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Kent Christmas lights switch-ons across the county 2016


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The Christmas countdown starts here. Here's where to see Christmas lights switched on across the county.

The Folkestone Christmas lights will herald the start of the Folkestone Book Festival
The Folkestone Christmas lights will herald the start of the Folkestone Book Festival

BLUEWATER

Two cuddly special guests will be bringing some magic to the Christmas lights switch-on at Bluewater on Thursday, November 10. Paddington and Santa will be there, along with DJ Toby Anstis, for the festivities from 5pm, with a firework display at 6.30pm. The Giving Tree in the Upper Mall near M&S will be there until Wednesday, December 21, for people to leave a present for a disadvantaged child in Kent, Sussex and Surrey. Take a tag from the 20ft Christmas tree, which includes the age of a child, and buy them a present.
There is ice-skating at the centre from Thursday, November 17, until Monday, January 2, and Santa’s Grotto with Paddington opens on Thursday, November 24, running until Christmas Eve. For more details visit bluewater.co.uk

BROADSTAIRS

The stars will be coming out to celebrate Christmas lights being switched on.
At Westwood Cross shopping centre in Broadstairs on Thursday, November 10, fresh from this year’s X Factor on ITV, Ashford’s Freddy Parker and Relley C will be wowing the crowds.
They will be joined by Gogglebox’s Sandi and kmfm for on-stage games and competitions, plus live performances from 4pm. The lights will be switched on at 6pm.
Santa and his elves will also be heading in to open up the grotto, which runs until Christmas Eve. Christmas markets will also run from Saturday, December 10, until Christmas Eve.

Sandi from Gogglebox will be at the Paddock Wood Christmas lights switch-on
Sandi from Gogglebox will be at the Paddock Wood Christmas lights switch-on

MAIDSTONE

X Factor boyband Yes Lad! and Irish singer Niall Sexton, who reached the judges’ houses in this year’s series, will be doing the honours in Fremlin Walk on Thursday, November 17. kmfm will be getting the party started from 4pm and Father Christmas, reindeer and stars of Sleeping Beauty, the Hazlitt Theatre’s Christmas panto, will be there, with performances from Razzamataz stage school. Visitors can enter a text-to-win competition, where a member of the audience will be called back at random, with the chance to win shopping vouchers. There will be a Christmas market with food stalls and street entertainers. Maidstone’s Jubilee Square will also play host to a Christmas market from Saturday, November 26, until Thursday, December 22.

Yes Lad will be in Paddock Wood
Yes Lad will be in Paddock Wood

TUNBRIDGE WELLS

X Factor winner Ben Haenow will be performing a set to the crowds before flicking the switch at Royal Victoria Place on Thursday, November 17. He will join Jenni Falconer and Britain’s got Talent finalists Boogie Storm for the festivities, which kick off at 6.30pm. Father Christmas will also tour the town on his open top bus, accompanied by the cast of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from the Assembly Hall Theatre’s Christmas panto. The bus will be arriving at the Ely Court Entrance to the centre at 4.30pm. The town’s popular ice rink will return to Calverley Grounds on Friday, November 18. Its grand opening night will include skating displays from Gillingham Silver Blades and the Invicta Dynamos and a festive performance by the Tunbridge Wells Rock Choir.

X Factor winner Ben Haenow has his sights set on Tunbridge Wells
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has his sights set on Tunbridge Wells

Supported by Tunbridge Wells council, it has a capacity for up to 250 skaters – of all abilities – at a time and will be open seven days a week, except Christmas Day. The rink stays open until Monday, January 2. The Pantiles traders are also to stage a Christmas Cracker on Saturday, November 19, starting at 5.30pm, with a lights switch-on, open-air disco and live music. For details go to tunbridgewellstogether.co.uk Tickets for the ice rink are available from 01892 530613/532072 or visit tunbridgewellsatchristmas.com or fatherchristmasinkent.co.uk

ASHFORD

There will be a festive fun day in the High Street on Saturday, November 26. Visitors can meet Father Christmas in his grotto and enjoy family fun activities taking place throughout the day under the Christmas lights.

BROMLEY

The lights switch-on, which is part of a family fun day, will be on Sunday, November 20, between 1pm and 5pm, plus a parade, with Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills and Alice Perrin from Channel 4’s Tattoo Fixers. Santa’s grotto will be open until Christmas Eve. There will also be the Santa Dash, a charity fundraiser organised by Mytime Active, at 2pm with a sea of Santas on a town centre 2km run. For details visit intu.co.uk/bromley

CANTERBURY

The countdown to Christmas in the city begins on Thursday, November 17, with the lights switch-on taking place in St George’s Street amid plenty of free entertainment to get the crowds into the festive spirit.
The Christmas market at Whitefriars runs from Saturday, November 26, to Christmas Eve, featuring more than 40 colourful stalls and a food court, while Santa’s grotto open from Saturday, December 3, until Christmas Eve.
The “real” Father Christmas – St Nicholas – pays his annual visit on Saturday, December 3 for the St Nicholas Festival and there will be a parade from noon through the city centre ending at the cathedral, with a community musical event to welcome in Christmas!

St Nicholas Festival Parade
St Nicholas Festival Parade


FAVERSHAM

The community Christmas lights will be switched on by Father Christmas and friends on Saturday, November 26, with the fun starting at 5pm in the town centre and Market Square. The switch-on will be followed by a night market, starting at 6pm, with local food and drinks, plus plenty of entertainment.

FOLKESTONE

Father Christmas, a parade, choirs, bell ringers, a panto cast and fireworks – there’s a big night planned for the switching on of Folkestone’s lights on Friday, November 18. Running from 4pm to 7pm, a parade will begin with choirs, bands, children and their families and bellringers, while at 4.30pm the Mayor will switch on the Sandgate Road lights. At 5.30pm the lantern procession will reach the Old High Street where award-winning author and the opening act of this year’s Folkestone Book Festival, Jonathan Coe, will switch on a second set of lights – the Creative Quarter Christmas Lights. The shops and studios will be open and visitors can vote for their favourite window display. There will be fireworks at 6.30pm with the grand finale at the Harbour area and The Stade will have music from the Snowdown Colliery Brass Band.

The Folkestone Christmas lights will herald the start of the Folkestone Book Festival
The Folkestone Christmas lights will herald the start of the Folkestone Book Festival


GRAVESEND

Gravesend’s annual Christmas lights switch-on will be on Friday, November 18, with street entertainers, Santa and Bloco Fogo from 4pm in the town centre’s Community Square from 4pm. At 5pm there will be a parade, organised in partnership by Cohesion Plus and Gravesham council and featuring local schoolchildren, bands and performers, through the town before the lights are switched on at 5.30pm in the square. For details go to visitgravesend.co.uk

SANDWICH

A day-long festival featuring a fun fair, craft stalls and live music will herald the start of Christmas on Saturday, November 26. There will be a parade through the town centre from 6pm, with the lights switch-on taking place at 7pm.

SHEERNESS

A lights parade and switch-on will take place in Sheerness town centre on Saturday, November 26. The second annual Santa Run will be held at 2pm, with the lantern parade at 4pm and switch-on at 4.30pm. The Christmas market opens at 10am and Santa’s grotto will be open.

SNODLAND

Christmas in Snodland kicks off on Saturday, November 26, with a day-long fair, with stalls and fairgrounds rides from 10am to 5pm. The free fun culminates in the switching on of the festive lights by Father Christmas and the Mayor. For details visit snodlandcouncil.co.uk

TENTERDEN

The festivities start from St Mildred’s Church with a candlelit procession to the Christmas tree outside the town hall on Saturday, November 26. The lights will be switched on at about 5pm, when there will be mulled wine on offer at the Tenterden Rotary Club stall outside the hall. The town’s Christmas market will run from Friday, November 25, to Sunday, November 27.

TONBRIDGE

Tonbridge Rotary Club have organised this year’s Christmas Festival, which will be held in Tonbridge High Street and Watergate on Sunday, November 27.

There will be ice skating in West Malling
There will be ice skating in West Malling


RAMSGATE

Stalls, live entertainment, a craft fair, Santa’s grotto and a human snow globe are part of the festivities in the town’s High Street, King Street, Queen Street and Harbour Street on Sunday, November 27. The Christmas lights will be switched on around 4.30pm, with Santa’s grotto open in the High Street.

WEST MALLING

There will be Santa’s grotto, an ice rink, reindeer and trampolines at the annual Christmas festival on Sunday, November 20, with entertainment from noon. The lights switch-on will be at 5pm. There will be a children’s balloon race. Food on offer includes a hog roast and barbecue. For details go to westmallingfestival.co.uk

Rochester's Dickensian Christmas Festival
Rochester's Dickensian Christmas Festival

ROCHESTER

The hugely popular Dickensian Christmas festival returns on Saturday, December 3 and Sunday, December 4, between 10am and 7pm both days. Packed with shopping stalls, Rochester will becomes a feast of Victorian delights, including lamp-lit parades, carols and guaranteed snow, all with the backdrop of Rochester Cathedral and the castle.

Highlights include the Seven Poor Travellers’ Procession and parade and look out for well known characters from Charles Dickens’ books around the streets. The Christmas market will run from Saturday, November 26, to Sunday, December 11, in Rochester Castle Gardens, featuring winter warmers mulled wine, hot chocolate with Baileys and roasted chestnuts. For details visit enjoymedway.org

WESTGATE-ON-SEA

The Westgate Fayre lights switch-on will be held on Sunday, December 4, between 11am and 5pm. The switch-on will be performed by Radio 1 DJ Gemma Cairney.

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