I’m very excited to be returning to my home town this weekend with Tiny Volcanoes, and the PP gang in tow. We’re all heading for the seaside for bank holiday sun, sea, sand and sandwiches in my back garden.
I spent the first 19 years of my life in Folkestone, during which time there was no theatre at all despite a population of 50,000 people. You had to go to London to see a new play. Infact there wasn’t a whole lot of anything in Folkestone, which, like most port towns, suffered badly from the decline of domestic tourism. Where once the Royal Family regularly holidayed in the grand hotels on Folkestone’s seafront, the advent of cheap flights put the ferry port out of business and eventually the Channel Tunnel bypassed Folkestone altogether.
But an incredible regeneration project led by The Creative Foundation has seen tumbleweed streets transformed with derelict shops reopened as art galleries. The Quarterhouse, a 250 seat theatre, opened a couple of years back offering the town a purpose built venue for theatre, music and comedy, and we’re thrilled that the brilliant team there have invited us to visit.
If you’re in the South-East corner of the country, come on down. There’s loads to see and do in Folkestone and the show won’t let you down. Or even if you’re in London, the new high speed rail link will whisk you to the riviera in 45 minutes from St Pancras.
In case you need any more persuading, here’s my guide to the five best things about Folkestone:
1. The mighty Folkestone Invicta Football Club, recently relegated from the Ryman Premier Division. “Invicta” means undefeated in Latin. Which is ironic. But we’ll be back and will soon be competing for European trophies. Or at least the Kent Senior Cup.
3. The South Downs. Rolling hills that meet the sea with dramatic white cliffs and offer stunning views as reward for a climb to the top.
4. Sandgate Esplanade. Miles of beach, seaside bars and views of France. Ok, so technically it’s in Sandgate rather than Folkestone, but there’s no need for pedantry.
5. The Chambers. A subterranean bar serving real ales and continental lagers. Run with conviviality by Chris and his team – the best place to hang out in Folkestone.