DORSET is set to be turned ‘inside out’ in the name of art and entertainment over the next nine days.

Rural and urban locations across the county will be transformed by some of the best international outdoor circus, theatre, dance and art performers.

It’s all part of the biennial arts festival, Inside Out Dorset, which aims to bring extraordinary events to extraordinary places.

This year’s sites and national heritage locations include Poole Quay, Weymouth, the Iron Age earthworks of Maiden Castle at Dorchester and woodlands around Shelley Park in Boscombe.

Kate Wood, co-artistic director from Inside Out, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming artists from all over Europe to perform in our distinctive county.

“The opportunity to present so many premieres by companies that have never worked in the UK before is very special. And with a host of new commissions it makes this year’s a festival not to be missed.”

Inside Out Dorset runs from Friday, September 14 to Saturday, September 22 with a series of free opening celebrations at Poole Quay this weekend.

Here are six festival highlights not to miss:

1 Matthew Harrison’s The Actual Reality Arcade, Friday from 4pm – 7pm and Saturday from 12 noon to 7pm (last entrance 6.30pm) at Poole Quay: A day-time interactive game zone inspired by classical arcade games. Pilot spaceship across the galaxy and survive an onslaught of aliens in Defender or shoot them down in the Space Invaders Gallery. Free.

2 The Rock the Boat Street Guitars, Friday from 4pm – 9pm and Saturday, 12 noon to 7pm at Poole Quay. Five old sailing dinghies up-cycled into mini-stages and set up along the Quay. The boats provide sculptural shelter for full-size acoustic guitars or ukuleles for passers-by to pick up and play. Impromptu performances are encouraged. Free.

3 Cirque Rouages (beginning outside Thistle Hotel in Poole) on Friday and Saturday at 7.45pm. The French company presents their enchanting hit show Sodade at twilight. On endlessly turning wheels and a tightrope high up against the darkening sky, circus acrobats and musicians tell a heart-stopping story of an old sailor on the harbourside, looking back on his life. Free.

4 Boscombe will be the location for three UK premieres this Saturday and Sunday from noon. All free. Manimal: Gesticulating, a way of thinking about the World, Les Souffleurs Commandos Poetiques (France); De Weide Wereld, Waterlanders (Netherlands) and Olie, Collectief Waldon (Netherlands).

5 Fl-utter-ances (Tree Songs). Described as a “sonic meditation created from woodland field recordings” heard through ‘sound pillows’ on sun loungers installed on the sub-tropical clifftops of Boscombe Overcliff Nature Reserve.

Live acoustic performances will be added to the mix throughout the day. Environmental artist Jane Pitt and performance artist Lorna Rees have worked with volunteers from Cherry Tree Nursery to create this work.

6 Furious Folly, Mark Anderson (UK), Mount Pleasant Park and Ride, Weymouth, Thursday 20 and Friday September 21 at 7.30pm. Free.

A large-scale outdoor production for up to 2,000 people, Furious Folly takes place in wide open landscape resembling a battlefield. As night falls, in the no-man’s-land between two enemy lines, the segregated, disorientated audience find themselves immersed in a world of sound, light, pyrotechnics and performance. Mark Anderson leads a team of artists who draw on the anti-war spirit of the early 20th century Dadaist movement to rail against the madness of the battlefield and challenge the inhumanity and senselessness of conflicts past and present.

* Inside Out Dorset is partnered with Lighthouse Poole, Borough of Poole, Poole BID, Bournemouth Borough Council, Dorset AONB, English Heritage and the Duchy of Cornwall. For more details, see