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Kent: Where to see Christmas lights switch-ons near you from Bluewater and Broadstairs to Medway and Gravesend to Herne Bay

By Angela Cole

Christmas lights are starting to sparkle across the county. Make sure you grab a slice of the festive fun with our guide to switch-ons near you.

 

WESTWOOD CROSS, BROADSTAIRS

The celebration on Friday, November 17 will be hosted by kmfm’s Garry Wilson and Laura Nevitt and panto stars from the Theatre Royal Margate, and features special guests from 4pm. Love Island favourites Gabby and Marcel will be joined by X Factor girl band Lemonade, retro girl-group Hotsy Totsy and pop-rock covers band Exit Strategy. The winner of the shopping centre’s Summer Party’s Little Stars talent show Kelsie Bissett will perform. You can take part in a name the reindeer competition and post letters to Santa. The switch-on is at 6pm.

 

Love Island's Marcel will be at Westwood Cross

Love Island's Marcel will be at Westwood Cross

 

HEMPSTEAD VALLEY, GILLINGHAM

A 25ft Christmas tree will be outside Marks & Spencer. Father Christmas will be in his grotto on Saturday, November 18 at 1.30pm, when he will be joined by kmfm’s Garry and Dame Nellie Night Nurse from the Central Theatre’s Sleeping Beauty. The grotto will be open daily until Christmas Eve. Children can also post letters to Santa until Wednesday, December 20. There is a carol concert on Sunday, December 10 and a gift fair from Monday, November 20 to Sunday, December 3. Go to hempsteadvalley.com

Christmas lights switch-ons where to find one near you

Christmas lights switch-ons: where to find one near you

 

GRAVESEND

The town’s Christmas programme will begin with the lights switch-on and community parade on Friday, November 17. Gravesend Borough Market is holding its second festive season since reopening last year with a four-week extravaganza of Christmas Frost Fairs. Panto star Linda Lusardi will open a special market that evening and the Frost Fairs will begin the following weekend.

 

Gravesend will be getting into the festive spirit Picture Andy Payton

Gravesend will be getting into the festive spirit Picture: Andy Payton

CHATHAM

The lights go on on Friday, November 17 with former Hollyoaks star Andy Moss and the mayor pressing the button at 5pm at the junction of Meeting House Lane and Chatham High Street. There will be family entertainment from 3.45pm including dance performances and competitions and prizes.

 

FOLKESTONE

The lights in the town centre will be switched on around 7pm, with events from 4pm. The lights at the Creative Quarter will be on Friday, November 17 and will be carried out by Tracy Chevalier, author of the internationally best-selling Girl with a Pearl Earring, heralding the opening of the Folkestone Book Festival.

 

DARTFORD

Dartford town centre's Big Christmas Lights Switch-On takes place on Saturday, November 18 and will be performed by the Mayor and star of the Orchard Theatre panto Cinderella Louie Spence at 5.15pm. From 2pm, the build-up starts with performances from Five After Midnight, other panto stars and acts and entertainment on stage in the High Street. There will be a treasure hunt around the town with prizes.

TUNBRIDGE WELLS

Festive fun at Royal Victoria Place on Sunday, November 19, will be a family day plus free parking. It will be hosted by kmfm’s Drive-time presenter Rob Wills from 11.30am. Santa will be opening his new Festive Fireside-themed grotto and switching on the Christmas lights from noon with help from Aladdin stars CBBC presenter Mark Rhodes, EastEnders’ Michael Greco and Chris Pizzey from The Basil Brush Show, from the Assembly Hall Theatre panto this year. Santa’s Grotto will be open until 4.30pm and free festive entertainment will include the chance to see Chase and Marshall from PAW Patrol at intervals between 12.30pm and 4.30pm and the chance to see the biggest teddy in Tunbridge Wells and win prizes. Go to royalvictoriaplace.com.

Mark Rhodes and Michael Greco will be among those at the Tunbridge Wells switch-on at Royal Victoria Place Picture Phil Lee

Mark Rhodes and Michael Greco will be among those at the Tunbridge Wells switch-on at Royal Victoria Place Picture: Phil Lee

ROCHESTER

The fun starts at noon on Saturday, November 18 when there will be street entertainment and a fun run of Santas from 2pm. There will be family entertainment from 3.45pm and actress Claire Sweeney, who is starring in panto at the Central Theatre this year, will be pushing the magic button with the Mayor around 5pm.

 

Actress, singer and TV presenter Claire Sweeney

Actress, singer and TV presenter Claire Sweeney

WEST MALLING

The lights go on on Sunday, November 19 this year from noon through to 5.30pm, with the switch being flicked around 5pm by members of the cast of this year’s Maidstone pantomime, Peter Pan. There will be real reindeer, an ice rink for the children and Santa’s Grotto plus the high street will be crammed with street food, mulled wine and stalls.

Lucas Farley and Jacob Park, both five, get into the festive spirit at West Malling last year. Picture Andy Jones

Lucas Farley and Jacob Park, both five, get into the festive spirit at West Malling last year. Picture: Andy Jones

MAIDSTONE

The Fremlin Walk lights switch-on will take place at 6pm on Thursday, November 23. The fun-filled evening of entertainment with Santa and his reindeer starts at 4pm, with kmfm breakfast show presenters Garry Wilson and Laura Nevitt hosting a star-studded show with music, dancing, prizes and an appearance from the cast of Peter Pan at Maidstone Studios. Santa will take his usual spot with his reindeer in the bandstand. There will be Christmas stalls selling tasty treats gifts and stocking fillers.

A quick snap at last year's Fremlin Walk switch-on Picture Andy Jones

A quick snap at last year's Fremlin Walk switch-on Picture: Andy Jones

FAVERSHAM

The lights are turned on on Saturday, November 25 at 5pm when there will be a night food market and visit from Father Christmas from 5pm, with the market from 6pm.

 

GILLINGHAM

The fun takes place on Friday, November 24 between 3.45pm and 5pm. The entertainment includes singing sensation Jack Rose and X-Factor finalist, Joseph, formerly of the band Rough Copy. The lights switch-on is around 5pm.

 

STROOD

The family entertainment starts at 3.45pm on Saturday, November 25 at Friary Place in the High Street with carol singing, competitions and prizes, plus children’s TV character Owlette from PJ Masks helping with the switch-on at around 5pm. Youngsters can also meet Owlette at Strood Community Hub at 2pm. To book call 01634 337799.

 

Christmas lights will be switched on across Kent

Christmas lights will be switched on across Kent

PADDOCK WOOD

On Sunday, November 26 kmfm head to Commercial Road in Paddock Wood where street entertainment, Christmas market stalls, food and drink, an appearance by Santa and a small funfair will mark the arrival of Christmas.

 

HERNE BAY

The lights switch-on will be on Friday, December 1 in Mortimer Street, with food, crafts and entertainment from Smokin’ Mavericks and the Big Bay Choir. It runs from 4pm to 6pm with the switch-on itself at 5.30pm.

 

RAINHAM

Family fun starts at 3.45pm at Rainham Shopping Centre on Friday, December 1. The Deputy Mayor will switch on the lights at 5pm and lovable bear Paddington will be there. For children to meet Paddington at Rainham Library at 2pm, call 01634 337799 to book.

 

DOVER

Dover will be hosting Christmas festivities on Saturday, December 2 between 11am and 8pm and Sunday, December 3 between 10am and 4pm. Featuring entertainments, activities and festive stall including free to ride traditional helter skelter & children’s carousel, Christmas Food Market and Santa's Grotto. Lights switch-on entertainment will start from 4pm with individual and sing-a-long choirs from landmark show choir, Duke of Yorks Royal Military School and P&O Ferries Choir, lights will go on at 5pm on the Saturday.

 

SHEERNESS

On Saturday, December 2 there will be a market, Santa run and lantern parade along the High Street and Broadway.

Bethanie Jones (Elsa) and Courtney Buckley (Anna) at Sheerness lights switch-on Picture Bob Kitchin

Bethanie Jones (Elsa) and Courtney Buckley (Anna) at Sheerness lights switch-on Picture: Bob Kitchin

THE PARTY’S BEGUN...

BLUEWATER

Festive fun started at the shopping centre last week with new decorations, themed around the 12 Days of Christmas. Visit bluewater.co.uk.

 

THE MALL, MAIDSTONE

Santa’s elves started getting busy at the Mall’s Grotto last weekend and will welcome children every day until Christmas Eve. Staff will also be collecting toys and gifts for children less fortunate, with the return of The Mall’s Giving Tree. Shoppers can buy an extra gift and drop it off at the Ask Me Point in the centre, with gifts delivered to the Homeless Care Day Centre in Knightrider Street. There will also be seasonal children’s activities through to Saturday, December 16. For more information, visit themall.co.uk/Maidstone.

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