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Christmas 2013: Festive family events taking place in Kent

Enjoy some festive family fun
Enjoy some festive family fun

So you haven’t got that Christmas feeling yet? Check out our guide to the best festive events and activities across the county and you’ll be singing White Christmas before you know it.


Bluewater’s Winter Wonderland is back. Held in the shopping centre’s events venue Glow, this year’s attractions will include an indoors real ice rink, where visitors can take a turn under the shadow of the spectacular Ice Palace.

Daredevils can race down the 40m snow slide that runs from the upper level of Bluewater to the ground floor in an inflatable snow tube.

There will also be an ice climbing wall, kiddie ski play area, carousels, and 4D Christmas Cinema. Santa will also be popping in, sitting in his newly revamped grotto, where children can have their photo taken, before being given a present.

Open: On selected times and dates from Friday, November 29 to Sunday, January 5 General admission to Winter Wonderland is free. Grotto tickets are £5; 4D cinema tickets are priced £4 for adults, £3 for children; ice skating from £8 for children and £12 for adults. Bluewater, Greenhithe, DA9 9ST 0870 777 0252Cost:Address:Contact:

Santa will be dropping into Bodiam Castle
Santa will be dropping into Bodiam Castle


Father Christmas arrives at Bodiam Castle this weekend. A beautiful grotto is being created at the medieval castle on the Kent/Sussex border where Father Christmas will meet good boys and girls before giving them a special gift to take home.

Children can also enjoy other festive activities including the Christmas pudding quest, crafts and storytelling with local author Nick Carter.

Open: From 10.30am to 3.30pm on Saturday, December 7 and Sunday, December 8. Also December 14, 15, 21 and 22. Tickets to see Santa are £3 for children under 18 months and £6.50 for children up to 16. Normal castle admission of £6.70 applies to accompanying adults. Bodiam, near Robertsbridge, TN32 5UA 01580 830196Cost:Address: Contact:


’Tis the season to visit the Canterbury Tales. Visitors to the interactive attraction during December can enjoy a Christmas trail, a mince pie and festive drink.

Children can demonstrate their creative talents in a festive colouring competition, with a Waterstones gift card to be won.

Open: 10am to 4pm on selected dates from Saturday, November 30 to Sunday, January 5. : £8.50 for adults, £6.25 for children aged five to 15 St Margaret’s Street, Canterbury, CT1 2TG 01227 479227CostAddress:Contact:


Young and old are invited to visit Santa’s grotto and elves workshop at the Crampton Tower Museum in Broadstairs. Every child will receive a present during their visit with Santa.

Open: 1pm to 5pm, Friday, December 6, to Sunday, December 8. Also December 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22. £6 The Broadway, Broadstairs, CT10 2AB 01843 871133Cost:Address:Contact:


Step back in time at Dickens World this Christmas. Visitors can enjoy a 60-minute Dickensian Christmas tour followed by a real Winter Wonderland Experience including story time with Mother Christmas, gingerbread decorating with elves and a chance to meet Santa and receive a gift.

It also includes a complimentary ticket per person to see the pantomime Aladdin at the site’s Britannia Theatre. The experience is suitable for children aged three to 15.

Open: Selected times and dates from Monday, December 2, to Christmas Eve. £20 per person (adult and child) : Leviathan Way, Chatham Maritime, ME4 4LL : 0844 858 6656Cost:AddressContact


Fancy doing your Christmas shopping at a Medieval palace this year? Then get along to Dover Castle’s Christmas shopping evening which includes free entry to the Great Tower.

Visitors will be able to enjoy the special atmosphere inside the keep with the vibrant colours of the furniture and wall hangings illuminated by the light of the roaring fires. Mince pies and mulled wine will help get shoppers into the Christmas spirit as they choose from a wide range of gifts to satisfy even the most tricky to buy for.

There’ll also be tastings of jams, chutneys and English Heritage’s premium range of wines.

Open: 5pm to 8pm on Friday, December 6 Free Address: Castle Hill Road, Dover, CT16 1HU 01304 211067Cost:Contact:


Experience the magic of Christmas past at Hever Castle. The romantic double-moated castle will be traditionally dressed with festive decorations, twinkling lights and welcoming log fires, as it would have been in Edwardian times.

As dusk falls, the gardens will be transformed into a winter wonderland, illuminated with brightly coloured uplighting and fairy lights sprinkled throughout the trees. There’s a seasonal trail in the castle for children plus Christmas card making in Holly Cottage.

Youngsters can also write a letter to Santa before going to meet him in his magical snowy grotto where they will be presented with a gift. Tickets for the grotto cost £10 per child plus normal admission costs and must be pre-booked.

For a small additional charge, take a spin on the fabulous traditional carousel, suitable for all ages.

Open: Selected dates from Saturday, November 30 to Christmas Eve: £15 for adults, £8.50 for children aged five to 15 Hever, Edenbridge, TN8 7NG 01732 865224 CostAddress:Contact:

Get crafty this Christmas
Get crafty this Christmas


Stuck for Christmas present ideas? Head along to the Hop Farm, near Paddock Wood, which is holding a series of free weekend Christmas markets, selling locally sourced crafts and gifts, along with local produce.

There’ll also be the chance for youngsters to meet Father Christmas in his grotto – the price includes a gift, private meeting with Santa, and a family photograph mounted in a glass frame.

Open: From 10am to 5.30pm, Saturday, December 7 and Sunday, December 8. Also December 14, 15, 21 and 24 Free admission to Christmas markets, and £9.50 for Santa’s grotto (with accompanying adult free) Paddock Wood, Tonbridge, TN12 6PY 01622 872068. Booking is essential for visits to Santa’s grotto. Cost: Address:Contact:


Yuletide old and new will be celebrated at Ightham Mote. The house will depict both Victorian and 1950s American Christmas scenes offering a range of craft activities.

On selected dates visitors can try out the billiards table with advice from snooker expert Peter Watson.

Open: From 11am to 3pm on selected dates from Saturday, November 30 Adults £5.20, children £2.60 Mote Road, Ivy Hatch, near Borough Green, TN15 0NT 01732 810378Cost:Address:Contact:


Take a magical journey on the Kent & East Sussex Railway’s popular Santa Special.

Families can step on board the festively decorated steam train at Tenterden station, where they will meet Santa Claus and his elves during a 70 minute return journey to Northiam.

The fun continues back at Tenterden Station, where visitors can have their photograph taken with the beautiful Snow Queen and can enjoy unlimited rides on a Victorian carousel.

Open: The service starts on Saturday, November 30, and runs on selected dates up to Christmas. Tickets from £15. Tenterden Town Station, Station Rd, Tenterden, TN30 6HE 01580 765155.Cost: Address: Contact:

Santa will visit Kent Life
Santa will visit Kent Life


Take a tractor sleigh ride to visit Santa in his workshop at Kent Life. Tickets include a gift, plus cider samples and mince pies for adults.

Youngsters will also be able to join Twinkle Toes the elf in a craft activity, take part in animal feeding sessions and make a festive gift in the paint-a-pot studio during their visit to the working farm.

Open: 10am to 3pm on Saturday, December 7 and Sunday, December 8, also December 14, 15, 21, 22, 23, 24 Admission to Kent Life is £5 for adults, £3 for children and free for under-threes. Tickets to see Santa are £5: Lock Lane, Sandling, near Maidstone, ME14 3AU 01622 763936Cost: AddressContact:


Children can get creative at Knole, the National Trust property in the heart of Sevenoaks, with a series of Christmas craft workshops.

Experts will help youngsters make decorations for the table or a tree from materials including wood and foliage from Knole Park.

Open: 10.30 to 11.30am and noon to 1pm on Saturday, December 7, 14 and 21. £8 Sevenoaks, TN15 0RP : 01732 462100Cost: Address:Contact


Step through the wardrobe door into the magical land of Narnia at Penshurst Place this Christmas.

Families are invited to meet Santa in the fantasy realm inspired by CS Lewis’ classic tale The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Open: From 10.30am to 3.30pm every weekend from Saturday, November 30, to Christmas. £5, including a present. Penshurst, Tonbridge, TN11 8DG 01892 870307Cost:Address:Contact:


Step back in time to the 1700s and help Quebec House get prepared for Christmas.

It is the former home of General James Wolfe, victor of the Battle of Quebec in 1759, and visitors will be able to see how the general and his family would have prepared for the biggest feast of the year.

There is food to be baked and decorations to be hung.

Open: 1pm to 3.30pm on Saturday, December 7 and Sunday, December 8, also December 14, 15, 21 and 22 Free but normal admission charges apply, £5 for adults and £2.50 for children Quebec Square, Westerham, TN16 1TD 01732 868381Cost:Address:Contact:

Get creative with the National Trust
Get creative with the National Trust


The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway is running a Santa Express service, which starts on Saturday, November 30.

Visitors will depart Hythe station and be greeted 30 minutes later by elves at New Romney station, before visiting Santa in his grotto and receiving a gift.

Open: Selected times and dates until Christmas Eve Tickets are priced from £16 for children and adults. Children under one travel free unless they visit Santa and receive a gift, in which case normal admission applies. Railway New Romney Station, New Romney, TN28 8PL. : 01797 362353. Cost:Address:Contact


Will you be able to find Santa? Intrepid youngsters are invited to follow a trail around Shorne Woods Country Park and solve the clues to meet Santa in his woodland grotto.

All children will receive a present. Under 12s must be accompanied by an adult.

Open: From noon to 3pm on selected dates from Sunday, December 1 £5 for children Brewers Road, Shorne, Gravesend, DA12 3HX 03000 41 72 72Cost:Address: Contact:


The Spa Valley Railway’s popular Santa Specials are returning this Christmas. Travel on a steam train from Tunbridge Wells West to Groombridge and back, then meet Santa in his magical grotto.

All children aged from two to 10 will receive a gift, and adults get a seasonal drink and mince pie.

St Nicholas arrives in Canterbury
St Nicholas arrives in Canterbury

Open: The service starts on Saturday, November 30 and runs to Christmas Eve. Price from £10. Babies under two years travel for free. Booking is essential. West Station, Royal Tunbridge Wells, TN2 5QY 01892 537715.Cost:Address:Contact:


All are welcome to join the St Nicholas Festival Community Parade in Canterbury on Saturday, December 7.

The festival, a Canterbury charity, holds events throughout the year culminating in the parade to celebrate St Nicholas’ Feast Day on the first Saturday of December.

It begins at Westgate Towers at 12.15pm, arriving at the cathedral’s Christ Church Gate at 1pm. There will then be a short service in the cathedral at 1.15pm, including carol singing.

Cost: Free. Canterbury Cathedral, The Precincts, Canterbury, CT1 2EH 01227 865300.Address:Contact:

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