There are a number of fantastic cinemas and theatres in Dorset. From small, quirky picture houses to large, modern arts centres, there is a great mix of films and stage shows available throughout the year to locals and visitors alike. We’ve shortlisted a number of them below, any of which we’d recommend for an entertaining few hours out whilst you’re in the area.
The closest large entertainment venue to us is Lighthouse, Poole’s Centre for the Arts. Open throughout the year, it is the main venue not only in the town but across the wider region for a range of theatre, dance, music, contemporary circus and film.
There is always something going on. Highlights for 2019 include UB40, Ian McKellen on Stage plus a host of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra performances. For younger audiences they have In The Night Garden Live, The Amazing Bubble Man and One Duck Down.
Take the short journey from our campsite to Wimborne and enjoy an authentic theatre experience at the Tivoli. Built in 1936 as a cinema and theatre, the tradition of showing both films and live stage shows continues today.
With 483 seats in the main auditorium, the venue is a great size; big enough to attract well known artistes and acts but small enough to create a great atmosphere.
The Rex in Wareham is a great example of an old early 20th century cinema. Everything is historically maintained with the exception of the projector. Over the years with the help of the Purbeck District Council, The Friends of the Rex, and the Rex Players much work has been done whilst still retaining the character of the cinema. The Rex Bar was added in in 2003 and the venue is now among the few cinemas in the UK where it is possible to have a glass of wine or beer whilst watching the film!
The cinema is heavily involved in supporting the Purbeck film festival. It acts as one of the venues during the festival to show arthouse films. More information about the history of the cinema and upcoming showings check out The Rex website.
As the oldest surviving theatre in Bournemouth, the Shelly is a unique venue. Originally built in 1870 for the author Mary Shelley, it formed part of the Shelley family theatrical and literary dynasty.
The theatre is now funded by donations from the community. It shows a variety of new cinema releases as well as stage performances from local and touring companies. To keep your thirst and hunger entertained the ground floor bar serves hot and cold drinks and Dorset produce including delicious Purbeck ice-cream.
For the latest screenings and performances, check out the Shelly Theatre website.
For the big fans of film and cinema take a visit to the annual Purbeck Film Festival. For over 20 years the Festival has been host to films and special events at many venues across the area. Supported by the BFI (British Film Institute), it’s aim is to provide a variety of cinematic experiences across a rural area which does not have easy access to foreign language, independent and classic films. In October 2018 they showed over 70 films across 30 venues.
If you want to take the family out to see the latest blockbusters but are fed up of paying a small fortune for the privilege then there is a great Dorset cinema for you. The Plaza in Dorchester feature the latest and greatest films at a fraction of other cinema prices. They offer highly competitive pricing with all tickets costing just £3.50 Monday to Friday and £4.50 for Saturday and Sunday showings.
The low price however doesn’t mean a low standard of facilities. In fact the opposite is true. There are four screens with optional luxury seating. There is a licensed bar so you can order beer and wine to take in with you plus an excellent selection of pop corn, snacks and hot drinks. The two ground floor screens are have wheelchair access. If you are a frequent visitor then look to sign up to their loyalty scheme, the Picturedrome Privilege card. It’s easy to see why this is the favourite cinema for the local community.
What a fabulous place! Our first outing in our new campervan to try it out, the campsite and facilities are... thewardrobem, Nov 2023
The best campsite I've ever stayed at, usually large complexes lose a bit of what camping is about, but not... Colin, May 2023
Great stay, very clean excellent facilities. Bus into Poole 15 mins nice shops and great walk by the Quay. Definitely... Janet, Nov 2023