The Annual Broadstairs Water Gala took centre stage on the local events’ calendar on Wednesday as thousands descended upon the town’s cliff-top promenade and the ever-picturesque Viking Bay.

The weather couldn’t have been better and proved the icing-on-the-cake for the visitors to this fantastic event.

King Neptune

I took a walk over to the Water Gala, wandering along the clifftops through King George VI Park. As I crossed the footbridge at Louisa Bay, I felt a hint of childlike excitement as I was greeted by the sight of the Ferris Wheel, Fayre, numerous stalls set up along the promenade and a packed beach. Viking Bay is a beautiful beach year-round, but on a day like this it really seems to come to life.

A full program of events was planned throughout the day and well into the evening and there really was something for everyone.

The morning kicked off with a Teddy Bears Picnic and then a whole day of activities were staggered over the course of the event, culminating in the impressive Firework Display and Live Music at the Bandstand.

Other scheduled activities on offer included Beach Games, Paddleboard sessions, Crabbing and Sandcastle competitions, the Fayre and a whole host of stalls.

Of course, no Water Gala would be complete without the traditional ‘Millers & Sweeps’ battle in the harbour area and an appearance by none other than King Neptune, himself.

Visitors were shown around the RNLI Ramsgate Inshore Lifeboat and given important safety advice by the Crew

Although the overriding feel of the Water Gala was one of family fun, there was a really strong and prominent message of safety as well this year. Wherever I looked, volunteers from the RNLI were engaging with visitors and sharing their vast knowledge of water safety with the families they met. The Ramsgate Inshore Lifeboat was also present for most of the day, giving everyone the opportunity to have a god look around and ask questions of the local RNLI Crews.

I met up with Andy Mills, the Margate RNLI Community Safety Officer, as he was handing out information leaflets and speaking with people about the important, potentially life-saving advice surrounding water safety. This advice seemed particularly poignant this week. Andy and the rest of the RNLI volunteers really seemed to relish this opportunity to get these vital safety messages out to so many people.

Volunteer RNLI Crew member demonstrating ‘Float Don’t Swim’ safety advice to families attending the Water Gala

One visitor to the Water Gale was my old footy buddy, Lewis Williams, who had brought his son Louie along. Lewis was really excited to take Louie on the Lifeboat but I got the impression he’d have been just as excited if he’d been on his own.

‘Titan’ thrilled the crowds at the Bandstand

The Water Gala has a particular significance to me and I have very fond memories of the event as a young lad.  It was a time for families to be together. I recall Aunts, Uncles and Cousins coming down from London (no, those pesky DFLs aren’t a new phenomenon) for the week and all of us meeting up on the Wednesday at the beach or clifftops to enjoy the proceedings.

It was also the first time I ever saw The Red Arrows, and that really blew me away.

The ‘family’ element of the Gala is still very much apparent today, with young, excited children and their (equally excited) parents, families and friends packing the beach, promenade and fayre throughout the day. They were not to be disappointed. I have no doubt that all of the youngsters attending the Water Gala will, one day, look back upon their memories of the event with as much fondness and nostalgia as I now do.

Who knows… one day they may be bringing their own children down to Broadstairs for its annual, and quite fantastic, Water Gala.

Please take a look through our gallery from the event and feel free to share this article with anyone who may be interested.

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Many thanks to Kerrie Baker for the Fireworks’ photographs.