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Return of the Broadstairs Dickens Festival - June 14 2014 to June 21 2014

By Mary Louis

Visitors to the Kent seaside this weekend are likely to cross paths with the likes of creepy Uriah Heep and the grimly fading bride Miss Havisham.

Vivid costumes and colourful eccentric characters will plunge Broadstairs into a Victorian timewarp for the annual Dickens Festival.

It will run from Saturday, June 14, when the traditional celebration of author Charles Dickens returns to the town where he was a regular visitor from 1837 until 1859.

The parade heads to the bandstand

The festival, launched in 1937 to mark the centenary of Dickens’ first visit, will continue with its traditionally busy programme until Friday, June 20.

The fun starts with Saturday’s opening parade from Pierremont Hall at 2.30pm, processing to Victoria Gardens.

Another highlight will be the official Dickens play, The Mystery of Edwin Drood at the Sarah Thorne Theatre, Hilderstone.

There will be beach parties, Victorian music hall, a reading competition, Thanet Male Voice Choir concert, a Palace Cinema showing of the 1952 version of The Pickwick Papers and an elegant Dickensian traditional afternoon tea.

Wendy Loftus, Brenda Philpott and Sheila Philpott

Victoria Gardens will be the backdrop for many more events with a Victorian country fair daily from 10am to 5pm and there will be plenty of musical entertainment on the bandstand.

The festival was started by Gladys Waterer who was resident at Dickens House in the 1930s. It was launched with a staging of David Copperfield, and publicised by people in Victorian dress around Broadstairs.

Apart from during the Second World War, the festival has been held annually in the third week of June ever since.

Festival programmes are widely available in Broadstairs shops and at the tourist information kiosk. Full details on the festival website: www.broadstairsdickensfestival.co.uk

Jan Smith at Broadstairs Dickens Week

Highlights of Broadstairs Dickens Festival include

Saturday, June 14

10.45am Fagin’s Den storytelling, Events Marquee, Victoria Gardens
11.45am and 12.45pm, The Costume Train dressing up sessions for children, Events Marquee
2.30pm Grand Parade, Pierremont War Memorial
3pm Opening Ceremony, Victoria Gardens
3.15pm Children’s Fancy Dress Competition, Victoria Gardens
7.45pm Holy Trinity Church, Thanet Male Voice Choir concert, tickets £6
7.45pm Victorian Music Hall, St Peters Church, £8 primary school children, Events Marquee

Sunday, June 15
11.30am Open-air church service, Preachers Knoll
1pm Victorian Village Cricket Match, Victoria Gardens
6.30pm Victorian Songs of Praise, Holy Trinity Church
7.45pm Royal Command Performance of Victorian Music Hall, Broadstairs Sailing Club, £8 (also Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)

Monday, June 16
11am Dickensian Beach Party, Viking Bay (also Wednesday, Friday)

Tuesday, June 17
11.30am Period Hair and Make up Workshop, Events Marquee, £1
2.15pm Reading from The Old Curiosity Shop and Vignette, Old Curiosity Shop
8pm 1952 Pickwick Papers showing, Palace Cinema, £6

David Woodland and Margaret Chambers

Wednesday, June 18
7.30pm The Happiest Days of Your Life, Crampton Tower Museum, £7

Thursday, June 19
3pm Old Tyme Music Hall with Porteous and Archer, Events Marquee, £1
3.30pm, Victorian picnic, in the Victoria Gardens
7.30pm Dickens Youth Reading Competition, Holy Trinity Church

Friday, June 20
2.30pm An Elegant Dickensian Traditional Afternoon Tea, The Royal Albion Hotel, £9.50

Saturday, June 21
7pm David Copperfield – The Conclusion, Memorial Theatre, Hilderstone, £7 and £5

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