Ever thought of taking a winter trip to the seaside? Nope, us neither. The newly reopened Dreamland amusement park in Margate obviously doesn’t know the meaning of ‘out-of-season’, because it’s opening up for Christmas with ‘The Frosted Fairground’. It looks like it should be a hit, too – we went along on Saturday; the town was deserted but the park was packed. Plus it’s free (sorta)!
Entry costs nothing, while the attractions are all pay-per-ride. There’s a little festive market, Christmassy shows, lots of comforting food and drink options and, of course, Santa’s Grotto, so you can meet the big guy himself.
The park itself is a treat. Dreamland dates back to the 1870s and was due to be turned into a housing development, but thanks to a campaign by locals, it reopened earlier this after 11 years out of action. They’ve gone with a retro theme and committed to it: the vintage fairground rides play (Yuletide) hits from the ’50s and ’60s, and indoors there are old-school pinball machines and a roller disco.
Just opened is the refurbished Scenic Railway roller coaster. It’s officially a Grade II-listed structure and the oldest coaster in the UK. When it was originally built, a brakeman would sit aboard the train to stop it manually, and the coaster still uses that ‘technology’ today. It gives the famous Coney Island Cyclone a run for its money (it’s certainly a lot more comfortable).
While London has plenty of its own festive fairgrounds, none of them can beat Dreamland’s for nostalgia and charm… or Instagramability. It could become your next Christmas tradition.
Dreamland’s ‘Frosted Fairground’ is open from 10am on Dec 12, 13, 19-24 and Dec 26-Jan 3. For more info head to www.dreamland.co.uk/christmas.
Looking for more out-of-London inspiration? Here are 16 great day trip and weekend breaks from London.