In the last few years Margate has undergone a major makeover and the area has flourished. These days it is well worth a visit
Of course the big draw that pushed the rejuvenation of the area is the re-opening of Dreamland in 2015. Further redevelopment in 2017 means it is now not only a funfair and amusement park, but also houses a music venue and rooftop bar. Various street food eateries are on site and it’s a great family attraction with something for everyone – dodgems, a mirror maze, the Jumping Star, a roller room, and of course the main attraction: the wooden scenic railway.
There are 2 distinct shopping areas of Margate – the High Street and the Old Town. The High Street has a small selection of typical mainstream shops and banks, but it is the Old Town starting just a street away that holds the treasures and personality of the town. A horde of retro and vintage shops have flooded the area, fashion and homewares, and there’s no way you won’t find something unique. Peony Vintage, Just Jane, Paraphernalia and Junk Deluxe are all notable stores to visit.
The Turner Contemporary is situated on Margate Harbour Arm, and with free admission to at least 3 displays on at any one time it is must see when visiting. The shop of course sells exhibition related goods as well as cards and gift wrap. But it is the neighbouring shop at the Tourist Information Centre that it the true gem for me – full of seaside and Margate themed homewares and stationery from local designers – it is the perfect place to pick up a completely non-tacky gift. Yes, they do sell keyring and magnets but classy ones! I spotted Jessica Hogarth coasters and cards, alongside Zoe Murphy tea towels. Zoe also illustrated the giant map on the inside wall of the Info Centre, noting all the places of interest in the Thanet area, including Broadstairs and Ramsgate just a short drive around the east coast. As you probably know I love a good illustrated map and this one is no exception.
Keeping on the topic of Zoe Murphy for just a second, if you’re into meeting the face behind the creations then you can pop by her studio…awesome! Situated a stones-throw from the main shopping streets of Old Town it’s such a cute, ultra-Zoe style building you can’t miss it! Pink door frames and stripey window boxes. Who else could it be?! I first saw Zoe’s work at Tent and fell in love with it instantly. She sources retro furniture and epicycles them, but not in the shabby chic way, oh no – she screen prints gorgeous geometric prints, stripes and patterns in bright tonal palettes. It’s just yum, you have to see it to understand what I mean. When I stopped by (April 2018) she was undergoing a studio and showroom renovation but the furniture on display was still stunning.
Back at the Harbour Arm, and if you continue round from the Turner Contemporary and Visitors Centre you reach a fantastic bundle of galleries and cafes. Margate has such an amazing creative scene, and it is so refreshing to see artists working inter studio spaces and selling their work, and even more delightful that it is common practice for people to stop by. So often you see empty galleries and show spaces as people aren’t sure if they can go in. Of course they can! It isn’t shied away from in Margate and I love it.
PLANNING A TRIP?
Check out the cafes and restaurants in the Old Town for lunch, there are loads to choose from – Caribbean from Mullins Brasserie or lamb kebabs from The Harbour Cafe Bar Kitchen. Follow up with some gelato from either Melt or Candy Shop, both on Marine Drive overlooking the sandy beaches and sea.
Work off all the food at the arcades and amusements! Nothing completes an English seaside trip quite like a round on the 2p machines! Throw in a game of air hockey whilst you’re there as well.
Whatever your reason fro visiting don’t go expecting regular high street shopping. This town is for sourcing retro, vintage and quirky one-offs, relaxing with the sand between your toes and enjoying the creative scene.
If you like any of the above patterns or illustrations, they are available as art prints from my online shop. Alternatively I offer a bespoke illustration service so please do get in touch if you’d like to commission a piece of work to remember your trip to Margate (or anywhere else!) by.
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