THOUSANDS of locals and tourists from all over visited this year's Dorchester Cider Festival in Borough Gardens.

This year's event was blessed with good weather and people arrived early to get seats in view of the bandstand to watch the live music and enjoy more than 80 types of local cider.

Chairman of the Dorchester Round Table and organiser of the festival, Robert Matthews, said: "This all started as a conversation in a pub between a couple of guys with an idea.

"We loved cider and decided to round up all the local cider producers to make this event. That's how it started and we are now in our fifth year.

"Now there are 15 different producers and more than 80 varieties of cider. We have raised more than £30,000 for local charities since the first event and we hope to raise even more this year.

"There's a band playing throughout and the sun is shining, within half an hour this place was packed.

"It's now one of the main events in Dorset and we expect to get between 4,000 and 5,000 people this year."

Noddy Jelfs was selling Noddy Cider at the event. He said: "All our cider is handmade with local apples, we came here last year and thought it was brilliant so we signed up again this time.

"The Dorchester Town Council needs to be given an award for the way they have been using this park. It's using it for the benefit of everybody and it's really good."

The cider festival proved a massive draw for tourists from all over the country. John and Fiona Buxton were visiting the area from Pontefract in Yorkshire and decided to drop by to try out the local ciders. They said: "We've come a long way, we have been here on holiday three times and we love it.

"This is absolutely brilliant. It's so nice because you just get talking to different people and everyone is so happy."

It was also a popular event with the locals. Bob and Mary Buckler arrived early to set up their camping chairs and get a good seat to sit and enjoy the live music playing from the band stand.

They said: "We have been every year to the festival since it started. It seems as though there is more and more people every year."