Dorset Seafood Festival 2024: Popular Weymouth event cancelled because of increasing costs

The event had grown to be one of the biggest of its kind in the country. Credit: ITV News West Country

A popular seafood festival held in Weymouth will not go ahead this year because of rising costs.

Organisers of SEAFEAST, The Dorset Seafood Festival, say they had to make the difficult decision to cancel the 2024 event.

The Festival first came to Weymouth Harbour in 2008, grew into the town's biggest event, and was relocated to the Peninsula. The 2023 festival saw record crowds of around 10,000 festival-goers.

Those behind the event say the pandemic had a big impact and recently 'a sharp downturn in the economy' has resulted in increased costs and significantly reduced sponsorship. 

The team say almost all costs to hold the event have gone up year after year, adding that recent rises in car parking prices from Dorset Council have seen the site fee surpass £15,000. They called the hike a "staggering increase that has helped make the decision for this year".

The event attracted thousands of people to the seaside town. Credit: ITV News West Country

Laura Avant, festival director, said: “We are very proud that we found a way to keep the festival going through difficult times over the past few years – first the Covid pandemic where we lost a whole year, then the funding problems caused by the worsening economic climate.

"We know ticketing wasn’t an approach approved of by everyone, but it just about enabled us to cover costs and keep the event going.

"The new format came with some great benefits too, with a less crowded space and the ability for us to provide much more seating, children’s cookery workshops, art activities etc, we’ve had some amazing feedback.

"The festival has always been a labour of love, everyone who gets involved ends up putting in more time than they really should.

"The reward for our small team has always more about a sense of achievement than anything else. However the recent cost increases are such that we must now go with our heads and not our hearts.

"The festival has raised more than £90,000 for the Fishermen’s Mission charity over the years and has been the biggest annual event contributor to their funding.

"The charity is close to the heart of everyone involved with the festival, and we’re truly sorry that fundraising efforts won’t continue next year.

"Thank you to everyone who has attended the festival over the years, please continue to enjoy sustainable local seafood!

"A huge thank you to our sponsors, stall holders, partners, chefs, musicians and local contractors too – it’s been a real team effort (and a blast!) hosting the event and we couldn’t have done it without you.”