The Festival


It's going to be a scorcher - the 10th Great Dorset Chilli Festival

Sadly the Covid-19 pandemic meant we had to cancel the 2020 festival, but we hope to be back in 2021 when we will be able to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Many people think we are the best chilli festival in the UK, and we've recently been shortlisted in the UK Festival Awards 2019 in the "Best Non-Music Festival" category. Plans for 2021 are for a weekend-long chilli-con-carne cook-off, run by the UK Chilli Cook-off Association, open to pre-registered teams to battle it out for the the title of 2021 UK Chilli Masters.. We'll have the chilli plant growing competitions, chilli pepper growing competitions, and chilli sauce competitions (although the public judging will have to be cancelled this year). 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 bakers, cheeses, brownies, jams, garlic, Spanish charcuterie, Somerset charcuterie, chilli ginger beer, Dorset ice cream, wooden boards and smart kitchen knives for chilli-chopping, ironwork, ethnic clothes and bags, ceramics, gin and jewellery......

UK chilli cook-off

Chilli Cook-Off

In 2019 we hosted a very special event, organised by the UK Chilli Cook-off Assocaition. The UKCCA Grand Masters cookoff show-cased the best chilli teams in the country in a weekend-long event that truly determined who is the best chilli chef in the UK. On the Saturday, teams were asked to cook a "chilli verde", which is a green pork, chicken or vegetable chilli. The chilli verde was judged by the public as well as the main judging team. After the chilli verde round, teams were asked to come up with a unique dish that showcases the team's cooking and presentation skills in the "Chef's Choice" category. On Sunday, teams cooked the traditional red chilli which again was judged by the public as well as the main judging team. The team with the highest score over the weekend was crowned the 2019 UK Chilli Masters and a prize pot of £1000. Congratulations to the Wonkey Donkeys in 1st place, with The Geek and the Greek taking 2nd place and Pork This way taking 3rd.
Festival visitors were able to buy a spoon for charity to sample all the entries! Limited number of spoons available! 
If you would like some more information or would like to enter the cookoff in 2021, please contact Jon at ukchillicookoff@gmail.com 

Delicious things to eat and drink

Delicious things to eat and drink

We'll have great street food, Thai curries, Caribbean curries, Indian curry, , falafels, low 'n' slow pulled pork, lamb burgers, chilli burgers, seafood, crêpes, bratwurst, lots of food with/without chilli and giant paellas will all be on offer but if it’s simply a delicious burger or wood fired pizza that you crave then you’ll be well-catered for. There will selection of award-winning local 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.

Chilli Sauce Competition

Chilli Sauce Competition

Make your vote count! A chance to taste artisan chilli sauces, chutneys and jams made by the stall holders themselves. Vote for your favourite. It's sauces on Saturday, chutneys and jams on Sunday.

Chilli Plant Competition

Chilli Plant & Pepper Competitions - 2021

Open to anyone who grows their own chillies for pleasure, a chance to show off your best plant to a panel of expert judges.  Just one class this year, the Open Class, for any variety, pot grown in the 2021 growing season. To enter contestants should keep an eye on our facebook page and this website for updates. PLEASE READ THE RULES BEFORE YOU ENTER! TO be updated!

chilli eating competition

Chilli Eating Competitions

A highlight of the day, we'll hold a chilli eating competition at 4.00pm each day. Crazy contestants are invited to apply by email to us 2 weeks before the event,  so keep an eye on this page or our Facebook page.



Not all the food and samples at the Festival will be chillified, so there will be plenty of choice when it comes to lunch. There will also be bouncy castles, Head Turners Face Painters, Mere Down Falconry, fossil painting for children. There is also a family shelter tent where you can find some shelter to have lunch or create a base for your family to meet up.

Plant / Shopping Creche

Plant / Shopping Crèche

If you’ve bought a chilli plant or two, or restocked your supply of great chilli sauces, why not take advantage of our Shopping Crèche? Look out for the crèche gazebo where you can leave your purchases safely in exchange for a small charitable donation. 


chilli cooking demonstration Dorset chilli festival

Talks and Cooking Demonstrations

in 2019 we had a variety of ‘cooking with chilli demonstrations’ from some of our local leading chefs such as Masterchef 2009 Mat Follas, well-known Dorset chef Mark Hartstone, healthy living chef Grace Ekall and Indian-recipe expert Sarah Ali Choudhury. If chilli-growing is your thing, then the talks by our chilli experts Joy Michaud of Sea Spring Seeds and Matt Simpson of Simpsons Seeds were at full capacity. We also had top scientist Dr Tim Woodman giving a fascinating insight in to his work on capsaicin for medical purposes.

Cooking demonstrations are brought to us by top local chefs. See programme.



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 acts. In 2019, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival we were delighted to welcome Creedence Clearwater Review on Saturday, plus local legends the Mother Ukers. On Sunday we had The Orange Circus (Celtic/bluegrass/alt-country) and TexMex tequila rock and boogie band Snake Oil. Also for your listening pleasure (where they heck did that phrase come from?!) we had the famous Mexican Mariachi trio, guaranteed to put a smile on your face, and Big Joe Bone playing his blues/roots/bluegrass beside the cider tent all weekend. 

 chilli calendar 2020



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?

To be confirmed. Please chjeck back here. 

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

YES, YES, YES!!!!!!!!! We have a mobile signal at Stock Gaylard!!!

Is camping available?

We are working on public camping, hopefully on a neighbouring farm. Check back here for details.

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.



Can I grow chilli plants in May?

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. If you want to sow seeds now in May the plant will grow, but 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 31st July & 1st August 2021

Programme Of Events



10:00 Gates Open
Voting for the chilli sauce competition commences
10:00 Entries taken for chilli plant & pepper competition
11:00 Cook-off starts: chile verde
11:15 Talk on chillies: 
11:15 Music tent: The Mother Ukers
12:00 Cooking Demo: Mark Hartstone, La Fosse: 3 quick spicy starters
12:30 Music: The Mother Ukers
13:15 Cooking Demo: Grace Ekall - Spicy red kidney beans in tomato sauce served with fried plantain.
13:45 Music tent: Creedence Clearwater Review
14:15 Chilli Talk: Joy Michaud - top ten tips for growing chillies
14:30 Falconry Flying Display 
15:00 Chilli Talk: Matt Simpson - a broad history of the myth and folklore of chillies
  Cook-off: chile verde turn-in
15:00 Music: Creedence Clearwater Review
15:30 Chilli Plant & Pepper competition judging
16:00 Chilli Eating competition
16:00 Chilli Plant and chilli sauce winners announced
17:00 Cook-off: chef's choice turn-in


10:00 Gates Open
Voting for the Chilli condiment competition commences
11:15 Music: The Orange Circus - bluegrass/alt-country
  Cooking demo: Mat Follas, Masterchef 2009
11:30 Chilli cook-off competition begins
12:00 Chilli talk: Dr Tim Woodman - medicinal properties of chillies
12:30 Music: The Orange Circus, bluegrass/alt-country
13:00 Cooking demo: Sarah Ali Choudhury - easy Indian cookery
13:45 Music: Snake Oil Band - TexMex rock n boogie
14:00 Cooking demo: Mark Hartstone, La Fosse - 3 quick spicy starters
14:30 Falconry Flying Display on the lawn
15:00 Music: Snake Oil Band - TexMex rock n boogie
15:00 Chilli Talk: Joy Michaud - top ten tips for growing chillies
15:30 Chilli cook-off competition judging
16:00 Winners of cook-off and chilli condiment competition announced
16:00 Chilli Eating competition. 

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

Let's Get Social

For the latest updates about the festival you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook:

Join Us On Facebook      Follow Us On Twitter

Proud To Support:

Cash For Kids

© Copyright SureFire Events Limited

Web Design by Surefire Media