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Government praises Dreamland for seaside regeneration

A new government report has praised theme park and outdoor live music space Dreamland Margate for its role in the successful regeneration of the seaside town.

The House of Lords Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns visited Dreamland for its report entitled ‘The future of seaside towns’, published yesterday (Thursday 4 April).

The report held up Margate as a positive example of coastal regeneration, with Dreamland singled out as one of the most notable contributors to this success.

Referring to both Dreamland and art gallery Turner Contemporary, the report stated: “The emerging arts and cultural scene is having a significant impact on sustaining these two assets in the town and will continue to drive (new) audiences. This follows a long-term strategy for creative and cultural-led regeneration in Margate.”

First opening in 1880, Dreamland was a staple attraction of British seaside town Margate for over a century until the decline in favour of seaside holidays led to the amusement park’s closure in 2003.

Thanet District Council purchased Dreamland in 2013 and brought it back to life in 2015, restoring fair ground rides and landscaping the site to allow for art installations, food stalls, bars and an “eclectic programme of live events”.

Live events take place in Dreamland’s Hall by the Sea (1,000-cap.), which has seen the likes of the Who, the Rolling Stones, Groove Armada and Maribou State.

“Margate remains a benchmark for other seaside towns in terms of what collaborative, arts and leisure-led regeneration can achieve”

The site also has an outdoor Scenic Stage, which has been the setting for the Dreamland Block Party, headlined by Big Narstie, Sunset Sessions featuring Jess Glynne, Dreamland By the Sea festival (Everything Everything, Metronomy, the Libertines) and Gorillaz’ Goldenvoice-promoted Demon Dayz Festival.

Dreamland’s new season begins on Saturday 6 April, with free entry to the site over Easter. The site will play host to Annie Mac, Happy Mondays, Rudimental, Mac Demarco and Rob Da Bank’s Camp Bestival Easter Party.

Dreamland chief executive Eddie Kelmsley welcomes the praise, saying: “Margate remains a benchmark for other seaside towns in terms of what collaborative, arts and leisure-led regeneration can achieve, and we are extremely proud to be part of the story.”

However, Kelmsley stresses that there is still work to be done. “Seaside towns cannot focus only on the summer peaks – there must be a year-round offer,” she says. “This is the goal for Dreamland, as we work towards a full 12-month offer with numerous events planned throughout the year plus our award-winning Halloween event, Screamland, and a brand new Christmas event planned for 2019.”

The Dreamland chief also outlines the importance of including all the local community. “In Margate, it is important that we regenerate not gentrify,” explains Kelmsley. “We must also include tertiary education in conversations and initiatives, so the next generation feel invested in their town’s future – and feel they have a place in it.”

Annual Dreamland Membership starts from £50 and includes unlimited rides and use of the Roller Room, exclusive food and drink discounts and special offers on ticketed events.


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Dreamland continues live revival with new events

Independent punk and ska event Undercover Festival – it of pissing-off-the-NRA fame – is to relocate to Dreamland Margate for 2017, bringing the theme park’s slate of confirmed music festivals to four this year.

Undercover joins Margate Wonderland, a spin-off of east London hipster festival Hackney Wonderland; Hipsville Seaside-a-Go! Go!, which presents the “wildest rock’n’roll and soul sounds of the 1960s and beyond”; and Gorillaz’ Goldenvoice-promoted Demon Dayz Festival on Dreamland’s 2017 festival calendar, as the Victorian seaside resort bids to recapture former glories by positioning itself as major touring and festival destination for the east of England.

By the Sea, which took place at Dreamland in 2015 and 2016, has not yet announced any dates for 2017, although the festival is promoting a solo show by Slaves in July.

Dreamland, which dates from 1880, was once one of Britain’s best-loved amusement parks, but closed in 2003 after a long period of decline as seaside holidays fell out of favour. It was compulsorily purchased by Thanet District Council in 2013 and reopened two years later, bringing together “lovingly restored vintage rides set against a backdrop of art installations, adventurous street food, unique bars and an eclectic programme of live events”.

“We believe we’ve captured something truly special with this newly imagined incarnation of Dreamland”

Housing its live events offering are the original Hall by the Sea – a 2,000-capacity venue that played host to mod greats including The Who and The Rolling Stones – and a new 15,000-cap. venue, which will debut with Demon Dayz on 10 June and which Dreamland says “sees us put Margate back on the music venue map”.

Jennie Double, Dreamland Margate’s commercial director, says she “cannot wait to unveil the new park to locals and visitors alike. By combining contemporary food and culture with authentic vintage rides and the uniquely British heritage that only we can offer, we believe we’ve captured something truly special with this newly imagined incarnation of Dreamland.”

Undercover Festival 2017, which runs from 8 to 9 September, will feature performances by Tom Robinson, Geno Washington, Doctor and the Medics, Jilted John, UK, Ruts DC and Angelic Upstarts. Its promoter, Undercover Promotions’ Mick Moriarty, says the new venue will provide “an experience that defies all other conventions and festival templates. Not only do we have a cracking alternative line-up, but festivalgoers can experience many retro rides and amusements. Plus, it is once again held undercover –  ie not outdoors – so if it’s peeing down come September it’s not a problem and your beer won’t get diluted.”

Speaking about Demon Dayz, Mags Revell, vice-president of live music at Goldenvoice/AEG Presents, told Music Week in March: “We have been planning the all-new Demon Dayz Festival, which sold out in 10 minutes, for some time, and Dreamland Margate is the ultimate venue for Gorillaz to make their long awaited return to the stage.  The location and the backdrop of the amusement park will be the perfect playground for the full festival line-up.”


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