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Kent summer holidays 2018: what to do with the family this summer across the county

By Angela Cole

School's out and summer's in - here's our guide to what's on across Kent this summer.

ASHFORD DESIGNER OUTLET

Through to Sunday, September 2, the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet will be hosting its Summer Social, including a family chill-out zone, Water Walkers and bumper cars, besides the shopping.

Ashford designer Outlet summer social
Ashford designer Outlet summer social

THE BEACH AT BLUEWATER

This summer until Sunday, September 2, The Beach is back, with new rides for thrill seekers - and more sand! There’s also Water Wars Balloon Battle and a giant paddling pool for little ones. There will also be free workshops, including bubble making and a puppet show on Friday, July 27. Entry is £3 for adults and over threes, with tokens for rides to buy separately. Head to outside The Village. Details at thebeachbluewater.com

Summer holidays at The Beach at Bluewater
Summer holidays at The Beach at Bluewater

BETTESHANGER COUNTRY PARK, DEAL

Some summer activities at the country park near Deal run right through to September, but there are highlights throughout. On Saturday, July 28 and Sunday, July 29, there will be a Cycling Spectacular , with Mobile Bike Events (MBE), the UK’s leading BMX stunt team.There will also be stalls,with cycling accessories and food and drink. Admission to the event village is free but for the shows in the Stunt Arena, it costs £4 per person or £12 for a family of four. Other events to come include a Wind Festival on Sunday, August 5, The Goonies open air cinema on Saturday, August 11, a Wild Weekend on Saturday, August 18 and Sunday, August 19 and a Daredevil Weekend on Saturday, August 25 and Sunday, August 26. For more details and to book visit betteshanger-park.co.uk/summer18/

Betteshanger Country Park will host a Cycling Spectacular
Betteshanger Country Park will host a Cycling Spectacular

THE CANTERBURY TALES

The visitor attraction is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. All summer, it is to stage twilight storytelling events, embracing the city’s ancient storytelling tradition, in the Medieval Story Garden on Thursdays from 7pm. Call 01227 696 002 or go to canterburytales.org.uk

A family enjoying The Canterbury Tales. Picture: Gui Passos
A family enjoying The Canterbury Tales. Picture: Gui Passos

HISTORIC DOCKYARD, CHATHAM

Marking 400 years of the Chatham dockyard, Brick History takes visitors through 13.8 billion years of history - in LEGO. Fans can also have a go. It runs until Sunday, September 16. Details at thedockyard.co.uk/

DIGGERLAND, STROOD

Go go-kart crazy and enjoy bucket loads of fun is on offer at the Strood fun park this summer. There's the Giant Dirt Digger and the chance to get behind the wheel of a monster JCB 3CX, and race in the go-karts. Plus take a spin on the legendary Spindizzy, and for little ones, there's the Little Tikes play area with new outdoor toys, a bouncy castle and indoor soft play area. Details at diggerland.com

There's lots to do at Diggerland this summer
There's lots to do at Diggerland this summer

DOVER CASTLE

Fun throughout the summer holidays starts on Saturday, July 28 and Sunday, July 29, with Plagues & Punishment and a chance to learn about the gruesome (and smelly) side of medieval England. Details at english-heritage.org.uk/dover

DREAMLAND, MARGATE

There are new rides and family fun at Dreamland throughout the summer season. There will be magic shows from resident magician Thomas ‘Magic Magic’ Wood, as he performs an array of tricks on Mondays and Tuesdays between noon and 3pm until Tuesday, August, 28. Gorilla Circus, a high-octane outdoor show, combines high wire, trapeze and other spectacles and will be in action until Sunday, September 2 on selected days. There's also street football and appearances by characters including the Octonauts on Monday, July 30. Details at dreamland.co.uk

Gorilla Circus is at Dreamland
Gorilla Circus is at Dreamland

THE FORUM, SITTINGBOURNE

From Saturday, July 28 until Saturday, September 1, the shopping centre will hold its summer Wacky Weekends. From 11am to 3pm, there will be free activities including games, craft workshops and competitions, plus free ice pops. Centre manager Monica Rana said: “We know keeping the children entertained for six weeks can be a challenging task, so take advantage of the free entertainment!"

The Forum Centre is holding Wacky Weekends
The Forum Centre is holding Wacky Weekends

HEVER CASTLE

Hever Castle’s Knights and Princesses School will run through to Bank Holiday Monday, August 27, and gives children from six to 12 the chance to sample what life was like in medieval times. Encouraged to don costume for their training sessions, they can learn how to prepare and protect armour, arm and disarm their aster before battle, learn how to greet people the correct way for the day and have a go at a hobby horse jousting activity. The school is included in normal Hever Castle admission rates, and spaces can be booked on arrival. Details at hevercastle.co.uk or telephone 01732 865224.

HOP FARM FAMILY PARK, BELTRING, PADDOCK WOOD

There’s fun until Sunday, September 2, with Hopper the Rabbit & co from 10am daily. TV characters will be appearing plus entertainment in the Big Red Barn. Go to thehopfarm.co.uk

IGHTHAM MOTE

A mini beast family trail, crafts and Themed Thursdays will all be part of the summer holiday fun at the house near Borough Green. Games Through the Ages will be the theme on Thursday, July 26 and Going Wild is on on Thursday, August 2. You can also head to the natural play area too.

LEEDS CASTLE, MAIDSTONE

There's the maze and 500 acre gardens to explore, but also open air events including cinema, with The Italian Job, on Thursday, August 2, Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone on Friday, August 3 & Dirty Dancing on Saturday, August 4. Book at leeds-castle.com/events

Leeds Castle Summertime: the maze
Leeds Castle Summertime: the maze

PORT LYMPNE & HOWLETTS

Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve near Hythe has summer fun until Sunday, September 2, including climbing on a safari truck to spot animals, from the spectacled bears to camels and a baby giraffe and the UK’s largest outdoor dinosaur exhibition. At Howletts Wild Animal Park near Canterbury among the animals to see this summer is new arrival, tiger Achilles. Details of both venues and online ticket deals at aspinallfoundation.org

KENT LIFE, MAIDSTONE

The farming attraction is heading Under the Sea for its summer spectacular, so look out for mermaids and sharks alongside the farm animals. There will be sea-themed activities with games, races and crafts including creating a mermaid to take home. Pick up an activity pack or visit kentlife.org.uk The site also holds its Ice Cream Festival on Bank Holiday Monday, August 27 when there will be 20 different flavours to choose from.

READING CHALLENGE

Medway Council and Kent County Council are both running Summer Reading Challenges, with the theme of Mischief Makers, inspired by the Beano's 80th anniversary this year. In Medway four to 12-year-olds can borrow and read six library books until Saturday, September 15. After reading each book, they get a special sticker - some with mysterious smells - which they add to a treasure map that helps solve clues and discover a hidden treasure chest full of pranks. Sign up at your nearest library in Medway. There is also a Teen Reading Challenge for 13 to 16-year-olds. Across Kent, children from four to 11 can also “make mischief” through to Saturday, September 15. They will follow clues to explore their colourful collector’s map of Beanotown, and meet Dennis, Gnasher and friends along the way. As children read library books, they will collect special stickers to help them find the mysterious buried treasure. The aim of Mischief Makers is to celebrate adventure, friendship, reading and fun. To take part in the Kent challenge, sign up at your nearest KCC library. On completion of the six books, children get a medal and certificate. Further details visit mischief-makers.org.uk

The Summer Reading Challenge 2018 has the theme of Mischief Makers, inspired by the Beano's 80th anniversary
The Summer Reading Challenge 2018 has the theme of Mischief Makers, inspired by the Beano's 80th anniversary

QUEX PARK

The attraction at Birchington has opened its Maize Maze and Field of Fun, which run until Sunday, September 2. The two giant mazes are a labyrinth adventure, the second is based on a conservation theme. There are also activities, including barn yard games and a woodland adventure trail. Open 10am-5pm. Entry is £5.

PENSHURST PLACE

The historic house and gardens' five-acre maize maze has a time travel theme and is open until Sunday, September 9. Visitors collect clues to crack a puzzle. Entrance is included in garden entry. For prices and times go to penshurstplace.com/whatson or call 01892 870307.

The Maize Maze has opened at Penshurst Place Picture: Craig Prentis
The Maize Maze has opened at Penshurst Place Picture: Craig Prentis

ROYAL VICTORIA PLACE, TUNBRIDGE WELLS

Kids can walk like an Egyptian this summer with a new interactive experience, Kids in Pyramids is at the Royal Victoria Place, Tunbridge Wells from Saturday, July 28 to Bank Holiday Monday, August 27. The free exhibition has tours where children can learn about Ancient Egypt and dig for treasures. For event details and times go to royalvictoriaplace.com

Walk Like an Egyptian summer programme at the Royal Victoria Place, Tunbridge Wells
Walk Like an Egyptian summer programme at the Royal Victoria Place, Tunbridge Wells

LULLINGSTONE CASTLE

The castle's highlight for the summer is the annual Plant Hunters' Weekend over the August bank holiday from Saturday, August 25 to Bank Holiday Monday, August 27. Celebrating the lives of some of Britain’s most intrepid plant hunters, Tom Hart Dyke and friends in Victorian dress lead a guided tour of the World Garden at 1.30 and 3.30pm. The day also includes a visit from Second Chance Animal Rescue (SCAR). Open from 11am to 5pm, entry is £10 for adults with under 15s free. Details at lullingstonecastle.co.uk

TONBRIDGE & MALLING PLAYSCHEME

The council has a range of activities until Friday, August 31 with its summer playscheme for four to 12s by Premier Education. Activities include arts and crafts projects, competitions, games, and a variety of themed sporting activities. For more details go to tmbc.gov.uk/

WHITEFRIARS, CANTERBURY

The Canterbury shopping centre is saying "Hello Summer" until Sunday, September 2, with free family entertainment daily and a market. Activities include crazy golf, giant chess and Connect4 and art and craft sessions. There’ll be live music every weekend and open mic busking on Wednesdays. Highlights include a toy swap party on Saturday, August 4 and a circus day on Saturday, August 18. Details at whitefriars.co.uk.

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