Royal Harbour History Festival Launch

Published on 3rd August 2017

On Friday 21st July the tourism and leisure sectors of the Isle of Thanet along with future heritage regeneration projects received a significant boost with the official announcement of the first ever Royal Harbour History Festival in 2018. The announcement was made at the Royal Harbour Brasserie overlooking Britain’s only Royal Harbour, which, along with selected sites will act as the main “stage” for this hugely ambitious spectacle and community event. 

Local business people, organisations and charities mingled with invited dignitaries to be informed about how the Festival will work and how they can get involved. The Royal Harbour History Festival (RHHF) is a three-day event between Friday 15th and Sunday 17th June 2018, located primarily in Ramsgate. The Patron is the Admiral of the Fleet The Lord Boyce KG GCB OBE DL. 

The Festival’s vision is to create a ‘destination history’ event with four main interlocking aims: to showcase our extraordinary coastal and maritime history; to provide an educational experience that will inspire the younger generation at an early age; to bring people into East Kent to enjoy its wealth of local history and cultural air, sea and land inheritance and to raise money for local charities supporting both education and heritage regenerations.

The festival has the full backing of Thanet District Council and Visit Kent, along with the support of the Lord Lieutenant’s office, the Royal Navy, the RNLI, The Cinque Ports Confederation, the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, University of Kent, Landmark Trust and many other cultural organisations. Cllr Hunter Stummer-Schmertzing, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Enterprise Services at Thanet District Council said  “Our coastline is central to British history and we are delighted to be supporting The Royal Harbour History Festival 2018. The three- day extravaganza will celebrate our local history with a high profile programme of events and community engagement activities.” Speaking at the 21st July event, Rob Kenyon, Community Development Officer, Thanet District Council, added, “Thanet is the fastest growing tourism destination in the UK and Ramsgate is the ideal location for those looking for rich maritime history, continental charm, first class entertainment and beautiful architecture. This Festival will give visitors yet another reason to come and enjoy England’s only Royal Harbour. There is such a feel-good factor in Ramsgate at the moment, having just been named as one of ten Heritage Action Zones in the country by Historic England and with the opening of the Grade II-listed The Royal Victoria Pavilion just around the corner.”

Sandra Matthews-Marsh MBE, Chief Executive Visit Kent said, “The Royal Harbour History Festival is the centrepiece of a collective campaign to spotlight the extraordinary stories that are part of Kent’s maritime history. Heritage tourism is a vital part of the UK economy. The UK’s heritage tourism sector is worth £20.2 billion and also supports 386,000 jobs. History and Heritage are strongly associated with Britain’s holiday offer with 81% of overseas visitors stating it was their main reason for going beyond London.”

The festival is the brainchild of brother and sister team James Thomas, Director Royal Harbour Hotel and Victoria Nielson, Chairman RHHF. Victoria said, “Britain’s coast has a strong pull – we are an island race with a psyche to match and visiting the seaside has been a British obsession for centuries. Therefore, the Festival’s target market audience covers a wide range of groups and we expect it be a compelling attraction and anticipate over 80,000 visitors to the Festival during the three days.”  

The Festival will be a combination of a ticketed event and a free to public event depending on the programme activity.  Victoria explained, “Ramsgate is an ideal ‘stage’ for the Festival. The Festival will focus on nine history modules, each with a dedicated location, where possible with a provenance to its own history. Each will have a ‘pay-per-visit’ marquee with a varied programme including lectures, debates, displays, living history and interactive experiences, some of which will be freely available to the public.” She adds, “Alongside the history modules, there are several special planned programme events including a Schools Day, a Royal Navy vs. Royal Harbour Goodwin Sands Cricket Match, the Dunkirk Little Ships, a Festival Parade, a Royal Marines Concert and a 1940’s evening.

Tickets will go on sale early next year. Check the RHHF website for details.