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Annual festival will turn back the clock

The Phoenix Rising show on the beach
The Phoenix Rising show on the beach

Herne Bay will be taken back to its Victorian heyday when the 2015 festival comes to the town in August. The theme was decided after a public vote on social media run by event organisers Continental Drifts. In total 43% voted for the historical theme, ahead of 32% for Wish You Were Here and 25% for Herne Bay Through the Ages. Continental Drifts spokesman Alex Mahoney says the event will be a challenge to organise, but believes there is a good group of people in the town to help make it work. She said:

“We want to celebrate Herne Bay in its heyday as a Victorian seaside resort. So all events will celebrate this heritage and take on the theme of the traditional seaside, with candy floss, donkeys, music halls, crabbing, Punch & Judy, and sandcastles.”

Herne Bay festival smugglers’ parade
Herne Bay festival smugglers’ parade

Last year the company dazzled crowds with spectacular fireworks displays and a phoenix rising from the ashes. Now they are hoping for similar success in the second of the three years they will be running the festival. Ms Mahoney added:

“Lot’s of people were super keen for the Victorian theme as Herne Bay has strong connections to that era. We could have period costume events for our lantern parades and hat making competitions. We will have firework displays and we could have a music hail theme with big brass bands playing. We also want the community to get involved and run their own events as part of the theme, so we will be contacting groups involved last year and hope they will come back to us again this summer.”

The Herne Bay Festival lantern parade
The Herne Bay Festival lantern parade

The town has strong Victorian connections, with the world’s oldest free-standing Clock Tower being built on the seafront in 1837. In the 1840s there was a steamboat service that took people from London to HerneBay, then the railway arrived in 1861. The first pier was built in 1870, and then the iron pier, which was one of Britain’s longest, was built in 1896. Pier Trust chairman Doreen Stone said she was excited about the theme. She said:

“It’s really lovely, lots of other towns do it, with Dickensian or Victorian theme events. I think people in Herne Bay will really take to it.”

The festival runs from August 22 to August 30. Businesses and community groups interested in running events or getting involved can email events@continentaldrifts.co.uk

Herne Bay Gazette, February 5th 2015

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