Spotlight on Margate
The Isle of Thanet is a special part of Kent, and Margate is a special part of Thanet. The rambling streets and quirky boutiques make it unique and the beach – the wide and sweeping inspiration for many artists including the incomparable Turner – is a gorgeous place to spend some time. Then you have its position – far enough away from the big city lights to be comfortable and its own place, but with great transport links to get you where you need to be quickly and easily. Margate really is establishing itself as the place to be for tourists, as well as for increasing amounts of visitors who swiftly decide to make their stay a more permanent one.
History in Brief
A ‘mar gate’ is a gap in a cliff where water pools, and although Margate itself is much more than this now, back in the day this was an apt description. Before the 1750s, Margate was a tiny fishing village and wasn’t really heard of outside of its immediate environs.
It was Dr. Richard Russell that changed that forever. He published a book that described how seawater could cure anything and everything, and he advocated that anyone who was feeling unwell – for whatever reason – should head to the coast and bathe there. This book was such a hit that usual coastal holiday spots were overrun and nearby villages started to cash in with hotels and shops opening up to cater for tourists in their masses. The tourist industry in Margate was born, and today it is still a favourite destination for many families who prefer to stay in the UK rather than venture abroad for their summer holidays.
Things to Do
- Turner Contemporary
A striking building in its own right, Turner Contemporary art gallery houses some of the most incredible works of art around. Millions of pounds have been put into this project and it’s easy to see that this is money well spent as Turner Contemporary has fast become a beacon for the rest of the town to follow both in terms of modernisation, as well as being a lesson on how to bring in visitors. With a great café and plenty to see once you have arrived, Turner Contemporary is an excellent day out.
- Shell Grotto
The shell grotto is a weird and wonderful place. It’s a bit odd, but it’s also utterly compelling. This cave, the walls of which are covered in shells that make gorgeous and intricate patterns, has a gift shop and a café.
- The Hornby Visitor Centre
Who doesn’t love a train set? Who doesn’t have fond memories of Scalextric? At the Hornby Visitor Centre you can enjoy both; it’s a feast of fun for young and old.
- Margate Main Sands
Margate Main Sands is the kind of beach that everyone thinks of when they imagine a British seaside holiday, and it’s no wonder that it becomes packed every summer when the weather turns warm and sunny. In the winter, it’s just as fun too – grab your bucket and spade and enjoy traditional fish and chips on the Kings steps, or alternatively view the beach from the warmth of a cosy café. Don’t forget to stick around for sunset – it’s spectacular.
- Flavours by Kumar
Flavours by Kumar is an award-winning Indian restaurant in Margate that specialises in contemporary Indian cuisine. The menu offers a wide range of dishes that are far from ordinary and will give you a new view of what it means to experience Indian food.
- Cinque Ports
This restaurant is all about simple, bold flavours and the menu includes plenty of well known dishes that are sure to not only make your mouth water, but also make choosing just one thing particularly difficult. The menu is always seasonal and includes plenty of local fish and shellfish. If you enjoy your draft beers there are 13 different varieties on tap to try, as well as some superb Anglo-Italian cocktails.
- Buoy And Oyster
A seafood restaurant in a coastal town has a lot of expectations to live up to, which the Buoy and Oyster does perfectly. With fresh ingredients and a cosy cocktail lounge, this is an intimate spot that serves delicious food. Examples include Blackwater Wild oysters, whiskey and treacle cured trout, monkfish cheek roll and traditional fish and chips.
- Ziggy’s Rooftop Bar
This rooftop terrace bar and barbecue restaurant calls on Caribbean influences to create its stunning menu. You can also enjoy reggae and hip hop tunes as you dine and drink.
- Mullins Brasserie
Once upon a time, the building that houses Mullins Brasserie was a butcher’s shop. It was transformed into one of Margate’s best loved and most popular restaurants – a warm and inviting place to eat – and now serves a delicious fusion of European and Caribbean cuisine.
- GEEK // Feb
GEEK is a three-day festival of gaming at the home of entertainment, Dreamland Margate. Bringing people together to meet, make and play, the event focuses on multiplayer interactive games and encourages visitors to participate in all genres of gaming. Guests will discover all the creative magic that goes into the games and experience the festival throughout the quirky Dreamland site.
- Margate Soul Festival // July
The summer time in Margate is always something special and the Margate Soul Festival pushes everything up a notch. Live acts, DJs and street parties form the South East’s biggest soul festival.
- Margate Carnival // August
The Margate Carnival is one of the biggest and best attended events in the town’s social calendar. Marching bands, stunning floats, music, entertainment, street performers… It’s all free and is always sure to be an unforgettable event.
Dreamland is a fabulously fun place to spend a day. Open at weekends and during school holidays, this theme park has some spectacular thrill rides as well as some more gentle paced enjoyment for younger visitors. Plus of course there is the famous, Grade II listed Scenic Railway, a wooden roller coaster that is the star attraction at the park.
Did You Know?
The Times recently ranked Margate as the third trendiest place in the UK – it beat London in the list!