Home   What's On   News   Article

The 25 biggest gigs and entertainments events over the last 25 years in Kent, including Madonna, Prince and Harry Potter

By Angela Cole

The KM Group's What's On guide, the free supplement inside your local newspaper, turns 25 today.

The first edition on September 24, 1993, featured the likes of entertainer Roy Hudd at Margate's Cockney Weekend and an interview with dancer Wayne Sleep.

It was inserted inside all KM Group newspapers - just as it is today - with the latest entertainments news, star interviews, TV guide, quizzes, competitions and what's on where.

The KM Group's What's On is 25
The KM Group's What's On is 25

To celebrate What's On's big birthday, we've picked 25 top entertainments stories from across the county over the last 25 years.

RADIO 1 BIG WEEKEND

It was 10 years ago that Madonna graced the county with her presence, when BBC Radio 1 held its Big Weekend in Mote Park.

The queen of pop arrived by helicopter and security was tight as she joined the line-up which included Scouting For Girls, The Feeling, Usher, Nelly, The Kooks and The Raconteurs.

DJs included Chris Moyles and Pete Tong and celebs spotted in the crowds included Sophie Ellis Bextor and Pixie Geldof.

Madonna at the Radio One Big Weekend at Mote Park, Maidstone.
Madonna at the Radio One Big Weekend at Mote Park, Maidstone.
Crowds enjoy the music. Picture: BBC Pictures
Crowds enjoy the music. Picture: BBC Pictures

PAVAROTTI AT LEEDS CASTLE

Opera legend Luciano Pavarotti - who rose to worldwide fame with his rendition of Nessun Dorma during the 1990 World Cup, performed at the Leeds Castle Classical Concert in 2004.

He was joined for a night of classical favourites by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

He had also appeared at the castle the month before What's On was launched in 1993. The tenor died in 2007.

The Classical Concert marked its own anniversary this year - 40 years since its launch. It holds its 41st on Saturday, July 13, 2019.

Pavarotti performing at Leeds Castle in 2004
Pavarotti performing at Leeds Castle in 2004

PRINCE AT THE HOP FARM

Prince played to 30,000 fans at the Hop Farm Festival in Beltring, Paddock Wood in 2011.

He wowed the crowds with hits including Purple Rain, U Got The Look, 1999 and Kiss.

The 80s icon was a big coup for the event, which was extended to a third day especially to accommodate the pop legend.

The one-off performance was the last time the singer played in Kent before his death in 2016.

Prince headlines the Hop Farm Festival. Picture Matthew Walker
Prince headlines the Hop Farm Festival. Picture Matthew Walker

OPENING OF TURNER CONTEMPORARY, MARGATE

The gallery on the seafront at Margate opened its doors in 2011, celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2016.

Since then, it has had some famous visitors and hosted some famous works of art.

They have included studies by Leonardo da Vinci and Rodin’s life-sized marble sculpture, The Kiss, loaned by the Tate, as well as works by its namesake, JMW Turner and Tracey Emin, who officially opened the gallery with Jools Holland.

Grayson Perry's exhibition in 2016 attracted more than 192,000 people, while most recently Paula the Polar Bear caused a stir as she highlighted climate change.

Turner Contemporary Gallery opens in Margate
Turner Contemporary Gallery opens in Margate
Turner Contemporary Gallery opens, Margate. Tracy Emin. (4331888)
Turner Contemporary Gallery opens, Margate. Tracy Emin. (4331888)

BOB DYLAN AT THE HOP FARM

The veteran singer-songwriter played the Hop Farm Festival in 2010 and 2012.

Famed for iconic songs like Blowin' in the Wind and The Times They Are a-Changin', Dylan's 2012 headline set was his only UK festival appearance.

That year's line-up included Primal Scream and Damien Rice.

Bob Dylan at the Hop Farm Festival Picture: Chris Price
Bob Dylan at the Hop Farm Festival Picture: Chris Price

MARLOWE THEATRE OPENING, CANTERBURY

The new Marlowe Theatre opened its modern doors to theatregoers in 2011, with three days of celebrations.

The £25 million transformation had taken just over two years and created a 1,200 seat auditorium, a community performance space, restaurant and bars.

Canterbury's Marlowe Theatre Picture: Chris Davey.
Canterbury's Marlowe Theatre Picture: Chris Davey.
Ben Roddy as the dame at the Marlowe Theatre Picture: Wayne McCabe
Ben Roddy as the dame at the Marlowe Theatre Picture: Wayne McCabe

WOLF HALL FILMED AT PENSHURST PLACE

Penshurst Place and Gardens has been used as a film venue a number of times, including most recently for The Strike Series last year.

In 2014, it was used for the BBC2 Drama Wolf Hall. Ashford-born Mark Rylance starred as Oliver Cromwell alongside Emmy Award-winning The Crown actress Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn.

Wolf Hall Picture: Company Productions Ltd - Photographer: Giles Keyte
Wolf Hall Picture: Company Productions Ltd - Photographer: Giles Keyte

HARRY POTTER & THE DARTFORD CROSSING

Filming for the Harry Potter movies came to the not-so-glamorous venue of the Dartford Crossing in 2009 when scenes for the Deathly Hallows was filmed.

The crossing only features very briefly in the film, the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, released in 2010.

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson in The Deathly Hallows Part 1. Picture: Jaap Buitendijk Copyright: 2010 Warner Bros Entertainment.
Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson in The Deathly Hallows Part 1. Picture: Jaap Buitendijk Copyright: 2010 Warner Bros Entertainment.

WAR HORSE'S 10TH ANNIVERSARY

The National Theatre tour of War Horse celebrated its 10th anniversary at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, last year.

The special event also saw War Horse author Michael Morpurgo in the audience to see the play based on his book.

His parents had met at the Marlowe back in 1938. The show returns to the theatre next year too.

Joey the War Horse on stage
Joey the War Horse on stage

MARK RYLANCE AND HIS MANY AWARDS

Ashford-born actor Mark Rylance started his run of awards with a Bafta in 2016 for his role in Wolf Hall, filmed in the county.

A month later, he picked up the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Steven Spielberg’s Cold War thriller Bridge of Spies.

Last year, he received a knighthood at Buckingham Palace for his services to theatre.

Mark Rylance with Tom Hanks in Bridge of Spies, directed by Steven Spielberg
Mark Rylance with Tom Hanks in Bridge of Spies, directed by Steven Spielberg

THE LIBERTINES & MARGATE

The rock band the Libertines became adopted Margate locals when they bought a townhouse in the town to turn into a hotel and studio earlier this year.

The band threw themselves into Thanet life, becoming shirt sponsors for Margate Football Club and lead singer Pete Doherty took on the mega breakfast challenge at nearby Dalby Cafe in Cliftonville im under the 20 minute time limit.

They also curated a day at this year's Wheels and Fins Festival.

The Libertines became Kent residents Picture: Roger Sargent
The Libertines became Kent residents Picture: Roger Sargent

GEMMA ARTERTON HITS THE BIG TIME

The former Gravesend Grammar School for Girls pupil made her film debut in 2007 in the film St Trinian's, but she hit the big time in the bond film Quantum of Solace, for which she was nominated for a BAFTA in 2011.

Kent's Gemma Arterton as Agent Fields and Daniel Craig as Bond in Quantum of Solace.
Kent's Gemma Arterton as Agent Fields and Daniel Craig as Bond in Quantum of Solace.

ELTON JOHN IN MAIDSTONE

The multi million-selling singer, whose hits include I'm Still Standing, Rocket Man and Candle in the Wind, jetted in to the Kent Showground in 2015 to play a one-off gig at the Detling venue near Maidstone.

It was his first performance in the county for nine years.

Elton John performs at Kent Show Ground, Detling Hill, Maidstone. Picture: Martin Apps
Elton John performs at Kent Show Ground, Detling Hill, Maidstone. Picture: Martin Apps

THE FOLKESTONE TRIENNIAL LAUNCHED

The Triennial was launched first in 2008 and has been grabbing the headlines each time it returns ever since.

For the first year, Margate artist Tracey Emin unveiled bronzed baby clothes, inspired by the high number of teenage pregnancies in Thanet.

Like many of the artworks for each of the Triennials, her work remains in the town to view today - just grab a Folkestone Artworks trail guide and you can spot them for free.

Last year's fourth edition included iron men sculptures from Anthony Gormley.

Tracey Emin and some of her work in Folkestone Picture Paul Amos
Tracey Emin and some of her work in Folkestone Picture Paul Amos

FOLKESTONE TRIENNIAL GOLD RUSH

It was the summer of 2014 when thousands descended on Sunny Sands at Folkestone when, as part of the Triennial event, German artist Michael Sailstorfer planted 30 nuggets worth a total of £10,000 in the sand there.

It is not known if all the nuggets have ever been found.

James Dunn and Leigh Cripps dig for gold on Sunny Sands Picture: Paul Amos
James Dunn and Leigh Cripps dig for gold on Sunny Sands Picture: Paul Amos

GORILLAZ AT DREAMLAND

The much-hyped return had even teased fans that Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn would be joined by former Britpop rival Noel Gallagher at the comeback gig last year.

The sell-out Dream Dayz event was the band's first official UK show since the Plastic Beach 2010 world tour.

Dream Dayz at Dreamland
Dream Dayz at Dreamland

THE MOUSETRAP

The longest-running show in history, the Mousetrap by Agatha Christie, kicked off its first national tour in the county back in 2012.

It was to mark the show's 60th anniversary, and has been back at theatres across the county several times since. Just make sure you keep the ending secret!

Louise Jameson in the 60th Anniversary Tour of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap.
Louise Jameson in the 60th Anniversary Tour of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap.

MICK JAGGER CENTRE OPENED

Dartford's most famous son opened the centre named after him back in Shepherds Lane, Dartford, in March 2000.

The rock legend, who was a pupil at Dartford Grammar School, then also returned in 2010 to open a £900,000 facelift and extension.

Mick signs autographs for the pupils in 2010. Picture by:Simon Hildrew
Mick signs autographs for the pupils in 2010. Picture by:Simon Hildrew

THE STARS HEAD TO HISTORIC DOCKYARD CHATHAM

The dockyard has become a mecca for film crews.

Sherlock Holmes, Great Expectations and the blockbuster Les Miserables, starring Hugh Jackman, have all been filmed there - but one TV series has made its home there.

The BBC's popular Sunday night drama about the midwives at was first screened in 2012.

Still filming there on a regular basis, the show's prodcers, Neal Productions, jointly launched new tours with an exhibition space at the dockyard earlier this year.

Stars of the show popped in to help with the celebrations, including Jenny Agutter, whose own aunt was a midwife in Medway.

Jenny Lee (Jesica Raine) in Call the Midwife. Picture: PA Photo/BBC
Jenny Lee (Jesica Raine) in Call the Midwife. Picture: PA Photo/BBC
Stephen McGann (Dr Turner) with the Call the Midwife tour guides
Stephen McGann (Dr Turner) with the Call the Midwife tour guides

THANET PRIDE LAUNCHED

The colourful, loud and proud event launched in 2007, bringing thousands to celebrate the LGBTQ community.

This year there was both a Margate Pride event and a Folkestone Pride.

Thanet Pride in 2010
Thanet Pride in 2010

ORLANDO BLOOM'S STAR

Canterbury's Orlando Bloom first found the Hollywood spotlight on him in 2001, when he starred as Legolas in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

He has gone on to star in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, dated pop star Katy Perry and he get in hot water for using the word "pikey" on Radio 1.

He also had a star in his honour unveiled on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2014.

Orlando Bloom as Legolas in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
Orlando Bloom as Legolas in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

CHAS & DAVE & DREAMLAND

Dreamland in Margate's fortunes have been as up and down as the scenic railway tracks, but it reopened in 2015, with the Cockney duo Chas and Dave, who sang so famously about going down to Margate, coming along to perform.

Most recently, the pair had to pull out of a date at last year's Ramblin' Man Fair, before the death of Chas Hodges was announced at the weekend.

Dreamland went through a 'cultural makeover' in 2017 and has attracted some big music names to perform there, as well as opening a range of new rides.

Margate favourites Chas n Dave played the Dreamland Hullaballoo launch party
Margate favourites Chas n Dave played the Dreamland Hullaballoo launch party
Dreamland has opened new rides
Dreamland has opened new rides

STAR STATUS FOR PAUL HOLLYWOOD

He was a baker in Thanet who sold his wares at the Cliftonville Farmers' Market for eight years - but the BBC's Great British Bake Off changed all that.

Paul Hollywood was chosen as the steely-eyed judge of the show when it launched in 2012 alongside Mary Berry, bringing pastel fridges, soggy bottoms and the baking bug to the nation.

The pair presented Bake Off until it was poached by Channel 4, when Paul moved on to judging alongside Prue Leith, with Noel Fielding and fellow Kent local Sandy Tokzvig, who lives in Herne Bay.

The Great British Bake Off line-up: Paul Hollywood, Sandi Toksvig, Noel Fielding, Prue Leith Picture: Channel 4
The Great British Bake Off line-up: Paul Hollywood, Sandi Toksvig, Noel Fielding, Prue Leith Picture: Channel 4

TELETUBBIES' SUNNY SMILE

Back in 1997, no self respecting tot would miss their daily does of Teletubbies.

The BBC show needed a giggling baby to be the sun shining down on Teletubbyland and nine-month-old Jess Smith was selected.

Jess, from Chatham, revealed her childhood starring role when she started uni, and has since appeared on the BBC’s The One Show when it marked 20 years of the programme.

The Teletubbies' baby sun Copyright: BBC Pictures
The Teletubbies' baby sun Copyright: BBC Pictures

LITTLE MIX AT THE KENT EVENT CENTRE, MAIDSTONE

The global girl group attracted a sell-out crowd of 30,000 to the showground at Detling near Maidstone for their Kent gig this summer.

The girls, Leigh-Anne, Perrie, Jade and Jesy, delighted the young crowds, though less so their parents who had to queue for hours to get out of the car park.

The massive concert was one of a number this summer at the site, including Simple Minds and the Pretenders and Rita Ora and Craig David.

Little Mix at the Kent Event Centre Detling, Maidstone.Picture: Andy Jones.
Little Mix at the Kent Event Centre Detling, Maidstone.Picture: Andy Jones.

Join the debate...
Comments |

Don't have an account? Please Register first!

The KM Group does not moderate comments. Please click here for our house rules.

People who post abusive comments about other users or those featured in articles will be banned.

Thank you. Your comment has been received and will appear on the site shortly.

 

Terms of Comments
We do not actively moderate, monitor or edit contributions to the reader comments but we may intervene and take such action as we think necessary, please click here for our house rules. If you have any concerns over the contents on our site, please either register those concerns using the report abuse button, contact us here, email multimediadesk@thekmgroup.co.uk or call 01634 227989.

Follow us

Like Us on Facebook

Most popular

Kent Travel News

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More