What to do in the Winter in Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate
What to do in the Winter in Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate
Londoners have been escaping to the Isle of Thanet – Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate – for more than 200
years, for the laidback seaside vibe, breathtaking sandy beaches, fresh sea air and romantic Turner skies. But in
winter? All the more reason to visit for a day or short break!
Go to a gallery
Be one of the first to see what happens when art and risk
collide at Turner Contemporary, Margate. Their new
exhibition ‘Risk’ opened on 10 October.
Francis Alÿs repeatedly runs into the eye of a tornado;
Bas Jan Ader sails out to sea in search of the miraculous,
tragically never to return; ORLAN undergoes plastic
surgery; Marina Abramović points a bow and arrow at her
own heart; Pedro Reyes creates musical instruments out
of firearms and Ruth Proctor free-falls in the gallery……
Risk runs through to 17 January, 2016 and
admission is free.
Simon Faithfull, still from EZY1899 Reenactment for
a Future Scenario HD video, 12min, 2012. Courtesy
of the artist and Galerie Polaris Paris
There are many other galleries in the area worth viewing, from the prestigious UpDown Gallery in Ramsgate,
which exhibits the best of modern and contemporary British, European and American art, to the smaller, family
run The Broadstairs Gallery which showcases work from local and internationally renowned artists as well as
stocking limited edition prints. www.visitthanet.co.uk/galleries
Explore the delights of Quex Park Estate
Yes, a whole day at one venue. Explore one of the
most unique, private natural history collections in the
UK, including oriental fine arts and porcelain, at the
Powell-Cotton Museum, Quex House and Gardens.
Be sure to visit Gallery 6, which is a new handling
gallery, so you can get up close and personal to the
exhibits. Have a stroll around the beautiful gardens
before lunching at either Mama Feelgoods or Quex
Barn, an indoor farmer’s market, café and restaurant.
In the afternoon take a walk around the Secret Garden
plant centre and the Quex Craft Village. Also on site is
Jungle Jim’s children’s soft play area, Quex Paintballing and Lazer Rush. www.quexpark.co.uk
Discover a hidden gem (or two)
Go underground and marvel at Margate’s Shell
Grotto. Discovered in 1835 there’s 70ft of winding
underground passages decorated with 4.6 million
shells. Is it an ancient pagan temple or a meeting
place for a secret cult? Or one of the worlds unsolved
Discover Margate’s magnificent past at Margate
Museum, which in its time has served as police cells,
a Town Hall and Magistrates Court, many of these
original features are still here. Make the most of the
joint ticket option with the Tudor House, thought to be one of the oldest building in Kent, built around 1525.
www.margatemuseum.wordpress.com and www.margatemuseum.wordpress.com/tudor-house
And for something quirky, go to the Walpole Bay Hotel and Museum. There are exhibits to view all around the
hotel, an Otis Trellis Gated lift to get from floor to floor, plus a napery to view – artworks by guests (some
famous) all on linen napkins. www.walpolebayhotel.co.uk
Visit Bleak House, Charles Dickens’ favourite holiday home and where he wrote David Copperfield. Stand in the
atmospheric study with his writing desk and enjoy the same views over Viking Bay and the English Channel that
Dickens would have enjoyed all those years ago. There’s also a Smuggling Museum and tea room.
On to Ramsgate and another underground
adventure, this time on a tour of Ramsgate
Tunnels, two miles of bomb-proof, deep
shelter tunnels built to protect civilians during
WWII. During the darkest days of the war,
the tunnels evolved into an underground city
with over 1,000 permanent residents.
Credit Kane Guy
If you plan to visit on a Wednesday, make an appointment to visit Pugin’s, The Grange, this is when you will get
to see the main rooms on the ground floor – they have been restored in amazing detail by The Landmark Trust.
Then in the villages there’s Monkton Nature reserve, which offers 16 acres, a bat cave, rare orchids, butterflies
and birds and it is also home to the Thanet Observatory. www.monkton-reserve.org
All things planes, trains and automobiles
Take flight to the Spitfire and Hurricane Museum at
Manston and see splendid examples of the two
WWII fighter aircraft which served the RAF so well –
the Spitfire and Hurricane - complemented by a vast
array of other artefacts from this time. Then step
next door to the RAF Manston History Museum and
discover the history of Manston airfield from 1916.
Then it’s all aboard to the Hornby Visitor Centre and
a chance to see and interact with Britain’s best-loved
toys including Hornby, Scalextric, Airfix and Corgi.
Put on your walking shoes and take to the trails
Put on your walking shoes, get out into the fresh air and take to the trails – that is the dedicated themed walking
trails that will lead you on a route of discovery
around the resorts. From exploring the history,
buildings and famous residents of Broadstairs on
the Broadstairs Town Trail to discovering some of
Margate’s heritage places and landmarks on the
Discover Margate route. Active Ramsgate has
three different themed routes to explore – The
Contra Trail from Ramsgate to Pegwell Bay taking
in the nature reserve; Sea it All from Ramsgate to
Broadstairs, and Ramsgate Town Rounders Regency, Royal and Riviera.
Also in Ramsgate is the Pugin Town Trail, a walk
from the East Cliff to the West Cliff highlighting the
architecture of the Pugin family. And last but not least, there is the 4 mile Turner and Dickens walk, much of
which follows an ancient footpath between Turner’s Margate and Dickens’ Broadstairs.
Alternatively, book a Kent Greeter and discover the area with a friendly local for free. Kent Greeters are a band
of helpful and passionate volunteers, ready and waiting to share the local area they know and love so well. They
will take you on a short 2-4 hour personalised walk and introduce you to the local highlights and hidden gems –
great if you are new to the area. www.kentgreeters.co.uk
Bag a bargain
Shopping may not be front of mind when you think of a trip to the coast, but that doesn’t mean we can’t satisfy
the ‘shop till you drop’ urge, but in our own, individual way. Take Margate Old Town for instance, it now has an
amazing array of retro clothing and furniture stores to browse and some great contemporary offerings too. In
Ramsgate, you will find the Petticoat Lane Emporium an absolute delight with 175 stalls, 2 shops and a vintage
tea room – offering vintage, retro, craft, art and antique merchandise all under one roof. Also worth a look in
Ramsgate is Addington Street and the waterfront arches. And if mall-style shopping with big names is more your
cup of tea, head to Westwood Cross, which is sure to satisfy your fashion, food, household and gadgetry needs.
Learn something new
Give release to your inner creative and book onto a
craft course. From paper-making and batique work
at Crafted Naturally, making your own glass
artworks at A Touch of Glass, upcycling at Paramor
Boorman, to multiple-day mosaic courses run by
internationally-renowned artist Martin Cheek. And
Turner Contemporary doesn’t just deliver amazing
exhibitions, they also run family and adult
workshops, spanning topics such as film making,
drawing and sculpture.
If baking, sugarcraft and patisserie are more your
thing, then East Kent College is the place to look, they also run courses on pottery and floristry.
Resort Studios in Cliftonville is the place to go if you want to try jewellery making, black and white film
photography and linocut and screen printing – www.resortstudios.co.uk, whilst Roy Eastland offers life drawing
classes from the Adult Education Centre in Hawley Square Margate, built as an art college in the 1930s it has big
tall windows and pools of light, making it the perfect setting.
Eat Drink and Be Merry
Drink your fill of micropubs - Thanet is known as having the highest concentration of micro pubs, with more
opening all the time. Each has its own individual style and atmosphere but all are friendly local watering holes
where you can try, and even take away, specialist ales and ciders. www.visitthanet.co.uk/micropubs
Now we are not suggesting that you spend all day drinking - but you could combine a trip around the Isle on the
loop bus, with regular stop-offs to take in our amazing towns and villages and the odd pint or two. Ah, somebody
has already had this idea - www.micropubcrawl.co.uk
Food, glorious food - Where to start? How about
getting fresh (produce that is) at one of our Farmers’
Markets, we have three in the area. Cliftonville
Farmers Market takes place on the clifftops near the
Oval Bandstand on the last Sunday of each month,
whilst Thanet Farmers Market takes place on the
second Sunday of the month, both mornings only.
Quex Barn is open every day and is an indoor
farmers’ market with café and restaurant attached.
All offer a mouth-watering array of local goodies to
purchase such as vegetables, meat, cheese, bread,
jams, pickles, juices and ciders, the list goes on.
Look out for Kent Crisps, made in Birchington and produce from Margate Smokehouse, their smoked Brie is
A must at the seaside is ice cream. From single cones to super cool sundaes, from traditional vanilla to wild
berry or Earl Grey, there are flavours to tickle everybody’s taste buds. There’s also a choice of venues, including
the famous 1950s Morellis and Chiappinis in Broadstairs, Sorbettos in Ramsgate and Melt in Margate – as much
of a treat in the winter as they are in the summer. www.visitthanet.co.uk/things-to-do/ice-cream
And last, but by no means least, there is a veritable feast to be had in the Isles cosy cafes, and quality
restaurants, including the The Ambrette in Margate, Wyatt and Jones and Albariἢos in Broadstairs, and The
Corner House in Minster, who all appear in the Michelin Guide 2016 www.visitthanet.co.uk/things-to-do/eatingand-drinking or www.visitthanet.co.uk/culinarycoast
Check out a church..
..or an Abbey, or a Mausoleum – we have them all.
Minster Abbey is one of England’s oldest religious
buildings, founded in 670 AD and currently occupied
by Benedictine nuns. Also in Minster, St. Mary the
Virgin Church has one of the best collections of
misericords (monk stalls) in south east England.
Tours are available at both.
Montefiore Mausoleum in Ramsgate contains the tombs of both Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore. Sir Moses was
a towering and prominent figure of Victorian England, who was passionate in both his beliefs as a Jew and an
Englishman. His philanthropic projects and activism earned him a Knighthood by Queen Victoria. The
Mausoleum and the nearby Synagogue were designed by David Mocatta. Visitors are welcome by prior
The Six Churches Ride is a 9.5 mile (15.25 km) cycle route which takes in the ancient churches of St. Nicholasat-Wade, St. Mary Magdalene in Monkton, St. Mary the Virgin and Minster Abbey in Minster, St. Augustine’s
Cross, St. Augustine’s Church (designed by Gothic revivalist architect Augustus Pugin) and the small Sailor’s
Church, both in Ramsgate. www.vikingcoastaltrail.co.uk
Get on your bike
Talking of cycle routes, why not spend a day on the
Viking Coastal Trail? This is a 32 mile circular cycle
route which takes in the stunning coastline of
Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate before heading
back across the countryside villages. And because
most of it is around the coastline, much is along
traffic-free promenades, with lots of coastal cafes and
restaurants on route for refreshment stops.
Don’t be deterred if 32 miles seems a lot, the route
can easily be broken down into more manageable
chunks, plus there are shorter themed routes that can be explored too, such as History, Art and Architecture;
Historic Broadstairs; The Path of St. Augustine’s; Smugglers’ Haunts Ride and Beaches and Bays. Find out
more about these and cycle hire opportunities at www.vikingcoastaltrail.co.uk
Visit an event or see a show
The great thing about being on the
coast is that there is always something
going on and the winter months are no
exception. Key annual events include
Blues Bash and GEEK (February),
Margate Beach Cross (March) and
Broadstairs Food Festival (October).
Plus there’s always a variety of things
going on around Halloween, Bonfire
Night, Christmas and New Year.
Broadstairs Food Festival
Theatre goers are well served too, with three in Margate alone. The Theatre Royal is the country’s second
oldest and the tiny Tom Thumb Theatre is one of the smallest with only 50 seats. Then there is the prestigious
Winter Gardens, right on the seafront. Ramsgate and Broadstairs are not to be left out; they have the Granville
Theatre and the Sarah Thorne Theatre Company providing quality entertainment. All in all, the offering is
interesting, fun and varied with traditional pantomimes, contemporary shows, gigs, concerts and so much more.