There’s no denying it’s the most wonderful time of the year, and here in Kent we like to think we know a thing or two about how to make Christmas extra special. With our fairytale castles, miniature steam trains and frosted ice rinks, Kent is perfect for some family-friendly festive fun. So what are you waiting for? The lights are up and the tinsel is out – the countdown to Christmas has officially begun.
Kids from one to ninety two can revel in the Christmas spirit at Hever Castle this year. See the castle dressed for Christmas and guess the tales that have inspired the décor, or wrap up warm for sparkling trails through the gardens at dusk and a turn on the frosted fairground. And because no Christmas castle would be complete without a visit from the man himself, Santa’s grotto can be found hidden away in the grounds, so make sure you’ve got your list, because he’ll be checking it twice.
Does it get much more festive than a whole pinetum of conifers lit up for Christmas? This year at Bedgebury the treetops are well and truly glistening, with a one mile shimmering path through the forest to create a true winter wonderland. Grab a cup of hot chocolate and take a trail lit with more than 100,000 lights, stars and giant baubles to fire pits made for marshmallow roasting, and be sure to keep an eye for Father Christmas along the way. Trust us, Christmas doesn’t get much more magical than this.
A winter wonderland
Wrap up warm and stretch your legs because it’s time to pirouette and twirl across the ice at Eastwell Manor. Glide, spin and show off your skills because this is one family event that’s sure to thrill. But if your moves are more Bambi than Torvill and Dean, you can always sit Bolero out and head for the mulled wine, mince pies and Christmas shopping in the Eastwell Manor boutique.
Magic at the manor
Here in Kent not only can you pay a visit to Santa, but you can dine with him in style! Pull up a seat at One Warwick Park, enjoy a three-course meal and get those Christmas lists in early as Father Christmas makes his way around the tables to find out who’s on the nice list.
You don’t need us to tell you Bluewater is the one stop shop for your Christmas list this year, but did you also know this year’s magical line-up includes Santa’s Grotto and an outdoor ice rink? Why not bring the kids along for the Christmas shop and sweeten the deal with plenty of fun and the chance to see the man himself?
Bright lights at Bluewater
This December head to Bewl Water near Tunbridge Wells where you and your family will be greeted by Santa's Christmas Elves before coming face to face with the man himself in his home from home by the water. Featuring plenty of photo opportunities and a special festive gift for every child, it's the perfect way to step into Christmas.
Follow the sound of bells to Bewl
Christmas at the National Trust
If you’re looking for somewhere to escape the high street crowds this Christmas, consider a visit to one of our wonderful National Trust properties. Get in the festive spirit with craft activities at Ightham Mote, Scotney Castle or Sissinghurst Castle, and take a little inspiration home with you. See the magnificent Great Hall at Knole all decked out for the season, enjoy a traditional Georgian Christmas at Quebec House, or simply stroll through frosty winter gardens at Emmetts Garden in Sevenoaks. Phew, what a line-up!
Skate over to Canterbury's beautiful, historic Dane John Gardens between 29th November and 1st January and be amongst the first to experience Canterbury on Ice this winter. Set within the city's walls and walking distance from the city centre, it's the perfect way to round off a busy day of Christmas shopping!
Get your skates on
This winter wrap up warm and celebrate the festive season with Creative Folkestone. With events and activities for all the family, there’s plenty to see and do, including the Creative Quarter’s Christmas lights switch-on, carol service, Secret Postcard Show and Folkestone Quarterhouse’s family Christmas show, Once Upon A Snowflake.
Christmas on the coast
There's simply no need to travel to the North Pole for a taste of Christmas magic this season. Instead, step into the brand new Winter Experience at Eagle Heights Wildlife Foundation. Come face to face with the Foundation's gorgeous pack of huskies and take the reindeer their breakfast, all after spending the night in one of the site's new and exclusive igloo style domes.
A night under the stars
Bring the family together and enjoy the magical festivities of Rochester Christmas Market. See the fairy lights draped over traditional German wooden chalets, twinkling at the foot of the 11th century Rochester Castle as you fill the kids’ stockings with wonderful handmade gifts from the market (30th November - 1st December, 6th-8th December and 13th -15th December). Better still, visit on 7th or 8th December and you're in for a treat with the Rochester Dickensian Festival and the chance to see a parade, costumed characters and open air carol concerts.
A real life Christmas Carol
On 7th & 8th December, experience how Christmas was celebrated during the Second World War as the Royal Engineers Museum in Gillingham goes back in time. Immerse yourself in the wartime festivities and get a vintage makeover, discover how British families cooked their Christmas dinner on rations and listen to the Brompton & Invicta Military Wives Choir perform traditional Christmas carols.
Families can enjoy a full festive programme at Gravesend Borough Market this year, including visits to Santa’s Grotto every Saturday and Sunday from 23rd November, a traditional Christmas Market on selected dates throughout December, and viewings of Christmas classics as part of the Woodville Pop-up Cinema Christmas Season.
A very merry market!
From an interactive, living Farm Nativity to meeting Father Christmas (and not forgetting his Head Elf!) or stepping back in time to find out what Christmas was like on the Home Front, Kent Life has plenty in store to get the family in the Christmas spirit.
Festive fun on the farm
Get ready to meet the big man himself when you join him at a delicious afternoon tea, made by Father Christmas’ very own award-winning chef, at Tonbridge Castle this Christmas. Be sat down and ready by half 12 to indulge on some yummy food. And if you miss it? Don’t panic, because there is another chance to sit down with Santa later on in the afternoon! To top it all off, the price of the tickets include each child getting a free present from Santa himself. Exciting right? Sit with Santa this Christmas…
Did you know that ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ had sold over five million copies by 2008 and has been translated into eleven different languages? Well now you do, and all the more reason to attend this exhibition to celebrate over 50 years of one of the most famous children’s books to date. Dressing up, interactive activities, reading stories. All of this and more are what’s on offer at this anniversary exhibition and it is one that you don’t want to miss! Tea with a tiger…