August 25, 2021

What to expect from Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour 200th anniversary festival

A once-in-a-lifetime festival will take over Ramsgate from September 24th until September 26th to celebrate the town's unique Royal status.

What to expect from Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour 200th anniversary festival

2021 marks 200 years since King George IV declared Ramsgate Royal Harbour as 'Royal'. To celebrate this historic occasion, the Thanet coast will enjoy an attraction-packed and action-filled weekend; here are just some of the attractions you can expect to see.

The Dunkirk ‘Little Ships’ fleet

In recognition of the historic Dunkirk evacuations in 1940, a small fleet of the original Dunkirk' Little Ships' will be sailing into Ramsgate Royal Harbour during the anniversary, paying tribute to Ramsgate's pivotal role in the evacuation 81 years later.

'Operation Dynamo' was the World War II evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk in June 1940, with Ramsgate Royal Harbour chosen as the final assembly point for the evacuation.

Hundreds of fishing boats, lifeboats and pleasure crafts were dispatched from Ramsgate in a line that stretched five miles, sailing across to the North of France and helping to evacuate 340,000 British and French soldiers, saving them from meeting the forthcoming German Army.

At least six of the original 'Little Ships' will be sailing into Ramsgate Royal Harbour, while the Royal Navy is also planning to bring two of their ships to the festival along with the world-famous 'Royalist' tall ship.

Tea party on the sands

On the final day of the festival, a grand occasion is planned in which everyone is invited to enjoy a picnic and tea on Ramsgate Main Sands.

80 plus years ago, the Mayor of Ramsgate, ABC Kemp, staged a special "Tea Party on the Sands" for the people of Ramsgate. He invited 1,000 people, yet over 20,000 arrived for the infamous picnic - providing images at Ramsgate the likes have not been seen since.

Partygoers can bring their own picnic to enjoy or buy a premade picnic from one of Ramsgate's great seafront venues. The tea party plans to unite the Ramsgate community in what will be a special event.

Unveiling of the King George IV statue

A 15ft sculpture of King George IV, who bestowed Royal Harbour status to the town, is near completion, but vital funds are needed to place the statue in Ramsgate. The festival weekend of events is what many hope will raise the vital funds necessary for the statue's completion.

The life-size statue of the former King was sculpted by the late Dominic Grant, who sadly passed away before he could complete his work in November 2020. £60,000 is needed to fund the bronze casting, site groundworks, plinth and the statue's many journeys to complete the works.

A drumhead service will occur when the sculpture is unveiled in the centrepiece of Ramsgate's historic festival. If you would like to donate towards the statue's completion, visit the Just Giving page here.

Other attractions taking place in Ramsgate from the 24th to the 26th of September include:

  • Big Top Theatre Marquee in the centre of the crosswall.
  • A Submarine Simulator also from the Royal Navy (TBC).
  • The Sea Safety Exhibition including the RNLI boats and possibly a helicopter.
  • Representatives of Kent Police and South East Coast Ambulance.
  • Old Ramsgate Collection Exhibition.
  • Bucket & Spade vintage vehicles.
  • Mini Hovercraft.
  • Romans, Vikings, Napoleonic Soldiers, World Wars re-enactors.
  • Shows.
  • Costumed walks.
  • Drumhead Service with Royalty present (TBC) and Sunday Service.
  • Children’s Street Party
  • Fun fair and charity stalls.
  • East Kent Sea Cadet Corps ( 8 units) also Cadets from ATC & CCF
  • Water displays throughout the festival.

To learn more about living in Ramsgate, including the luxury apartments available just steps from Ramsgate Main Sands, visit