments; chutneys, hot sauces, chilli chocolate, relishes, pickles and oils.

Speak to the experts and discover how to cook with chillies and which chillies to use that won’t blow your head off. The stallholders all love chillies and will be only too pleased to talk to you.

BUT if you don’t like it hot there’s plenty of choice from the stallholders for the less robust palette. Artisan cheeses, brownies, jams, kimchi, charcuterie, baklava, olives, herbs, garlic, Dorset ice cream, wooden chopping boards and smart kitchen knives for chilli-chopping, rum bar, garden ironwork, ethnic clothes and bags, hammam beach towels, chilli-themed ceramics, beautiful artwork, leatherwork, firepits, jewellery...... .

Mark Hix

 Talks and Cooking Demonstrations

Local chefs will be in our demonstration tent showing you easy but delicious recipes, involving chilli of course. We have celebrated chef and restaurateur Mark Hix in the GDCF kitchen on Saturday, plus GDCF regulars Mark Hartstone of La Fosse in Cranborne and 2009 MasterChef winner Mat Follas. Plus get tips from the experts Joy Michaud and Matt Simpson on growing chilli plants in our live experts sessions.


Delicious things to eat and drink

Delicious things to eat and drink

We'll have great street food: Thai curries, Caribbean curries, Indian curry, samosas,burritos, lamb burgers, seafood, vegan food, Greek kebabs, pizza, nachos, bratwurst, lots of food with/without chilli  will all be on offer . There will selection of beers, ales and cider to calm the tingling tongue. We’ll even have chilli cider, but if all you need is ice cold lager, we’ve got that too. Plus an artisan rum bar, bubble tea, Dorset-roasted coffee, Dorset dairy ice cream.....

Chilli Sauce Competition

Chilli Sauce Competition  

We are holding the chilli sauce competition on Sunday 4th, giving you the a chance to taste artisan chilli sauces made by the stall holders themselves, and to vote for your favourites. Closes for judging at 3.30pm

Chilli Plant Competition

Chilli Plant Competition 

Open to anyone who grows their own chillies for pleasure, a chance to show off your best plant to a panel of expert judges.  As ever, there will be two classes for 2024: everyone grows the same variety of chilli plant (Cardiff Queen) for Class 1. Class 2, for any variety, pot grown in the 2024 growing season. To enter contestants just need to bring their plant with them to the Festival on SATURDAY 3rd August. PLEASE READ THE RULES BEFORE YOU ENTER! The 2023 rules are here: Chilli Plant Competition Rules  

chilli eating competition

Chilli Eating Competition (both days)

A highlight of the Great Dorset Chilli Festival since 2011, we'll hold the chilli eating competition at 4.00pm each day. Entries don't open until much nearer the time, as people often change plans, book a holiday etc and forget to tell us that they're not taking part. So please check back here in July, or keep an eye on our social media feeds, such as Facebook and Instagram.



Not all the food and samples at the Festival will be chillified, and there will be plenty of choice when it comes to lunch. There will also be bouncy castles,  Face Painters,  Falconry, circus workshops, land trains and pocketmoney toys. Children under 11 have free entry.




This is a specialist food festival, not a music festival! But if you like a bit of music in the background we have some great bands and stage. Of course we have the famous Mexican Mariachi trio all weekend, guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Festival T-shirts

We have teamed up with Teemill to bring you organic cotton, ONLINE ONLY print-on-demand t-shirts. Available in 3 different logos, different shirt styles and a muiltitude of shirt colours. Go to to the T-shirt website here. Be quick if you want it in time for the GDCF on 3 & 4 August. These will NOT BE AVAILABLE at the festival. 

Concerts in The Church on Sunday

If you need some time out from the hustle and bustle, head over to the St Barnabas Church beside Stock Gaylard House. It dates from the 12th century and is still used for regular services. On Sunday 4th August Amicale will play a variety of both warmly spiced and soothingly cool music from around the world. Featuring guitar and flute, and maybe some surprise friends. Free entry but voluntary donations to raise money for the Red Cross in Ukraine are most welcome. Performance times: 11.30am and 2.30pm



Frequently asked questions:

When does the festival open and close?

Gates usually open at 10am on both days with last entry at 4.30pm. Please follow festival road signs that will direct you to the festival car parks.  

Can I bring my dog to the festival?

Yes, friendly dogs and responsible owners are welcome.

Can I pay by credit or debit card at the festival?

Yes, but the mobile network gets very busy, so bring plenty of CASH!!

Is camping available?

There's no camping available for the visitors, but there is camping at www.littlerodmore.co.uk which is walking distance.

Is there disabled parking?

Yes disabled parking is available. 

Are there disabled facilities?

Yes we provide disabled toilet facilities.

Is there a reduced rate for disabled people?

The Great Dorset Chilli Festival does not wish to discriminate against visitors with disabilities therefore the full admission rate will be charged. Contact us for carers rates.


Can I grow chilli plants in the UK?

Yes, of course! Chilli seeds are best planted in January or February, but you can plant them as late as March and April. They take a while to become established, but chilli plants like warm weather and good sunlight. They will be reaching maturity later in the summer. If we have a sunny September you will get fruit, but as the days get cooler and shorter consider bringing your chilli plant inside.

Is the Dorset Chilli Festival going ahead this year?

We are planning to run the Great Dorset Chilli Festival on 3rd & 4th August 2024


Which is the best chilli festival?

Obviously, we think it's the Great Dorset Chilli Festival held on the 3rd and 4th August. You make up your own mind, I've just included this question and answer to see whether Google picks it it up and gives it as the answer to the question in a Google search.

Programme Of Events



10:00 Festival Opens: Entries for the Chilli Plant Competition open
11:15 Music Tent: 
11:30 Talk Tent: Matt Simpson - growing chillies
12:00 Talk Tent: Mark Hartstone: Cooking a 3-course Dorset delight using different chillies
12.30 Music Tent:
13:00 Talk Tent: Mark Hix, celebrated chef and Dorset restaurateur
13:45 Music Tent: Tom & The Clementynes 
14:30 Falconry Flying Display: Beyond the Oak Avenue
15:00  Music Tent: Tom & The Clementynes
15:15 Talk Tent: Joy Michaud - Ten Tips for Growing Chillies
15:30 Chilli Plant Competition Judging commences


Chilli Eating Contest Come down to the Music Tent. 

Chilli Plant Competition Winners Announced 


10:00 Gates Open
11:15 Music Tent: Mother Ukers
11:30 Talk Tent: Joy Michaud of Dorset Naga fame
12:00 Talk Tent: Mark Hartstone, cooking a 3-course Dorset delight with 3 different types of chilli
12:30 Music Tent: Mother Ukers
13:00 Talk Tent: Mat Follas, MasterChef 2009
13:45 Music Tent:
13:45 Talk Tent: 
14:30 Falconry Flying Display : beyond the Oak avenue 
15:00 Music Tent: 
15:15 Talk Tent: Matt Simpson - growing chillies
16:00 Chilli Eating Contest: Come down to the Music Tent 

Please note that final programme is subject to change.

Contact Details

SureFire Event Management
Blandford Forum

T: 01258 447 040
E: info@greatdorsetchillifestival.co.uk

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