The Dickens Festival will celebrate its 80th anniversary in style this year

The Dickens Festival is 80. Photo Thanet Tourism

In 1937, to commemorate the centenary of author Charles Dicken’s first visit to Broadstairs, Gladys Waterer, who lived in Dickens House, organised a production of David Copperfield and publicised it with people about the town in Victorian dress.

So, the first Dickens Festival was born and this is the 80th Year of the event.

Organisers plan to celebrate in style from 17 -23 June.

This year the festival has had a make-over and there will be new events along with firm favourites and a real focus on fun, Victorian mayhem and costumed entertainers on the prom and around the town.

What will be there?

Visitors can expect to find the Country Fayre at Victoria Gardens  from June 17-22. It will be packed full of Kent produce, gifts, vintage wares and classic collectables. There will also be a Dickens bar, food, hot chocolates and curious cocktails.

Photo Thanet Tourism

Living History entertainers will be taking part so watch out for women chasing husbands with rolling pins, policeman making arrests and The Voices from Victorian London setting up The Rookery on Victoria Gardens while The Lamplighter tells his tales and ditties on the prom.

The Grande Parade

See them all take part in The Grande Parade down the High Street at 1pm on opening day, Saturday 17 June. The parade will be a true spectacle with a horse drawn carriage, Queen Vic, Pipe and Drum Band, the Minster Giants, the cast of Oliver and more.

Gin tasting and Showtime

This year there are a host of events, including a vintage music hall with talented artistes; Mothers ruin gin tasting; Victorian banquet at The Yarrow hotel; a mead cheese and pickle taster; The Festival Play – Pickwick Papers; The Big Sing present ‘Showtime’ -songs from musicals and film and there are Dickens performances throughout festival week.

Step back in time

Visit the festival archive with 80 years worth of slides, photos and memorabilia including a film of Broadstairs of yesteryear being shown at The Palace. Enjoy the Grande Finale with afternoon tea and  musical performances and readings at The Pavilion.

Catherine Dickens -Charles’ wife – was also an author and wrote a book ‘Bills of Fare for 2-18’ people.

There will be a luncheon at The Charles Dickens restaurant based on her recipes – which includes her husband’s favourite dish.

The festival will also include children’s Victorian games, a croquet  master-class, a Victorian magic show and a beauty demo on make up of the era – from actresses to everyday to aristocracy!

Firm favourites will, of course, be on offer and will include beach parties, Victorian picnic, coffee Dickensian style, the Preachers Knoll Sunday Service, militant maids marching, cricket match and Dickens dog show.

Get your programme

Free event programmes are available from local businesses and the information kiosk in Broadstairs, Custom House Ramsgate, Droit House Margate and can be downloaded from the website.

Find out more

To hear about the new look festival, listen to the Thanet Stories podcast here

For more details please visit the new updated website here