It’s not so long ago that Folkestone was dead on its arse. Its cross-Channel ferry service had gone, the town was falling apart due to lack of investment and the death of the holiday trade, and there seemed no way back for a place that had nothing going for it apart from cheap hotels and a place
to come when you’d exhausted the charms of other Kent
Fear Is Like A Forest:
Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile
Fish and chips
Now, though. Now. Folkestone is gradually, slowly, turning the corner. The Triennial – the every-three-years art festival that fills the town with inspirational art and installations – is growing in prestige and size. 2017’s Triennial was the best yet, complete with Antony Gormley statues on the pier and a fantastic roster of new art to look at. The old Harbour Arm is being regenerated and is now a lively place with a super selection of restaurants and bars, and great live music in the summer. The Creative Quarter is a bustling hub of indie shops, cool bars and restaurants, and the clifftop walk to Sandgate is a pleasant stroll past regenerated hotels with gorgeous sea views.
Folkestone’s wartime history – over 10 million soldiers and military personnel passed through the port on the way to war between 1914 and 1918 – is also remembered with the impressive WW1 memorial arch up on The Leas. You can ride a water-powered lift up from the seafront to the top of the cliffs, which is Victorian brilliance at its finest. The high street might be a bit dour, but the town is
a place where you can sense a corner has been turned and it’s going to carry on improving. Let’s hope so, because it’s a cracking place for a weekend away, and proved one of our favourites trips out of London so far.
We loved this place. Low lighting, great ciders, poetry readings, classy music. Lovely owners and a charming vibe. Recommended for a fun, intelligent night out.
Loved it here, great ciders (Broadoak is the best!) and a strong selection of bar food, too. Hang out here reading magazines and chilling, ’cos it’s friendly and casual. We loved it.
The Bouverie Tap
Just over the road from Conchita’s is this gem of a pub, quaint, tiny and with some great beers.
The Harp Restrung
Proper old school rock-and-punk bar with a small stage, sticky floors and an alt clientele. Good for late-night drinking sessions.
Just a quick stroll out of town is this buzzy little Mexican with friendly staff. It was rammed with a hen party when we were there, but we still enjoyed ourselves – the apple liquor shots at the end of the meal were a nice boozy touch, too!
Blooms @ The ¼
Delicious Mediterranean pastas and pizzas at the bottom end of the Creative Quarter. Cosy and cheerful, with a great selection of wines.
Eleto Chocolate Cafe
A chocolate cafe! Perfect! We started off our day’s walking here, with an S’more crepe – sugary, marshmallow-y heaven.
Perfect for blowing away the cobwebs on a weekend morning, the Harbour Arm is dramatic, windswept and also packed with a decent selection of restaurants. Head along to eat Greek, Dutch, ice cream... plus a gin bar. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon mooching.
13 Coffee & Cycles
Coffee and bike advice/fittings/cycling clobber. What more could you possibly want?
Damn good fish and chips, cooked to order. If it’s not pissing it down, go and eat them by the harbour.
Halfway up the Old High Street is this very cool vintage shop. Lots of workwear, Americana and T-shirts at great prices.
Amazing art gallery/homeware shop with alternative pieces, creative prints and good-looking pics. Prices for all budgets, too.
Vintage & Vinyl
Oh, this is such a great little store. Vintage records, wine, gifts, a cool line in tote bags… we spent ages in here, choosing old-school records and deciding which record player we’d buy if we could afford a new one.
Smashing homeware store with a brilliant selection of gifts, postcards, posters, cushions…. A lot of it is personal to Folkestone, too, and at really good prices.
Hot Salvation Records
Amazing emporium stuffed with new and used vinyl. Some corking new albums and plenty of golden oldies too – what a brilliant store. Nice owner, too.
What we did:
Followed the brilliant Triennial trail around the town, looking at some incredible art installations. Wandered out on to the Harbour Arm and sat in the sunshine with cups of tea and slices of cake. Strolled around the working harbour and out to Sunny Sands beach, which has the best name ever. Spent lots of time wandering through the Creative Quarter admiring the fantastic shops and galleries.
Fear Is Like A Forest: Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile
Heard this in Hot Salvation and LOVED it. Perfect melancholic guitar pop.
What we bought:
Rude mugs (Mr Ben Dover) for Christmas presents. LOTS of records – Courtney Barnett, John Carpenter, The War On Drugs. Delicious burgers at the now-defunct Googies.
Where we stayed:
House Of The Dead / Crazy golf?:
No crazy golf. No video games. Sob. Folkestone is weirdly bereft of seaside arcades and golfing good times.