Back and Fill seaside festival fun promised for Margate

A coastal walk for the Back and Fill Festival

A one-off seaside festival in Margate will include walks, talks, and tango in a Brutalist carpark.

A direct response to the coronavirus crisis, Back and Fill festivals will take place in seaside towns around the UK during the October school holiday. The movement, which started in Margate, was inspired by a need to support the fragile economy of seaside towns.

From Margate to Portrush, Swansea to Cleethorpes, the ecology of independent shops, small businesses and creative industries has been hit hard by coronavirus restrictions. But ideas of health and wellbeing, being outdoors, playfulness and innovation, and fresh food – the same things that drew the Georgians to the seaside 300 years ago – are exactly what we’ll need to recover from the current crisis.

“Back and Fill festivals inspire people to step outside, gaze out to sea, and find a little bit of hope on the horizon,” says co-founder Dan Thompson. He set up Back and Fill with Marine Studios in Margate, after a conversation with designer Kate Kneale. They have been supported by the RSA.

Amber Butchart by Fanni Williams

The Margate iteration of Back and Fill includes a talk on seaside fashion from historian and TV presenter Amber Butchart, coastal walks with CITiZAN, and a chance to walk in WM Turner’s footsteps led by Turner Contemporary.

Sophie Herxheimer, whose Pie Days and Holidays project at Arlington House has been a landmark for many years, exhibits the original drawings at Our Kitchen in Margate High Street.

Photo John Horton

Hermetic Sign Co are taking a look at ghost signs around the town, and there’s a specially-commissioned tango in the carpark of Arlington House.

Rise Up Clean Up are holding a beach clean, in collaboration with marine plastic project Rich & Strange.

And there’s a chance to make Seaside Souvenirs with designer Zoe Murphy. Other artists include Robert Montgomery, Georgia Preece, and the Caravan Gallery.

You can find the listings (as a pdf) here:

The festival takes place between Friday, October 23 and Sunday, November 1. Most events are free, and many will be online. The whole festival is Covid-safe. Obviously some things might change – follow Marine Studios on social media for regular updates.

Marine Studios

To find out how Back and Fill started, and find out about Back and Fill festivals happening in other towns (including Ramsgate), visit

Nine day festival of fun promised for ‘Ramsgreat Week’


  1. I suggest you check in archives it was built in the 50s this would have been done under the old Margate borough council.planning rules were different then I believe it was waste ground and a bus park. That was probably part of the Arlington development shops and cafes at the time as Margate then was the Blackpool of the south and need for housing at the time. Many Margate born people and some who have lived here for many years have said it was knocked down normally tower blocks have a limit life span. Now we have the derilict Arlington square that needs clearing visitors have to see this as soon as they arrive by car,coach,or train what a let down for the town. Just a handful of people stopping development should not be allowed to do this I think a minimum amount should at least 3000 objections.

  2. Apparently there were originally plans to build TWO tower blocks, with the other one on the old Station Green (now The Promenade hotel & restaurant). The Arlington House plot certainly wasn’t waste ground beforehand though – put “history arlington margate” into google images and you’ll see some lovely old terraced houses, restaurant & visitor centre.

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