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Kent summer holidays things to do for all the family 2017

By Angela Cole

From battles to board games and walks to walls of death, dive in to the six-week school summer break with these events across Kent.



Take a break from shopping with an open air summer festival garden area at the centre in Ashford, an ice cream stand and giant games, including Connect 4 and Jenga for the summer. There will be a kids' reading corner plus giant inflatable Water Walkers to try. There will also be an Ashford Introduces battle of the bands each Saturday through the holidays. A Summer Social launches events on Saturday, July 22 which runs through to Sunday, September 3. For details click here.


Summer holiday fun with the national Trust

Summer holiday fun with the national Trust


Uncover the 350-year-old story of the Battle of Medway through a collection of art and objects on loan from national and international institutions, including the British Library, the Rijksmuseum and the Dutch and UK National Maritime Museums. At the Historic Dockyard in Chatham, Breaking the Chain runs until Sunday, September 3 between 10am and 6pm daily throughout. There are entry fees. For details go to thedockyard.co.uk.

You can also meet a Battle of Medway soldier at Upnor Castle on dates throughout July, August and September at 11am, 1pm and 3pm, including Sunday, July 23, or decorate a cannonball on Wednesday, July 26. Go to english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/upnor-castle for more.


Make some discoveries this summer. Picture National Trust

Make some discoveries this summer. Picture: National Trust


There’s a weekend of wild adventure on offer at Betteshanger Park near Deal with the Wild Weekend on Saturday, July 22 and Sunday, July 23, which is free, and a chance to get away from it all and enjoy nature, with workshops and activities, including a birds of prey photography workshop with BBC Countryfile’s Richard Taylor-Jones on Saturday, July 22 and a bird of prey display on Sunday, July 23, with the Sky Bird of Prey display team. Other events include wild cooking, where you forage for goodies and then cook them over an open fire in the wild kitchen, bushcraft and survival skills, guided walks and a bat walk. Visitors are advised to pre-book for workshops. Visit betteshanger-park.co.uk for details


The Beach comes to Bluewater

The Beach comes to Bluewater


Gromit is being unleashed on Bluewater shopping centre – 12 of him, to be precise.
Twelve giant Gromit sculptures will be popping up around the centre near Dartford from Friday, July 21 to Sunday, September 3 for the Gromit Unleashed® Character Trail.
The trail costs £2 and young explorers can pick up a trail map from the concierge desk outside M&S on the lower mall, and get a prize for completed ones.

The shopping centre is also, for the first time, home to a beach this summer. Opening on Saturday, July 22 until Sunday, September 3 at The Village, there will be tonnes of sand to build sandcastles with while mums and dads relax in a deckchair and soak up the sun – or take a dip in the giant paddling pool or splash pool. There will also be funfair rides, jugglers, mermaids, Brazilian dancers and Punch & Judy, plus a nature trail and nature fun days throughout the holidays. For details go to thebeachbluewater.com


Summer holiday fun at Diggerland

Summer holiday fun at Diggerland


The Strood site has some 20 different rides and drives, and more than 100 machines to marvel at. Visitors can experience the thrills of spinning in an awesome digger bucket on the Spindizzy ride, operate a giant JCB 806 digger or race around in a go-kart. There’s also the uplifting experience of the Skyshuttle which takes passengers 50ft in the air.

There is also a 20% off entry voucher in this week's What's On. Details at diggerland.com or call 0871 2277007.


Visit the revamped Dreamland this summer Picture Gary Browne

Visit the revamped Dreamland this summer Picture: Gary Browne


The recently revamped park opens every day throughout the summer holidays, with magic, circus acts and new rides you might not have tried before, although the Grade II listed Scenic Railway will be out of action from Monday, July 24 to Friday, July 28 for essential maintenance. During this period, Dreamland is offering anyone who buys an unlimited ride wristband (either in advance or on the day) one of the park’s newly launched Dream Passes, pre-loaded to the value of £5. It can also be re-charged for use in the future. Ticketed attractions include the Messham’s Wall Of Death, from Saturday, July 22 to Sunday, August 6 and the World’s Biggest Bouncy Castle, from Saturday, August 12 to Saturday, August 26. For details go to dreamland.co.uk



The award-winning East Sussex zoo has new rides, animals and adventure play areas. The three-ride attraction Go Safari! is a thrill for all ages and you can look out for Snigger and Sneer the laughing hyenas and Majesty the fearsome lion.

Peppa Pig will be saying “hello” to young visitors on Wednesday, July 26 and Wednesday, August 23, and meet PAW Patrol’s Marshall on Wednesday, August 16. Danger Mouse will be visiting the save the day on Wednesday, August 2 or enjoy a turtley radical experience with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Leo and Raph, on Wednesday, August 9. There’s also the Gruffalo popping by on Wednesday, August 30. For details go to drusillas.co.uk or call 01323 874100.

There's plenty to explore at Groombridge Place

There's plenty to explore at Groombridge Place



Travel back in time and meet the knights and princesses of Groombridge Place. Discover what life was like during medieval times with interactive shows and storytelling, from Saturday, July 22 to Sunday, August 6. Events from there include Wizards, Magic & Monsters between Monday, August 7 and Sunday, August 20, followed by Wild West Adventures between Monday, August 21 and Sunday, September 3. Events take place between 10am and 5.30pm. For more, go to groombridgeplace.com



Join Hopper the Rabbit for summer holiday fun, from Saturday, July 22 to Sunday, September 3, as the park is open every day from 10am throughout the holidays. Entertainment includes shows in the Big Red Barn, face painting and bouncing on the giant jumping pillows. Popular children’s characters popping in include Peppa Pig and George on Wednesday, August 2 and PAW Patrol’s Chase & Marshall, making personal appearances at intervals on Wednesday, August 9 and Wednesday, August 23. There will also be bird of prey displays on selected days, and there will be a visit from some owls, and maybe even some chicks. For more information go to thehopfarm.co.uk



Kids go free until the end of this month, Monday, July 31, with one child getting free day entry at the animal park, with a paying adult. Visitors in the summer holidays can explore the 90-acre park, join talks about the animals and see them being fed, as well as visiting the education centre to learn more. The site is committed to conservation, breeding and the reintroduction of rare and endangered animals. For details go to aspinallfoundation.org/howletts


Kent East Sussex Railway

Kent & East Sussex Railway


Steam along to the Kent & East Sussex Railway this summer where kids travel for free. Enjoy a fun day out on the Tenterden-based railway with one child travelling free with every adult TravelCard, between Tuesday, July 25 and Sunday, September 3. The card allows passengers to hop on and off at the stations along the line, plus discounted admission at Bodiam Castle. Tenterden Station will also have free activities on offer.

Punch and Judy and magic shows will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays from Wednesday, July 26 and there will be face painters at Tenterden Station on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Tuesday, July 25. There will also be guides on trains with information about the line and its history on Tuesdays from Tuesday, July 25. To book, and for more details go to kesr.org.uk or call 01580 765155.



There are some summer Whacky Races at Kent Life Heritage Farm Park at Sandling, Maidstone, which start on Saturday, July 22 and kick off two weeks of themed events, as part of summer-long activities. Encourage the Kent Life ferrets and hamsters in their contests, take part in some races yourself, and cheer on the competitors.

Look out for the events that earn younger visitors points on their Explorer card – each child who completes the card correctly and gets it stamped will receive a free child’s ticket to the Kent Life’s fireworks event on Sunday, November 5. Whacky Races fortnight runs until Sunday, August 6 while the summer’s activities, including the Ice Cream Festival on Bank Holiday Monday, August 28, and Farmyard Fairy Tales from Monday, August 7 to Sunday, August 20. Visit kentlife.org.uk


Try the Maize Maze at Penshurst Place

Try the Maize Maze at Penshurst Place


It’s truly summertime when the maize gets head high in the Maize Maze. This year’s winding walkways come in the shape of the ancient Sidney Oak tree, which stood on the estate for some 1,000 years until last year, and its self-seeded sapling, now growing close by. Organisers map the design out from above before planting it into shape, though you may not be able to tell once you’re in the midst of it! The maze is open until Sunday, September 3, plus an additional weekend of Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10. There are two routes, one for younger visitors which takes around 10 minutes and a more challenging option. Don’t forget to pick up a flag on your way in to wave, in case you need rescuing, and a fun game card to collect clues and stamps. Activities are free and included in the standard grounds admission price. Last entry 5pm. For details go to penshurstplace.com


Bears at Port Lympne

Bears at Port Lympne


There’s six weeks of summer fun from Saturday, July 22 to Sunday, September 3. Jump on board and head out on safari to see hundreds of animals roaming freely, as well as spotting Kent’s only spectacled bear pair, Oberon and Rina. Visitors can also discover the forest that time forgot with creatures from the prehistoric ages, including the spine-tingling Spinosaurus and join the dino rangers for guided walking tours. Throughout the holidays, visitors can also join education presenters for animal talks, feeds, activities and crafts. To book, and for more details, visit aspinallfoundation.org/port-lympne



There’s a self-led family trail to spot the animals who lived at Winston Churchill’s home, Chartwell, at Westerham, which runs until Sunday, September 3. The trail, which runs from 10am to 4pm and costs £1 as well as normal admission costs, leads visitors around the garden and woodland. You might even spot Jock, the resident Chartwell cat, out and about. For details go to nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell


You might see Jock the cat at Chartwell this summer Picture Iain Carter, National Trust

You might see Jock the cat at Chartwell this summer Picture: Iain Carter, National Trust


Summer walks discovering wildlife around the site start on Saturday, July 22, with other dates throughout the summer. There is also a discovery room and trail inside the house, and a wildlife hunt on Wednesdays. For details go to nationaltrust.org.uk/scotney-castle


The National Trust's Scotney Castle

The National Trust's Scotney Castle


Summertime at the castle kicked off with the Classical Concert, and runs until Saturday, September 2. There will be open air theatre, cinema and a programme of family activities throughout the holidays. Open air cinema includes Gladiator on Friday, July 28 and Pretty Woman on Saturday, July 29. The Royal Navy Theatre Association bring their version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, with the Castle as a backdrop, to the Pavilion Lawn on Saturday, July 22, while on Saturday, August 12 and Sunday, August 13. the stories of legends come to the site with Heroes, Heroines and Hoods. For details of all events on offer, go to leeds-castle.com


Summertime at Leeds Castle has open air theatre, cinema, shows and events Picture matthewwalkerphotography.com

Summertime at Leeds Castle has open air theatre, cinema, shows and events Picture: matthewwalkerphotography.com


Are you a mastermind of Monopoly or a Scrabble supremo? An exhibition celebrating board games through the ages, Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered, runs at Maidstone Museum in St Faiths Street throughout the holidays, and on to Sunday, October 1.

The display, held in conjunction with the V&A Museum of Childhood, features family favourites such as Cluedo and Trivial Pursuit, to traditional games like chess and back as far as 16th century game of Goose. There is also an area where visitors can play games. Entry is £4 and £3 for children. Visit maidstonemuseum.org or call 01622 602838.


Get your game on at Maidstone Museum Picture Andy Jones

Get your game on at Maidstone Museum Picture: Andy Jones




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