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Events in Kent you can still enjoy this Christmas

The Olympics, music festivals and a plethora of local events have been cancelled this year because of coronavirus.

Christmas always seemed to be so far away that we might get through it unscathed. While some events have been cancelled, there are still plenty of events that will get you in the festive spirit and keep you safe at the same time.

Find out what's happening in your town here:

Ashford

Lantern making at the Carnival of the Baubles in Ashford last year
Lantern making at the Carnival of the Baubles in Ashford last year

Ashford Borough Council is currently in the process of sorting locked-down Christmas events, which they say will not be on the same scale they were in previous years.

For now, the events confirmed in the area is the Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' performance on Wednesday, December 9 and Maddy Prior & The Carnival Band on Saturday, December 12, at St Mary's Church on Tufton St.

Canterbury

Canterbury Christmas lights and markets
Canterbury Christmas lights and markets

Three of Canterbury's biggest annual events have been called off.

The Christmas light switch-on - which normally draws huge crowds - has had the plug pulled by organisers.

For the first time in its 67 year history the mammoth charity Christmas Eve carol singing will not be going ahead .

A separate long-running seasonal standard is the St Nicholas Day Parade, in which festival founder Canon Jim Rosenthal leads a procession through the town dressed as Father Christmas.

Despite having run for 20 consecutive years it will not be put on this year either.

Another firm family favourite is the pantomime at The Marlowe Theatre.

Jack and the Beanstalk was due to entertain the 10,000 people who usually go to see it but was production was postponed until 2021 - but the show will go on, albeit in a socially distanced form.

Over at the city's Malthous Theatre Beauty and the Beast will run from December 11. Each performance will have a maximum capacity of 130 people.

There will be no interval in the one hour and 15 minute-long show, which is set to feature top West End talent.

Dartford

Dartford Christmas lights fun
Dartford Christmas lights fun

All of the area's big Christmas events have been cancelled for now, say Dartford Borough Council.

This means the lights switch-on is off and the popular Santa's House will be missed this year.

However, the council is currently looking into ways of setting up festive events so locals won't miss out on celebrating while staying safe.

Bluewater

Bluewater's Belive Christmas launch 2020
Bluewater's Belive Christmas launch 2020

Not even Covid-19 can steal Christmas at Kent's biggest shopping mall.

Bluewater will be running a spectacular festive event called 'Believe' where children will get to meet Santa and other guests and earn a special gift by casting their Christmas spirit into the Well of Wonder.

This is not the usual grotto experience and attendees will be asked to wear face masks and have their temperatures checked for the immersive experience.

The event will run from Friday, November 20, right up until Christmas Eve with the first slots opening at mid-day.

Costs will start from £12.50 per child - including a picture and gift - and £5 per adult, with the cost depending on the date booked.

Dover

The White Cliffs Christmas Experience won't be going ahead after discussions with the Port of Dover
The White Cliffs Christmas Experience won't be going ahead after discussions with the Port of Dover

A relatively new but increasingly popular Christmas fair in Dover has also been affected by Covid-19 fears.

The White Cliffs Christmas Experience - held annually at the cruise terminal - often has visits from reindeer, and boasts Dover's only ice skating rink with more than 12,000 skaters last year.

It was decided it will not be going ahead in 2020 following discussions with the Port of Dover, a decision that bosses say was made "reluctantly" in September.

Faversham

Faversham Christmas lights
Faversham Christmas lights

Residents of Faversham may not be having a traditional lights switch-on, but the community has banded together to offer an alternative.

Clare Howes is leading the charge with a "socially distanced switch-on" , which will see people decorating their homes before turning on all the lights in unison with their neighbours.

The unique event is scheduled for 6pm on November 28.

Gravesend

Gravesend's "A journey into Christmas" event took place throughout the town last year. Photo: Gravesham Council
Gravesend's "A journey into Christmas" event took place throughout the town last year. Photo: Gravesham Council

Manyevents are on track to go ahead - however Gravesham Borough Council has stressed they are all provisional and subject to change at short notice if Covid-19 guidelines change.

This includes the Borough Market's annual Christmas markets running every weekend from November 28 to December 20

There are also plans to continue running the drive in cinema between Friday, December 4 and Saturday, December 5 as well as Nativity on a big screen in the town centre on Saturday, December 12.

On Saturday, December 19, you can take the kids to meet Santa in his walk-through Grotto on Town Pier.

There will also be a 12 Days of Christmas Luminaire on January 22 and 23 where lights will illuminate the whole town with festive cheer.

Details for these event will appear on the Visit Gravesend website and on Gravesend Borough Market website - with more announcements yet to come.

Medway

Rochester Christmas Market. Picture: Geoff Watkins/Aerial Imaging South East
Rochester Christmas Market. Picture: Geoff Watkins/Aerial Imaging South East

Medway will have an early taste of 'the new normal' this year, as its fireworks display for the Great Lines Bonfire Night has been called off.

Things will not change as the festive season gets into full-swing, as all of the area's main theatres have pulled out of hosting a panto.

Chatham's Central Theatre has cancelled its performances of Peter Pan, while The Brook Theatre will not be hosting its annual Christmas Show.

Tickets for the former, which has been pushed back to 2021, are already available for purchase here .

Perhaps most devastatingly, Rochester's Christmas market, which attracts more than 100,000 guests each year, has also been cancelled by Medway Council.

Maidstone

Leeds Castle Christmas Market. Picture: Matthew Walker
Leeds Castle Christmas Market. Picture: Matthew Walker

A Maidstone theatre has come up with some way of boosting Christmas cheer, even if its annual pantomime can't go ahead.

The Hazlitt Theatre was scheduled to put on Jack and the Beanstalk this year, but as with most other theatres it was deemed too risky and postponed until next year.

Families are however being offered a fun alternative in the form of musical comedy show 'The Lost Christmas'.

The much-loved Christmas market at Leeds Castle has also been cancelled.

The major event, which is usually held over four weekends, had to be cancelled as it would be too hard to maintain social distancing.

As for the Christmas light display, the normal switch-on will not go ahead but town team One Maidstone BID have created an alternative online project.

The Secret Switch On will be a pre-recorded and socially distanced concert film available here, on YouTube and social media.

This will include performances from local groups including Maidstone Dance Studios, Enchanted Events 4 Kids and Mid Kent College.

Sandwich

Sandwich's Christmas lights switch on. Picture: Tony Flashman
Sandwich's Christmas lights switch on. Picture: Tony Flashman

Another unique way of celebrating the approaching festive season will take place in Sandwich.

The Sandwich Christmas Lights committee has cancelled their annual festive event for the first time in 30 years.

That's not to say there won't be lights strung throughout the town, but crowds are being discouraged from gathering to watch the lights being turned on.

Instead residents have been invited to watch the ceremony via Facebook Live.

The event - which will be held on Saturday, December 5 at 6.45pm - will not boast the usual parade, funfair or live music.

Sevenoaks

Hever Castle at Christmas
Hever Castle at Christmas

The Hever Castle Christmas Market has been postponed until 2021 due to social distancing fears.

Thankfully, however, theatre fans in Sevenoaks will actually get a chance to attend a pantomime - but it will certainly be a unique one .

Jack and the Two-Metre Beanstalk will be coming to The Stag Theatre just before Christmas, running from December 18 to January 3.

Tenterden

Crowds at Tenterden Christmas market
Crowds at Tenterden Christmas market

One of Tenterden's busiest annual events is its Christmas market.

It normally attracts more than 14,000 people over three days and is held along the high street.

But social distancing means the fun night out will not be going ahead this year.

Regardless, the town council has promised the Christmas lights will be as good as ever and assured residents in September that there will be 100 trees installed in shop windows.

Tonbridge and Malling

Tonbridge Christmas lights switch on 2016
Tonbridge Christmas lights switch on 2016

The magical Christmas at Bedgebury is still running this year, with a colourful light filling the trees after dark between November 20 and December 25.

Haysden Country Park & Leybourne Lakes Country Park will also be holding Christmas quiz trails from December 5 to January 1, where you can wander across the parks trials while searching for clues and testing your knowledge about the countryside.

A charity decorations and gifts sale is also planned at Haysden Country Park on December 5 and December 12 to raise money for the volunteers there.

Tunbridge Wells

The Assembly Hall Theatre usually holds a Panto. Picture: Martin Apps
The Assembly Hall Theatre usually holds a Panto. Picture: Martin Apps

Tunbridge Wells will also be markedly different this year.

Managers at The Assembly Hall Theatre made the early decision (in July) to call off its pantomime.

The council-owned venue had been set to put on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with award-winning Evolution Productions at the helm, but now won't go ahead until 2021.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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