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Kent: May bank holiday and half term holiday events for all the family across Kent 2018

It's double bubble this weekend as we launch into the school half term holidays and a bank holiday weekend. Here's our guide to what's happening across the county for all the family.


The bouncy beast that is The Beast is back at Betteshanger, after proving a hit last year. The formidable inflatable obstacle course, which is suitable for ages 10 and up, is a 384m long course, and will be at the park near Deal from Saturday, May 26 to Monday, May 28. It is bigger this year - more than 100 metres to be precise - and comes to Kent with Belgian owner, Hold My Shoes.

Keith Lee from the park said: "It will be the longest Beast ever constructed. We hope that our visitors are as excited as we are to welcome The Beast back to Betteshanger." To snap up the remaining tickets, visit betteshanger-park.co.uk


The centre's roar-some Dinosaur Trail, where young visitors can adventure alongside explorers Rhys and Rosie, is open through to Sunday, June 24. Pick up a trail map from the concierge desk outside M&S on the lower mall and find all the dinosaurs to win a prize. The nature trail with a play area, beach and lake, also launches Pixie Valley on Thursday, May 24, where families can search for 10 tiny magical doors and windows to discover pixies Flora Honey-Blossom, Rosa Clover-Leaf, Oren Elm-Dew and friends. Little ones can pose on the fairytale thrones and making a wish at the wishing wall. Details at bluewater.co.uk


It's story time at the Canterbury attraction as youngsters can sit around a crackling campfire in the Medieval Story Garden to hear tales by the fireside. The Campfire Tales, which are suitable for ages five and up, embraces the city's ancient storytelling tradition, and will run every Thursday through to Thursday, August 30. Gates open at 6.30pm, with storytime from 7pm to 8.30pm. Lyndsay Ridley from the attraction said: “Telling stories is at the very heart of what we do at the Canterbury Tales. The wonderful thing about these performances is that they thrive on audience interaction." Entry is £10, £8 for children. For details go to canterburytales.org.uk or call 01227 696002.


All the chickens have escaped from the kitchen garden at the National Trust house! There's a fun family trail throughout half term to find them all, running from Saturday, May 26 to Sunday, June 3, between 10am and 4pm each day. The trail costs £1 on top of normal admission charges. Details at nationaltrust.org.uk


Can you track down the unicorns and mermaids on the site? This half term between Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, June 3, the dockyard is delving into the world of myths that lent themselves to ships built there. Young visitors can follow the mythical trail on-site which explores the collections and create their own monster too - for a prize at the end. There will also be storytelling on offer where there's a tale about a friendly dragon. During half term the Mess Deck and Wagon Stop will also be offering mythical themed food. To book and for more details visit thedockyard.co.uk


There's some 20 different rides and drives, and more than 100 machines to marvel at, at the Strood site. 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 lifts 50ft into the air. Details at diggerland.com or call 0871 2277007.


Get into the Blitz spirit with the English Heritage castle's WWII Weekend from Saturday, May 26 to Bank Holiday Monday. A nostalgic look back at England’s finest hour, visitors can witness the action-packed battle in the improved arena display and meet soldiers at military encampments, as well as get up close to a full size replica Spitfire and discover the tale of the daring raid on St. Nazaire as recounted by the Motor Aces. There are also home Front activities, including a 1940s beauty parlour and live music from the Swingtime Sweethearts. Events are on from 10am to 5pm each day. For details and to book go to english-heritage.org.uk


Get hands-on and close up to some exotic animals that Charles Darwin himself might have met on his travels when you visit the house he once owned. Charles' Creepy Critters runs from Tuesday, May 29 to Saturday, June 2 at intervals between 11am and 3.30pm. Go to english-heritage.org.uk.


Two hundred and 50 years ago, the world’s first circus was held in the UK. To mark this milestone, Gorilla Circus are setting up camp at Dreamland, with a programme through to September.

Their high-octane outdoor show includes the high wire, trapeze and other circus spectacles, with shows during opening hours at the park on Saturday, May 26. They will be on site until Sunday, September 2. For details and entry fees visit dreamland.co.uk

Gorilla Circus is at Dreamland
Gorilla Circus is at Dreamland


Peggy the pony's friends have escaped from the stables - take the trail and find them all. While at the National Trust property, start ticking off your 50 Things activities along the way. The trail costs £1, with normal admission costs.

Swing into action this half term Picture: National Trust, Oskar Proctor
Swing into action this half term Picture: National Trust, Oskar Proctor


Once upon a time, a very poor woodcutter lived in a tiny cottage in the enchanted forest with his two children, Hansel and Gretel - and a witch.

Fairytales and Fables is the theme for half term activities at the house near Tunbridge Wells between Saturday, May 26 to Sunday, June 3, between 10am and 5pm each day. Join in with crafts, storytelling, sing-a-longs, magic shows and watch some daring fire tricks. There's also new rope bridges and walkways in Crusoe's World to explore. For admission costs and more details visit groombridgeplace.com

Fairytales and fables at Groombridge Place
Fairytales and fables at Groombridge Place


The castle looks back to the Edwardian era between Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, June 3 with the chance to see what life was like at a grand country estate just before the First World War, when the Astor family were in residence. There will be a Punch and Judy show with a Tudor twist and other traditional games and interactive exhibitions, including a game of croquet on the lawn. Visitors can learn about the collection of butterflies and moths from a lepidopterist, meet costumed characters from the era and meet a suffragette, as well as try some crafts and explore the new Tudor Towers adventure playground. Visit hevercastle.co.uk for more.


There will be rides and inflatables to have fun on along with the usual attractions including animals to meet, the Magic Castle to visit and the giant jumping pillows to bounce on, all between Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, June 3, plus on Thursday, May 31, Catboy and Owlette from PJ Masks will be visiting. For more, go to thehopfarm.co.uk


There's some mammoth days on offer at the Wild Animal Park, as throughout May half term you can meet the inhabitants of the Animals of the Ice Age. Marvel at the mighty mammoth and see the sabre toothed smilodons, as you journey through the wooded walkways. There's also a chance to become a Conservation Cadet put your animal detective skills to the test - including guessing the animal poo. The park is also running an offer for children to get in for £1, which is valid until Friday, May 25. Book online to get your discount at aspinallfoundation.org/howletts

And if you don't make it to the park... Look out because a woolly rhinoceros is on the loose and roaming the county. Approach with caution, but if you do spot him, take a quick photo and post on social media with #IceAgeOnTour, for the chance to win a prize of Ice Age-related goodies and a family ticket to see the exhibition.

Animals of the Ice Age at Howletts
Animals of the Ice Age at Howletts


Follow a garden Billy Goats gruff trail to discover the story and also see the grounds of the house. While at the site head to the natural play area and enjoy a picnic. The trail runs from Saturday, May 26 to Sunday, June3, between 10am and 4pm. Normal admission charges apply, £2.50 per trail. Details at nationaltrust.org.uk


There will be some Farmyard Fairy Tales alongside themed activities at from Saturday, May 26 to Sunday, June 3. Young visitors can plant a beanstalk and help build the three little pigs' house, as well as join in the usual activities, including the Paint-a-Pot studio, donkey rides and bouncy castle. There are also a range of shows on offer in the Big Top. for details call 01622 763936, email enquiries@kentlife.org.uk or visit kentlife.org.uk.

Meet the animals at Kent Life this half term
Meet the animals at Kent Life this half term


The picturesque castle has joust the job for the bank holiday weekend with a Grand Medieval Joust running from Saturday, May 26 to Bank Holiday Monday. New for 2018, visitors can watch England compete against France in four competitions, including jousting challenges. There will also be firepower displays through the day and archery, plus seeing the mighty medieval trebuchet shooting into the moat. There's also plenty of family activities, with children’s mini battles, have a go archery and living history camps. The joust is part of normal admission costs. For details visit leeds-castle.com

Grand Medieval Joust at Leeds Castle Picture: Andy Jones
Grand Medieval Joust at Leeds Castle Picture: Andy Jones


There's a new children's festival coming to Canterbury, courtesy of the Marlowe Theatre and Wise Words this half term. Running from Bank Holiday Monday to Sunday, June 3, Little Words celebrates stories and storytellers and is suitable for two to 11-year-olds, with shows, events and workshops at the theatre and Studio, the Marlowe Kit in Stour Street and in the streets. Hero And Her Paper Navy is an interactive nautical adventure in search of new worlds, by Animate Arts Company, and there are shows in the Marlowe Studio every day, including poet and rapper Simon Mole’s Friends For All and There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly. Free events include a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, poetry workshops and family tours. For details of all events and to book go to marlowetheatre.com, or call 01227 787787.

The Mad Hatters tea Party is part of the Little Words children's festival
The Mad Hatters tea Party is part of the Little Words children's festival


Lullingstone will be transformed into a magical medieval village with living history displays, campfires and medieval weapons on Sunday, May 27 and Bank Holiday Monday. For the special event, entry is £10, with under 15s going free. For more details visit lullingstonecastle.co.uk or call 01322 862114.


If you enjoy creepy crawlies you'll love the Beasts Roadshow which is on at the historic house on Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, May 27, between 11am and 5pm. The roadshow will show visitors scaly and sometimes squealing reptiles, mammals and insects from the Hawking Centre, with experts on hand. Throughout the holiday, from Saturday, May 26 to Sunday, June 3, make it a Snappy Spring Holiday with a quest to discover the location of photos taken around the grounds and match them with the ones on a trail sheet. Also take your own images and share them with #SnappedAtPenshurst Detail at penshurstplace.com/whats-on

Penshurst Place
Penshurst Place


Everyone’s invited to an Arty Party on Bank Holiday Monday when popular children's TV presenter and everyone’s arty favourite, Mister Maker, brings his live show Mister Maker Makes to the reserve.

Mini Makers and grown-ups will be treated to two live performances with making, singing, dancing and having fun in the gardens of the Port Lympne Hotel. Mini Makers have the chance to meet the star with a themed competition to win a meet and greet experience afterwards. Included in the price of admission, the reserve opens at 9.30am, with events from 11am. For details visit aspinallfoundation.org/portlympne


Get creative with nature-themed arts and crafts for younger visitors with craft workshops taking place from Wednesday, May 30 to Friday, June 1, between 2pm and 4pm. For details of what's on visit nationaltrust.org.uk


There will be fun guided walks through the estate twice daily from Saturday, May 26 to Sunday, June 3, and while there, head to the Wilderness Camp and the big tree swing. The walks are free events but normal admission prices apply. Details at nationaltrust.org.uk

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