The pretty UK seaside town with a huge Christmas market getting bigger each year

2 months ago 28

The new festive experience has transformed one corner of the south east in winter, with locals saying it is "truly magical and unique".

The Christmas Market

The Christmas market has brought a bit of magic to this pretty seaside town (Image: KentLive/Folkestone Harbour Arm)

A pretty little seaside town on England's southern coast would once become a ghost town in winter. But decades later its harbour is a thriving area - and even more so at Christmas.

Folkestone in Kent suffered a period of demise in the early noughties thanks to the demolition of a small-scale theme park, named the Rotunda - and the scaling down of its Sunday market.

The once candy-floss buzzing area went quiet for years, before major investment from business tycoon Sir Roger De Haan saw the harbour transformed.

As part of the facelift, the silent harbour has been revitalised all year round, and despite coming alive in summer, the winter is now nearly just as popular. That's because a Christmas market has been set up, and has been growing each year.

One shopkeeper, who preferred not to be named, admitted the town had “gone through some changes over the years” but everyone heaped praise on the new Christmas market, with one saying it was “truly magical and unique”.

Folkestone's Christmas market

Folkestone's Christmas market has loads of independent stalls (Image: KentLive/Folkestone Harbour Arms)

Folkestone’s Harbour Arm Festive Market has again returned to the town for its third Christmas season, owing to its huge success in the previous two years.

The set up includes more than 50 local, independent businesses nestled within a beautifully lit space with lovely decorations, each selling their creations from within rustic fisherman-style huts. Punters can expect a fun-filled experience for all ages, with snow blizzards and an illuminated carousel providing a lovely backdrop for the main event, the Harbour Grotto Experience.

Kelly, an independent artist who works behind one of the stalls, said you can’t find the stuff at the market “anywhere else”, adding most traders “hand make their items” and that she loves that you can “talk to the artists and makers directly”.

Working behind the stall called Red One, she described the way the market has transformed the harbour area of Folkestone, saying: “When I first started trading at the harbour, the marketplace was just a car park - now it’s home to over 35 amazing local small businesses”.

Folkestone Christmas market

Folkestone's Christmas market is a bonanza of fun (Image: KentLive/Folkestone Harbour Arm)

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Connie Parks also works at the market, and added: “What I find most fulfilling is being part of the magic and seeing families enjoying themselves, jiggling around to Christmas songs”. She sells ‘highly scented fragrance products’.

The market has been praised for providing an uplifting corner to the coastal Kent town, with one shop owner explaining how the market “means a lot to the people of Folkestone - they’ve created a space that they’re proud of and have the confidence to shout about it”.

Folkestone’s Harbour Arm Festive Marketplace is open every Friday between 4pm and 8pm, and weekends from 10am to 6pm, with the final day being Christmas Eve.

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