Get ready for the 2024 Broadstairs Dickens Festival

Broadstairs Dickens Festival Photo Carole Adams

A grand parade, Dickens in film, Oliver Twist on the stage and a beach party are just some of the events taking place for the annual Dickens Festival from June 14-16.

The festival, which is marking its 87th year, will also include croquet, talks, a Victorian Summer fair and music and more.

The event celebrates the town’s link to the Victorian author who first visited in 1837 when he was 25.

Photo Carole Adams

After lodging at 12, High Street, where he worked on ‘Pickwick’, he took a house, which is now part of The Royal Albion Hotel, where he finished ‘Nicholas Nickleby’.

He also stayed at Lawn House, which is now Archway House, where he wrote part of Barnaby Rudge and finally at Fort House where he spent the majority of his holidays in Broadstairs and wrote part of ‘American Notes’, ‘David Copperfield’ and ‘The Haunted Man’.

Photo Carole Adams

It was at Fort House, now Bleak House, on his last long holiday in Broadstairs that he wrote ‘Our English Watering Place’ published in August 1852 and standing as a permanent reminder of his affection for the town.

In 1937, to commemorate the centenary of the author’s first visit, Gladys Waterer, the then resident of Dickens House, conceived the idea of putting on a production of David Copperfield and of having people about the town in Victorian dress to publicise it and the festival was born.

Photo Carole Adams

The Broadstairs Dickens Fellowship was formed the same year and today members meet in Broadstairs on the first Wednesday of each month.

Festival play

This year the festival play, staged at the Sarah Thorne Theatre in Fordoun Road, is Oliver Twist.

It is on stage June 14-16 at 7.30pm each night and also a 3pm show on Saturday

Adapted from the Charles Dickens Novel by John Goodrum, the production is a professionally directed community production.

Tickets £14.50 paid in advance, or £16.50 doors Book now


The Grand Parade takes place on June 15, leaving at noon from Pierremont and making its way to the bandstand.

Dickens on film

At the Palace Cinema in Broadstairs on Sunday, June 16, 4.30pm-6pm, Dickens in Moving Pictures will be screened.

This is a celebration of some of the variety of films inspired by his work in the earliest years of cinema, the first in 1901.Filmmakers enthusiastically took up familiar and popular stories to encourage new audiences into the amazing new ‘moving picture’ shows, and few were more familiar and loved than Dickens.

No copyright laws prevented filmmakers adapting them freely, from a minute-long single scene to 20 minutes for an entire novel compressed into two reels, from a single camera shot to shooting in real locations referred to in the original, not forgetting the use of early film special effects.

The screening will include short silent films based on Nicholas Nickleby, A Christmas Carol and Bleak House and local connections with Canterbury locations and Ramsgate-born filmmaker Laura Bayley. Each film is presented with a short introduction and either pre-recorded accompaniment or live piano accompaniment by Gregor Hutchison.

Tickets Adults £10/£9, Children £4, CEA Card holders free. Details here 

Find more details for the festival at



10am onwards   Schools at Bandstand

10am – 4pm  Barry Wootton and Friends Exhibition at Queens Road Baptist Church

11am  Dickensian Mini-Golf @ Lilyputt, incorporating Taking Coffee with the Dickensians

2pm    Dickensian Beach Party with Feelgood Ukulele Band Viking Bay

7.30pm   Festival Play – Oliver Twist


10am to 5pm Victorian Fayre & Pierremont – including coffee with the Dickensians (organised by the town council inside Pierremont)

10am – 4pm  Barry Wootton and Friends Exhibition at Queens Road Baptist Church

12 noon   Grand Parade from Pierremont to the Bandstand

2pm    Dickens Declaimers perform at Dickens House Museum ‘The Runaway David Copperfield meets his Aunt Betsey Trotwood”

3pm    Coastal Choir perform at Pierremont

3pm    Festival Play – Oliver Twist

7.30pm   Festival Play – Oliver Twist Royal Command Performance

Punch and Judy will perform throughout the day at Pierremont

Pretending People will lead the Grand Parade and then perform at the Bandstand

There will be a display of costumes at Pierremont on Saturday & Sunday


10am – 4pm  Victorian Fayre @ Pierremont

1pm    Croquet Match at Nuckells Gardens

2pm    Greyhound Buskers at Pierremont

2.30 pm  Dickens Declaimers perform at Nuckells Gardens ‘Mrs Nickleby and the Amorous Neighbour’

3pm    BAE Systems Band at the Bandstand

4.30pm   Dickens in Moving Pictures at the Palace Cinema

7.30pm    Festival Play – Oliver Twist