Published: 09:42, 27 February 2019
| Updated: 09:27, 01 March 2019
As we head towards spring, it's time to get out and about in Kent. We've picked six super events to try across the county this weekend:
Are your Sunday nights not complete without the midwives of Poplar and the nuns of Nonnatus House? If series eight is leaving you wanting more, the Historic Dockyard Chatham, where much of the series is filmed, is holding its tours again, with Neal Street Productions who created the show. The walking tour is led by a costumed midwife who will take you around the historic site to see some familiar sights. Tours run from Friday, March 1 to Friday, March 29. Book at thedockyard.co.uk/whats-on/call-the-midwife-location-tours-march/
The dockyard also has a special deal on tickets to the popular Festival of Steam and Transport - held over the Easter weekend in April - until tomorrow with tickets £5 for annual ticket holders or £10. Go to thedockyard.co.uk
There’s plenty to look forward to during the castle’s 900th anniversary this year - along with a new family ticket costing just £70. The festivities start with the deadline for the Big 900 storywriting challenge on Tuesday, March 5. Write a short story of up to 900 words with castles and time travel in it and you could win lots of prizes and meet judge children’s author Clare Balding. There are five to nine years and 10 to 13 age categories. You can register and enter online at leeds-castle.com/storywriting.
This year a new children’s play area is due to open at Leeds Castle in April and there will be a new family carnival weekend in July. While you're at the castle, head to the maze for some extra exploration. Find out more at leeds-castle.com
The reserve in Hythe has two new additions to enjoy in March. There’s the chance to see the two-month-old sambar fawn which is being hand reared after being born in the Asian Experience just before Christmas, but left by its mother. The other is Lion Lodge, where you can stay overnight and come face to face with the king of the jungle. The lodge has luxury accommodation, with windows in the master bedroom and the open plan living area. But you don’t need to stay in the lap of luxury, or spend a fortune, to see lions, tigers and gorillas.
The reserve has a 20% discount if you book online, with an adult ticket costing £20.80, instead of £26, and a child’s £17.60. Book by visiting aspinallfoundation.org/port-lympne/
Peep peep! Join Thomas & Friends for a day of family fun at the Tenterden-based Kent & East Sussex Railway. You can take a ride with Thomas, meet The Fat Controller and say “hello” to Sodor Station sweepers Rusty and Dusty on Saturday, March 2 and Sunday, March 3. There will also be storytelling, a soft play area, miniature railway and balloon modelling. The railway is open from 10am until 4.30pm both days. To book your tickets visit kesr.org.uk
You’ll be in award winning hands if you pop to the Staplehurst vineyard this weekend, as the Hush Heath estate was recently given gold status for its visitor experience by Visit England - and its one of only 16 attractions in England to be given the accolade. Winter guided tours of the family-owned vineyard run until the end of March, showing you the state-of-the-art winery where still and sparkling winemaking happens. The guided tours are on Thursdays to Sundays each week. You’ll be able to see The View, a 200-seater tasting room, too. You can also take a self guided tour around the lush estate. To find out more and to book go to hushheath.com
If you want to catch the delicate delights of snowdrops this is your last weekend to do it at Hever Castle as the Snowdrop Walk runs until Sunday, March 3. Walk among the carpet of some 80,000 flowers planted in the gardens over the past few years, including a mix of single and double snowdrops, interspersed with some unusual varieties, including the 9 inch tall Colossus - the tallest you can find. Head gardener Neil Miller said: “Snowdrops come in all shapes and sizes, some common, some extremely rare. These delicate plants exert a powerful pull in the horticultural world.”
Book your tickets and find out what else is coming up at hevercastle.co.uk/whats-on/snowdrop-walk/
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More by this authorAngela Cole