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Christmas lights switch-on, fairs and markets across Kent

By Angela Cole

There's festive magic in the air, from markets and fairs to lights switch-ons. Here's what's happening across the county this weekend:


Strood’s lights will be lit at 5pm on Thursday, November 22. There will be entertainment for all the family starting at 3.45pm and visitors should keep their eyes peeled for special guests from The Snowman and Snowdog.

The Snowman and Snowdog
The Snowman and Snowdog

In Gillingham, the big switch-on is on Friday, November 23 with entertainment from 3.45pm with Catboy from PJ Masks making a special guest appearance. The lights will be switched on at 5pm. More details at enjoymedway.org


Festive fun for all the family is promised in Paddock Wood on Sunday, November 25 when kmfm host the free lights switch-on from 3pm to 6pm with stalls and live entertainment. Assembly Hall Theatre panto star Quinn Patrick and The X-Factor stars Four of Diamonds will be there.

Dame Quinn Patrick will be in Paddock Wood with kmfm Picture: Matthew Walker
Dame Quinn Patrick will be in Paddock Wood with kmfm Picture: Matthew Walker


The High Street will be crammed with Christmas goodies throughout the weekend when the market arrives on Friday, November 23 through to Sunday, November 25. The Christmas lights will be switched on on the Friday at 5.30pm. There will be a shuttle bus running between Rolvenden and Tenterden on the Saturday. Other venues include St Mildred’s Church, The Woolpack Barn & Garden, Zion Baptist Church and Highbury Hall. Details at mytenterden.co.uk

Father Christmas will be at Tenterden Christmas market Picture: Paul Amos
Father Christmas will be at Tenterden Christmas market Picture: Paul Amos


The lights switch-on will be the finale to the Tonbridge Rotary Christmas Festival from Friday, November 23 to Sunday, November 25 with a fun fair, music and street entertainers. On Sunday, the lights will be switched on at 5pm with a fireworks finale over the castle afterwards.

Tonbridge Castle will have festive fireworks Picture: Matthew Walker
Tonbridge Castle will have festive fireworks Picture: Matthew Walker


You can pick up unique gift ideas and unusual stocking fillers on the many stalls in the picturesque Rochester Castle gardens, plus wander in the Bavarian food village and visit the funfair at weekends from Saturday, November 24 and Sunday, November 25, from 10am to 6pm, with entertainment and guaranteed snowfall. The highlight will be the Dickensian Christmas weekend, of Saturday, December 1 and Sunday, December 2. For details visit enjoymedway.org.uk


Held in the marketplace by the Guildhall, the popular annual event on Sunday, November 25, Sunday, December 9 and Sunday, December 16 will be packed with stalls and carol singing.


The National Trust is extending the market to four days for the first time, from Thursday, November 22 to Sunday, November 25. There will be stalls with a range of gifts from local businesses from 10am to 4pm daily. Details at nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell

Click here for other Christmas markets across Kent


Visitors to The Friars on Saturday, November 24 and Sunday, November 25 can browse Christmas crafts and ceramics between 10am and 4pm. There will also be an ice rink, Santa’s parlour and Polar Express train. Tickets are £4.50, under 12s free. More details at thefriars.org.uk


Rooms of the castle will be decorated and themed around stories including the Nutcracker, The Tailor of Gloucester and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas with twinkling lights and welcoming log fires, while outside in the grounds wrap up warm and discover the festive interactive trail themed around Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. As dusk falls, the gardens are illuminated with up-lighting and colour washes. Sample the Christmas spirit Wednesdays to Sundays from Saturday, November 24. Each weekend and daily there will be a carousel and vintage fairground stalls (£1 per go), roast chestnuts for sale and the chance to meet characters along the trail. Details at hevercastle.co.uk/whats-on

Christmas at Hever Castle
Christmas at Hever Castle


Step back into yesteryear and re-live the festive season 1940s-style on Saturday, November 24 & Sunday, November 25.

You can try make do and mend lessons, see Home Guard drill displays, visit shops from the era and see a rehabilitation centre for RAF pilots. While at the Sandling site meet the meerkats, visit Cuddle Corner and fill up at Dotty’s Tea Room. Visit kentlife.org.uk or call 01622 763936.

Christmas on the Home Front at Kent Life, Maidstone
Christmas on the Home Front at Kent Life, Maidstone


Paddington Bear will join Sleeping Beauty and Scrooge at the castle. Michael Bond’s marmalade-loving bear will join a selection of festive stories told through illustration for the castle’s Once Upon a Time at Christmas, running from Saturday, November 24 to New Year’s Day. The Christmas market arrives on the Cedar Lawn with gifts, food and drink, live music and fairground rides on Saturday, November 25 and Sunday, November 26, and the following three weekends. Details at leeds-castle.com

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