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Christmas markets, grottos and events this weekend including Illuminites in Ashford, Winterland at Dreamland and Wartime Christmas

Get your festive to-do list all wrapped up with our round-up of Christmas events happening all across the county this weekend.

WINTERLAND MARGATE

Festive treats await at Winterland Margate in Dreamland
Festive treats await at Winterland Margate in Dreamland

Dreamland Margate is putting on its biggest Christmas event this year, as it is transformed into Winterland Margate on selected dates from Saturday, December 7 until New Year's Eve. Visitors can expect fairy light walks, a market with festive food and drink, crafts and free festive film screenings. There will be a giant snow globe you can climb inside for an extra fee and there will be a Winterland Grotto Experience, as well as the chance to bring your pet dog into the park for the first time. Frosted FM will be in full swing at the Roller Disco, playing Christmas classics. Grotto tickets include the experience and rides. Details at dreamland.co.uk

WARTIME CHRISTMAS, GILLINGHAM

Get in the swing of festivities at the Royal Engineers Museum this weekend as the Wartime Christmas Weekend returns. On Saturday, December 7 and Sunday, December 8, the Second World War themed event will include the chance to learn the Lindy Hop, see Sapper Santa's grotto and workshop and browse the craft market. You can also get a vintage makeover and watch live demonstrations. On the Sunday, the Brompton & Invicta Military Wives Choir will be popping in to sing traditional carols. The event runs from 10am to 5pm both days with family activities from 10.30am to 1pm and 1.30pm to 3.30pm. Normal entry costs apply, plus £2 for the grotto. Details at re-museum.co.uk

A Wartime Christmas at the Royal Engineers Museum, Gillingham
A Wartime Christmas at the Royal Engineers Museum, Gillingham

ILLUMINITES, ASHFORD

For two nights, Ashford will see a trail of illuminated trees dotted through the town centre and Elwick Place, making up a Winter Forest. The trees, which will be lit up on Friday, December 6 and Saturday, December 7, will be themed with local landmarks, history and important residents. There will be a five minute digital mapping projection on the side of International House, Dover Place, and the newly-opened Coachworks in Dover Place will be serving a range of food and drink. Details at loveashford.com

Elwick Place will be lit up
Elwick Place will be lit up

ST NICHOLAS CELEBRATION FOR CHILDREN

St Nicholas will be meeting youngsters as part of the Christmas celebration at Canterbury Cathedral on Sunday, December 8 at 3.15pm. The child-friendly service gives a chance to explore the meaning of Christmas with songs and readings - and meeting St Nicholas. Visit canterbury-cathedral.org for more details.

CHRISTMAS AT PENSHURST PLACE

In place of the popular grotto at Penshurst Place - which always sells out - this year is what has become an equally popular show, Father Christmas comes to the rescue, an interactive, panto-style storytelling performance on selected dates in December, which has also now sold out. If you'd still like a festive fix of Penshurst, there's Late Night Wednesdays when the gift shop and Porcupine Pantry with its homemade cakes, are open until 7pm until Wednesday, December 11. There are other one-off events, including the Roasts and Rambles series, the last of which is on Sunday, December 15. Find out more at penshurstplace.com/whats-on

Father Christmas at Penshurst Place Picture: Maryann Webster
Father Christmas at Penshurst Place Picture: Maryann Webster

ENCHANTED WALMER CASTLE

There's an enchanting experience of light, colour and sound coming to Walmer Castle near Deal. The trail featuring tunnels and pathways of twinkling lights will see the grounds burst into life in unexpected ways. Wind your way through the Queen Mother’s Garden and Woodland Walk toward the new historic Glen, spotting dancing fairies flitting among the leaves. There will also be fairground rides and games, and food to enjoy. The fun is on from Thursday, December 5 to Sunday, December 8 and the other weekends in December. Details at english-heritage.org.uk

Walmer Castle and Gardens will have a Christmas lights trail
Walmer Castle and Gardens will have a Christmas lights trail

FATHER CHRISTMAS AT GROOMBRIDGE PLACE

Santa is setting up his cosy camp at Groombridge Place near Tunbridge Wells from Saturday, December 7 until Christmas Eve. There will also be fun in the forest with wooden bridges and a huge boat to play on at Crusoe’s World before visiting the enchanted forest. Visitors should also keep an eye out for the fallow deer grazing near the forest. Find out more at groombridgeplace.com or call 01892 861444.

TWILIGHT CHRISTMAS, HEVER CASTLE

Children who have not booked to visit Father Christmas in his Grotto may get the chance to meet him in his Toy Workshop on Saturday, December 7 and Sunday, December 8, or other weekends up to Monday, December 23. There are also Twilight Evenings when you can see the castle grounds lit up - the next is Friday, December 6. Details at hevercastle.co.uk

Hever Castle festive lights
Hever Castle festive lights

CHRISTMAS MARKET, MAIDSTONE

There's a festive market at Maidstone Museum on Saturday, December 7 between 10am and 3.30pm when there will be a range of stalls selling local produce and handmade gifts. The market will also be on on Saturday, December 14, when Santa will be visiting. Slots are almost sold out. Go to maidstonemuseum.org

CHRISTMAS IN GRAVESEND

Christmas festivities come to the town centre on Saturday, December 7 - which is also Small Business Saturday - when the focus is on supporting your local traders. Attractions include a free giant Snow Globe in King Street, a Land Train, Angel Wings graffiti at Borough Market car park, street music and choirs including Centre Stage and No Limits Street Band and the Icicle Bicycle. There will also be a festive market and a free Santa's Grotto in Borough Market at weekends until Sunday December 22, which is open between 10am and 2pm. There will be more fun on Saturday, December 14 when Mary and Joseph, their donkey and the three wise men on their camels journey through three different historic periods of Christmas in the town centre, and the market returns. Share your photos on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook by tagging Gravesham Borough Council and using #GraveshamsGreatestChristmas and #ThisIsGravesham.

SANTA STORYTELLING, MAIDSTONE

Santa will be doing some Christmas Storytelling Sessions at Fremlin Walk in Maidstone on selected dates until Christmas Eve, which this weekend includes Saturday, December 7 and Sunday, December 8. Santa and his trusty Elf, Sparkle, will be there from 11am to 4pm for the free sessions, but you do need to book at fremlinwalk.co.uk/storytime-with-santa-sessions.

SANTA'S GROTTO, WHITSTABLE CASTLE

Little ones can visit Santa's Grotto at Whitstable Castle on weekends until Sunday, December 15 including this weekend Saturday, December 7 and Sunday, December 8. Some sessions need to be pre-booked by calling 01227 281726 or emailing tiffany@whitstablecstle.co.uk They cost £5 per child.

MAGICAL BIRDS & FESTIVE FEATHERS

The sky's the limit for your Christmas wishes at Leeds Castle, near Maidstone, this Christmas as the state rooms are 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. In Lady Baillie’s bedroom, there are treasures to spot among Christmas garlands and the chance to write a Christmas dream on a feather. You can see real birds of prey at the Christmas Market, which is open weekends until Sunday, December 15, with nostalgic fairground rides. Book at leeds-castle.com

Leeds Castle magical birds and festive feathers
Leeds Castle magical birds and festive feathers

CRIBS EXHIBITION, BORDEN

More than 100 crib scenes collected over many year by author and broadcaster Libby Purves, Cribs from Around the World will be on show at St Peter and Paul Church, Borden, Sittingbourne from Friday, December 6 to Wednesday, December 11, from 1oam and 4pm, except on Sunday when it opens at 11am. It raises funds for the work of the Children's Society. There is free entrance with donations to the Children’s Society.

Cribs from around the world will be on show at Borden
Cribs from around the world will be on show at Borden

CHRISTMAS AT DRUSILLAS

Lose yourself in a world of magic and enchantment at Drusillas Park until Monday, December 23. Children can visit Santa in his snowy cottage, for an additional charge, and receive a gift. The elves have been busy decorating the 24ft Christmas tree and there will be a Husky Ice Cave when you can met huskies. The park is open from 10am daily. Find out more at drusillas.co.uk/christmas-events

Christmas at Drusillas
Christmas at Drusillas

LIVING FARM NATIVITY, KENT LIFE

Kent Life at Sandling, Maidstone will have a special Nativity this weekend, along with its farmyard friends. On Sunday, December 8, working with Maidstone Family Church, visitors can take a journey through the grounds to discover the story scenes and join in with some carol singing. Children are encouraged to dress up so they can be part of the nativity. It starts at 3pm and is included in general admission , which is £6.95 and £5.95 for three to 15-year-olds. Find out more by calling 01622 763936 or go to kentlife.org.uk

Kent Life Centre Living Nativity Picture: Sean Aidan
Kent Life Centre Living Nativity Picture: Sean Aidan

HEMPSTEAD VALLEY SHOPPING CENTRE, GILLINGHAM

The traditional grotto features characters including reindeer and a towering Christmas tree and will be open every day until Christmas Eve. Entrance is £5 per child and includes a wrapped gift. There is no charge for accompanying adults. Pre-book (with a £1.50 booking fee) at bookfatherchristmas.co.uk

SANTA SATURDAYS, SITTINGBOURNE

The Forum Shopping Centre in Sittingbourne will be welcoming Santa into the free grotto on Saturday, December 7 and Saturday, December 14 between 11am and 3pm. There's also a selfie competition for the chance to win a £25 vouchers from The Works. Details at theforumsc.couk

Santa will meet little ones
Santa will meet little ones

DICKENSIAN CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL, ROCHESTER

You’ll be wanting some more when you sample the guaranteed snowfall and festive goodies which come as part of the annual Dickensian Christmas Festival on Saturday, December 7 and Sunday, December 8. The feast of Victorian delights includes a parade of costumed Dickens characters and the festive market between 10am to 5.30pm.

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