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Parking for free at Christmas

By Amy Nickalls

Christmas shopping can be a hassle at the best of times.

Children wanting to be fed, a thousand people pushing past you in the shops and that all important present is no where to be found.

As a slight relief, some councils and shopping centres who are full of festive cheer remove the parking charges for a few days or weekends leading up to the big day.

Enjoy the ice rink at Bluewater after parking for free
Enjoy the ice rink at Bluewater after parking for free

Bluewater, Hempstead Valley and Westwood Cross are free all year round and Ashford Designer Outlet centre is just £1 for every four hours and free from 5pm.

So whether you're set on popping in to town or need to travel further afield, here is a full list of the parking charges for the season:


Every Sunday in December car parks across Ashford and Tenterden are free to park in.

All council run car parks will follow the festive change in charges, except for the new Elwick Place.

On December 23, Tenterden's Recreation Ground Road car park will also have normal charges.

Throughout the year parking in Ashford is free after 6pm, except for Elwick Place.


Canterbury's Christmas Lights following the 'switch-on' last year. Picture: Chris Davey
Canterbury's Christmas Lights following the 'switch-on' last year. Picture: Chris Davey

On Saturdays and Sundays, there's free parking on offer at the council's offices in Military Road.


A decision on free parking has not yet been made. We will update soon.

Deal and Dover

Shopping for that perfect gift is easier with free parking
Shopping for that perfect gift is easier with free parking

All off street car parks will be free for those of you who leave their shopping until the last minute.

Dover District Council is waiving charged on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Folkestone and Hythe

As an early Christmas present for the people of Folkestone and Hythe, the council is offering free parking on the three Saturdays leading up to Christmas.

All council car parks and on-street parking bays across the district will be available for shoppers free of charge.

Cllr Ann Berry, cabinet member for transport and commercial, said: "We want to encourage shoppers into our great town centres and waiving parking charges in council car parks and on-street bays is just one way to do this.

"We're lucky to have such a wide range of shops and businesses locally, selling everything from unique fashion to hand-crafted homewares, so there really is no need to go further afield."


Rather than any festive discounts, you can park in any off street car park for free for two hours every Saturday and all day on Sunday.



Car parks owned by the council will not be free of charge this Christmas.



Medway Council are offering free parking across the towns from Thursday, December 20 to Sunday, December 23.


Shoppers heading to Sevenoaks and Westerham will be able to park for free in council owned car parks and on-street bays for the next two Saturdays.

On Sunday 9 and 16, Blighs car park in Sevenoaks will also be free.

Parking is free in other council car parks at weekends including in Swanley.

For more information visit www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/carparks.


Free parking at Christmas is a contentious issue across Swale. The council aren't offering free parking but did donate £25,000 to the lights.

However, this Saturday charges will be lifted at car parks in Albany Road, Central Avenue, Cockleshell Walk and Crown Quay Lane.

They will also be free at the Forum, Swallows, Milton High Street, Spring Street, Bell Road and Grafton Road, all thanks to the group behind the Spirit of Sittingbourne project.


The lights are up in Ramsgate Harbour. Picture Alan Langley
The lights are up in Ramsgate Harbour. Picture Alan Langley

Although no festive gifts of free parking on the Isle this year, Cannon Road Car Park, Mill Lane Multi-Storey, Harold Road Car Park and Vere Road Car Park are all free on a Saturday all year round.

Tonbridge and Malling

Tonbridge and Malling is another area that isn't offering Christmas specific free parking, however, it is always free after 6pm and on Sundays throughout the year.

Tunbridge Wells

From December 17 to 22, Tunbridge Wells Tourism team has confirmed there will be free parking after 4pm around the town.

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