THE hottest festival of the year is set to return to Dorset this summer as The Great Dorset Chilli Festival has confirmed its two-day extravaganza will be hosted this August.

The 13th annual festival will return to the Stock Gaylard Estate, near Sturminster Newton, for a weekend of great food, music, entertainment and competitions, with a bit of added spice.

The dates have been confirmed for Saturday, August 3 and Sunday, August 4.

After the first day of the 2023 event was cancelled due to wet weather caused by Storm Antoni, tickets for the festival's long-awaited return will be the hottest in town.

People are encouraged to get involved with the launch of the chilli plant growing competition, as seeds will need to be sown now for summer fruiting.

The competition is an established part of the chilli festival, where amateur chilli-growing enthusiasts can enter classes to compete for the best-looking chilli plant.

Miles Halton, festival director,  said: “Much like a village horticultural show, the chilli plant competition attracts many entries from across the region.

"Growers compete for a traditional rosette, and the competition tent is hugely popular with festival visitors.”

There are two classes for the growing competition.

Class 1 is only for the new chilli variety “Cardiff Queen”, developed by Dorset’s own Sea Spring Seeds near Bridport.

Dorset Echo: The ‘Cardiff Queen’ chilli variety.The ‘Cardiff Queen’ chilli variety. (Image: The Great Dorset Chilli Festival.)

It produces masses of mildly hot fruit on short trailing plants, so ideal for growing in pots.

Class 2 is the open class into which any chilli plant can be entered.

Plants are judged on appearance, development, condition and fruiting.

Judging is by two respected commercial chilli seed growers, Michael Michaud of Sea Spring Seeds and Matt Simpson of Simpson’s Seeds.

The winner of each chilli plant competition class will receive a £50 gift voucher from local in-store and online cookware and gardening retailer Harts of Stur, who are based in Sturminster Newton.

The organisers of the Great Dorset Chilli Festival have been supplied by Sea Spring Seeds with a limited supply of ‘Cardiff Queen’ chilli seeds to give away for free.

For a copy of the rules and to claim your seeds email