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Kent Christmas presents: Leeds Castle concert tickets, animal experiences and other ideas

By Angela Cole

All out of festive gift ideas? Let Kent come to your Christmas rescue with some alternatives to soaps and socks from experiences to culture and art to foodie delights.


Think sun-soaked Kentish sights, history and a stunning soundtrack.

Treat someone to some Leeds Castle Classical Concert tickets this Christmas Picture: Andy Jones

The Leeds Castle Classical Concert, organised by Heritage Events and sponsored by Brachers law firm, will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year when it is held on Saturday, July 14. The inspiring outdoor programme features the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra conducted by John Rigby, who will play a special medley from the charts of 1978 and guests from the first ever concert held that year will be welcomed into front row seats. Headcorn-based Aero Legends will provide a display in a 1940s Spitfire and the event will raise funds for the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA). Celebration packages are available and picnic style tickets, with a winter saving offer, are available at £35 and seated £46.

Visit leedscastleconcert.co.uk for tickets and more information about Celebration Packages.

Leeds Castle Classical Concert


Soak up some culture and be inspired by art close to home and further afield with a National Art Pass.

The pass by the Art Fund, the national charity for art, is the perfect present for cultural lovers, with free entry to more than 240 museums, galleries and historic houses and 50% off entry to major exhibitions, as well as directly supporting UK museums and galleries. The museums in the county included in the art pass include Canterbury Heritage Museum, Canterbury Roman Museum, the Historic Dockyard Chatham and Deal Maritime and Local History Museum. Individual membership costs £65 with a plus one costing £35. Family membership costs £107.

To buy a pass, visit artfund.org/national-art-pass

The National Art Pass includes venues across Kent for your favourite culture vulture


Membership to the Faversham site of the National Fruit Collection includes exclusive events from special guided walks to specialist subject talks and workshops.

Membership for 2018 also includes free entry to festivals and events such as the popular Artisan Cider Festival and National Apple Festival. Half term activity days are also free for the kids, such as Wild Weather, Beastie Bug and Wild Days. The membership also comes with the knowledge that you’re e helping support Brogdale Collections in providing education and access to the National Fruit Collection. It costs £60 for a family of two adults and two children aged between two and 15.

To sign up, visit brogdalecollections.org/become-a-member/

Faversham-based Brogdale holds festivals through the year, including the Apple Festival Picture: Tony Flashman


Give the animal lover in your family the gift of getting up close and personal to animals from rhinos and big cats. The park offers 30-minute animal encounters from £70 with some of the most endangered species on the planet. Encounters involve time with one of the expert keepers at Howletts as they introduce you to the animal of your choice – whether that is big cats, elephants, gorillas or tapirs. They’ll learn interesting facts, hand feed where possible and enjoy behind the scenes access.

Pick up an experience at aspinallfoundation.org/howletts/experiences

Have an animal experience at Howletts Wild Animal Park near Canterbury Picture: Tony Flashman


Once described by owner Stephen Harris as a “grotty, run-down pub by the sea”, The Sportsman in Seasalter near Whitstable, is now one of the top in the country, holding a Michelin star since 2008. The story of how former financial adviser Stephen turned it around after teaching himself to cook was released a few weeks ago and is the long-awaited debut food book from the self-taught chef but it is more than just a cookbook. The Sportsman by Stephen Harris, the chef behind the Michelin starred restaurant, costs £29.95 in hardback and is published by Phaidon. Top it off with a reservation if you’re feeling flush – find The Sportsman pub at Faversham Road, Seasalter, Whitstable, call 01227 273370 or visit thesportsmanseasalter.co.uk

A taste of Kentish success: The Sportsman by Stephen Harris


Forget agonising over what stocking fillers to choose this year – Italian artisan producers Carluccio’s have got a tasty line-up sorted for you. The Christmas gift collection includes carefully wrapped gift boxes and hampers as well as chocolates, cakes and biscuits, plus the festive must, panettone. This year there are two varieties – a limoncello version and a gluten-free version. Stocking fillers include baubles filled with milk chocolate Santas and juicy candied clementine segments double-coated in rich dark chocolate. For the full Christmas range, visit carluccios.com

Carluccio’s has branches in Tunbridge Wells, Bluewater and Canterbury.

Carluccio's has plenty of Christmas gifts to choose from

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