Thanet is home to Broadstairs, Margate and Ramsgate, but also has other beautiful villages surrounding the area, including Birchington, Minster and Monkton. Thanet was once separated from the mainland by the River Wantsum, which was up to two miles long, with a bridge and ferry between them. The last millennium saw it silted over and ‘rejoin’ the rest of the UK. It explains why it is still known as the Isle of Thanet.
Broadstairs is another quintessential seaside town, that has historic links with Victorian author Charles Dickens. He visited and stayed there often, and it is said that characters he met during those visits featured in his works. There is an annual Dickens festival on in the town too, featuring theatre shows, costumed characters, parades and trails. The Crampton Tower Museum, which showcases rail and train artefacts, exhibits in a historic water supply tower. The town has some wonderful beaches, including Viking Bay with traditional Punch and Judy shows, beach rides and a rock pool. It is relatively unchanged over the years, though its vibrant and lively food and drink scene with a Michelin starred restaurant, no less.
Further afield take a visit to Ramsgate, enjoy the views of the Royal Harbour from the many cafés, bars and restaurants or from the biggest UK pub, The Royal Victoria Pavilion. At Ramsgate Tunnels learn about how 60,000 people took shelter during the World War II air raids, just in front of the Ramsgate Main Sands, another beautiful beach of Thanet’s many. Ramsgate is also home to a number of events, carnivals, festivals and a thriving music and art scene, with harbourside galleries and unique spaces, including the Micro Museum featuring a collection of vintage computers and video games, fun for all ages.
Consider a trip to the Shrine of St Augustine & The National Pugin Centre, the place where St Augustine landed in 597AD to bring the Gospel to England. It is also where the great Victorian architect, who designed the Houses of Parliament, Augustus Pugin, lived, worked and built his personal church. The Sailors Church on the harbour is also significant, and home to events and exhibitions.
Margate is another popular seaside town, where you will find the Turner Contemporary that celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. This internationally acclaimed art gallery has a collection of its namesake’s work and is host to a range of through-provoking exhibitions. A visit to the old town will interest many tastes, with the beautiful Margate beach to relax and enjoy as well. The art and creative scenes are also flourishing here, but history is also of interest. A visit to the Shell Grotto found in 1835, whose origins are still a mystery, is an unusual and intriguing sight. Or visit the fascinating Margate Caves, and for traditional seaside activities there is Strokes Adventure Golf and, of course, the many arcades just in front of the beach.
Ramsgate is also home to a number of events, carnivals, festivals and a thriving music and art scene, with harbourside galleries and unique spaces
A visit to Margate must include a wander around the many galleries and shops in the old town and to its heritage theme park, Dreamland, the latter is also home to a number of festivals and live events. Margate itself thrives as a festival and event town, making this a seaside of sounds, thrills and sights.
Nearby Birchington has a host of activities at hand at Quex Park – adventure golf, paintballing and a farm shop and restaurant to name a few of its attractions. Close by Minnis Bay and Westgate-on-Sea are just two more reasons that make Thanet a thriving island.
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Picture Credits top to bottom: © Mike Turton at unsplash.com © Turner Contemporary © See Kent Ltd.