DORSET’S hottest festival makes its return on August 3 and 4.

Thousands are expected to turn out for the ninth annual Great Dorset Chilli Festival, which will take place at St Giles Park in Wimborne St Giles.

The specialist festival will celebrate the spicy fruit, with visitors invited to enjoy tastings, workshops and competitions throughout the weekend.

This year, representatives from the UK Chilli Cook-off Association will host a weekend-long ‘grand masters’ competition. Teams will be asked to cook a ‘chilli verde’ – a green pork, chicken or vegetable chilli – as well as a one-off dish showcasing their cooking and presentation style.

On the Sunday, teams will cook the traditional red chilli, which will be judged by the public as well as the experts. The winners will claim a £1,000 prize.

The event will also feature live music and the popular chilli eating competitions, videos of which have racked up millions of views on YouTube, as well as a bouncy castle, falconry displays and face painting.

Masterchef winner Mat Follas and Mark Hartstone, head chef of La Fosse in Cranborne, will present in the demonstration kitchen.

Even for those not keen on spicy food, there’ll be plenty to eat.

Festival director Miles Halton said: “It almost goes without saying that there will be an amazing selection of the very best artisan food producers and spicy street food vendors.

“With even more caterers attending this year, there will be something to suit the spicy and less-spicy palate alike: vegetarian and gluten-free snacks and curries, pulled pork, Thai and Caribbean food, Dorset barbeques, Dorset-reared lamb, wood-fired pizzas and seafood.”

Willing volunteers for the chilli eating competitions should email to request an application form.