Walk on the Isle side of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate

May is National Walking Month so what better excuse to start getting out and about in the open air and explore Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate. From a leisurely stroll along the coast to self-guided saunters taking in the Isle’s history and heritage, brain-teasing meanders and digital discovery trails, and guided tours with costumed characters of Thanet’s past. Enjoying your stay is as easy as putting one step in front of the other (with plenty of great pit stops along the way).

Venture along the Viking Coastal Trail
Known as the most attractive walking (and cycling) route in Kent, this 32 mile circular route takes in stunning sandy beaches and bays, airy chalk cliff tops and pretty rural villages, as well as offering rock pool rambles. The route can be broken down into bite-sized chunks and there are lots of seafront cafes and restaurants on route if you fancy a break.

Viking Coastal Trail
Viking Coastal Trail

Wander through history
Take your own tour through the Isle on these self-guided strolls, discovering history with every step.


Pugin House

  • Turner and Dickens Walk – a 4 mile walk connecting JMW Turner’s Margate with Charles Dickens’ Broadstairs, along an ancient footpath. Start at Turner Contemporary, passed Drapers Windmill into St Peter’s and down to Broadstairs seafront, or vice versa. – got pictures of the signs or could use TC/Dickens House
  • Discover Margate Trail – explore Margate’s landmarks and history that shaped the seaside town over the centuries.
  • Magical Margate – saunter along the original seaside’s history as a holiday resort on this 3.5 mile walk, available to download in audio or written form
  • Broadstairs Town Trail – follow the illustration boards and guides to get an insight into the town’s history, people and buildings.
  • Pugin Town Trail – walk from the East Cliff to the West Cliff of Ramsgate, observing the town’s stunning Gothic architecture designed, built and even lived in by the architect Augustus Pugin and his family.
  • Ramsgate Military & Heritage Trail – meander through the town’s heritage and find out about key events from its fascinating past
  • Active Ramsgate Walks – amble around the town discovering nature galore, regency architecture and breathtaking views – choose from Contra Trail, Sea it All, Ramsgate Town Rounders, Beach Roamer, or do them all (there are relaxing pit stops along the way)
  • Ramsgate Montefiore Walk – the Jewish philanthropist and activist Sir Moses Montefiore was a prominent figure of Victorian England. See the legacy he left on the town as you stroll through Ramsgate’s historic streets.
  • Way of St Augustine – travel in the footsteps of St Augustine to discover the birth of Christianity in England on this 19 mile trek to Canterbury

Be guided around the Isle
Boasting the only Royal Harbour in the country is just one of the many historic encounters you can experience in Ramsgate. With four guided Costumed Walks in the Town Centre, East Cliff, West Cliff and the Harbour (Tuesdays, July and August), the characters from the Isle’s past will be your guide in the present. Or maybe you’d like to delve into the darker side of the Isle… uncover Rotten Ramsgate with a murder mystery walking tour (keep your eye out for ghosts).

Walking in Ramsgate
Walking in Ramsgate

Relive the dark days of Ramsgate’s important World War II history on a Blitz Walk (first Sunday of every month except September, and Fridays in July and August), then go underground to see how residents survived the bombs at the Ramsgate Tunnels.

Famous for being the favourite coastal retreat of Charles Dickens, there’s so much more to Broadstairs than its literary heroes, as you’ll discover on a Town Walk, taking in 600 years of rich history.

St Peter's Village Tour
The St Peter’s Village tour at Nuckell’s Alm’s House

The quintessentially quaint village of St Peter’s is steeped in history, let the locals guide you on their award-winning St Peter’s Village Tour which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, before remembering those who died during or as a result of the First and Second World Wars on the WWI and WWII Graves Tours.

Walk, talk, game
Make your walk a real adventure, by adding a gaming twist – perfect for keeping young and older minds entertained as you sightsee across the Isle.

Digital Interpretation Plaques
Digital Interpretation Plaques
  • Digital Interpretation Plaques – Discover intriguing stories about the area with 11 new digital plaques, dotted around the Isle. Enter the code and the story of Thanet will come alive with pictures, video and audio.
  • Take on a digital treasure hunt geocaching challenge in Ramsgate. Download the geocaching app, then find the hidden ‘caches’ using GPS coordinates, collecting smileys (and smiles) along the way.  
  • Combine your visit to our beaches and bays with a detective game, using our Coastal Explorers packs, which are filled with equipment to help you discover our rich heritage stories and natural coastal designations.
  • Grab a ‘ghost’ detector and backpack before heading off in search of the spooky side of Margate, with Ctrl Alt Esc Ghosts on the Go – a new outdoor escape game that takes you around the town to capture ghouls (coming in July). Unlike an indoor escape room, there’s no time limit, meaning your family fun can last a whole morning/afternoon or day.
Coastal Explorer Packs
Coastal Explorer Packs

There are many ways to enjoy your walks around our beautiful Isle, and along the way you’ll find a plethora of pit stops including relaxing cafes, restaurants and pubs for some well-earned nourishment. Picnics make a great accompaniment to any stroll – see our top picnic spots.

FestivIsle vibes

With longer days, more daylight hours and warmer weather, it’s time to get your music juices flowing and your foot tapping at the coast! From popular festivals to one-off concerts, the coast is alive with the sound of music and has something for every taste imaginable. 

Dreamland Sunset Sessions
As the sun melts into the sea, it becomes time to party the night away with lovers and friends under the stars at Dreamland’s dreamy scenic stage sessions in Margate. If that’s tickled your ear drums, lookout for gigs and concerts throughout the summer and autumn, including Norman Jay, Pete Tong, the BBC Big Band, Happy Mondays and Rudimental.

Dreamland at Night

Margate Mixer
From soul, jazz and ska to rhythm and rock mixed in, the town is awash with musical offerings. Get those heels a moving and the seasons a grooving with Skagate followed by Margate Soul Festival, Margate Rock and Rhythm and Margate Jazz Festival.

Big names, bigger hits
The Beatles, Status Quo and The Libertines have all graced the stage at Margate’s Winter Gardens.  Discover which big act will be next to take to the stage? Not to be outdone your foot will be tapping along to performances at the Theatre Royal, and Sarah Thorne Theatre .

Margate Winter Gardens

A folking good time
For one glorious week in August, Broadstairs is taken over with the sound of folk music. Now in its 54th year, and a huge event on the Isle’s calendar, Broadstairs Folk Week has over 70 events a day – learn a new skill, try dancing, singalong or browse the craft fair. Acts appear at the bandstand, in pubs and on the streets, meaning you can soak up the sounds anywhere and everywhere.

Jon Boden – The Remnant Kings. Credit Chris Saunders

Wheels and Fins beach party
Joss Bay is a surfer’s paradise, and thanks to Wheels and Fins festival it’s become a music lover’s haven too. With live music from some of the biggest acts, including a Sunday takeover by the Ministry of Sound, and a wealth of activities including beach yoga, sand sculpting, SUP racing, blending music and activities together, it’s ideal as a first festival for kids or adults only.

Wheels and Fins Festival. Credit Joel Hirst

All the rave (for kids)
Even the youngest family members can enjoy all the fun of a festival with Big Fish Little Fish Family Rave at Dreamland. Rave legend DJ Mark Archer (Altern 8) presents an upfront selection of club classics from acid house that will have everyone dancing.

Big Fish Little Fish. Credit Jason Pay

All the rave (for adults)
Ramsgate Music Hall, an intimate venue with a 130 capacity and winner of the NME award for Best British Small Venue, has a thriving programme of artist performances from emerging to headliners.

Gryff Rhys at Ramsgate Music Hall. Credit Dik Ng

Play that funky music
Get the decks spinning and post-festival party pumping after browsing the racks of Vinyl Head, Starfish Records or Elsewhere.

There’s plenty to inspire a visit to the FestivIsle of Thanet, and being just a short journey from London by train, makes for the perfect day, night or weekend trip.

Spring forward on the Isle – 7 ways to see in the new season

With the warmest February on record, we’ve already got a spring in our step, and no doubt you have too, so here’s how you can welcome in the new season in Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate.

Spring into action

Fresh sea air, clear blue skies, the sun on our face… there’s nothing like being outdoors after the short winter days. Shake off hibernation mode with a stroll or cycle along our 32 miles (51.4km) of stunning sandy beaches boasting infinite views out to sea, chalk cliffs and pretty rural villages, via the circular Viking Coastal Trail. Get the heart pumping with a run along the seafronts at Margate, Broadstairs or Ramsgate, go for a hole in one at our many golf courses in Westgate and Birchington, North Foreland, St Augustine’s, Stonelees and Manston, or make it a family adventure at Lillyputt’s, Rascal Bay, Quex or Strokes’ and Lost Island mini golf.

Looking for something more serene? Try tai chi, yoga, pilates or even meditation in one of the many practices in each town. You can even go off mat and onto the beach, for a truly soul-enriching experience.

Walk in the footsteps of history

It’s easy to believe we’re all about beaches and bays on the Isle of Thanet, but there’s rich heritage to discover with every step you take. Our cliffs are 80 million (yes million!) years old and the Romans landed here. In the 18th century, the restorative seawalter bathing along our shores sparked the seaside holiday boom (Margate was the first place to have  donkey rides and deckchairs ). Ramsgate sent ‘little ships’ to Dunkirk and welcomed 80,000 soldiers safely back from France during WWII. The Isle’s beauty has attracted some of the nation’s most-admired artists, architects and writers, including JMW Turner, Charles Dickens and Augustus Pugin. Make the past your present with our many self-guided walking trails, including the new Ramsgate Military and History Trail .

Awaken your senses

Sunrise at Kingsgate Bay

They say seeing is believing, and you’ll find plenty of visual wonders to marvel at along our coastline. Experience the seasons change before your very eyes on the spring equinox (20 March) and witness our truly unbelievable sunsets and sunrises (if you don’t believe us, just check out our Instagram).

At the world-class gallery Turner Contemporary, get up close to world-class art by visiting ‘A place that exists only in moonlight: Katie Paterson & JMW Turner’ (until 6 May) and Cornelia Parker’s ‘Perpetual Canon’ (closes 17 March). Across the Isle, witness live art spectacles during the Looping the Loop Festival (20 – 28 April).

Or take the ultimate scenic journey with a ride upon Stagecoach’s Open Top Bus. Take in the sensational views between Stone Bay, Broadstairs, and the Boating Pool in Ramsgate, you can even hop on and off to explore each place en route (starts 6 April on selected dates and you can travel in either direction).

Make moments last a lifetime

A short break or day trip with your loved ones can guarantee much-needed quality family time. This Mother’s Day (31 March), why not treat the special lady/ladies in your life to a relaxing stroll on the beach, a spa session or say thank you with a gift from the many artists studios, galleries or shops or a delicious afternoon tea or meal at one of our many award-winning cafes and restaurants.

Go treasure hunting


Easter is a little later this year (19 – 21 April), so fingers crossed the weather will be glorious! Regardless, you can find indoor and outdoor treasures, from egg hunts, and digital geocaching hunts to gaming and theatrical treasure at The Micro Museum, Margate’s Theatre Royal The Jungle Book and Sarah Thorne Theatre’s
Simple Simon Easter Special. Or hunt for historical knowledge together at Powell-Cotton Museum, Crampton Tower (reopens 19 April), Ramsgate Maritime Museum, Ramsgate Tunnels, Margate Museum, RAF Manston Spitfire and Hurricane Museum. Or try one of our Coastal Explorer packs – just £5 for a whole day’s fun. 

Open spaces, open mind

As a new season comes into bloom, our open spaces become a picture of colour, and peaceful havens. Take tea in the Italianate Glasshouse (reopens 1 April), a Grade II* listed historic monument in the grounds of King George VI Memorial Park, just a sea breeze from the water’s edge in Ramsgate . See what you can spot on Ellington Park’s nature trail, and find what wildlife and birds stir at Monkton Nature Reserve  and Pegwell Bay.

Dare to do something different

Enjoy the thrill of the ride and free entry at Dreamland this spring (reopens 6 April), letting the fun last all day. Then ride the waves at beautiful Joss Bay with the Surf School (opens 6 April and choose from surfing or stand up paddle boarding, group or private lessons), and Kent Surf School (open from April).

However you choose to spend your Spring time, you won’t be disappointed when you visit Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate and the surrounding villages.

 

Fall in love with the Isle of Thanet this Valentine’s

If you’re looking to fill your day/weekend/week with love this Valentine’s (and any time), then the Isle has it in abundance…

Single? Be ready to un-mingle

Yoga on the beach
Yoga on the beach

Indulge in some precious self-care, the joys of being independent and the thrill of solo adventures: try one of the Isle’s many yoga, pilates or meditation classes; pick up a pen, paintbrush or camera and express your creative passion, with the backdrop of beautiful beaches, bays, chalk cliffs and stunning architecture for inspiration. Or try golf, canoeing, cycling and even geocaching with Active Ramsgate.

Looking for love?

Viking Bay winter sunset
Viking Bay winter sunset

Fall in love with stunning sunsets, sensational sun rises, and a gorgeous 19 mile coastline that goes through 15 sandy bays. Take them all in on a solo stroll, with a friend or partner or even the kids. There really is nothing like connecting with nature to make you feel on top of the world. Share your snaps with us, tag #VisitThanet

Coupled up? Roses are red, the sea is blue…

The Grange, Ramsgate
The Grange, Ramsgate

Oh Thanet, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height of your splendid architecture, from Georgian and Victorian seaside homes to Pugin’s Gothic St Augustine’s Church and The Grange. I love thee to the sea and back, by sunrise and by sunset. I love thee freely, for your artistic inspiration…

Our poetry may not be as good as Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s, but walking around Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate hand in hand together, you’ll discover why for centuries, poets, writers and artists have loved the Isle. From T.S.Eliot, Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins to JMW Turner and Tracey Emin. Take a literary walk and find expressions of love at every turn, such as Emin’s neon on our Visitor Information Centre declaring to Margate ‘I Never Stopped Loving You’. Or listen to literature at Turner Contemporary on Valentine’s as actor Russell Tovey reads from an anthology of original short fiction by Pin Drop Studio.

Make Lovely memories with the family

Coastal Explorer Packs
Coastal Explorer Packs

Start a family love affair with the coast – wrap up and have fun on the beach (it’s not just for summer you know) – build sandcastles, go rockpooling and discover the unique marine life with our Coastal Explore Packs. Then cuddle up with a cup of hot chocolate in one of our many cafes. You’ll create memories that will last a lifetime, guaranteed.

Puppy love

Dog walking at Kingsgate Bay
Dog walking at Kingsgate Bay

Canine companions bring so much joy and the Isle of Thanet is is the ‘paw’fect place for your pooch – in winter, the miles and miles of uncrowded sandy beaches are there for you to roam on and there’s a host of dog-friendly pubs and restaurants, attractions and accommodation.

And just in case you need any further inspiration to visit us this February…

Food lovers

Alfresco Dining
Alfresco Dining

Spice up your (love) life and tantalise those tastebuds with the Isle’s many places to eat and drink, from romantic fine dining served with a winter sunset and stars to brilliant brunches, award-winning eateries to farmers markets, local ingredients and freshly caught fish and local seafood to vegetarian street food and vegan wholefoods. The options are as diverse and plentiful as our coastline, and many places are offering special Valentine’s menus and events, just take a look here.

Art lovers

Katie Paterson at Turner Contemporary
Katie Paterson at Turner Contemporary

Take your love of culture to the moon and back by visiting Turner Contemporary’s current exhibition A place that exists only in moonlight: Katie Paterson and JMW Turner, then be seduced by Margate Old Town and the many independent artist studios and galleries you can find.

Nature lovers

Birdwatching at Pegwell Bay
Birdwatching at Pegwell Bay

For all you love birds, go bird watching at Pegwell Bay and spot a range of seashore birds and wildlife found nowhere else in East Kent.

Outdoors lovers

Viking Coastal Trail
Viking Coastal Trail

Get your pulses really racing with some cycling, running, walking or water sports – hire a bike from Ken’s Bike Shop, Ride…The BikeShed, Viking Coastal Trail Cycle Hire and Harbour Bikes, then follow the Viking Coastal trail as it takes you around the coast and inland passed Pegwell Bay to Reculver. Or work up a sweat with a run along the seafront, for the really daring you could even brave a winter water sport such as kite surfing. It’s all to play for here on the Isle of Thanet!

Music lovers

Tea Dance at Dreamland
Tea Dance at Dreamland

Make your heart sing at Brutus Gold’s Love Train at Dreamland (8 February) and get those dancing shoes on for the Romance Rave at Ramsgate Music Hall (14 February) and Tuesday Afternoon Tea Dances at Dreamland.

Whatever you’re looking for this Valentine’s, you can be sure to find it on the Isle of Thanet.

And we’d LOVE to have you come to stay.

Share the love, show us what it is that you love about the Isle, tag your trip with #LoveThanet

Ready, steady…half term

Across the Isle of Thanet (Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate), we’ve got all the ingredients for you to cook up great days out with the whole family this February.

Boredom busting events

Delve into the wondrous world of books at Dreamland’s first Children’s Book Festival on 16th  February. See The Gruffalo, illustrate your own story, meet authors and take a spin in the roller room for the ultimate day out. Be enthralled by Britain’s best loved toys; scalextric and airfix at the Hornby Visitor Centre (entry is just £2 for everyone on 16 and 17 February).

For something truly out of this world, get creative at Turner Contemporary’s family workshops inspired by the artist Katie Paterson’s astronomical art.

Mystery marvels

Shell Grotto
Shell Grotto

There are plenty of mysteries to solve in Thanet… tickle those brain cells with Margate’s cave of secrets the Shell Grotto or  set the stop watch and see if you can break out of any one of the Isle’s 4 Escape Rooms

Become a marine detective with our Coastal Explorer Packs. Learn essential explorer skills such as how to make a sundial and use a compass or delve into the bag for marine identification kit and become a real rocky shore researcher. Get 2 days of fun for the price of 1 this half-term – this great activity value pack is just £5 and will provide hours and hours of entertainment. Pick up a pack from  Margate and Ramsgate Visitor Information Centres.

 

Underground adventures

Grab your hard hat and torch and enjoy a guided walk of Ramsgate Tunnels – the UK’s largest network of civilian wartime underground pathways, learning fascinating facts about WWII along the way. The tunnels are a firm favourite for a family outing and perfect for all generations to enjoy together. Open Wed to Sun.(Wrap up as will be cold)

Mini golf *can* be played in winter, at the indoor Lost Island Adventure Golf in Margate and Rascal Bay in Manston. Putt your way through dense jungle, a secret shack, ferocious dinosaur, fire tiki and more –  the kids will go crazy for it! 

Time travel

Powell-Cotton Museum, Birchington
Powell-Cotton Museum, Birchington

Go back in time at the Powell-Cotton Museum in Birchington, where you can follow Major Percy’s collection of natural history wonders, and see the biggest collection of dioramas in Europe collected from all over the world. You can even doodle on the glass of the dioramas during the Museum’s mash up events between 19th to 22nd February, and create your own clay animals.

Active(ities)

Let off some excess energy with an Active Ramsgate walk, cycle along the Viking Coastal Trail or get your game on with a bit of geocaching (the outdoor GPS digital treasure hunt game). Ramsgate is a friendly harbour town with stunning coastal scenery- perfect for some fresh air.

Be beach brave

The beach is not just for summer, we promise! Broadstairs has 7 bays and all you need to do is  wrap up warm, grab some fish and chips and play on the sand. You’ll be surprised how many families brave it this time of year!

Be invigorated by the Isle this new year

Happy 2019!

Are you flagging after festive indulgences? The Isle of Thanet is just the place to help you spring into the New Year feeling refreshed and invigorated. Let a coastal retreat to Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate help you to restore the balance.

Get Out and Get Active

The Isle is famous for its refreshing sea air and feel-good activities. In winter, being here can work wonders on the mind, body and spirit. Nature knows best how to blow away all the cobwebs and reboot sluggish systems. Just try a spin on your bike along the Viking Coastal Trail, looping around the stunning coastline overlooking the North Sea and English Channel and quiet inland lanes, past beaches and bays (we have 15 to explore!). Or discover a whole raft of exhilarating watersports fun, birdwatching, and walking in and around town with Active Ramsgate. Round off with a spot of golf: you won’t top tee-time on our 18-hole, cliff-top and links courses.

Find your Creative Spark

Psychologists call it ‘flow’: that magical moment when your mind is completely immersed and firing on all cylinders. We call it getting creative on the coast, where the free spirit of wind and waves is perfect for getting your imagination going. Not even the sky’s the limit when you take inspiration from the new exhibition of work by ‘astronomical’ artist Katie Paterson at Turner Contemporary (exhibition opens 26 Jan). And it can’t be pure coincidence that we’ve so many contemporary artists living and working in Thanet today, and so many stimulating galleries and studios to visit around every corner.

You can also follow in the footsteps of famous artists and writers: Charles Dickens who found inspiration in Broadstairs “the freshest, freest place”; Van Gogh who spent “really happy days” in Ramsgate; T. S. Eliot and Tracey Emin, both energized by Margate. JMW Turner thought that the “skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe” and we couldn’t agree more. Or have a go at painting, pottery or drawing – check out what’s on this month around the Isle, including family-friendly sessions. Find just the spot that sparks your own creativity.

Nourish your Body

Feeling good begins on the inside. And there’s nothing as good as fresh food in flavoursome surroundings to get you all zesty again. So come and make the most of the tantalising menus around the Isle – full of delicious local ingredients in award-winning restaurants, bistros and cafés; wood-fired pizzas with views of golden sands; freshly caught fish and local seafood; allergen-friendly artisan dishes and vegetarian street food. Vegan to wholefood, to wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee bars; Good Food Guide to Taste of Kent Award Winners – they’re all here for a light bite, a lazy brunch, a long lunch, or a relaxing, romantic dinner served with a winter sunset and stars.

Also graze our independent foodie outlets and friendly farmers’ markets boasting butchers, bakers, cheese-makers (and everything in between): from Cliftonville Farmers Market and Quex Barn to brand new Cinque Ports farmers’ market or Windmill Community Gardens’ market stall featuring organic and home-made produce.

Unplug and unwind

You don’t need to tune in or turn on when you’re on the Isle. Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate are all great getaways for disconnecting and a digital detox. Try some yoga or pilates on the beach or in one of the many classes available in each town.

Or start each day with a little meditation and mindfulness overlooking the spectacular views of infinite sea.

“With so many miles of sandy coastline around Thanet there are a host of quiet spots you can choose from to take some time out and refresh your being. The experience of mindful and body practices feel so good with the sand beneath your feet, the ever changing sound of the waves, and awareness of a gentle sea breeze as it brushes your skin. Try a yoga or meditation class at sunrise, sunset, or any time.”
Lorraine Williams, Mindful Thanet

Sleep Well

A good night’s sleep is as restorative for the mind as eating well and regular exercise is for the body. After days out and about, we’ve got relaxation covered with a variety of quality places to stay in Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate and our lovely villages: classic seafront hotels, calming boutique B&Bs, family-run guesthouses, cosy self-catering cottages. What do you fancy? Georgian harbourside comfort, Jazz Age glamour, a rural retreat or a sleek modern chain? Or maybe easy-going caravanning and camping beneath the stars is your thing, to truly connect to the outdoors. Fresh air and sweet dreams all round.

Minnis Bay Viking Coastal Trail

Don’t just take our word for it, here’s what visitors are saying about the Isle of Thanet (Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate)…

“Just had our holiday in Margate – first time ever. Have to say was the BEST holiday ever. Fab people. Fab places to visit AND the warmest of welcomes. Can’t wait for our next visit,”

“There’s so much to see here that we haven’t had time to fit it all in! We couldn’t get enough of your lovely beach walks and amazing views, so didn’t quite have time to explore all the interesting little shops and galleries – we can’t wait to come back.”

“The view of the Ramsgate Harbour from East Cliff was breathtaking! You could be anywhere in the Mediterranean”

The Isle’s 12 Christmas Experiences

Inspired by ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ carol, we’ve come up with our very own 12 great ideas for things to see, do and enjoy around Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate this festive period. Unique Santa experiences, festive fayres, funtastic pantos, coastal adventures with a twist – take a look and make your festive time even more magical!

1 Glittering Royal Harbour

RamsgateXmas4

We can’t promise you a partridge in a pear tree, but there are sure to be dazzling Christmas tree masts! Yes, December is time to ‘deck the boats’ in the Royal Harbour Ramsgate where thousands of glittering decorations adorn the vessels. This year for the very first time, you can also watch a stunning Northern Lights Laser Show casting a spectacular Aurora Borealis across the evening skies (8–21 Dec). Fun-loving King George IV gave Ramsgate’s harbour its ‘Royal’ tag in thanks for his warm welcome in 1821 – and a famous welcome awaits you today as illuminations bathe the Harbour in magic throughout December.

2 Winter Coast Adventures to try

12 Days of Christmas - Birdwatching1 - credit Explore Kent
Birdwatching © Explore Kent

Never mind 2 turtle doves, how about 2 wild adventures for something refreshingly different to do on the coast at this time of year. Thousands of migratory and overwintering birds flock to our local shores right now, making it an ideal time for bird-watching. Join a guided bird walk to get yourself started, spot birds around the former chalk quarry of Monkton Nature Reserve, or watch waders and waterfowl feeding on the saltmarsh of Sandwich & Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve.

For your 2nd adventure, hire a Coastal Explorers backpack – a bit like a Santa’s sack especially for seaside sleuths, it’s full of equipment, games and activities so the whole family can have fun while they learn about our beaches and coastal heritage.

3 Extra Special Places to Meet Father Christmas

Quex elf
Where more play-full to meet Father Christmas than at Hornby Hobbies Visitor Centre in Margate, home to some of Britain’s best-loved toys? Where better to venture through a Magical Elf Forest to visit Santa for festive tales than Quex Park at Birchington, home to generations of intrepid explorers and collectors? Where else to embark on a miniature train ride and find Father Christmas waiting with a gift than Crampton Tower Museum in Broadstairs, celebrating designer of locomotives and railways Thomas Crampton!

Find out more about these 3 unique treats to meet Santa (plus where else the Man in Red will be appearing around Thanet) here.

4 Fun-filled Pantomimes to Enjoy – Oh Yes There Are!

Jack and the Beanstalk FB Ad.png
Never mind “4 calling birds” in the carol, in the spirit of panto you’ll be hollering for all you’re worth: “He’s behind you!” and “Oh yes he is!” There’s something about flying carpets, magic lamps, glass slippers and side-splitting slapstick that brings out the child in us all.

We reckon you’ll have a feast of giant Fe Fi Fo FUN with Jack & the Beanstalk at the Theatre Royal Margate and Minster Village Hall, and who knows what wishes the Genie of the Lamp will grant to Aladdin in the Winter Gardens and The Centre, Birchington? You can also hi ho, hi ho to The Granville Theatre in Ramsgate for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, or share the adventures of Dick Whittington (and his special cat) at Sarah Thorne Theatre. Oh yes you can! Click here to find out more about the Isle’s panto fun.

5 Golden Beaches and Bays

12 Days of Christmas -golden beaches and bays.jpg
Okay, we’re playing a little fast and loose with this one (it’s the festive spirit!) because we’ve actually got 15 golden-sand beaches and bays (all the more impressive for your ‘true love’). Why not ‘ring’ the changes and visit them in winter, there’s nothing quite so exhilarating as watching white horses breaking on the shore as you stroll along lovely wide stretches of sand, sea breezes in your hair. And there’s so much space to play catch-me-if you-can with the kids. Or come for a promenade cycle ride, the perfect antidote to Christmas bustle (and a way to work off those mince pies).

6 Christmas Lights Switch-ons

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The countdown begins, the excitement grows and then – whoosh, the lights are switched on and we can all bask in the festive glow. It’s a cracking ooh-and aah experience every year. So check out our dazzling half dozen lights switch-ons: from the celebrity turn-on and spectacular Toy Fort Grotto at Westwood Cross, to lights and action (children’s carousel to elves workshops) in Ramsgate Town Centre.

Broadstairs Christmas Fayre and Lights Switch-on at Pierremont Park features goody-filled stalls and choirs, while it’s mince pies and mulled wine all round for the illumination of the artist-made Christmas tree installation at Turner Contemporary. Live entertainment at Westgate on Sea, face painting and magic at Cliftonville – turn on the good cheer with the lights.

7 Great Christmas Carol Occasions

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Christmas Carols © Turner Contemporary

From Silent Night to Ding Dong Merrily on High, The Holly and the Ivy to The 12 Days of Christmas – carolling is at the heart of the festive season. And we’ve some wonderful events and welcoming services you can join in. Thanet Male Voice Choir sets the tone with a concert at Holy Trinity Church in Cliftonville (24 Nov) and again for charity at Holy Trinity Church in Broadstairs (9 Dec). Meanwhile both traditional and modern music feature at Thanet Chamber Choir’s Advent Carol Service at St. Nicholas Church, (1 Dec).

 

A performance by Turner Contemporary’s resident choir, the Thanet Big Sing, in front of the Perpetual Canon art installation by Turner Prize nominee Cornelia Parker is guaranteed to raise a stir (8 Dec). And why not help to raise the roof singing Carols by Candlelight at St George’s Church, Ramsgate (21 Dec) or joining in the Mass and Carol Service at Holy Trinity Church, Ramsgate (23 Dec). Then tuck into Christmas Dinner and sit back for Carols with the Crooner at Ramsgate’s Comfort Inn (24 Dec).

8 Funtastic Family Activities & Play

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You know the scene: Christmas is coming, fidgety kids are fit to burst with excitement – and to cap it all the weather has taken a turn for the worse! Never fear, we’ve at least 8 great indoor activity centres where they can let off steam with their fun-ometer set to max (while you can enjoy a quiet-ish cuppa).

There’s soft play at Ollie’s, and how about bouncing around in a multi-coloured ball pit at Silver’s Club World, or getting arty and crafty in the potting shed in the Octopus’s Garden at Dreamland: all in Margate. Toddlers can tackle the wavy slide while juniors try sky gliders at Bumble Beez in Ramsgate. Beginners to experts can get bouldering and skateboarding at Revolution Skatepark and Climbing Centre in Broadstairs.

Then get in the swim at Hartsdown or Ramsgate Leisure Centre, and at Quex Park take your pick from Jungle Jim’s (rope bridges to Bish Bash) and Build a Base – who can defend their castle amid special effects like strobe lights?

9 Christmas Fayres and Markets

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With shopping top of the ‘to do’ list right now, we just have to let you in on our festive fayres and markets (in addition of course to our fab independent town shops and Westwood Cross). Full of gifts and goodies, they’re perfect for finding that particular prezzie or stocking fillers, as well as stocking the larder.

Enjoy food, glorious local food and sea views at Cliftonville Christmas Farmers’ Market; and tempting produce and artisan goods at Ramsgate Handmade & Vintage Fair. Looking for something crafty? Try the Coastal Crafty Crew Pre-Christmas Craft Fair at Quex Barn, or the Designers and Makers Market (jewellery to ceramics) at Turner Contemporary.

Gift stalls combined with scrummy festive refreshments help you ‘shop without the drop’ at Broadstairs Christmas Fayre, as well as at church fayres from St Andrew’s (Broadstairs) to All Saints (Westbrook) and St Laurence (Ramsgate). And we bet you’ll be intrigued by the ‘real’ Unicorn Rides in between browsing craft stalls at Minster Christmas Festival. Check our 9 market and fayre dates, plus other shopping ideas here.

10 Escape Rooms to lose yourself in

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We’ve found you a super-cool, modern version of ’10 lords a-leaping’ that will get everyone’s pulse racing – 10 very different Escape Room experiences needing leaps of imagination and logic to solve the puzzles. All against time as the clock ticks down (like counting the days to Christmas but a lot, lot faster).

Can you finish the scatty professor’s research in Frankenscape or get to the newly discovered planet in Spacescape, both at Ctrl Alt Esc. Will you work out the antidote to the global epidemic and save yourself and the world at Real Life Games?

Meanwhile 4 different mind-boggling missions await you at Breakout, including Charlie & the Chocolate Factory with puzzles designed especially for children. And another 3 challenges at The Escapement put you on the spot, crawling to the centre of the earth, excavating a lost tomb and navigating aboard ship by the stars: in The Pit, Egyptian Exodus and Pirates of Polaris. Your time starts now!

11 Winter walks to discover

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Sometimes enjoying yourself out and about is as easy as putting one foot in front of the other. At least it is around the Isle of Thanet! So we’ve picked 11 self-guided walks for you to dip into – they’re all different and you’ll get a real insight into our historic towns and coast as you explore (and a healthy glow from the fresh December air). Download leaflets and maps from our website, or pick them up at Visitor Information Centres. Here we go for a few highlights:

  • ‘Discover Margate’, the original seaside; or ‘Magical Margate’ and how it has reinvented itself as a coastal home for modern art.
  • Wander in the steps of ‘Turner and Dickens’, from Margate to Broadstairs.
  • Stroll from Dickensian scenes to salty tales on ‘Broadstairs Town Trail’.
  • Then take your pick of Active Ramsgate walks:
    ‘Sea it All’ (the clue’s in the title!); ‘The Contra Trail’ full of surprises; Regency, Royal and Riviera connections on ‘Ramsgate Town Rounders’; the spectacular ‘Beach Roamer’ from Ramsgate to Margate; and the evocative ‘Way of St Augustine’ to Canterbury.
  • Admire the architectural legacies of Pugin and his family on the ‘Pugin Town Trail’ around Ramsgate – and unlock the secrets of another towering figure of Victorian England, on the ‘Ramsgate Montefiore Heritage Town Trail’.

12 Indoor Attractions for All

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Drum roll, please (maybe from the Christmas carol’s 12 drummers drumming?!): we’ve reached the finale for our December dozen great things to do. The Isle of Thanet is well known for its eclectic mix of attractions and many of them stay open through the winter months – cue a rich pick-and-mix of outings to appeal to everyone.

Fancy an unusual, underground adventure? Follow the winding passages of Margate’s Shell Grotto, studded with 4.6 millions shells (make up your own mind about its mysterious origins!). Or tour atmospheric Ramsgate Tunnels, the UK’s largest network of civilian wartime tunnels and hear about the ‘Mad Mayor’ who saved the town.

All very different, all free entry: there’s Turner Contemporary for artistic inspiration; the unique Shrine of St Augustine and The National Pugin Centre; the Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum featuring the iconic RAF fighter planes of the Second World War.

Mosey around a heritage centre, savour the centuries-old peace of an abbey or church, rediscover your favourite childhood toys. Take your pick!

Turner Contemporary
Margate Museum
The Shell Grotto
Hornby Hobbies Visitor Centre
Ramsgate Tunnels
Shrine of St Augustine & The National Pugin Centre
Birchington Heritage Trust
Westgate Heritage Centre
RAF Manston History Museum
Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum 
Minster Abbey
St Mary the Virgin Church

Whether you’re visiting friends or family, coming for a holiday or live on the Isle, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

If you’d like to be kept up to date with the latest news about Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate, sign up to our newsletter today.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanet and the First World War

11th November 2018 marks 100 years since the First World War ended. In commemoration, we thought we’d share the Isle of Thanet’s Great War connections and the extraordinary role that the Isle and its people played between 1914 and 1918.

The Armistice Message

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Charles Fretter © Keith Garrison

The message that the war was to cease at 11am on 11 November 1918 was sent from Dover to the naval base at Ramsgate Harbour at 9.45am that morning. The townspeople were informed by ships’ sirens, fog horns and whistles.

Charles Fretter (1879 – 1964), who became a Birchington resident towards the end of his life, was the first person to receive word from France confirming the end of the hostilities. Between 1916 and 1918 he was stationed at Dover Castle, on wireless communication and signalling duties. As soon as the message came through, he followed the correct protocol by informing his immediate superior and saying nothing to his colleagues!

Defences

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Manston airfield © RAF Manston

In June 1914, a Royal Naval Air Station seaplane base,  opened at St Mildred’s Bay (formerly Marsh Bay) in Westgate. An airfield on adjacent farmland followed, becoming operational in April 1915. But it was not suitable for night flying and became too dangerous to land there, so a year later, on 29 May 1916, the airfield moved to Manston.

By 1917 Manston airfield had grown to include four underground hangars, its own railway line to Birchington, a power station to generate electricity, barracks for 3,000 men and even an indoor swimming pool. The WWI seaplane lookout can still be seen at St Mildred’s Bay. Discover more about the history of the airfield at the RAF Manston History Museum

Caring for the Wounded

Quex VAD Hospital

In October 1914, a telegram to Birchington notified the town that 100 wounded soldiers were on their way, by train, in need of emergency hospital accommodation. This marked the transformation of Quex Park into a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) hospital.

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Quex Park VAD Hospital © Quex Park / Powell Cotton Museum

The first patients were Belgian soldiers, with Major Powell-Cotton’s own domestic staff taking care of cooking and laundry. Quex was one of 80 VAD hospitals in Kent and remained open until January 1919, treating hundreds of patients of varying nationalities. See photographs and artefacts from this extraordinary time in Powell-Cotton Museum’s current exhibition ‘Quex Park VAD Hospital Welkom Vriend’

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Royal Seabathing Hospital, Margate

The Royal Seabathing Hospital, Margate was used to treat the wounded from French and Belgium battlefields.

Yarrow Home in Broadstairs was used as a military hospital during the war. The building is now the Yarrow Hotel based at East Kent College.

“The most bombed seaside town in England”

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Ramsgate was the first town in the country to experience a zeppelin raid and was repeatedly hit due to it being on route to London bombings.

On 16 June 1917, a German LZ42 Zeppelin dropped a 650lb bomb that landed on the fish market near the harbour Clock Tower, which the Royal Navy was using as an ammunition store, causing a massive explosion. 700 houses were damaged and 10,000 windows were shattered across the town. By the end of the First World War, the town had been given the unenvious title of ‘most bombed seaside town in England’.

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© Ramsgate Town Council Archive

Margate suffered too, and pictures of the damage caused by the downed zeppelins can be seen in Margate Museum’s Great War exhibition.

Finding Shelter

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The Sailor’s Church and Harbour Mission at
Ramsgate Harbour

In 1914, a sloping passage was cut from the cellars of the Vicarage of the Holy Trinity Church in Margate, so that the residents could use the Margate Caves, (closed at the time), as an air raid shelter. Trinity Church was subsequently destroyed during the air raids of the Second World War.

3,300 survivors of the First World War are known to have been fed, clothed, sheltered and medically treated at The Sailor’s Church and Harbour Mission at Ramsgate Harbour. Built in 1878 by Canon Eustace Brenan, vicar of the nearby Christ Church, the mission was intended for spiritual guidance and physical help for the men and boys who made up the crews of the sailing smacks who fished out of Ramsgate in the nineteenth century. Like many buildings in Thanet, its original purpose took on new meaning during wartime.

In Remembrance

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Many women and men in Thanet died during or as a result of the First World War. They are remembered on memorials and in cemeteries across the Isle, such as St Peter’s WWI War Graves, which offers tours, and Margate Cemetery.

There are a number of events and displays happening to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War across Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate and the Villages. Find a full listing here

Visiting the Isle? Why not follow one of our Frontline Thanet itineraries.

Do you have a First World War story or commemorative event you’d like to share? Tag us @visitthanet on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Sources:
Kent WW1, www.margatecaves.co.uk, Isle of Thanet in the Great War by Stephen Wynn, www.quexpark.co.uk, www.rafmanston.co.uk

7 Unbelievable photos of Thanet

Believe us- they’re real. Tropical plants, clear water and outrageously beautiful sunsets?! Yes- we have all this and more. We’ve picked some outstanding images we think you’ll love, and some even look like they could be far, far away! Don’t forget to share your own pics with us using the hashtag #visitthanet.

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Margate Main Sands, courtesy of MegOfMargate

A tropical plant, crossed with powdery sand, turquoise sea and a California-coast style Lifeguard Hut- yes this is Margate!

 

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Viking Bay, Broadstairs. Thanet Tourism. 

The dreamy candyfloss skies over Broadstairs are so unbelievably beautiful you’d be mistaken for thinking you were in paradise itself.

 

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Ramsgate, Thanet Tourism.

You’d be forgiven for thinking this chalky reef and clear sea was on the coast of Greece or certainly not in Britain, but we took this along the west side of Ramsgate, just beyond the Port.

 

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Kingsgate Bay, Broadstairs. Thanet Toursim. 

Where are some of the best sea caves in the country? Right here at Kingsgate Bay, Broadstairs! Just watch the tides on this beach as nooks and crannies can easily cut you off.

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Dumpton Gap, Broadstairs. Thanet Tourism. 

Where do you think has the longest continual stretch of Coastal Chalk in Europe? It’s right here- in Thanet! From towering cliffs to solitary chalk stacks and all the charming little cliffy nooks in between, if it’s coastal geology you’re after we’ve got more than you’d think.

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Margate Harbour Arm. Thanet Tourism.

It’s no secret our sunsets are to die for, but even after seeing thousands of sunsets on our coast, sometimes even we can’t quite believe our eyes!

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Ramsgate Harbour at night. Visit Kent/Thanet Tourism.

Marseille? Could be! The Old Port in this French town looks strikingly similar to our own Royal Harbour!

 

10 picnic spots in Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate

What’s better than a picnic? Probably a buffet!….But an outdoor spread is a spring/summer must-do activity! From parks covered in lush greenery to sandy nooks at Blue Flag beaches, there’s some great places to tuck into something tasty….(and please remember to dispose or recycle your litter!)

In no particular order….

  1. Margate Sea Defence Steps- This huge space is not only an excellent sea defence that protects our charming Old Town, but arguable one of the best spots to sit and enjoy your sandwiches, ice cream or fish n chips. Just watch out for the gulls! Especially beautiful when the tide is in.
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Relaxing on Margate Steps

2. King George VI Park, Ramsgate- A large, green park with children’s playground, small kiosk serving light snacks and teas and coffees and the charming Itialianate Glasshouse tea garden. Just a stone’s throw from the seafront right in the middle of Broadstairs and Ramsgate there is loads of green spaces to sit and enjoy your picnic.

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The Italianate Greenhouse, George VI Park.

3. Botany Bay, Broadstairs- one of our most picturesque bays. Sit beside the Chalk Stacks or on a grassy verge and lap up the sunshine!

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A young family relaxing together on the beach at Botany Bay.

4. Monkton Nature Reserve A 16 acre wildlife oasis reclaimed from a former chalk quarry. Enjoy your lunch in the company of over 350 species of flowering plant, including 9 species of orchid, and 25 species of butterfly. Several picnic areas and benches throughout the site.

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Monkton Nature Reserve.

5. Broadstairs Promenade- Where to start?! Rows of benches set amongst quaint Victorian Gardens, densely populated with flowers. Sit by the Bandstand and watch a concert, or in the Clocktower seating area, wherever you go you’ll be overlooking the marvellous crescent-shaped Viking Bay.

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Vicrotia Gardens along the Promenade, Broadstairs.

6. Palm Bay- A vast green space with ample free parking bays nearby. Overlooks the beach.

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Endless grass to perch on, overlooking Palm Bay.

7. Minnis Bay- A long stretch of sand with grassy verge. Great sunset picnic spot.

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Minnis Bay as the sun sets.

8.Ellington Park, Ramsgate. Huge, towering trees, a nature area and close proximity to Ramsgate Rail Station make this an excellent stop before you explore the rest of the town.

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Ellington Park.

9. Quex Park, Birchington- A visit to the Powell Cotton Museum and stately home Quex House and Gardens is made even better by their charming picnic areas.  Rest under the cool shade of the mature trees or next to the refreshing sound of the water fountain (entry fee applies). During the summer months you can also picnic near the Maize Maze.

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The beautiful gardens at Quex Park.

10. Sandwich and Pegwell Bay Nature Reserve- Great for a family day out, this reserve is also a haven for nature lovers. Made up of a complex mosaic of habitats: inter-tidal mudflats, saltmarsh, shingle beach, sand dunes, ancient dune pastures, chalk cliffs, wave cut platform and coastal scrubland; there’s always more to discover on each visit.

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10 photos of Spring time at the seaside

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Tea with a view, Dumpton Gap, Broadstairs.
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Cliff top flowers, Cliftonville, Margate.
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Victoria Gardens, Broadstairs Seafront.
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Margate Beach.
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Westbrook, looking towards Margate.
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Italianate Glasshouse, Ramsgate.
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Flower bloom in Sarre Village.
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A bright spring day at Viking Bay, Broadstairs. 
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Quex Park Gardens, Birchington. 
Monkton Nature Reserve
Monkton Nature Reserve 

10+ things to do this February Half Term

January is finally over, (the month felt like a whole year to us!) celebrate by getting out and exploring this Half Term… Here’s a few of our suggestions:

  1. Get your game on…. at GEEK, Dreamland’s huge festival of play and gaming, back this half term. There will be hundreds of games, from old favourites spanning the generations to virtual reality experiences, there’ll be something for everyone to enjoy and get involved in. This year’s theme is space and the team will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the arcade classic, Space Invaders! Various prices, 16th-18th Feb. If you’re into gaming you also might like to try one of our 3 Escape Games attractions too! Click here

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    GEEK
  2. Skate & Scoot….The award-winning team at Revolution Skatepark are here to teach your little ones how to get confidence on two wheels. Learn the basics with skilled instructors and brush up on your extreme sports skills! Must be booked in advance. £10 plus equipment hire. 11th, 12th,14th,16th,18th Feb.
  3. Go underground….At Ramsgate Tunnels. The Tunnels are a true TripAdvisor favourite, consistently scoring excellent reviews and are suitable for all the family. Just pre-warn the kids it can get quite dark! Grab your hard hat and torch and enjoy a guided walk of the UK’s largest network of civilian wartime tunnels. Booking advised. Closed Mon & Tue.
  4. Dragon hunting….Join Half-Term favourite Simple Simon on this panto-style adventure story with songs, comedy, joining in and small prizes at Margate Winter Gardens. 13th Feb. £7.50 per person. There’s also Children’s Showtime on 15th-17th Feb & popular Police Panto Cinder-Ella at Theatre Royal too (also 15th-17th Feb)
  5. Pancake flipping….There’s a traditional pancake race in Station Road, Wesgate-On-Sea and this has been held annually off and on for years! Check out this photo we think is from around the late 1950’s! Get involved or get down there just to spectate or run alongside the participants. 13th Feb. 10am.

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    Pancake Race, Westgate-On-Sea. Sunbeam Collection, Copyright Thanet District Council.
  6. Get creative….at Pick ‘n’ Paint a Pot, Cliftonville. Their half-term workshops are themed and allow children to get stuck into something creative. 14-16th Feb. Booking advised.
  7. Time for a walk….Should the weather be kind to us, enjoy an Active Ramsgate walk, cycle trail or even a bit of geocaching. Ramsgate is a friendly Harbour town with stunning coastal scenery- perfect for some fresh air.
  8. Dare we suggest beaches?….Broadstairs has 7 of them! While we’re being hopeful about the weather, why not wrap up warm, grab some fish & chips and play on the sand. You’ll be surprised how many other families brave it this time of year!

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    Viking Bay and Broadstairs Harbour in winter
  9. Family Magic….Houdini’s Magic Bar in Broadstairs present their fantastic children’s magic shows with Magician Lucky Lee in their Magic Lounge!
    Family cocktail/mocktail menus plus board and Card Games available to play. No booking necessary. Advise early arrival to avoid disappointment. One child free entry into the magic shows for every adult drink purchased. 11th Feb 1pm-4pm.
  10. Easy Holidays/Easy Sundays….Get creative at Turner Contemporary with one of their popular family workshops on Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during the holidays. Various prices.

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    Workshops at Turner Contemporary, credit Carmen de Witt.