Guestblog: Broadstairs Dickens Festival

Well life has been busy in ‘Our English Watering Place’ (Broadstairs) and there’s a few things about the Broadstairs Dickens Festival  (17-23 June) which you must know! This festival celebrates our most famous Holiday maker Charles Dickens and there is lots to see & do this year….

A real spectacle is planned with 200 participants in the Grande Parade from Pierremont Hall down the High Street @1pm Sat 17 June. Queen Vic in horse drawn carriage, marching soldiers, Mildred the Giant Nun, the cast of Oliver, Costumed Dickens characters, Living History performers and a modern twist with Great Kentspectations steampunk group!


They will all be welcomed on Victoria Gardens by special guest Vicki Michelle MBE (from ‘Allo ‘Allo)

What would Dickens make of all these goings on, we think he would approve – especially as this year we have added new events, performances and a celebration of local food and drink, all things he enjoyed to the max and indeed mentioned in his books.

Dickens was a food lover and our Country Fayre will offer scrumptious food and drink -Gourmet sandwiches, crepes, cakes, scones, victorian lemonade, luxury hot chocs, the Dickens bar. Wonderful kent produce from cheeses to jams, chutneys, local ales, cider, artisan breads, fudges, chocolate, olives, oils and the list goes on. Then there’s all the gifts, vintage wares and collectables  – 40 stalls with something for everyone.

We truly are a mix of treats, tipples and tradition this year…

You may have to fight off Mrs Gamp (Dickens most famous Gin lover) for a space at the Mother’s Ruin- Gin Tasting Sat 17 June 2.30pm. Or how about The Mead Cheese Pickle Taster Sun 18 June @ 2.30pm (or Kent Cider if you prefer!) that’s on Fathers Day – hmmm an interesting gift perhaps? Stay afterwards for the Victorian Magic show – great for all ages!

In his book Martin Chuzzlewit, Dickens explored the new drinks known as Cock Tails that he encountered in America. One such was the Sherry Cobbler which made a new fangled item ‘the straw’ common place for iced drinks …Curious Cocktails will be available. Enjoy your tipple of choice while watching the Cricket Match – with Incidents on Sat 17 June 3pm or The Dickens Dog Show Sun 18 June 12.30pm.

Performances known as ‘The Readings’ also made Dickens famous, described as ‘a whole theatre under one hat’ – come and see The Dickens Declaimers offer the same in the Event Tent @ Victoria Gardens 10.30am, 4.30pm Sat 17 June and 10.30am Sun 18 June. Though we don’t think they will start the day with rum and milk as he did …followed by half a pint of champagne in the interval– or will they? could be an interesting performance?!

Watch out for The Lamplighter on the prom over the weekend with his crazy stories and victorian ditties. And if you find yourself itching – have you stepped too close to our authentic Voices from Victorian London living history performers, though they assure us their fleas aren’t real!

And this is not just a weekend festival…oh no we really are partying all week and there are performances and events everyday including Beach Parties (vintage striped cosies available!) Croquet, Victorian Children’s Games, Dickens Antiques Roadshow, Vintage photos, memorabilia and a special film of Broadstairs of Yesteryear. We even have Kirsty Miller and Eddie Grundy from The Archers radio soap coming to chat to us over a cup of tea. Perhaps we can persuade them to have a photo taken using our life size Vintage Bather cut outs!

dickens Beach Cropped

Did we mention The Big Sing Choir Concert, The Vintage Music Hall, The Festival Play – Pickwick and The Elegant Afternoon Tea? ….quick book the week off now and join the celebrations!

See the website for more details or pick up a free programme from Info Kiosk Broadstairs, Droit House Margate, Custom House Ramsgate.


Words by Denise Martin-Harker from Broadstairs Dickens Festival.

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