The 80th Broadstairs Dickens Festival is almost here – and this is what’s on offer

A Grande Parade will kick off the festival

A grand parade, gin tasting, dog show and readings are just some of the events that will be on offer for the 80th anniversary of The Broadstairs Dickens Festival.

The week-long celebration takes place from June 17-23 and will include firm favourites and new events to honour author Charles Dickens.

The festival aims to bring to life aspects of Dickens character and The Dickens Declaimers will offer readings in the style of the man himself. In his day Dickens was described as ‘an entire theatre company under one-hat’ and these performances made him particularly famous in America.

On performance days Dickens had a bizarre routine. He had two tablespoons of rum flavoured with fresh cream for breakfast, a pint of champagne for tea and, half an hour before the start of his performance, would drink a raw egg beaten into a tumbler of sherry. During the five-minute interval, he invariably consumed a quick cup of beef tea, and always retired to bed with a bowl of soup!

Cocktails and straws

Some of the festival’s ‘new offerings’ are taken from Dickens’ books.

The author was amazed on his visits to America by the ‘new drinks’ known as Cock Tails.

This year the festival’s Country Fayre will be offering Curious Cocktails that reflect those ‘new drinks’.

In the book Martin Chuzzlewit, the character tries one such cocktail called the‘ Sherry Cobbler’

“Martin took the glass with an astonished look; applied his lips to the reed; and cast up his eyes once in ecstasy. He paused no more until the goblet was drained to the last drop. ‘This wonderful invention, sir,’ said Mark, tenderly patting the empty glass, ‘is called a cobbler. Sherry Cobbler when you name it long; cobbler, when you name it short.’”

Chuzzlewit was astonished at the drink’s beauty, but also at the act of sipping through a straw—a novel concept at the time. The Sherry Cobbler is credited with introducing the straw to popular consciousness.

Tuck in!

Dickens’ love of food will also be reflected with offerings of Kent produce, gourmet crepes, cakes and a lunch in name of his wife Catherine to be held at The Charles Dickens pub on June 20, where you can sample the writer’s favourite dish – cheese toast!

What’s on and when

Saturday 17 June at 1pm

The Grande Parade will travel down the High Street.

There will be some 150 people taking part aged from five to 85.

The throng will also include entertainers, giants, pipe and drum band, a horse and carriage, Queen Victoria, the cast of Oliver, Napoleonic soldiers and a modern twist on Victoriana offered by Great Kentspectations – Kent’s  SteamPunk group.

The High Street will be transformed for The Best Dressed Window Competition. This will be judged on the festival facebook and twitter pages by the public.

There will be a ‘Treasure Trail’ to enter with a bottle of bubbly as a prize.

June 17-June 22

In Victoria Gardens The Country Fayre has new events like Mother’s Ruin Gin Tasting on June 17 at 2.30pm, a magic show, Broadstairs YesterYear film and a photo archive.

There will also be a selection of Kent produce –cheeses, fudges, chutney, jams, artisan breads, juice, cider, ales, Victorian lemonade, luxury hot chocolates, marshmallows and more.

Glorious gifts, vintage wares, and collectables  will also be available.

June 17-19 from 10am to 5pm

Living history performances and re-enactments in Victoria Gardens. Soldiers will set up camp and will fire the noon day gun on the Saturday and Sunday.

The Lamplighter will be on the Prom on Saturday 17 June, 12.05pm, 3.15pm (on Charles Dickens Balcony) and Sunday 18 June, 12.05pm, 1.45pm, 3.15pm

Saturday 17 June, 3pm, at Victoria Gardens

The Cricket Match – with Incidents.

Sunday, June 18, Victoria Gardens, 2.30pm

Visitors could pick up a novel Father’s Day gift at The Mead Cheese and Pickle Taster.

Mead is the oldest alcoholic drink recorded. The mead at the taster will be a ‘Golden Nectar’ produced in Kent. If mead’s not your thing you can opt for a Kent cider instead, both options are accompanied by award winning cheeses.

The taster will be followed by a Victorian magic show at 4.15pm.

June 18 and June 19

Dickens also had a wonderful sense of humour –so if you enjoy good old fashioned fun get along to The Pavilion on Sunday 18 June at 7.30pm or Monday 19 June at 3pm for Gordon Clarkson’s Vintage Music Hall experience, which includes Britain’s foremost escapologist.

Sunday, June 18, 12.30pm

The Dickens Dog Show

June 17-21, Sarah Thorne Theatre, 7.30pm and (Sunday) 4pm

Festival Play – Pickwick Papers

June 19-June 20 from 3pm at Victoria Gardens

Children’s Victorian games (children accompanied by chaperone please)

June 20,  7.30pm

The Big Sing Choir Concert at Holy Trinity , songs from shows and films

June 20,6pm and June 21 2.30pm, Palace Cinema

Festival Film, Nicholas Nickleby 1947 (20th) and Broadstairs of YesterYear film (21st)

June 20, 2.45pm, Victoria Gardens

Croquet masterClass and Victorian games

June 22, 7.30pm, The Yarrow

Victorian Banquet

June 23, 3pm, The Pavilion

Elegant Afternoon Tea – The Grande Finale. Afternoon tea and entertainment, readings and musical performances, Regency Productions who are performing Oliver! at the Winter Gardens will be there to entertain. Tickets almost sold out.

Find even more events and ticket details in the Dickens Festival Programme

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.

There will also be a programme launch on Broadstairs Prom at 12.30pm on Saturday, May 27.

Dickens Festival organisers will be in full period regalia giving away free programmes

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