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Published: June 10, 2020 | Updated: June 10, 2020

Praise be: An outdoor event that is actually ON this summer (and still follows strict guidelines)

By Andrew Diprose, editor

An outdoor three-day festival showcasing the best artists and makers in Dorset is set for its debut at Sculpture by the Lakes near Dorchester next month.

The hosts and organisers of Dorset Arts Festival, from Friday July 3 to Sunday July 5, are promising a safe and enjoyable experience.

While a number of large scale events across Dorset have been cancelled, they’re confident that a strict visitor cap and crowd control, paired with extensive social distancing set in a vast 26-acre outdoor venue, can guarantee visitor, exhibitor and staff safety.

The inaugural launch of the Dorset Arts Festival was in doubt.

However, as the venue has been given government permission to open, the outdoor festival will take place as originally planned.

More than 40 artists and crafters from across Dorset will be exhibiting over the three days, with a number of workshops and demonstrations taking place.

Artists will be creating artwork on-site in their individual temporary studios for visitors to watch from a safe distance while a number of artists will be painting the picturesque scenes across Sculpture by the Lakes.

Guests can expect to watch paintings being created, pots being thrown, jewellery being made and a whole range of other arts and crafts disciplines.

The event is being organised by Simon Gudgeon and Monique Gudgeon, owners of Sculpture by the Lakes.

The park, near Dorchester, features more than 30 of Simon’s very own internationally-recognised sculptures, mixed with spectacular gardens maintained by his wife, Monique, and a team of gardeners.

Simon said: “We’re very pleased to be bringing the inaugural Dorset Arts Festival to life in 2020.

“We deliberated over whether the festival should go ahead, but we’re confident that we can provide a very safe experience.

“It’s certainly not a mass gathering.

“We have sensible crowd control in place, acres of space and it will be easy for visitors to adhere to government guidelines around social distancing.

“Dorset Arts Festival will be a true celebration of Dorset’s expansive artistic talent.

“All of the artists exhibiting are incredibly talented and you’ll be able to watch them in action creating their masterpieces, which is not something you get to see everyday.

“We hope the festival will bring some welcome relief to those looking for an uplifting experience away from the crowds.”

Entry to the festival must be booked online via the Sculpture by the Lakes website to maintain social distancing between staff and visitors.

The Gallery Cafe is operating an outdoor takeaway service and accepting contactless credit card payments only.

Visitors must remain a 2-metre distance from other guests, exhibitors and staff.

To find out more, or to book tickets to Dorset Arts Festival, click here.