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Insider Guide: Folkestone

This seaside town has an artistic heart, fab foodie scene and loads of sunshine fun - including free al fresco cinema. What more reason do you need to visit this summer?

EAT | DRINK | FOLKESTONE HARBOUR ARM | VISIT | SHOP | STAY | KIDS

This seaside town is getting a reputation for its artistic heart – from the Triennial, a regenerative art festival that takes place in Folkestone every three years, to the Book Festival (usually in November). 

Then you’ve also got The Creative Quarter, which was part of the city’s regeneration project and is now the wonderfully colourful home to an eclectic mix of artist studios and creative businesses. Aaaand it’s on the foodie map. What more reason do you need? And if you do, here’s what you mustn’t miss:

THIS SEASON’S HIGHLIGHTS

Visiting Folkestone this summer? Do not miss these 2022 must-sees!

NOW OPEN: The Lighthouse Tasting Room, Folkestone

Muddy’s fave The Lighthouse Champagne Bar is expanding! Welcome The Lighthouse Tasting Room, their brand new restaurant coming to Folkestone’s Harbour Arm. The Tasting Rooms will celebrate the best of ‘Frenglish’ (French/English) cooking with expansive indoor and outdoor seating in a relaxed Bistro setting. Complete with new interiors, there’ll be an open kitchen, a deli and even a custom-built stage that will host live music. What was once was a walk-through corridor is now a stunning, orangery-like environment with exceptional views across the water to drink in. They opened on Thurs 30 June so book your table now!

BOOK NOW: Folkestone Funny Fest, Fri 9 & Sat 10 Sept

Get ready to laugh-out-loud at the Folkestone Funny Fest this September which is bringing together some of the finest comedians to perform live at The Goods Yard on Folkestone Harbour Arm. 10 fantastic comedians will take to the stage for two nights of entertainment unlike anything they’ve ever hosted before. Headlining is Ed Byrne (pictured), Simon Brodkin, Andrew Maxwell, Zoe Lyons and Rob Deering. The Goods Yard is also home to an electric mix of food and drink vendors, offering everything from craft beers and cocktails, tacos and mussels, wood-fired pizza and surf’n’turf bugers so you’ll be well looked after to have an amazing night of fun! Performances are 7-10pm. Tickets from £23.72.

MUST EATS: Pick Up Pintxos and The Bao Baron

Say hello to a real foodie gem loved by those in-the-know! Pick-Up Pintxos is a Basque-inspired restaurant sitting in the heart of the Creative Quarter in Folkestone, you’ll want to read our full review here.

We’ve also fallen in love with The Bao Baron, a Pan-Asian street-food restaurant who specialise in bao buns and ramen – and yes, you’ve got to try everything from the buns to broth. All the food on offer here is prepared in house and served fresh to order. Before you go, read our review here.

GO SEE: Folkestone Harbour Arm

If you’re visiting this cool coastal town then the Folkestone Harbour Arm is an absolute must. This quirky, fun, foodie gem, sits right on the beach, boasts sea views a plenty, bursting with indie eateries and The Harbour Screen, the alfresco cinema with a programme of film and sports. Watch the Premier League Matches, West Side Story, Clueless, Maradona and Dirty Dancing for FREE on selected dates between now and August!

AND OUR ALL ROUND FOLKESTONE INSIDER GUIDE:

EAT

Add this one to your ‘must-try’ list! Bao Baron is a Pan-Asian street food restaurant which also blends in the use of key seasonal Kentish produce. Specialising in bao buns and ramen – and yes, you’ve got to try everything from the buns to broth – all the food on offer here is prepared in house and served fresh to order.

Bao Baron

There’s just so much we love about Pick-Up Pintxos! Basque-inspired restaurant sitting in the heart of the Creative Quarter in Folkestone. It’s understated and unique – there’s a reason it’s got the top food critics around the country panting into their plates!

Pick Up Pintxos

Plus there’s all-day eatery, a café and grocery, Gourmet Kitchen. It’s a favourite hand for the Folkestone locals with lots of wonderful continental delicacies with lots of Spanish and French influences. You could just as easily sit on the terrace out front on a sunny day – squint your eyes a bit – and imagine you are in a Parisian street, idling away the afternoon.

Gourmet Kitchen Folkestone

For fancy dining there’s RockSalt perched over Folkestone harbour with panoramic floor to ceiling views out over the English Channel. Or for beach-side dining there’s the sister eatery, Little Rock. Think Ibiza meets Kent coast with its palm trees, sun sails and gleaming white terrace and ocean views.

Little Rock

For something a little more informal, head to nearby Smoke House for old-school fish & chips.

Situated in Folkestone’s Creative Quarter is Marley’s, where you can expect no-fuss, delicious food in a relaxed and friendly environment. Enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner with a vegan fry-up, pancakes to their lunchtime sarnies and their range of burgers for dinner.

Marley’s

Folkestone Wine Company This is a small, 26-seat, independent labour of love up a pretty street near Folkestone harbour. 

Cute cafe run inside a single box on Folkestone’s Harbour Arm, Bobbie’s Bakehouse has fantastic views of the harbour, the English Channel and the iconic white cliffs of Dover. So sit, enjoy a drink and one of their homemade bagels or cakes.

DRINK

Salivating yet? And if you’re looking for something to wash all that tucker down then sit down and relax at The Pilot Beach Bar or head to the Lighthouse Champagne Bar (winner of Best Bar in Kent as voted by you in our Muddy Awards 2021), tucked into the Folkestone Lighthouse at the tip of Folkestone Harbour Arm. Soak in the views and enjoy champagne by the glass or the bottle. 

As the sun goes down, the cocktails start flowing at Bar Folklore, this cafe-by-day-bar-by-night. Expect lots of yummy cocktails including spirits, local beers, wine and cider.

You’ll be hard pushed to find anything cooler or more quirky than The Potting Shed. An antique shop at the front. Then there’s a potting shed in the middle, and you go through a hidden doorway into the cocktail bar hidden within. Provided you know the password of course – which changes daily. Love. This.

FOLKESTONE HARBOUR ARM

Folkestone’s restored Harbour Arm is a beautiful promenade out at sea which offers a whole load more than just a pretty awesome view. There’s live music and events throughout the year, plus a brilliant collection of small, independent businesses. It’s become a true destination for food and drink fans – with top food critics travelling to try the street food sellers.

Along the Arm, there are huts serving everything from street food: ribs, gourmet hot-dogs, home-made burgers and Polenta encrusted fish to the freshest moules and lobster from Folkestone Trawlers and much more besides – all with a choice of beers and soft drinks.

If the wind and waves are getting too much, wander down to The Goods Yard, featuring the best of Folkestone’s traders just in a sheltered, outdoor space. Expect live music, DJs and performances, also home to Harbour Screen with its programme of film and sports – there’s always something to look forward to. Only open Saturday and Sundays.

Harbour Screen

VISIT

There’s a series of 100 solid cast-iron figures, destined to be dispersed around the world. Antony Gormley has loaned 3 for Folkestone Triennial and intends for them to ‘bear witness to what it’s like to be alive and alone in space and time’ and to ‘celebrate the still and silent nature of sculpture’. All 3 statues stand within the ebb and flow of the tide, at times partly inundated.

Antony Gormley statue. Image by: Thierry Bal

Folkestone Museum provides a gateway to Folkestone’s fascinating heritage with interactive displays, exhibitions and tons of workshops to delve into the town’s past.

Kent’s Battle of Britain museum is on your doorstep and is well-worth a visit for all age-groups. Located on a former World War 11 airfield, four miles from Folkestone, the museum contains the largest Battle of Britain collection of memorabilia with artefacts from over 700 aircraft on display. If the weather is fine, follow the coastal path from Folkestone to Sandgate, a pretty seaside village, just two miles away.

If rain takes over, go to Silver Screen Cinema, an independent two-screen cinema, located in the historic town hall in the heart of Folkestone. From the antique box office ticket vending machines, to the classic auditoriums, the Silver Screen has provided the town with a uniquely traditional cinema experience for over 25 years

SHOP

Folkestone’s Creative Quarter, a stone’s throw from the Sea, has been steadily and successfully developed to regenerate Folkestone through creativity and is now a bustling and thriving district that is home to a wide-range of independent shops and studios. Take your time to walk up its cobbled streets and do not miss the following shops to browse and enjoy.

Kitty McCall is a UK-born and based interiors and accessories brand – from limited edition prints to custom furniture, expect to find innovative designs in sumptuous colour palettes.

Right to left: Moo Like a Monkey and Steep Street Coffee House

Moo like a Monkey for wooden eco-friendly toys and children’s clothes (kids can play while you shop – hurrah) and when it all gets too much, sit down and relax at aptly-named Steep Street Coffee House. Inspired by the famous book cafés of Paris, the café’s walls are lined from top to bottom with books, available to browse or buy, and all washed down with exceedingly good coffee and cake.

Moda

Award-winning shop Moda is tucked away in the Old Town area of Folkestone stocking an eclectic mix of home decor, quirky gifts, cards, prints, jewellery, home fragrance, and many other items.

STAY

Pebble Shore, Sandgate, Bloom Stays

If you like self-catering, you’ll love Bloom Stays. A friendly holiday letting agency who hand-pick luxury, self-catering homes and can help plan your perfect weekend by the sea in Folkestone. Celebrating a special occasion? Want a break away for two? By the beach? Or with the pooch? Whether you’re after a big space to go away with the gang or after a romantic setting by the sea – you’ll find your perfect accommodation right here. View their Folkestone properties or how about a stay in nearby Sandgate?

After a hotel instead? Egyptian cotton, original antique beds and flat screen television: if that gets you misty-eyed then you should stay in one of RockSalt’s four individually decorated bedrooms.

Alternatively, try The Relish which has ten beautifully appointed rooms in this Regency period town house within 500 yards of some of the best restaurants. Families very welcome with additional cots/beds readily available.

KIDS

Lower Leas Coastal Park is a fantastic place to while away the morning with your family. Kids can get stuck into its playground – the largest free adventure play area in the South-East no less – and you can potter around its pine avenues with flowers blooming all year thanks to its unique microclimate. Events take place throughout the summer including concerts at its 350-seat amphitheatre, children’s workshops and drama performances.

Or why not try an escape room? Leas Lift Lockout will sure keep the whole family entertained! In teams of 2-6 enter a world of adventure and work together to solve a mystery and escape the locked room in just 60mins. Challenge accepted!

It’s also a national cycle route if you want to saddle up. Alternatively, you have beaches all around you including pretty Sunny Sands beach in Folkestone itself with rockpools galore at low tide. And for something a little different, then why not take them skiing, snowboarding or tobogganing on the 60-metre ski slope at nearby Folkestone Sports Centre.

Whatcha waitin’ for?

3 comments on “Insider Guide: Folkestone”

  • marks gzibovskis June 14, 2021

    brilliant beach for anyone that’s looking for that deep blue water its almost turquoise the restaurants are everywhere and there’s always time for quick drink as there are plenty around!!!

    Reply
    • aliagnew June 14, 2021

      Thanks for the intel! Definitely our kinda place x

      Reply
  • Margaret Hook January 16, 2020

    BRILLIANT – FOLKESTONE IS JUST A CAR RIDE FROM FAIRLIGHT NR HASTINGS AND WE GO THERE TWO OR THREE TIMES A YEAR THANKS FOR ALL WE DID NOT KNOW

    Reply

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