With some 5,000-plus people packing out Dreamland for the UB40 featuring Ali Campbell & Astro gig on Saturday (September 11) the ending of the park’s summer season was a busy one.
The show was a huge hit – almost as huge as the queue to get in which snaked its way along Margate seafront – and the headline act proved a massive pull for fans across all ages.
There were incidents that marred the night – a couple of fights, theft and spiking of drinks were reported – but many of those attending spoke of a fantastic night of music and dancing along to classics such as Red Red Wine and Rat in Mi Kitchen, with staff working flat out at the bars and food stands.
The Reggae band was just one of several ‘big headline’ acts to perform at Dreamland this year following its long closure during the pandemic, with others including The Specials, Kaiser Chiefs and Billy Ocean.
The focus has been heavily on events which included the troublesome Euro screenings, the Nadine Coyle gig for Pride and some fun with Dabbers bingo, while rides were reduced to just eight in operation this Summer and the sale of at least one ride with Pinball X making a move to Hastings.
Sands Heritage say the Scenic Railway will return to operation for 2022.
The park, which passed into private ownership this year after Thanet council sold the estate and neighbouring car park to Sands Heritage Ltd for £7million, is now also being offered for ‘acquisition’ through property specialists Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL).
The entire Dreamland estate, including the car park, parcels of land surrounding the site inclusive of the plot secured for a new 124-bed hotel, and the option to purchase Arlington House, multi-storey and land, is being offered as assets “to develop and grow the creative movement that currently thrives in Margate.”
Bosses at Dreamland say they will soon be evaluating the park’s progress during this year and looking ahead to an events programme for 2022.
A spokesperson for Dreamland said: “We start our 2021 evaluation process very soon which runs alongside the development of the plan for 2022. Now the dust is settling on summer 2021, we are meeting with our external promoter partners to vision our 2022 event program and park operation.
“UB40 was indeed a sell-out event and at such large events, isolated incidents may well occur. These are dealt with at the time by our security teams. There were, we understand, some outbreaks of trouble in Margate that evening which were dealt with externally to Dreamland. We continually monitor crowd behaviour and plans for future events are adapted accordingly, if necessary.”
There is still a line up of events to come, including Prospa and the Levellers, but there will not be a Screamland event this year.
The spokesperson said: “Screamland 2021 will not be taking place. As a close contact, indoor event with no social distancing possible and due to the level of creativity involved, Screamland has a 12-month planning cycle and at the time last year we needed to decide to host the 2021 event, there was still too much uncertainty due to the pandemic.”
Planning for 2022 already includes some large-scale performance with The Beat and All Saints booked for next summer.
Dreamland’s blog says: “Dreamland’s future is bright and exciting, and we have recently made significant investments in the wider Dreamland estate, there is a lot going on behind the scenes. The team is busy with major plans to raise significant funds to open up more areas in the future including the Dreamland Cinema building and the development of the seafront hotel. “
The asset sale brochure says Long term, there is a possibility for the expansion of the Scenic Stage outdoor events arena or for a larger scale redevelopment to include the Dreamland Car Park.
Other expansion plans include using a £4million allocation from the Margate Town Deal fund towards the renovation and reopening the cinema building which has been empty for more than a decade.
The site will be turned into an entertainment and conference centre with space allocated to community use – understood to be the People Dem Collective group which headed up Black Lives Matter demos last year – and charities.