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Broadstairs Dickens Festival 2017

2017 marks the 80th anniversary of the Broadstairs Dickens Festival – book your Broadstairs holiday let with us between Saturday 17th – Friday 23th June if you want to enjoy this unique historical and literary event where the town seems to step back in time, with people dressed Victorian costumes round every corner and more Dickensian events on offer than you could shake a finely carved antique walking stick at.

Broadstairs dickens festival

Charles Dickens stayed in Broadstairs many times and called it “Our English Watering Place” reporting it had “the freshest freest air”. At the time it was an upmarket Victorian resort with bathing machines lining Viking Bay and ladies in crinolines strolling the promenade with gentlemen in top hats.

Town landmarks such as Pierremont Hall, Crampton Tower, the Seafront, Harbour Masters House, Dickens House, the jetty and York Gate archway over Harbour Street all remain now as they were then and so gazing at old pictures of Broadstairs is not so very different at looking at the town now. Bleak House however has been substantially remodelled since Dickens stayed there but with it’s crenelations, added since Dickens’ time, it looks even more historic and imposing than it would have done originally, looking out to sea atop the cliff above Viking Bay.

Broadstairs is still the seaside Town that Dickens, and Princess Victoria before him, knew and loved. It retains a very similar feel all year round, but Dickens Festival is undoubtedly a very special time to visit – and will be all the more so next year.

We’ve blogged about the Festival before and you may enjoy reading our post about 2016’s event which includes a short and very charming video made in 2014.

The Broadstairs branch of the Dickens Fellowship also run events in the town throughout the year and you can find out about these as well as the full programme for 2017, once it is finalised, on their website here.

The Fellowship meets on the first Wednesday of each month at Dickens House Museum and anyone including visitors to the town is welcome to attend these meetings.

For the 80th anniversary of the Festival, the organisers are going all out to make 2017 bigger and better than ever before, with many more people in the town involved than in previous years. We suggest you get your holiday accommodation booked up early if you are a Dickens fan or if you’re just intrigued to see Broadstairs in high historical mode, pulling out all the stops to celebrate Charles Dickens time and works. Many events and spectacles will be free. Don’t miss the Victorian bathers in their stripy suits, the Victorian Country Fair, penny farthings, top hats, costume talks, readings, theatrical and musical performances. Visit Bleak House and the Dickens Museum (once home to “Betsy Trotwood”). Perhaps you’ll even find yourself taking part in a Dickens themed workshop of some kind. Immerse yourself in Dickens’ world in Broadstairs, June 2017.

See to find out much more about the Broadstairs Dickens Festival – and the times that Charles Dickens himself spent at this quintessential English seaside town all those many years ago.

If you’re coming to the Broadstairs Dickens Festival, get in touch with us early to book your accommodation. Perfect for groups and families, our Broadstairs holiday lets are located close to all the Festival’s literary and historical events and are equipped with all mod cons you could wish for in a comfortable 21st Century self catering holiday home! When searching for accommodation to enjoy Dickens Festival 2017 remember that it’s a busy time for the town so don’t leave it too late to book. We hope to see you soon, perhaps dressed for the occasion!

Check availability via the form on our home page.

Broadstairs Dickens Festival

Charles Dickens

The next Broadstairs Dickens Festival takes place between Saturday 18th – Friday 24th June 2016.

Charles Dickens immortalised Broadstairs as “Our English Watering Place” and visited the town regularly from 1837 until 1859. Visitors today often comment that the quaintness and architectural shape of Broadstairs give the impression that it hasn’t changed much since that time. Looking at old pictures of the town we think they are quite right!

While there are now of course many modern shops and restaurants and so on in the High Street, overall Broadstairs retains the charm and feel of the Victorian seaside Town that Dickens knew and loved.

The Dickens Museum and Bleak House are just two of Broadstairs’ buildings that have blue plaques proclaiming their Dickens connections, there are several others waiting for you to discover should you decide to go looking for them. The author stayed in a number of addresses in Broadstairs during his many visits here – and who can blame him for coming back so many times to this perfect English seaside resort which has so much to commend it to visitors today, just as it had in Dickens’ time.

The Broadstairs Dickens Festival takes place every June. For Dickens fans, those studying his work at school or college, or anyone who would just like to be here when something special and different is going on, the Festival offers lots of delights.

This video gives a flavour of what Festival-goers can expect:

See for more details of what happens during the Dickens Festival in Broadstairs and to learn more about the town’s links with Charles Dickens.

If you’re coming to the Dickens Festival, get in touch with us early to book your accommodation. Perfect for families and groups, our holiday properties will allow you easy access to all the Festival’s literary and historical activities and let you enjoy all mod cons when you get back to your comfortable self catering holiday home! Why not book the full week of Dickens Festival 2016 – bring your crinoline and Victorian bathing suit, you won’t get a better chance than this to show them off!



Broadstairs 2017 seaside events

We are excited about 2017 and as the holiday season will soon be starting up again we thought we’d use this post to  tell you about some of the upcoming events, as well as things to do and places to go, for your perfect English seaside holiday on the East Kent coast this year.

Vikiing Bay in Broadstairs
Viking Bay in Broadstairs

Broadstairs is set in the heart of the Isle of Thanet on the East Kent coast of England, between the two larger towns of Margate and Ramsgate, all three of these traditional English seaside resort towns have sandy beaches and many amenities for holidaymakers. Many people say that Broadstairs is the jewel of Thanet and we are inclined to agree – the town is also known historically as Star of the Sea – after the ancient Star of the Sea shrine that was situated here in medieval times – on the site of what is now The Chapel (a very cool and quirky bar which is also a music venue and book shop.)

You can get here in just over an hour from London and yet many Londoners may not know the town, since the fast train service (HS1) from St Pancras is relatively new and it used to be a 2 hour journey by rail, which meant resorts in Sussex that were quicker to get to (Brighton and Hastings in particular) have tended to be better known, despite the fact that Thanet beaches are sandy and the area has so much else going for it it has, for many years, been less front of mind for Londoners, simply because it used to take that bit longer to get to. But with HS1 that is changing – fast.

Thanet is rapidly becoming more and more in vogue as a place to go. Tourist visitor numbers in 2016 were up around 30% on the year before.  Broadstairs remains a quintessential traditional English seaside resort with golden arcs of sand, ice cream parlours, fish and chips, crazy golf a bandstand and formal gardens all a short stroll from each other in the centre of the town.

You can still get those slower trains, they leave from Victoria and if that’s closer for you you might prefer to come via that route which is also cheaper than the HS1. Driving here is generally an hour or so from South East London and up to two hours from other parts of the capital.

In 2017 look out for the following events (and see Visit Thanet for full listings for Broadstairs and the wider area):

Also check out:

And browse our other blog posts and also the wonderful Isle Magazine online before you come, for even more inspiration!

If your heart’s desire is simply to hang out on the beach and go for walks then cosy up in your comfortable Beeches Holiday Let at the end of the day, you’ll find lots of cliffs and beaches to enjoy – 26 miles of stunning Thanet coastline (seven golden sandy beaches in Broadstairs alone) will keep you happily exploring for as long as you want to be here.

We look forward to seeing you in Broadstairs 2017! Check availability for your preferred dates using the form on our homepage – and book soon to be sure to get the holiday accommodation you require.

New – Open Top Bus along the coast

From 23rd July till 4th of September this year a new exciting open top bus route will take passengers along the coast from Stone Bay in Broadstairs to the Boating Pool in Ramsgate.


The bus livery is retro in style and reminiscent of the old East Kent bus service and brings back memories of seaside holidays on the East Kent coast back when life seemed simpler and easier to navigate.

So grab your sunglasses, picnic and and ice cream and climb aboard – slip on a hat, slap on some suncream and sit yourself down on the open upper deck. With the wind in your hair, get ready to drink in the views, as you travel along some of the most scenic coast to be found anywhere, through and between the historic towns of Broadstairs and Ramsgate. Give a cheery wave to the people you pass on the way and as you see things that interest you, you can plan the stops you’ll want to come back to and explore on foot.

You’ll stop at:

Stone Bay – below you is one of the longest and prettiest of Thanet’s sandy beaches, lined with artistically decorated beach huts and families having low key fun, just a short walk from North Foreland Lighthouse.
Broadstairs, Queen’s Road – in the heart of Broadstairs, jump off here and walk down the hill to the shops and Viking Bay, with all amenities, or walk up the hill a little to go to pretty Pierremont Park and see thte 18th Century Pierremont Hall, where Queen Victoria stayed as a little girl.
Broadstairs, Victoria Parade – close to Dickens House Museum, Lilliput mini golf, the bandstand, Louisa Bay and Viking Bay, Victoria Gardens, the clock tower and Louisa Bridge, named after the famous Victorian engineer, Thomas Crampton’s, little daughter.
Dumpton Gap – the midway point between Broadstairs and Ramsgate, down the path here, between the cliffs, there is a pretty beach with a lovely beach-side cafe, if you want to stretch your legs here; at high tide you can walk along the beach from here to Ramsgate; or walk back to Broadstairs on the walkway above the beach.  Or stroll up the hill and into St George VI park and see the Italianate greenhouse, passing an interesting house that looks like a lighthouse as you enter the park.
Granville Theatre – above Ramsgate Harbour, check out the programme for shows at the Granville – comedy, variety, cinema screenings and musical theatre all take place here with both touring shows and local productions. if you can tear your eyes away from the sea here you’ll also see a fantastic example of Pugin architecture – the elegant mansion flats overlooking the Granville are by Augustus Pugin’s son, Edward Pugin and there is a bust of Edward in the gardens opposite. Just before those flats and the Comfort Inn there are also some very beautiful alms houses facing out to sea.
Ramsgate Harbour – as you pass the beautiful gardens with waterfall feature and stunning plantings on the twisting road down to Ramsgate Harbour look over the roofs at the town ahead and enjoy the open sea views then take some time to look round the Royal Harbour itself if you have time, before hopping back on the bus for the last leg of your scenic journey. There’s lots to see and do here, cafes, shops, the Maritime Museum and more.
West Cliff, Boating Pool – the final stop of this wonderful bus tour is up on the West Cliff and once again there’s a nice cafe here and also the boating pool as well as wide open spaces for a stroll along the cliff top and wide vistas out to sea. Aren’t you glad you made the trip!

If you don’t know the area why not make the open top bus tour your first day trip when you start your holiday in one of our Broadstairs holiday lets. You’ll love your self catering holiday accomodation and relish the chance to cook for yourself – in your well equipped holiday home kitchen – and come and go as you please. Why not also take the adventurous option to get out and about on public transport and leave the car back at the holiday let – this is a far cry indeed from catching the bus or train to work!

Oh and if Dad hasn’t got a sunhat, you could always go the whole retro hog and tie a few knots in a hanky for him!

Enjoy. We look forward to welcoming you soon.

Stagecoach 69 open top bus route map

New Welcome Information Sign

Broadstairs has got a great community. The Information Kiosk overlooking Viking Bay and the RNLI shop are both manned by volunteers and many of the good things that happen here are only possible because of people giving up their time to do things they care about that they believe will be worthwhile. That strong community spirit is one of the things that make this a great place to live, work and visit.

Broadstairs station welcome information sigh

The Broadstairs Town Team is a group of volunteers who do all kinds of good things for the town – from regular beach cleans and gardening groups to summer concerts and painting things that need it.   Last month the Town Team unveiled a really nice new sign at Broadstairs railway station to welcome visitors when they arrive. You will be able to see it if you come to Broadstairs by train and take the exit from the ticket office.

The sign masthead uses the artwork that features in the Town Team mural at the bottom of the High Street – Broadstairs is spelt out in decorative letters with illustrations of different aspects of the town – from cavorting hooden horses to the beach and the wooden jetty!  This design, by a local artist, was the winning submission in a competition the team ran in 2013 and has become iconic since being used for the mural.

Under the masthead you will find maps of Broadstairs town centre and also the wider area of Thanet as a whole, showing beaches and key points of interest and giving some historical context – did you know that Charles Dickens called Broadstairs “the freshest freest place”?

There is information on guided walks that you can take, including the Broadstairs Town Trail and the St Peter’s Village Tour.

A ‘Time Travel’ panel gives a timeline of Broadstairs’ history, from Viking times, when Horsa and Henghist arrived by Viking ship at what was later named Viking Bay, through to Dickens’ time and the visits made by Princess Victoria, before she became Queen, smugglers, the building of York Gate in 1540 and the wooden jetty, around a hundred years before that, to more recent highlights such as Oliver Postgate, creator of the Clangers, and the coming of HS1 high speed rail service from London.

Another panel gives information on the key events in Broadstairs’ calendar. From the New Years Day swim, to the Blues Bash in Feb, Easter Food Fair, Dickens Week, Water Gala, Folk Week, Wheels and Fins Festival and the main Food Festival in October.

Finally there’s a quirky image of Broadstairs Viking Bay, featuring a knitted seagull who appeared there last summer, knitted by local crafters, the Crafty Broads, as part of a “yarn bomb” event where they decorated the seafront with knitted seagulls, mermaids, starfish and other fun stuff – much to the delight of visitors and locals that week – it made a great display! This fun picture is shown with social media sharing buttons to encourage people to share their own fresh perspectives of the town on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram when they come here, with a special hashtag #thisisbroadstairs. Search on any of those social media platforms with that tag and you will find some great pictures that people have shared – showing lots of different views of the town. Why not join the online conversation about Broadstairs and add that tag to your own pictures when you come here?

The new sign seems to us a great way new addition to our town so we’d like to say well done to the Town Team for organising it and we encourage all our visitors to go and check it out.

If you haven’t been to Broadstairs yet and this article has intrigued you – use the form on our homepage to find out about availability of our lovely Broadstairs holiday lets, which are suitable for groups and families.