The opening night of Britain’s first permanent festival site was a feast of inspiration for planners and partygoers alike

Words Anna Hart  Photos Matt Crossick

Dreamland festival event

It was a smooth move, sweeping VIPs and media up to the newly-opened rooftop bar, Ziggy’s, as we arrived for the uber-hyped relaunch of Dreamland. Clinking glasses of rum punch to a reggae beat in the Jamaican-styled beach bar, we aren’t just dazzled by the sinking sun over Margate’s main sands; we’re also treated to a bird’s eye view of the completely updated and re-landscaped park. The unanimous verdict? This looks like £25m well spent. 

Dreamland festival event

I was also here for Dreamland’s grand opening back in June 2015, but it’s only now, under new ownership and following a hefty investment, that the amusement park’s potential as the ultimate party pad has been fully realised. The three new stages (able to entertain crowds of 2,000, 4,000 and 10,000 respectively) make Dreamland an offering unlike any other in the UK right now. The beautifully landscaped park slickly blends old and new, with restored vintage rides set against a backdrop of interactive art installations, street food trucks and a programme of live events. 

Dreamland festival event

Red or Dead designer Wayne Hemingway oversaw its original redesign. In fact, as I tuck into pulled-pork tacos from the food trucks camped out by the new Scenic Stage, it’s hard to think of many other venues with such estimable design credentials. Arty flourishes such as neon light pieces come courtesy of local girl Tracey Emin and artist Barry Kirk, while historical pop culture clout comes from a ballroom that’s hosted The Who, Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds.

Dreamland festival event

“My vision was to restore it back to the pleasure park it had been for day-tripping Londoners back in the 1940s,’ explains Dreamland’s creative director Olly Bengough over a G&T at the on-site 1930s Cinque Ports pub. ‘So, I created the stages, spaces and facilities for a permanent festival venue.’ For Bengough, this was all about creating the perfect canvas for event organisers, with the stages, the spaces, the staff and the infrastructure to host everything from corporate events to food and literary festivals every weekend. Never have the words “watch this space” been more apt. 

Dreamland festival event

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Food trucks offering everything from pulled pork tacos to the seaside classic of poshed-up fish and chips kept revellers fuelled on the retro-inspired rides

Suppliers
Music Vintage Trouble
AV & lighting Dreamland
Staff Dreamland
Catering Little Green Box, Naughty Floss, Acapulco Taco, Soul Food, Birdy Rock, Fish Shack, Miss Wong’s, Lola pizza
Design D-raw, Acorn and Neverland