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Christmas events across Kent this weekend including grottos, Christmas markets and lights trails

Santa's in full swing as Christmas creeps closer. Here's what festive events are happening across the county:


Kent Life is getting ready to welcome Father Christmas. Picture by Kent Life (22669303)
Kent Life is getting ready to welcome Father Christmas. Picture by Kent Life (22669303)

The Christmas Experience at the attraction in Sandling, Maidstone, on Thursday, December 19, is specially for children with additional needs such as autism and other sensory difficulties. Designed to give families to meet Father Christmas in a calmer environment, there will be quieter music, low lighting and smaller groups. Santa will also be visiting on Saturday, December 14 and Sunday, December 15. Book at kentlife.org.uk or call 01622 763936 for the special sessions.


The state rooms of the castle near Maidstone have been transformed into a kingdom of birds and festive feathers. Running until New Year’s Day, displays include a magical forest of owls to red breasted robins surrounded by snowdrops and a lavishly-dressed banqueting table, laid for a Christmas feast. The Christmas Market has its final weekend on Saturday, December 14 and Sunday, December 15, with nostalgic fairground rides. Book at leeds-castle.com

Leeds Castle's Christmas display
Leeds Castle's Christmas display


Mary and Joseph, their donkey and three wise men on their camels will journey through different periods of history for the town centre celebrations on Saturday, December 14. There will also be a festive markets and free Santa's Grotto in Borough Market between 10am and 2pm, which will be back next weekend too.


The Rotary Club of Medway in partnership with the Chatham Historic Dockyard will stage the run on Sunday, December 15. There will be a samba band, disco and other entertainment to warm up the fun runners before the start with the run at 11am. The event raises funds for the Rotary Children’s Hospice Family Holiday. Apply to take part at medwayrotary.org.uk

There'll be a sea of red and white for the Medway Rotary Santa Fun Run Picture: Steve Crispe
There'll be a sea of red and white for the Medway Rotary Santa Fun Run Picture: Steve Crispe


Kids can enter Mother Goose’s Golden Egg Competition in Canterbury until Sunday, December 15. Spot five golden egg stickers in shop windows and you could win a £200 goodie bag. Enter at Canterbury.co.uk Santa will be in the Whitefriars grotto until Christmas Eve plus there's a festive market. Go to whitefriars.co.uk


A festive lunch will be served in the Brewhouse Cafe at Knole in Sevenoaks until Wednesday, December 18, from Tuesdays to Fridays. The house has its festive decorations up plus its the Tiger Who Came to Tea exhibition, with tiger-themed activities, until Sunday, January 5. They include dressing up, storytelling and a tiger trail in the grounds with a prize at the end. At Quebec House, near Westerham, the house will be decorated in Georgian style and kids can play hunt the slipper around the house. Details at nationaltrust.org.uk

Christmas decorations at the National Trust's Knole Picture: James Dobson, National Trust
Christmas decorations at the National Trust's Knole Picture: James Dobson, National Trust


See Santa in his Victorian parlour at the Alexander Centre in Preston Street on Saturday, December 14 and Sunday, December 15. The waiting room has colouring-in and films and to meet Santa costs £7.50 with a child's gift. It is open from 10am to 6pm. Book by calling 01795 591691 or email bookings@thealexandercentre.com


Children who missed out on tickets to see Father Christmas in his grotto may get the chance to meet him in his Toy Workshop on Saturday, December 14 and Sunday, December 15 and other weekends up to Monday, December 23. Immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit Wednesdays to Sundays until Christmas Eve with the carousel and enjoy vintage fairground stalls (£1 per go), and meet characters along the Alice in Wonderland themed trail including the White Rabbit, Mad Hatter and the King and Queen of Hearts. There are also Twilight Evenings when you can see the castle grounds lit up. To find out more go to hevercastle.co.uk


Dreamland Margate is putting on its biggest Christmas event, as it becomes Winterland Margate on selected dates until New Year's Eve. There'll be fairy light walks, a festive food and drink market, crafts and free festive film screenings, plus a giant snow globe to climb inside for an extra fee and Frosted FM will play Christmas bangers in the Roller Disco. Details at dreamland.co.uk


The Canterbury attraction’s festive fun will see Father Christmas in a very special time travelling adventure this weekend. Santa enjoyed his time in the 14th century last year so much that he has decided to stay. Christmas is in danger and it’s up to young adventurers to convince him there’s still the spirit of Christmas. Families are guided through a series of festive activities before a visit to the grotto. Book at canterburytales.org.uk or call 01227 696 002.

Canterbury Tales' Medieval Magical Christmas
Canterbury Tales' Medieval Magical Christmas


Wrap up warm as there'll be guaranteed snowfall at the Christmas Market in Rochester Castle Gardens for its final weekend, on Friday, December 13, Saturday, December 14 and Sunday, December 15 from noon to 8pm on Friday and 10am to 6pm at the weekend. Visitors can browse stalls for unique gift ideas and stocking fillers or relax to festive music. The Bavarian food village will be there along with a funfair.


Be enchanted by light, colour and sound as Walmer Castle's light trail, featuring tunnels and paths of lights, winds its way towards Christmas. Take a walk through the Queen Mother’s Garden and Woodland Walk to the historic Glen, and see if you can spot the dancing fairies along the way. It runs on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday evenings until Sunday, December 22, including this weekend and tickets range from £14 for adults and £9.50 for children on Saturdays and Sundays with a family ticket costing £37.50, though they are almost sold out. Book at english-heritage.org.uk

Christmas at Bedgebury
Christmas at Bedgebury


Bedgebury Pinetum's popular Christmas lights event is back for a second year with new features daily through to Monday, December 30. This year the trail has a Vortex Tunnel lit up by tens of thousands of LED light globes; a flotilla of illuminated origami boats dancing on the shimmering lake and a water fountain finale jumping jets of light dancing in time to much-loved Christmas classics. The event also has festive-themed attractionsspiced cider, the chance to toast marshmallows on a fire and some traditional Victorian fairground rides for children, charged separately. And you might even see Santa. Entry is £18 for adults. Book at christmasatbedgebury.co.uk


The grotto is open every day until Christmas Eve. Entrance costs £5 per child and includes a wrapped gift. There is no charge for accompanying adults. Pre-book your visit, which includes a £1.50 booking fee, by visiting bookfatherchristmas.co.uk/hempsteadvalley


The Selfie Factory at Bluewater has become the 'elfie Factory for the festive season. The pop-up attraction has returned to Bluewater Shopping Centre for the second time this year, following a successful first session in April with new rooms for budding Instagrammers to have their photos taken in, including a laundrette and supermarket, as well as a number of Christmas backgrounds too. They include a giant Christmas ball pit packed full of red, white and green balls and inflatable candy cane. The giant soft teddy is back but with a red Christmas hat. It is open until Sunday, December 22. Tickets are £9.99 for adults and £4.99 for under fives. Book at selfiefactory.co.uk

A festive Selfie Factory is at Bluewater
A festive Selfie Factory is at Bluewater


The historic Market Place will be the setting for the town's Christmas Sunday markets which will feature regular stallholders along with other local traders, selling gifts and decorations for Christmas, plus plenty of festive food and drink, live music and a brass band. Donkeys from Happy Endings Rescue will also be there to say 'hello'. It will be held on Sunday, December 15, and will return for a final time on Sunday, December 22.Find out more at visitfaversham.org


The Reindeer Centre’s undercover grotto stretches to 150ft this year and has seven animated scenes and the chance to meet the animals on site and feed the reindeer. Santa is there until Christmas Eve and little ones get a quality wrapped present. There’s an artificial snow play area, and soft play climbing area. Book at reindeercentre.co.uk


Enjoy an old fashioned style Christmas as Santa settles in at the Rare Breeds Centre near Ashford. There will also be a pantomime, Cinderella, in Benson’s Barn, and workshops with Mrs Christmas. There are some sessions still available this weekend on Saturday, December 14 and Sunday, December 15, and on Wednesday, December 18 and Thursday, December 18. Book tickets and find out more at rarebreedscentre.digitickets.co.uk

To find out what’s going on in the county and for all the latest entertainment news click here.

Santa at the Rare Breeds Centre
Santa at the Rare Breeds Centre
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