Enjoy some winter sun and sea in Folkestone
If you are looking for some winter sun and sea then try Folkestone. Located in the warmest, sunniest part of the country, Folkestone looks out over the English Channel towards France. There are many independent restaurants and shops for you to enjoy, along with winter walks, warm activities and even some sea swimming if you’re brave! Folkelife has put together a list of must-see and must-dos during the winter.
There are some beautiful walks to appreciate along the sea front. The Harbour Arm is open for promenading daily provided the weather is good. There is a circular route you can take from the car park, along the Arm, and down through the shingle beach on the boardwalk. The route takes you along the beach huts which were installed as part of the 2021 Folkestone Triennial. At various points in the breaks of the huts there are paths to take you into the Lower Leas Coastal Park. This is a delightful place to wander. If you turn towards the Harbour, the route will take you back to the boardwalk, and to the Arm.
There are plenty of places to enjoy a warm drink and a bite to eat. The Leas Lift Café serves wonderful hot chocolate and toasted sandwiches. You can eat inside the Victorian waiting room for the water lifts, or take out to enjoy the winter sun.
At the Harbour Arm side of the boardwalk you will find Beachside where Little Rock serves fresh fish dishes from Friday to Sunday in the winter months. It’s a delightful place to sit in the warm, looking over the sea eating the freshest fish you will have tasted. The Pilot Bar next door serves warm drinks from 10am on Friday to Sunday and maybe a little alcoholic tipple as you watch the sunset if that takes your fancy. You can stop off for a touch of adventure golf at Putters! With the addition of glow-in-the-dark balls, you can even play when the sun goes down.
warm the cockles
The Harbour Arm’s magical and cosy Lighthouse Champagne Bar and their Tasting Rooms are open during the winter. There are special dining evenings for exclusive numbers of guests around the table. They also serve their warming toddies and have blankets for guests who wish to sit outside. At the entrance to the Arm you’ll find the Harbour Coffee Company open weekdays from 9 am (excluding Mondays) and Sailbox open for brunch and beyond every day.
across the bridge
Walking into town across the Viaduct leads to Rocksalt, our fine dining restaurant with rooms. This is an inspiring place, not only for the food you will be served, but the award-winning architecture that surrounds you. Designed by Guy Hollaway, this restaurant canter-levers over the sea and its ever-changing view never fails to impress.
Moving over Fountain Square you’ll find The Old High Street with its wealth of independent shops. Walking up under the Creative Quarter lights shows you entering the area of the town that’s been invested in to support artists with workshops, retail spaces and living accommodation. This has been a huge part of the regeneration of the town. Many different people have moved to Folkestone to take advantage of the connections and collections of creatives who now live and work here.
short days, long nights
The days are short during the winter but there’s no shortage of night-time entertainment to keep you going. On every first Saturday of the month the Folkestone Comedy Club is on. Best to get your tickets quickly as this popular event sells out fast. There are shows on at Quarterhouse on Tontine Street, showing everything from National Theatre Live broadcasts to independent theatre shows on tour around the country.
Sometimes the weather doesn’t play ball and you may need to find indoor entertainment. Try our escape rooms at the Leas Lift Lockout! Jay will let you in, and talk you through the rooms on offer. He’s created them himself and loves meeting like-minded gamers. Proceeds from entrance fees go towards the renovation and upkeep of the Leas Lift which is one of the few remaining water lifts in the country. There’s an exhibition here for you to find out more about the project and the lifts themselves.
indoor climbing and skating
During the winter months some sports are conveniently practiced inside. F51, the first multi-storey skate park on Tontine Street has 3 floors to skate, BMX and/or rollerblade on. There’s also a 15m high climbing wall and bouldering gym to keep everyone entertained. All equipment can be hired from the centre so you just have to turn up and join in.
The Sports Trust runs F51 and the Three Hills Sports Park in town. There’s an initiative to help women continue running through the winter by using the new athletics track on site. This is well lit and with the safety of friends around, should help people feel safer about running after dark.