Boats at Ramsgate Royal Harbour in Christmas lights Credit: RNLI/Steve Burton…

A spectacular show of Christmas decorations have cast their light over Ramsgate Royal Harbour this December to raise money for the RNLI.

For more than 10 years local businesses and boat owners have come together to put on the Ramsgate Christmas Illuminations to raise money for Ramsgate RNLI and celebrate the Christmas spirit.

The charity’s lifesavers are prepared to launch 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and Christmas is no different. Each year RNLI volunteers are ready to face the cold and leave their loved ones behind to answer the call, including the crew at Ramsgate RNLI.


But these rescues wouldn’t be possible without the kind donations which fund the kit, training, and equipment, so the community in Ramsgate has found a brilliant way to help the lifeboat crew out. Each December, local businesses and boat owners get together to light up the Royal Harbour with festive lights to raise money for Ramsgate RNLI.

Ramsgate Royal Harbour Credit: Ramsgate Illuminations…

The Harbour Illuminations has grown gradually, and from a small initiative, it has become one of the most anticipated events of the year, attracting television coverage worldwide and people from all over Kent and beyond.

Karen Cox, Ramsgate volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, said: ‘Packed with crafts of all sizes, the harbour has been the home of Ramsgate Lifeboat Station since 1802, which is situated on the Western Crosswall.

Ramsgate crew touring the inner harbour with Santa Credit: RNLI/Steve Burton

‘Occasionally we have a RNLI lifeboat from the relief fleet based in the harbour and the crew moor it on the harbour and dress it in brilliant Christmas lights. Also, there have been years when the crew toured the inner harbour with Santa to the delight of the people gathered around.

RNLI lifeboat from the relief fleet dressed in Christmas lights sadly absent for this year Image: Ramsgate Illuminations

The station has only had its own lifeboat here this year which we have to keep ready to launch, so they won’t be able to light it up for the illuminations. Instead, they’ll light up the station with wonderful decorations.

Illuminations and lifeboat are a must-see

‘So if you come down to Ramsgate this December, the illuminations and the lifeboat are a must-see in town.’

The event is organised by the Royal Temple Yacht Club, Ramsgate Marina Association and Ramsgate Town Team, and supported with funding from the Town Council and Ramsgate Town Team, which helps purchase the lights. The ornaments are then given to the boat owners who cover their vessels with Christmas lights for visitors to enjoy.

Dazzling displays

The shops around the harbour also volunteer to get involved in the event and they cover the funding of the lights themselves. The dazzling displays bring business to the town. The local shops give vouchers to the boat owners who lit up their vessels and pledge a donation per lit boat to Ramsgate RNLI.

Martin Morgans, Commodore of the Royal Temple Yacht Club, explains: ‘Each year we have the night of the illuminations judging and based on the total number of boats that lit up in the Harbour, the businesses who contributed with a pledge, get to make their final donations.


‘It’s important to remember that the people who light their boats don’t do it for any other reason than they want the harbour to look splendid. And it does. We’ve been featured all around the world, even in Australia.’

Over the past five years, RNLI lifeboats in the South East have launched 188 times during the festive period. Last Christmas (24 December 2021–1 January 2022), RNLI lifeboat crews across the South East saved the lives of four people, the highest number recorded in five years. The charity’s volunteer crews also aided 46 people during the 2021 festive period, which is the highest number recorded since 2017.

But these rescues would not be possible without donations from the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews all year round.

The RNLI Christmas appeal helps to continue its lifesaving work at sea.

It’s not too late to make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal visit:

By Ed

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