Thousands of visitors turned out for the opening of Dreamland Margate yesterday (May 26).
The amusement park has undergone a £25million overhaul following investment from Arrowgrass Capital Partners.
The transformation compared to the park’s lay out when it opened in 2015, is dramatic.
Food and art
The centre of the site is dominated by the festival stage, with grassed area, seating that runs up to the historic follies and the street food array of vintage vehicles selling everything from tacos to pizzas.
Interactive art installations, including a large marble run, sit alongside the rides old and new. From the Waltzer to the Scenic Railway, the vintage rides have been taken back to their original glory.
The ride line-up also welcomes the Brooklands Speedway, the Magic Mouse and Wedgwood Tea Cups.
Drinks in the sun
The Slide Bar, set near the new stage, and the new treetop bar, at the further end of the park by the Magic Mouse, are great new additions to the site and proved popular with visitors soaking up the sun and the atmosphere.
Children got to discover the all-new Teddy and Betty Land, where the park’s mascots took on a starring role with stage shows and brand new rides including Betty’s Beehive. The retro Roller Disco and vintage arcades were also open.
Music lovers soaked up a festival feel as Vintage Trouble the American rhythm & blues band lit up the new Scenic Stage with an energetic performance.
The festival programme will continue this year with a coterie of venues being built, including a 15,000-capacity stage set to welcome some of the biggest names in music, including Gorillaz who announced their UK live return with their own festival at Dreamland on June 10. Tickets for the gig sold out in under six minutes.
On the seafront, the original 1930s Cinque Ports pub has been resurrected; once a favourite haunt of mods and rockers in the 1960s, and will offer modern pub fare with a front row view of Margate seaside when it reopens officially on June 3.
Ziggy’s – the first ever rooftop bar on the seafront of Margate at the old Escape building – offered rum infused cocktails, Jamaican jerk chicken and reggae tunes.
Steven Mitchell, CEO at Dreamland Margate, said: “The sun is shining and it’s been a magical day to showcase all the work we’ve been doing behind-the-scenes to Dreamland. We have hopefully curated a new age of seaside culture to create something truly unique, all while embracing our rich history that has made Margate a favourite for decades. This summer we’ll play host to live music including the Gorillaz, outdoor cinema screening, circus and more- it’s set to be a memorable summer.”
Art and light
The opening event also included an exhibition by Barry Kirk, in the main concourse, organised by The Dreamland Trust.
The neon signs were switched on by artist Tracey Emin just after 9pm. The former Margate girl was joined for the light up by artist Rachel Wilberforce.
The evening also saw the unveiling of a new public art installation, commissioned by Thanet District Council, by Rachel, whose 2015 artwork Solaris already sits in the Dreamland Arcade.
The Heritage Lottery funded artwork consists of two large-scale double collage installations of abstracted historic imagery, light-boxes and glazing, situated at the former Dreamland Bars in Margate.
Back to the 60s
Dreamlandscapes an exhibition of drawings, prints and paintings by Barry Kirk, is based on Dreamland’s 60s heyday. Barry Kirks’ artworks provide a snapshot of Dreamland’s past and people. Recognisable faces and places merge into bold depictions of a bustling amusement park complete with Teddy Boys, sideshows, saucy ladies and surreal backdrops.
Mr Kirk said: “I am delighted to see the Dreamland collection exhibited in one major display for the first time and it is poignant that the collection will be shown at Dreamland. I visited the amusement park in 1963 while teaching at Canterbury School of Art. The sights, sounds and ambiance of the park are the inspiration for the collection. I hope that visitors to the exhibition will enjoy the Dreamlandscape collection and through its imagery, relive the experience of visiting Dreamland in the 1960’s (collection and Dreamlandscape will bring to life images of Dreamland in the 60s”.
Bernie Morgan, the Chair of The Dreamland Trust said: “We are really pleased to launch our series of exhibitions with Barry Kirk’s work in this new space at Dreamland Margate, which gives the Dreamland Trust a real visible presence. It is great news for us that we are able to exhibit this collection for the first time in one place. They bring back memories of Dreamland’s heyday.
“We will also be delivering a number of other exhibitions throughout the year as part of our drive to inform and celebrate the history of Dreamland. We hope as many people as possible can enjoy this and relive their past.”
The exhibition will run for 8 weeks and can be seen during Dreamland’s opening hours. Entry is free.
See for yourself
Dreamland is free to enter and is now open for the whole of half term and weekends until July 21.
After that date the park will be open for the whole of the summer through to September.
The inside areas are open all year round and include Roller Disco, Vintage Arcades and Octopus’ Garden.