There is so much to see and do in Folkestone, a town with such a rich and varied history and culture, with art trails peppered throughout the centre and surrounding areas. The Folkestone Artworks, the UK’s largest urban outdoor exhibition of contemporary art, sees artworks peppered around the town and surrounding countryside, with 74 artworks by 46 artists including Cornelia Parker’s The Folkestone Mermaid sitting on the rocks on the shoreline.
This year saw the fifth Folkestone Triennial, postponed from last year – The Plot – which featured around 20 artists whose work was inspired by the town. Some of which are still on show from 2021 and previous Triennials. Lots of art shows, theatre and events at the town’s Quarterhouse, sitting in an area full of independent galleries and creative shops, aptly named the Creative Quarter.
Also enjoying a major regeneration is the harbour and seafront. At the Harbour Arm, there are outlets offering a range of different international foods. The Lighthouse, sympathetically restored, is now a champagne bar. You can take a pew on the Harbour Arm benches overlooking the seafront, harbour and coast. The now defunct Folkestone Harbour Station, which was once part of the world’s first international rail-sea-rail link, was reopened in 2018 as part of a landscaped walking route connecting the Harbour Arm, Boardwalk and Viaduct – all worthy of a visit in their own right. There are a lot of other attractions too: a new mini-golf attraction, a drive-in cinema as well as the Fountain Square where you can relax, and the little ones enjoy splashing in the water.
For entertainment, Folkestone is spoilt with festivals and events around the town, and touring productions showcasing at the Leas Cliff Hall. It has a lively music and arts scene.
Plenty for history lovers too, with the Kent Battle of Britain Museum, which has the world’s largest Battle of Britain collection of memorabilia and artefacts. In the heart of the town, visit the Folkestone Museum to learn of its varied and long heritage. For more railway history, visit the nearby Elham Valley Line Trust which was formed to showcase railway history that is significant to the areas and its heritage. As was the seaside railway line that was major transportation of soldiers to the front in the wars.
The Lower Leas Coastal Park is also a major attraction, popular all year round, and is a backdrop to lots of events. It has a great play area with zip lines, plenty of space for picnics and walks, and you can take the path down to Mermaid Beach or head back to the harbour along The Boardwalk.
There is much to do and see in Folkestone, a town with such a varied and rich history and culture, with art trails peppered throughout the centre and surrounding areas… Nearby Hythe and its villages offer plenty to do and see too
Nearby Hythe and the surrounding villages offer a range of attractions and sights, including the intriguing Ossuary in the Crypt of St Leonard’s, which is full of bones and skulls, considered the largest collection in the country. The Hythe Sound Mirror touches on the coast’s many defensive structures and is one of several dotted around the local countryside. Don’t miss a trip to the Brockhill Country Park and also The Royal Military Canal, where you can take a boat ride to see the natural wonders of this amazing area. Nearby Dungeness is a fascinating place to visit, with its Dungeness Lighthouse, Dungeness Power Station Visitor Station and Derek’s Jarman’s Prospect Cottage Garden on this stretch of coast that is evocative of Dicken’s Great Expectations sea settings.
Nature and wildlife can be found at the Port Lympne Reserve. Set in 600 acres of countryside, this wildlife park is home to over 900 rare and endangered animals. See Kent’s only spectacled bears, the UK’s largest dinosaur collection and more, including lodges and a boutique hotel to stay for a safari experience over the plains of the park.
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Picture credits top to bottom: © Creative Folkestone © The Dungeness Lighthouse © The Aspinall Foundation, Port Lympne Reserve.