Christmas markets, festive steam train journeys and Santas on the run – our guide to visiting Folkestone this Christmas.
If you’re wanting to get in the Christmas spirit, you’re not going to get there sat in front of computer online shopping, even with festive hits blaring on your smart speaker.
The Folkestone and Hythe district, as you’ve probably heard by now, is an extraordinary place and that includes providing a memorable backdrop to the festive season.
The coastal town of Folkestone is always a vibrant place to visit but comes into its own at this time of year, whether that’s for ticking off the Christmas list, or just soaking up the festive atmosphere with a gingerbread latte in hand.
Newly launched this year is a Festive Programme* full of activities delivered by Folkestone & Hythe District Council. The Kentish Christmas Market is an artisan market featuring products from local producers and makers, as well as delicious street food. It takes place from 10am to 3pm on Friday and Saturdays between 26 November and 18 December outside the Folca building on Sandgate Road.
Did you know that Folkestone is the world’s first music town? As part of the Folkestone Music Town initiative, The Kentish Christmas Market will coincide with a programme of live music each day, with performances by talented local musicians, within the town centre.
Once here, take a stroll beyond the town centre markets and give yourself more time to enjoy the season by getting all your Christmas shopping done and dusted. The Old High Street, Tontine Street and the wider town centre area is the perfect browsing ground for gifts that you won’t find anywhere else. From independents to chain stores, Folkestone will have your stockings filled before you know it. Many store owners will be only too happy to help you choose a unique gift and wrap it ready to go under the tree.
Find Christmas lights throughout the town and Creative Quarter to light up an evening in the town exploring the many restaurants, bars and pubs to be found there. Head to nearby Hythe for their big switch-on on Wednesday 1 December. https://www.hythe-tc.gov.uk/council_events/christmas-lights/
The Festive Marketplace on Folkestone Harbour Arm is another great addition to this year’s yuletide countdown. The first one kicks off on Saturday 27 November from 12pm – 8pm, and every Saturday and Sunday (Sunday hours 12pm – 6pm) thereafter, finishing up on Thursday 23 December (12pm – 8pm and Friday 24 December (12pm – 6pm). There will be everything from Christmas trees to take home to beer-based advent calendars. Check the website for details of this and other festive events including bands, choirs and films there.
Meet Santa and take a Santa Special steam-train journey on the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway – tickets are available on their website.
And if none of the above puts you in the mood, you can always combine a visit with donning a Santa costume and dashing along the Folkestone Leas with hundreds of others for the Santas on the Harbour charity fun run on Sunday 5 December, in aid of Pilgrims Hospices.
*The Festive Programme is being delivered as part of the Welcome Back campaign, a fund that is providing councils across England with a share of £56m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which supports the safe return to high streets and helps to build back better from the pandemic.