Every June at the seaside town of Broadstairs people gather to dress up and celebrate one of it's most renowned visitors – Charles Dickens. As some of you know this was where my love of costume first started, so here is my not so impartial review of the festival. For me the day started with a mad rush to reconstruct my crinoline as some little mousy friends had got in to where I had stored it, so it needed disinfecting and re-wiring. The tapes had shrunk in the wash which made getting the hoops back in interesting to say the least. The start of the main parade was 2.30 and we finally got there with 10 minutes to spare. The day itself was windy but fair. People come from across the country to take part in the festival and there is always a great atmosphere just before the parade starts, as it is often the first chance we get to meet up with everyone. After the parade was the opening ceremony and here I think a special mention needs to go to the Page Mason School of Dance and Drama who did brilliantly with scenes from the musical “Oliver” despite how unruly the wind was behaving.
Dickensian characters making their way along the promenade as part of the festival parade
A stalwart of the festival is the Victorian Cricket match. This is no ordinary cricket match, but a light hearted affair with interruptions from amongst others a group of militant maids.
We were a bit unlucky with the weather this year, but that didn't seem to stop anyone.
Militant maids in action at the cricket match
The sea bathing was bracing for those brave souls who went into the water, and for those of us who stayed on dry sand we had much fun with a seaside picnic and traditional seaside musical entertainment.
Braving the sea
"Oh I do love to be beside the seaside"
Jason and Rose having fun with a windmill
A highlight of the festival for the last few years have been the costume talks given by Louise Woodcock for the ladies, and Vernon Mee for the gentlemen. Louise's talks are always good fun with tongue in cheek humour and this year was about dressing a Victorian bride. Vernon gives tips on how a gentleman would dress and always brings along original objects, which I love, and he kindly gave me permission to take photos of (and gently drool over) an original 1850s waistcoat in his collection.
A bit of tight lacing going on here...
A very dapper gentleman
Food is always an important part of the festival for my family, and here I need to give a special mention to the Kiosk at the bandstand. They've been a favourite of ours for the last couple of years. They've got a large and diverse menu, their portions are huge, the quality is 5 star and they are really good value for money. The staff are very friendly and helpful. They have a great range for vegetarians too and my husband would heartily recommend their Klubless Klub sandwich. Rose (my daughter) became a huge fan of their cheese on toast, and having tried it I can't blame her. Another great place to get food in Broadstairs is Continental Corner. Although we only visited them once this year their food was as delicious as ever and I very much enjoyed munching into one of their giant hot dogs :D
Guilty pleasure - hotdog from Continental Corner
Two events of the festival really stood out for me. I attempted to play croquet for the first time in around 5 years, and I did gloriously badly at it. Luckily for my foot my boot protected it from the hit I gave it. I also got the pleasure of seeing Rose handle a croquet mallet and ball for the first time, her desire for the balls to always form a triangle and her minor obsession with the croquet peg :D Croquet is a really fun game when played with the right group of people (and with a flexible approach to the rules) and the couple of matches I watched were playful and entertaining. I did feel sorry for the poor flower beds though. The seaside frolics at the bandstand was the last event of the festival, and was a really upbeat way to end the week.
Rose taking a serious interest in the croquet
Rose watching me try and play croquet
Other events of the festival included the festival play, music hall, garden party, competitions, picnic and talks. You can find more details about the festival at www.broadstairsdickensfestival.co.uk
Standard disclaimer. These views are my own personal ones and do not necessarily reflect those of the festival or any of the businesses or people mentioned. While every caution has been taken to provide my readers with most accurate information and honest analysis, please use your discretion before taking any decisions based on the information in this blog. Author will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.