Thanet gets festive with covid secure Christmas trails, fairs and grottos

Festive fun at Claire Edward's home in Suffolk Avenue, Westgate

Christmas isn’t cancelled.

It will be different this year and many of the events we are used to, such as the big light switch ons, won’t be taking place. But, despite the challenges, Thanet is embracing the festive spirit and getting an early start on the season.

Fantastic light displays are being put up on houses across the isle, Christmas trails and outdoor Santa grottos are being planned and there will be Christmas markets for crafts and food – with social distancing measures in place.

Thanet Xmas Lights

Photo Cemanthe Mackenzie Hoult

Some of the amazing light displays are being promoted on the Thanet Xmas Lights facebook group.

The page was set up by Margate mum-of-three Kelly Ralf.

Kelly, who is a maths teacher at King Ethelbert School, initially set up the group for her children.

The 38-year-old said: “I set the page up for my sons as they love to see all the amazing Christmas lights and ours have never been very spectacular!

“Every year we would do a Christmas light tour but often didn’t know where the good lights were. The page has been running for two years now but this year, more than ever, I feel it is something that all the local children and families can enjoy from a social distance.

Old School Gardens Photo Tammy Leach

“With all the doom and gloom around us in 2020 it is nice to be able to share something that will bring joy to others and still let us celebrate the magic of Christmas. And there really are some fantastic light displays including some raising money for local charities.”

Fantastic displays shared on the page include the home of Claire Matthews and partner Alan in Hastings Avenue, Margate (above), which has lights and jolly inflatables.

Claire said: “Seeing all the children faces and most of the adults has been so worth putting the display up early.”

Alison Burke has also shared her fantastic lights on her home in Northwood Road, Ramsgate (above) and  Kieran Baines shared news of a brilliant animated display in Essex Gardens Birchington which will be on for all to see from December 1.

Check out the Thanet Xmas Lights page here

Thanet Christmas Trail

Following the success of the Thanet Pumpkin Trail at Halloween, Ramsgate mum Ange Martin has launched the Thanet Christmas Trail.

The trail will run from December 18 to January 1. Participants have printed off Trail colouring sheets of Santa or his elves, or created their own, and will display them along with decorations in the windows of their homes.

Children will be going out with their grown-ups, fancy dress optional, looking for the pictures of Father Christmas and his Elves in people’s windows. Each time the child spots a picture, they need to shout Happy Christmas or Merry Christmas and then their grown up will give them a candy cane or a chocolate coin to enjoy.

Those taking part are asked to keep a safe distance from other people but to give them a wave, a smile or wish them a Merry Christmas!

The facebook group will also be running an Advent Star of the day post and members can make nominations.

Thanet Christmas trail will be supporting Demelza House  and there will be  business posters with a QR code on which will allow anyone to donate to the children’s charity.

Ange said: “The advent star of the day is where people will email in with a nomination of someone who has made a difference in the community, has shown strength/bravery or just needs a boost. Each day of advent we will dedicate a day to one of the nominees.”

Ange added: “It would be a lovely way of showing appreciation for those who truly deserve it or need it within our local community and a positive way to end this difficult year.”

Find the Thanet Christmas Trail on facebook here

Lighting up the isle

Photo Frank Leppard

Across the isle lots of homes and properties are starting to get decked out for Christmas, including vessels in Ramsgate harbour which get a twinkly makeover every year.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Charity display

Tyrone, stepdaughter Bethany and the Christmas light display

A Nethercourt family who put on an annual Christmas light display for charity are determined to keep up the tradition despite having to cancel their main events.

Tyrone and Katie Keen, along with eight-year-old Bethany, usually light up their Nethercourt Farm Road home with some 25,000 lights and have a three day event with Santa, elves, a snow machine, raffle and food.

Covid may have put the dampener on all the extras but the light display is up and donations are being taken for NHS Charities.

The display is switched on from 5pm to 7.30pm each evening and donations can be popped in the letterbox on the front gates.

Katie said: “Let’s bring some happiness back to our lives, please dig deep even if it’s a few pennies, every single penny counts.”

Grotto fun

Under 1 Roof Kids Thanet, in Pysons Road, is hosting an outdoor Santa’s grotto.

Grotto Tickets are £7.95 per child and this includes a socially distanced meet & greet with Santa, Christmas gift and a certificate.

Entry to Christmas Land is free with all other experiences payable on site at an additional cost.

For full information visit

The Elf Express is running at Quex in Birchington.

Children can watch the Big Elf Show at the Elf Tower, an interactive spectacle for all the family to enjoy. The Elves will be delighted to meet you and they might even share a sweet treat or two!

After the Big Elf Show you can journey through the Magical Elf Woods where  Santa will be eagerly awaiting your arrival with a sleigh load of presents but only if you’ve been good!

The attraction takes place outside and some parts may be uneven and muddy so appropriate footwear is advised.

Find out more, or book, via the website at

Local craft and food markets

Festive markets are planned with the Cliftonville Christmas Farmers Market taking place on December 20 at the Oval bandstand, Eastern Esplanade, from 10am to 1pm.

There is also an online makers market.

The market includes hand-crafted jewellery, prints, ceramics, clothing, homewares, metal work, wood work and many more extra special gifts from local independent makers.

Makers include Bearded Pig Forge, Concept Skin, Godessa Jewellery, Harriet Morgan, Ink Moth, Jenny Duff, Molly Pickle, Push Design, Rory Strudwick, Shoreline, Stir Woodcraft

Thanet Virtual High Street, set up by Karen Brinkman while she was on furlough to support local businesses, is staging a Christmas market at the Under 1 Roof Kids Thanet  Winter Wonderland site.

The indoor Christmas Market will  be open 11am-7.30pm on:

Saturday 12th Dec

Sunday 13th Dec

Saturday 19th Dec

Sunday 20th Dec

Monday 21st Dec

Tuesday 22nd Dec

Wed 23rd Dec

Go to Thanet Virtual High Street to find out about stall bookings

A mum whose daughter attends St Saviour’s C of E Junior School has organised a virtual Christmas Fair.

As a result of COVID-19, the school is unable to run its usual festive event to raise much-needed funds. This year has been especially difficult as they have been unable to put on any of their usual fundraisers, such as the Summer Fair, Firework night and sponsored runs. All of the fundraisers are crucial to raising money for school facilities most people think are fully-funded by Kent County Council, but are in fact not.

Mum Catherine Barton said: “I came up with the idea to put on a ‘Virtual Christmas Fair’, hosted on Facebook. Local businesses have each donated £20 to the school to be part of the ‘Virtual Christmas Fair’ group, and will be selling a wide-range of gifts to enjoy this Christmas.

“People can shop the virtual fair by visiting and it will be live until  December 14. From jewellery to sweet treats, cosmetics to books and woodwork to leather crafts, there is a huge variety of high-quality, handmade and bespoke gifts, with something for everyone.”

As well as the virtual fair, Bethany’s Sandwich Bar & Cafe in Westgate is hosting a bake sale on Saturday, December 5 at their cafe at 3 Lymington Road, Westgate.

All proceeds will be going directly to St Saviour’s School. Already, just through business sign-ups alone, they have raised £380 for the school and, through ‘Bethany’s’ kindness and generosity, we hope to build on this.

St Saviour’s C of E School in Westgate has 384 pupils. This year, they remained open throughout lockdown for key worker children and continue to work hard for the safety and education of local children. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on both income and expenditure for St Saviour’s and continues to do so.

Headteacher Nick Bonnell said: “The Virtual Christmas Fair is a fantastic idea, which came entirely from some extremely generous parents.  The school will spend the money raised by this event on extra resources to help children feel happy and secure in this most uncertain time. We thank everyone involved for their support.”

Advent trails

In Birchington a Christmas advent trail will raise money for the Thanet Lions charity which will then help local families that need additional support by providing vouchers for food at Christmas.

There are 25 local residents and businesses decorating their windows for each day in December, like an advent calendar. The idea is to create a map for people to follow for each day. This can either be done on a daily basis, but for anyone that isn’t so local they could walk around the area weekly or even in one day.

A little further afield, in case we get out of Tier 3 in time, there is an Advent Windows Trail in the village of Ash. Every day of Advent a new window will be lit up, the villagers and businesses who are taking part will then keep their window lit every evening 5pm-9pm until 1st January 2021.Maps are on sale in local businesses to raise money for the Trussell Trust (foodbanks) and Porchlight (homelessness) charities, and there is  also as a pdf online at