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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. Events run through to Sunday, September 3. For details click here.

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 August and September at 11am, 1pm and 3pm. Go to english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/upnor-castle for more.

The Beach is at Bluewater this summer


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 until 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 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

Bank holiday things to do across Kent


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


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. Details at diggerland.com or call 0871 2277007.

Summer holiday fun at Diggerland
Visit the revamped Dreamland. 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. Ticketed attractions the World’s Biggest Bouncy Castle, from Saturday, August 12 to Saturday, August 26. For details go to dreamland.co.uk

Hire bikes and go cycling in Kent this summer


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, August 23 and there’s also the Gruffalo popping by on Wednesday, August 30. For details go to drusillas.co.uk or call 01323 874100.


There will be a variety of sporting activities at the Sittingbourne shopping centre every Saturday until September 2, between 11am and 4pm, with challenges including hula hooping, giant egg and spoon, skipping, crazy golf and bowling.

There's plenty to explore at Groombridge Place


Doc.Yard is back at the dockyard for a fourth year with mathematical fun and games, when there will be a one-hour-long interactive experience with Doc and his assistant Bunsen, until Sunday, September 3. Doc and Bunsen will, with the help of the audience, will be exploring how curves in ships and waves and even in air work. There will be three shows a week and two at the weekends, and are included in your annual ticket. For details go to thedockyard.co.uk


Join Hopper the Rabbit for summer holiday fun, 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

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, until 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. To book, and for more details go to kesr.org.uk or call 01580 765155.


There’s a fairytale land awaiting at the Maidstone site in Lock Lane until Sunday, August 20, when younger guests will be able to plant their own beanstalk and help build the three little pigs’ houses, or settle down for some storytelling. Visitors should also look out for the activities that collect points for Kent Life’s Explorer card, which could win them a free child’s ticket for the fireworks on Sunday, November 5. From Monday, August 21, the seaside comes to the site with a sandpit, Punch and Judy and even a knobbly knees contest. Summer activities also include an Ice Cream Festival on Bank Holiday Monday, August 28. Entry costs £9.95 and £7.95 for ages three to 15. For details call 01622 763936 or visit kentlife.org.uk.

Make some discoveries this summer. Picture: National Trust


Summertime activities run through to Saturday, September 2 and from Monday, August 21 to Friday, August 25, visitors can follow the clues to uncover some interactive family fun on a Mystery Quest, which leads you around the estate from the Woodland Walk to the castle, through the gardens, the maze and beyond. For details of what's on go to leeds-castle.com

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


There’s plenty for younger visitors to tackle at Maidstone Museum’s Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered exhbition in St Faiths Street throughout the holidays. Workshops run every Tuesday to Thursday until Thursday, August 24 and are suitable for four to 11-year-olds. There are three sessions a day when children can make designs inspired by games and invent their own game. Held with the V&A Museum of Childhood, it features family favourites from Cluedo and Trivial Pursuit, to games you might not have encountered before, including a Star Wars one and runs until Sunday, October 1. Entry is £3 for children or £5 for two. Visit maidstonemuseum.org or call 01622 602838.

Get your game on at Maidstone Museum Picture: Andy Jones


Family friendly shopping is the name of the game at the centre in Maidstone and so for summer mascot The Mall Monster has been called on for a special kids’ club. Now kids can become Little Monsters by joining The Mall Monster’s Friends Club and take part in a giant monster puzzle. Sign up at the Ask Me Point, and take part in a lucky dip for a prize, plus a jigsaw piece to place on The Mall’s giant jigsaw. Visit themall.co.uk or pop by the Ask Me Point for more.

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

Spectacled bears at Port Lympne


Children go free in August until Thursday, August 31 at the Hythe and Canterbury animal attractions, after the same deal proved popular in July. Family-friendly activities run throughout the holidays with animal talks, feeds, activities and crafts. A child goes free with each full paying adult. 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


Dino Live brings some prehistoric predators and their leaf eating pals to the Tunbridge Wells shopping centre until Bank Holiday Monday, August 28. Admission is free and the displays will be open during centre trading hours daily. Dino Draw workshops run from 10am to 5pm on Saturdays and 11am and 4pm on Sundays, where children can get creative and learn more about the creatures. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Discover more at royalvictoriaplace.com


Summer walks discovering wildlife around the site are on 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
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