ORGANISERS of the fifth Spirit of the Sea festival plan to make a big splash in the run-up to the Olympics.

They hope that the festival, to be held from June 30 to July 15, will act as a ‘trailer’ for the Games in Weymouth and Portland.

Spirit of the Sea attracts more than 50,000 visitors each year and has so far pumped £1.5million into the local economy.

This year’s Moving Tides Carnival will form part of the Maritime Mix, the official Cultural Olympiad.

It will coincide with the arrival of the Olympic Torch into Weymouth on July 12 when 700 children from 20 schools will appear in a colourful parade.

Their costumes will be inspired by the Olympic sailing events, Jurassic sea creatures and the Moving Tides 2012 theme Oceans of the World.

The procession will lead an audience to the beach and a flotilla of gigs from Weymouth Rowing Club will bring the Olympic Flame ashore.

The festival will kick off by celebrating the arrival of 500 specially-designed deckchairs for the beach.

Spirit chairman Jeremy Pope said: “It will be another wonderful festival, imbued with all the excitement of a fantastic spectacle unfolding at the end of July and, for that reason, will act as a trailer to the main events.”

Although the number of events in this year’s programme have been reduced, popular events are returning such as the Dorset Seafood Festival, the Tudor Picnic at Sandsfoot Castle and the Weymouth Regatta.

More than 80 seafood stalls will be set up around both sides of Weymouth Harbour on the weekend of July 7 and 8 for the Seafood Festival.

Event radio Spirit Live will be operating during the festival on a temporary FM licence at 87.7FM.

It will be run by Weymouth College students and volunteers and will provide a mix of music, interviews, news and information during the festival.

Other sports featured during the festival will include gig racing in Weymouth Bay today with Weymouth Rowing Club’s annual Gig Rowing Regatta.

A Celebration of Rowing on the South Coast, organised by British Rowing, will be held on July 1, featuring a treasure hunt, time trial racing and exhibition racing.

Portland will stage its Big Grove Festival on July 14 with an assortment of activities including live music, football, tug-of-war, stalls, food and a children’s costume procession.

Once again there will be a photographic competition for prizes with budding photographers asked to capture the special qualities of our coastline and the sea.

For more information see, call Weymouth Tourist Infor-mation Centre on 01305 785747 or pick up a Dorset Echo- produced 32-page event programme from the TIC.