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.

The unique architecture of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate

A true mix of structural styles. Classic seaside architecture, charming squares and crescents, Georgian delights, and one-off curios in between, (we even have listed menagerie cages and a grotto lined with over 4.6 million shells!) the Isle of Thanet is loaded with marvellous architecture. There are approximately 2,500 listed buildings in Thanet; and 27 conservation areas.

Before the bathing machines lined our golden sands, Thanet was rich in agricultural land and the remains of this ancient past can still be seen today. What’s left of this period notably are two Monastic Granges- Minster Abbey (near Ramsgate) and Salmestone Grange. The former was founded in 670 and after a Viking attack, was later rebuilt as a Monastic Grange in 1027.

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Minster Abbey

The picturesque Tudor House (built around 1525) is arguably Margate’s oldest building after Salmestone Grange and is characterised by its beautiful contrasting black and white beams.

Tudor House - 2006 (14)
Tudor House, Margate

Sea bathing bought about a plethora of temporary structures- the modest bathing machines are long gone; yet after this boom we saw hotels, theatres, tea rooms and general places to hang your (sun) hat! Arguably one of the best surviving examples of this tourism boom is the Grade II* listed Theatre Royal, Margate. Though Georgian on account of the time of its inception, the major work in 1874 marked the transition into a Victorian theatre. The ornate ceiling and decor are stunning and just sitting in the theatre before a show starts is a true delight!

Theatre Royal, Margate

Ramsgate too had its fair share of Victorian influence. It was here that internationally renowned  architect AWN Pugin decided to construct ‘The Grange,’ a house he called ‘My own Child,’ which reflects his belief in gothic style as being the only true form of Christian Architecture. He was best known for his interiors of the Houses of Parliament and this vibrant, idiosyncratic style is echoed throughout The Grange, thanks current owners The Landmark Trust who have most sympathetically designed its interiors.  The ‘En Avant’ (onward/forward) wallpaper is the perfect motto to spur you on along a bracing clifftop walk alongside The Grange. Nestled alongside this remarkable house is the new ‘Pugin and St Augustine Visitor Centre and Shrine,‘ (open from 3rd June) which celebrates the connection between Pugin himself, and St Augustine who landed in Thanet. The Church is built of knapped flint with Whitby stone dressings and fish slated tiled roofs. Pugin’s architectural legacy can be seen throughout Ramsgate.

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The Grange

Broadstairs also became popular during the late Georgian and Victorian period and its charming, wide promenade encapsulates this relaxed bygone era, encompassing leisurely coastal walks and chocolate-box views. Stunning grand listed structures such as ‘The Yarrow Building’ and Charles Dickens’ holiday home ‘Bleak House’ overlooking the traditional wooden pier, are mixed with classical cottages made of beach-scavenged chalk and flint, beach huts and smuggling tunnels. Speaking of tunnels, our fair isle is built on top of a myriad of smuggling and war-time tunnels. The latter you can visit in Ramsgate, on a tunnels explorer tour.

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Broadstairs Harbour and Bleak House

Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour is the only in the country to be given this regal stature and its sparkling waters are adorned with yachts of all shapes and sizes. You’ll also find the Maritime Museum here and numerous fine examples of nautical buildings and red brick archways home to restaurants, bars and galleries. Just a short walk from the Harbour you’ll find the ethereal, domed Grade II* listed Italianate Glasshouse, covered with ornate fish scale glass, which is just one of a handful of ‘Montefiore’ heritage structures (Sir Moses Montefiore was a prominent philanthropist, financier and Jewish figure)

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The Italianate Greenhouse, George V Park.

At Dreamland, the aforementioned Grade II menagerie cages (recently restored) and Grade II* listed Scenic Railway are key architectural gems in this reopened amusement park. The scenic railway is the oldest surviving roller coaster in Britain, second oldest in the whole of Europe and is amongst the five oldest in the entire world and you can even still ride it! Recent works to the grade II* listed cinema building have included the restoration of panoramic first floor cast iron windows, (what a view!) which gave it it’s former name ‘The sunshine Cafe,’ and the complete recreation of the original external lighting, including the iconic neon lit ‘DREAMLAND’ sign.

Scenic Railway 

We hope you can sample from this some inspiration to get out and explore these and our many other remarkable architectural treasures- this is just the beginning! Enjoy.

Beach Award Success for Thanet

Great news! Thanet has once again been named as having some of the best beaches in Britain as results from Keep Britain Tidy’s annual Blue Flag and Seaside Awards are announced. The following beaches in Thanet with awards for 2017 include:

Blue Flag:

  • Minnis Bay
  • West Bay
  • St Mildreds
  • Botany Bay
  • Joss Bay
  • Stone Bay

Thanet's Blue Flag Beaches


Seaside Award:

  • Westbrook Bay
  • Margate Main Sands
  • Ramsgate Main Sands
  • Viking Bay, Broadstairs

Westbrook Bay

These awards are the quality marks for Thanet’s beaches and mean that those visiting can be sure that they are clean, safe and meet the highest environmental standards, as well as the tough international bathing water quality standards.

We can now proudly say we have a Blue Flag beach every 3 miles along our fantastic coastline and more blue flags that any other District Council!

What are you waiting for?! Click here to see our full list of beaches and bays!

20 photos that’ll make you want to visit Margate, Broadstairs & Ramsgate this Summer

Summer is for getting out and enjoying the seaside! Here’s a selection of images to tempt you to our coast. See for more inpiration! Enjoy…

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Botany Bay, Broadstairs
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Pierremont Park, Broadstairs
The Hugin Viking Ship on Hugin Green, Cliffsend.
Viking Ship ‘Hugin’ Cliffsend, Ramsgate
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Viking Bay, Broadstairs
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Royal Harbour, Ramsgate
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Margate Seafront
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Dickens Festival, Broadstairs
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Ellington Park, Ramsgate
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Ramsgate Main Sands
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Folk Week, Broadstairs
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Minnis Bay, Birchington
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Viking Coastal Trail, Broadstairs
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Dumpton Gap, Broadstairs
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Italianate Glasshouse, King George VI Park, Ramsgate
Pegwell Bay, Ramsgate
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Margate Main Sands
Big Wheel at Dreamland, Margate
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St Mildred’s Bay, Westgate-On-Sea
Westbrook Bay with People
Westbrook Bay, Margate
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Margate Seafront

7 Magnificent May Events in Thanet

Two Bank Holidays by the seaside is most definitely a winning combination for beach walks, ice cream and good times all round in general…..but you won’t want to miss these special events this month either…

1.Open days at Pugin’s Grange and St Augustines Shrine, Ramsgate, 12-15th May- An absolute gem! Explore Houses of Parliament designer, AWN Pugin’s beloved Ramsgate home and his ‘ideal’ church. The house is rarely open to the public so don’t miss this opportunity to see inside an a true architectural masterpiece.

2. Establishment - The Grange

2. Opening Weekend at Dreamland, Margate, 26th May onwards- The park re-opens for the season with lots of new additions and a fresh new look. Check out our blog here to find out what we can expect and make sure you sign-up to Dreamland’s newsletter here to be the first to know what’s going on. Opening times/ticketing info announced soon.

3. Everyday is a New Day, Turner Contemporary, Margate, 27th May onwards- A celebration of the capacity of arts to pioneer change, challenge perceptions and embolden society. Including work by Phyllida Barlow, Michael Armitage and JMW Turner shown alongside teachers and pupils from Kent, Medway and Kenya.

4. Margate Meltdown, 29th May- The 10th Annual motorcycle ride out from Ace Cafe London. Thousands of bikes, cruisers and scooters line the streets of Margate, plus stalls and entertainment.

0325. Spring Spectacular, Ramsgate, 29th May- A whole day of family entertainment! Aerobatic displays, Trials bike displays from Danny MacAskill and his team of the world’s best street trials riders and more!

6. Bandstand Concerts, Broadstairs, Various dates- What’s better than enjoying a traditional concert beside the sea with an ice cream in hand? Nothing!

7. St Peter’s Village Tours, Broadstairs, 18th & 25th May- Costumed tours of a charming village stacked full of history. You won’t believe some of the stories you’ll hear on this fantastically funny and professional tour.


For the full events listings and further inspiration check out 

Guest blog: Exciting Developments at Dreamland!

Hi everyone, Nina here. I’m the Guest Services Team Leader at Dreamland.

We’re really excited about reopening and can’t wait to show you what we have in store. There will be lots of new additions and we’re re-landscaping the park. There will be new rides, contemporary dining, art installations and even more live music to bring you the best ever day out at the seaside!


Our lovingly restored vintage rides will whizz you back in time. Go for a spin on the 1940s Waltzer, enjoy views of Margate from the dizzy heights of our Big Wheel and take a ride on the grade II* listed jewel of Dreamland and the UK’s oldest rollercoaster, the Scenic Railway. Little visitors to Dreamland will have a space just for them, with our brand new area, Teddy and Betty Land. Park mascots, Teddy and Betty, will welcome the little ones with daily stage shows and rides like Betty’s Beehive Coaster.

Teddy & Betty

 Mmm…tacos. We’re bringing Mexico to Margate! If you fancy a slice of the street food action, there’s going to be a great range of cuisines on offer. Whether you’re in the mood for wood-fired pizza, chicken, Asian or good old-fashioned fish and chips, take my advice and prepare for a feast. Don’t forget to save room for candy floss and ice cream too – it is tradition after all! On the seafront we’ll be opening up the revived Cinque Ports 1930s gastro pub and restaurant, but keep the heart-eyes emoji for your visit to our new rooftop bar; cocktails and those sunsets…need we say more?

The music lineup this year is the biggest yet. We’re putting on a whole range of festivals so whether you like punk, ska, indie or dance, you’ll find it at Dreamland! One of the great things about the park is that we’re able to have a bit of everything. The Twilight sessions are back, so Saturdays in the summer are sorted, and with bands like Gorillaz, The Kills and Slaves, our musical offerings are more than enough to save a London trip for concerts every time. And anyway – what could be cooler than a gig with the backdrop of an amusement park?

By The Sea Festival

Something really exciting is the introduction of our art installations. Margate has an amazing creative community and it’s important to us to be part of that. Our brilliant neighbour, Turner Contemporary, has inspired us to bring art to both ends of the beach, so there’ll be artworks throughout the site and some will be interactive!

Walking around the park is going to look and feel quite different, with more trees, grassy areas and spaces to relax. The new garden boardwalk will provide views of Dreamland as you’ve never seen it before and will guide you to the menagerie cages – an amazing piece of the park’s unique history, dating back to the 1870s.

There will be pop up street entertainers, sideshows, tea dances, circus acts, vintage markets and more! As Dreamland continues to develop, we’re focused on making it an entertainment park for all. 2017 is going to be a brilliant year; it’s a very exciting time and we’re all looking forward to welcoming you to the park!

Don’t forget to check our events page to see what’s coming up at Dreamland.

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