I know I keep going on about it, but I make no apologies. Heading towards it's 50th year, the festival just seems to get bigger and better every year.
I know many of you will probably think, "I don't like folk music, I'm not going to that", but I can assure you, there is really something for everyone. There are torchlight processions, fireworks, circus displays, morris dancers (see the pictures), various world musicians, blues gigs etc. etc. etc. There probably isn't an area of artistic endeavour that isn't represented somewhere during the week.
I have had many friends who are not at all into folk music who, once persuaded, return every year purely for the atmosphere or craic, as the Irish would say.
Just a word of warning, there is not a bed to be had in the town that week. You really need to book about ten months in advance to have any chance.
Update August 2013.
Regular readers of my pages will know that I do like to keep my tips as up to date as possible, so here is an update on this one. I just returned yesterday from the 48th Folk Week where I played a lot of music, hung out with a lot of dear friends and generally had a great time. The festival just seems to go from strength to strength and I really do recommend it.
If you get thirsty on your meanderings around Broadstairs (I know I do), you could do worse than drop in here for a pint. It's a relatively unspoilt old-fashioned pub and very pleasant. So unspoilt is it that the actual bar itself is Grade II listed. If you are not aware of listing, this basically means it is protected by law as being of historic interest.
Neptunes Hall, or the Neps as it is locally known, is also the sort of unofficial HQ for the musicians and dancers in Folk Week. Many's a good session and gig I've had in here.
Look out for the picture on the wall of the last four landlords all having a drink together. Between them they span some unbelievable period of time. There is also a photo of two dear friends of mine on their wedding day processing up Harbour Street to the pub and flanked by an honour guard of morris dancers with staves. Don't ask, it is a folkie thing.
What used to be the low bar was a tapas restaurant (see seperate tip) for a while although is not currently in use, so ignore what the brewery website says (I have reported it to them). Should you want to enjoy the Kent weather or just have a smoke, there is a delightful and spacious beer garden. Don't be put off by the image, it was taken at dusk.
The Neps is a fine pub and well worth a visit. Tell Ken that I sent you!
go to the beach. Unodubtedly, a lot of the popularity of the town was built upon the beaches, which are still popular with day trippers and longer term visitors. Actually, the whole coast here is full of bays, which were home to smugglers for many centuries.
Broadstairs is actually built around seven bays, of which the most central and famous is Viking Bay, apparently so named because the Vikings landed there in 1949! Actually, a replica longboat, rowed across the North Sea, landed there, but it makes for a romantic name, I think.
The beach, in summer, has traditional kids entertainment like Punch and Judy, and also trampolines, a bouncy castle and other attractions. As popular beaches go, it's very clean.
If you don't fancy walking down to the harbour and along, there is a lift from the Promenade.
A stroll along the jetty is a must.There's a cafe at the end which serves cockles and mussels and other seafood.
Seats along the jetty enable you to sit and gaze at the sea or watch the activity of the fishermen and their boats, which moor beneath it.
The sea can get quite rough and the waves soak the cars parked up there, to the delight of onlookers,(who parked elsewhere!).
I first discovered this place when I played a gig there many years ago, and have since returned many times. It is a simple, no-nonsense locals pub, which is far enough off the beaten track to avoid most of the summer tourist rush. Having said that, it's only about five minutes walk from the main street. If you want a decent pint in pleasant surroundings, this could well be the place for you.
If you are wondering about the slightly unusual name, Wrotham is a village in Kent and there are at least three different pronounciations of it!
I should also mention that the Wrotham is an abolute hub of musical activity in the town, not just during Folk Week when it is permanently full of bands, song and music sessions and general merriment, but all throughout the year. Started by the previous manager Jenny and continued by the present incumbent Jackie (both delightful ladies) there are regular live bands encompassing a range of musical styles so there is something for everybody. Full details of the music are available at
I know local musicians are very appreciative of such a supportive place to play and a few local acts have had their first break here.
This magnificent house, where Charles Dickens lived when he wrote 'Little Dorrit' can be visited all year round.
The underground cellars have been converted into a 'Smugglers' Museum', telling the history of smuggling on the Kent coast.Some scary sights down there!
OK, so you've been to the beach, had something to eat, and possibly a few drinks in one of the many fine hostelries in town. So what now? You want to have a sit down somewhere quiet and perhaps read a book or just have a quiet doze in tranquil surroundings. Well, this might just be the place for you.
Originally the grounds of the still extant 1785 Pierremont Hall, which now serves as the local Town Hall and Folk Week office, it is a pleasant garden, well laid out and maintained. It is a perfect place to sit in the Kent sunshine and relax.
A word of warning, though. I wouldn't recommend you go near this place in the evenings, especially in the summer, when the local yobs seem to make it their personal domain, getting drunk / stoned and generally causing trouble.
Broadstairs is set in one of seven adjoining bays, and between them there is something to suit just about everyone. Going towards Margate from Broadstairs, you come to Joss Bay. This is a very popular family / surfing beach, which is patrolled in the summer season by lifeguards. It is an extremely clean beach and has won several local awards. there is a pay and display carpark there, but I like to walk along the coast from Broadstairs - it'll only take you about half an hour at a gentle pace.
If you feel like learning something new, surfing lessons are available in the summer season - see the website for further details. I don't surf myself, but friends who do tell me this is a good place for it. Surfboards and bodyboards are available for hire, or if you're feeling less adventurous you can also hire deckchairs, windbreaks and so on.
It is quite easy to find, being in the shadow of the famous North Foreland lighthouse which was the last manned lighthouse in the UK prior to automation.
In the same way that no trip to the English seaside is complete without fish and chips, so ice-cream is also a necessity. There are a couple of good ice cream parlours in Broadstairs but this is my favourite.
Dating back to 1932, in these same premises, it was the first ever ice cream parlour to serve over 20 flavours, and Heaven knows how many there are now.
Good selection of flavours and styles - all guaranteed to pile on the pounds!
Update august 2013.
Readers of my pages will know that I like to keep them as up to date as possible and so I ahve now added a website that was not available when I originally submitted this in 2005 and also amended an out of date telephone number.
Current opening hours are
Monday to Friday 0800 - 1730
Saturday to Sunday 0800 - 1800
i knew that Morelli's had a franchise in the famous Harrod's department store in London but I didn't know until I checked the website that they also now have outlets in Bahrain, Dallas, Dubai, Manila, Kuwait and Dammam with new ones opening soon in Tblisi and the Gabon! They are certainly expanding and rightly so, they are still excellent.
OK, I have to declare an interest here. Over the many years I've played the Broadstairs Folk Week I have had some absolutely cracking gigs in here. This year (2006) on the first Saturday night, they had to shut the doors because the place was so full. Now I don't say this to be boastful (there were many better musicians than me playing in town that night) but I use it to illustrate how popular this place is - especially amongst the young.
As I said in the tip header, it's not a place to take your Granny, except perhaps on Sunday lunchtime (if the football isn't on). It is very much geared (in the evenings) towards loud music and live sport on the big screen TV's. Friday and Saturday nights are also popular with parties of people starting out before they go on to a nightclub. If you're in a partying mood, this might just be the place for you.
Update august 2013.
Since I first wrote this tip many years ago, some things have changed and yet much has not. The pub is still much as it was all those years ago with a great emphasis on live sport (watch out, Eric the wonderful owner is a massive Tottenham Hotspur fan, best to avoid the place for a while if they lose, especially to Aresenal!) and they will show just about any live sport that is on TV if you ask them.
Whilst live music was only really a sideline when I initially wrote this tip, the Barnaby is becoming very much one of the leading music places in Thanet. It has live acts on during the wonderful Broadstairs Folk Week every year, and I have played some hugely enjoyable gigs there myself. The music, however, is not limited to that one week and full details are on the attached website. I know a lot of the local musicians and I can tell you that there are some excellent acts appearing here.
I have amended this tip to include the website that was not available when I first wrote it, amend the out of date telephone number and add some up to date information and a few additonal images.
OK, it is still not a place to take your Granny but if she happens to be indoors watching Catherne Cookson re-runs on TV, this is a very good pub to hang out in.
Bleak House inspired Charles Dicken's novel of the same name. He lived here for some time, and wrote the majority of 'David Copperfield' here. The house stand imposingly on the cliff over looking Viking Bay (the main beach in Broadstairs). It has had a number of owners recently and is currently undergoing restoration. I have added a link to the new website which hopefully will be up to date with opening times etc.
One of our favourite things is to sit on the jetty with a cuppa, admiring the view, the sea and people watching.
One has to careful of the huge gulls that swoop down for the leftovers. The pair we watched fighting, broke 2 cups!
The cafe serves excellent tea, coffee, etc as well as seafood- prawns, crayfish tails, mussels, cockles, whelks, everything you can think of..Oh.. and oysters.
As well as fish and chips!
On your walk through the town, you will already have caught glimpses of the sentinel like, castellated house high on the edge of the cliff, with its commanding views of Vikings Bay. In Dickens's time this was known as Fort House, and access is gained by making your way up Fort Road. It is now named after the novel Bleak House whose title it inspired (although that house is in Hertfordshire) and was Dickens's favourite holiday retreat from the mid 1840's until 1852.
Bleak House is now open to the public as a memorial to the author, and many of the rooms are preserved as Dickens would have known them. The billiards room and dining room, both on the ground floor have a variety of mementos and the upstairs bedroom with its spectacular views, houses the original big brass bed from the Bull Hotel Rochester.
(Excuse picture it was taken on my Nokia 6600 phone and it is rubbish... VGA? My a**e!)
UPDATE - AUGUST 2007: I have the distinct idea that the house is now in private hands on no longer open to the public - check before you go.
Once the home of Miss Mary Pearson Strong, on whom Charles Dickens based much of the character of Miss Betsey Trotwood in his novel David Copperfield, this building has been adapted as a museum to commemorate the novelist's association with the town of Broadstairs.
The parlour is refurbished as described by Dickens and illustrated by H. K. Browne (Phiz). Some of the author's own letters and memorabilia are on display. Around the house there are fascinating old prints of local and Dickensian interest as well as costumes and Victoriana.
The 2005 festival runs from Saturday 18th June until Sunday 26th June inclusive. There will be a host of events including the festival play which this year is Great Expectations.
Follow in Charles Dickens' footsteps by coming to Broadstairs, which he visited between 1837 and 1859. See the delights of the town which he named "Our English Watering Place".
[b]2008 Broadstairs Dickens Festival
The 2008 Broadstairs Dickens Festival runs from Thursday 19th June to Sunday 22th June inclusive