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Like Mermaid Street to Rye or Catharine Hill to Frome, Middle Street is Deal at its most chocolate-box charming – so much so that, in 1968, this characterful incline towards Deal Castle became Kent’s first designated Conservation Area. Running parallel to the High Street and seafront, it’s fringed with a ragtag of Georgian terraces, ice-cream-coloured cottages and cobbled lanes that snake off to mews houses and courtyard gardens. If you’re looking for some Instagram fodder, this is your place.
Kent Museum of the Moving Image
Celebrating 350 years of the moving and projected image, the not-for-profit MOMI was founded by the same people behind London’s Museum of the Moving Image. Set in a former retirement home opposite the train station, it traces the history of the silver screen from candle-lit magic-lantern performances, through Victorian visual experimentation to the golden era of cinema. Check online for the latest exhibitions.
- +44 1304 239 515
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Deal Pier & Seafront
Deal has absorbed much of its character from the sea. Julius Caesar landed here in 55BC; Henry VIII built a castle; in the 18th century Deal’s thriving smuggling trade led Daniel Defoe to talk of Deal’s “barbarous hated name”. First built in 1838, the pier was torpedoed in the Second World War before the present-day brutalist structure was reopened by Prince Phillip in 1957. A live band plays here most Sundays, but it’s lovely for a wander almost always – particularly with the addition of the architecturally inspired Deal Pier Kitchen in 2008. The promenade stretches almost 10km from Walmer to Sandwich Bay – great for bracing coastal walks or bike rides (you can rent a set of wheels from Hut 55). Fancy a dip? On a balmy summer’s day, it’s pleasant enough anywhere along the shingle – though for more serious swimmers, Kingsdown Beach, Sandown Castle and Sandwich Bay are best.
Strung like prized artworks along Deal’s streets, the town’s independent galleries are evidence of the fact this enclave has long been – and is – a refuge for artistic types. Peruse local art and photography in Taylor-Jones & Son on a corner of the High Street or ponder contemporary work at the light-flooded Linden Hall Studio. Neil Kelly’s punkish Don’t Walk Walk Gallery is our favourite spot, with Noel Fielding on its roll call of artists and a motto that reads: “no boats, no seagulls, no beach huts.” Line up your Deal trip with the South East Open Art Studios to pick up original watercolours, oil paintings, textiles and the like direct from artists’ homes
Brooklyn Greenspa’s American owner is passionate about “design, self-care and stewardship of the Earth” which translates into the use of all-natural, organic, cruelty-free products in the wellbeing treatments on offer here. Ranked among Kent’s best spas and set on a pedestrianised passage, it’s a lovely little pick-me-up between days skimming stones on seafront walks and evenings spent necking Kentish wine. On the subject of beauty, aesthetes should crane their necks into Teresa Hair Fashions on the High Street. With a row of bubblegum-pink electric perm machines, this time-capsule spot wouldn’t look out of place in a Wes Anderson flick.
- +44 1304 367 270
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Deal Music & Arts Festival
Thanks to its close-knit, creative community – talk to someone here, and there’s a good chance they’ll be a writer, photographer, artist or musician – Deal has a vibrant arts scene. Drop into performances at the Astor Theatre, watch global cinema at Astor Picture House or make your way to The Lighthouse for folk and comedy acts. To see Deal at its most vibrant, plan your visit during the 16-day Deal Music & Arts Festival when, each summer, world-class music, dance and film pulsate through the town.
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