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Kent Big Weekend: the full list of 119 venues taking part from vineyards to wildlife parks and castles to watersports

By Angela Cole

Want to get active? From teenage kicks to historic haunts, the Kent Big Weekend could brighten up your weekend – for free. Here’s what’s on offer.

Looking for adventure but don’t feel like travelling around the world? It’s all here on your doorstep.

You could try water sports, skating, racing, golf, funfair rides and even greyhound racing for free, thanks to the Kent Big Weekend.

Have a go at golf
Have a go at golf

A total of 119 tourist attractions and businesses are opening their doors for ticket-holders on the weekend of Saturday, March 12 and Sunday, March 13.

Always wanted to try out jetskiing, scuba-diving, canoeing or kayaking? Search the website under sports and leisure and you’ll find some wet and wild adventure awaiting, as well as fun rides at Action Watersports in Lydd.

Fancy a madcap session of paintballing? Man up and put your name down to try it out at Birchington on Sea.


Has your weekend gone to the dogs? It could, if you win free entry and a race card and enjoy an afternoon at Sittingbourne greyhound racetrack.

If you want to get fit, sign up to see if you could win a try-out session in Folkestone, or, to watch those already in shape perform amazing spectacles, there are tickets for the circus in Ashford.

Young Bob the Builder wannabes will be over the moon if you manage to secure tickets to Diggerland in Strood, or why not try a zumba class, being offered at Lunsford Primary School?

Have a go on a potter’s wheel
Have a go on a potter’s wheel

If you’re feeling creative, you can put your name down to paint a pot, or go the whole hog and make a pot with help from master potters at Aylesford Pottery.

Tasty tickets to vineyards

Is it time for wine?
Kent is prime wine country and our wines rival any across the country. Feel like you’ve popped across the Channel by taking a trip to one of the county’s picturesque vineyards, and enjoy a tasty tipple while you’re there.

The Big Weekend has three to choose from Chapel Down, Biddenden and Hush Heath.
Biddenden is the county’s oldest commercial vineyard, and stretches across 23 acres, producing 11 varieties of grape. Traditional cider is also made there.

Chapel Down near Tenterden produces a world-class range of sparkling and still wines, along with beers and cider and covers 22 acres.

Hush Heath, near Staplehurst, produces sparkling and still wines and a range of ciders and has vineyards, apple orchards and ancient oak woodlands.

King of the castle

Want to feel like you’re king of the castle?

You’ll be spoilt for choice in Kent as there are dozens of towers and keeps, with sumptuous grounds and gardens, and each with a historic tale to tell. Most of the main castles in the county are taking part in the 2016 weekend, along with a good number of historic houses.

They include Hever Castle, Leeds Castle, Rochester Castle, Upnor Castle, Dover Castle, Tonbridge Castle, Walmer Castle and Gardens, Ightham Mote and Knole near Sevenoaks.

Hever Castle is where Henry VIII courted his second wife, Anne Boleyn, while Rochester Castle was built with the encouragement of Henry I and endured an epic siege by King John in 1215.

Known as the Key to England, Dover Castle was remodelled by William the Conqueror immediately after his victory in 1066, while Leeds Castle, near Maidstone, is known as the “loveliest castle in the world”.


The Kent Big Weekend will be on Saturday, March 12 and Sunday, March 13.
To stand a chance of getting a pair of free tickets to any of the 119 attractions taking part, you need to register for the ballot by Sunday, February 14. People will be notified if they have got the tickets in the following week. For details go to www.kentbigweekend.co.uk


There are more than 100 attractions across Kent taking part in the ticket ballot this year. Take a look through the list and see where you’d like to go.


Battle of Britain Memorial, Canterbury Cathedral, Chatham Historic Dockyard, Deal Castle, Dickens House Museum, Dover Castle, Hever Castle and Gardens, Ightham Mote, Knole Park, Leeds Castle, Lullingstone Roman Villa, Minster Abbey, Penshurst Place and Gardens, Richborough Roman Fort, Rochester Castle, Quebec House, St Augustine’s Abbey, St George’s Church at Gravesend, Union Windmill at Cranbrook, Upnor Castle, Tonbridge Castle, Walmer Castle and Gardens, Willesborough Windmill


Canterbury guided tour, Canterbury historic river tour, Chilham guided tour, East Kent Railway, Grove Ferry river trips, Jetstream tour on the River Medway, Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, Royal Tunbridge Wells guided tour, Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway, St Peter’s village tour, Swanning About Charters (motor yacht trips from Chatham Maritime Marina), Tonbridge river tour

Biddenden Vineyards, Brogdale National Fruit Collection, Chapel Down Winery, Hush Heath Estate, Old Dairy Brewery at Tenterden, Ramsgate Brewery, Rough Old Wife Cidery at Elmsted

Agricultural Museum at Brook, Blue Town Heritage Centre Aviation Annexe, CM Booth Collection of Historic Vehicles at Rolvenden, Crampton Tower Museum, Dover Museum and Bronze Age Boat, Maidstone Museum and Bentlif Art Gallery, Rose Street Cottage of Curiosities at Sheerness, Powell-Cotton Museum, RAF Manston History Museum, Sun Pier House at Chatham

Doddington Place Gardens, Emmetts Garden, Goodnestone Park Gardens, Great Comp Gardens, Riverhill Himalayan Gardens

A Touch of Glass, Canterbury Roman Museum, Canterbury Tales, Cranbrook Museum, Criterion Music Hall and Cinema at Sheerness, Defence of the Nation Museum at Ramsgate, Dover Transport Museum, Drapers Windmill, Fleur de Lis Museum, Kent Museum of Freemasonry, Margate Museum, Minster Abbey Gatehouse Museum, Pugin’s Church and Shrine of St Augustine at Ramsgate, Royal Engineers Museum, Library and Archive, Sandwich Guildhall and Museum, Seaside Museum at Herne Bay, The Hop Farm Family Park, Tudor House at Margate, Turner Contemporary, Viking Gallery

Meet some giraffes and join in with the activities at Port Lympne Reserve
Meet some giraffes and join in with the activities at Port Lympne Reserve

Ashford Designer Outlet, Ashford International Hotel, Avenue Theatre at Sittingbourne, Aylesford Pottery,
Buckmore Park racing circuit, Canoe Wild at Fordwich, Castle Connections at Queenborough, Diggerland, Dreamland, Fit One Gym at Folkestone, flyboarding taster session and fun rides at Action Watersports at Lydd, Hever Castle Golf Club, kayaking at Nemes Diving & Water Sports Academy at Snodland, Kent County Cricket Club, John Lawson’s Circus at Ashford, Jungle Jim’s adventure play park at Birchington, Leisure Quest paintballing at Birchington on Sea, No.60 Gifts and Things at Margate, Revolution Skatepark and Climbing Centre at Broadstairs, Roundwood Hall Golf Club, scuba diving at Nemes Diving & Water Sports Academy at Snodland, Sittingbourne Golf Centre, Sittingbourne Greyhounds, Stour Centre, This Art of Mine at Maidstone, Tudor Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club at Maidstone, waterski taster session at Action Watersports, Zumba Farah class, Lunsford Primary School

Eagle Heights, Howlett’s Wild Animal Park, Port Lympne Reserve, Rare Breeds Centre, Singleton Environment Centre, Wildwood Trust, Wingham Wildlife Park

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