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Christmas events, grottos and lights switch-ons in Kent this weekend

By Angela Cole

Festivities are in full swing, with lights, fairs, grottos and more. Here's what's on across Kent this weekend


From Christmas owls to meeting Santa and a magical ride on the miniature railway, Christmas at Brogdale is going all out for festive fun on Sunday, December 2. There will be kids’ baking sessions and plenty of handmade crafts and local produce to choose from. Visitors can learn how to make a festive wreath, meet Carlos the goat and take a seasonal selfie in a giant inflatable snow globe and meet special guest, Elsa from Disney’s frozen. Explore while listening to Christmas tunes from Pedros the vintage street organ. The fun runs from 10am to 3pm and there is free entry. To find out more, visit the website at brogdalecollections.org

Carlos the goat will be at Christmas at Brogdale
Carlos the goat will be at Christmas at Brogdale


Take a journey back to the Home Front by celebrating the festive season during wartime at Dover Castle on Saturday, December 1 and Sunday, December 2. The event, which is also on Saturday, December 8 and Sunday, December 9, includes tales of the Dover Castle Garrison in an officers’ mess; baking festive treats on rations and lindy hop dancing - plus Santa. Open from 10am to 3pm each day, for more details go to english-heritage.org.uk/dover

Dover Castle's Christmas on the Home Front Picture: Jim Holden
Dover Castle's Christmas on the Home Front Picture: Jim Holden


The island has two Christmas switch-ons this weekend, both on Saturday, December 1. In Sheerness there will be a day of festive fun will include a market in Broadway as well as a Santa Saunter setting off from the Old House at Home pub in High Street at 3pm, a lantern parade starting at Beachfields at 4pm and the lights will be switched on at the Clock Tower at 5pm. In Minster festive fun will include carols, Father Christmas and live music with tree lights switch-on, all between 3pm and 5pm.

Christmas lights will be twinkling
Christmas lights will be twinkling


Whitstable gets its festive sparkle on Saturday, December 1 when WhitSparkle hols its second annual Christmas event at the start of Advent. Visitors can see Christmas tree lights turned on at locations across the town including the harbour, St Alphege Church and Whitstable Library. There’s also a lantern procession.


The festive market in Whitefriars is already up and running, but Christmas gets well and truly under way when Santa make his official arrival on Friday, November 30. Other Christmas celebrations including carols in the Buttermarket, near the cathedral, and festive fare on offer across the city.


The lights switch-on in the High Street on Friday, November 30 will include fairground rides, entertainment and stalls. The lights switch-on will be by former Strictly professional Ian Waite. Staged by the town council, the lights are supported by local businesses. Details here.


You can combine a magical visit to a castle with meeting Father Christmas throughout December when Santa pop to Tonbridge Castle - with the chef from the Tonbridge Old Fire Station - for breakfast or homemade afternoon tea. Book at event.bookitbee.com/19865/santa-at-tonbridge

Carlos the goat will be at Christmas at Brogdale
Carlos the goat will be at Christmas at Brogdale


See Santa in the Big Red Grotto, meet his helpers, and enjoy storytelling, balloon models, Christmas tunes and crafts at the attraction near Paddock Wood. Kids can write a letter to Father Christmas to either post to the North Pole or hand to him personally Tickets start at £18 for a child which includes up to two free adults and a child under one. Grotto tickets also allow for free entry to the family park and indoor soft play centre. The grotto runs from Saturday, December 1. Book at thehopfarm.co.uk/events


The town comes alive for the annual Christmas festival on Sunday, December 2, which will be held between noon and 5.30pm - with the light switch-on at 5pm. Run this year by the Heart of Kent Hospice, the event is free and promises to be a day out for all the family. There will be live entertainment on stage all afternoon, a Santa’s Grotto, face painting, bungee trampolines, teacup and carousel rides, plus plenty of stalls, crafts and specialist food and drink.


The White Cliffs Christmas ICE-travaganza returns on Sunday, December 2 when the Cruise Terminal One will feature indoor ice skating, Santa’s grotto, rides and stalls. There will also be live music throughout the day from local bands. The event runs from 10am to 8pm. Book at whitecliffs christmas.co.uk


A forest of festive lights is coming to Kent when Bedgebury Pinetum launches its big Christmas attraction. The illuminated winter wonderland will run after dark from Friday, November 30 to Sunday, December 30. Find out more here.


Jump aboard the Jacob Marley for a mystical voyage to the North Pole this Christmas. The family-friendly experience starts when you arrive at Rochester Pier to sail down the River Medway towards the North Pole. On the way past the sights there will be festive music and colouring for kids, plus a mince pie and juice box for children and a mince pie and mulled wine for the grown-ups. On arrival at the pole - also known as Chatham Marina - Father Christmas will climb aboard to meet the children and give them a gift before heading off on his own journey. The 90-minute experience by Medway-based Jetstream Tours will run on Saturdays and Sundays through December. Book at jetstreamtours.com

Jet Stream Tours are launching their Christmas Carol Sail with Santa
Jet Stream Tours are launching their Christmas Carol Sail with Santa


Christmas for children isn’t complete without a visit to see Father Christmas. The Rare Breeds Centre in Woodchurch near Ashford has a festive family experience to enjoy throughout December, starting on Saturday, December 1 - a Truly Magical Christmas. Visitors will be greeted by the elves, who take them to the magical grotto, to enjoy 40 minutes of fun with Santa and the Naughty Snowman, rounded off with a one to one chat with Santa and a gift. Sessions with Santa are at 10.30am, 11.15am, noon, 1.30pm, 2.15pm 3pm and you’ll need to book in advance. While at the centre, where you can see animals including cows, pigs, sheep and birds of prey, you can see Wiley Wolf Productions’ panto, Aladdin, telling the traditional tale of the street urchin and his magic lamp. Performances are at noon and 2pm. To book for a Truly Magical Christmas, which runs on selected days until Sunday, December 23, visit rarebreeds.org.uk/events

Santa is coming to the Rare Breeds Centre
Santa is coming to the Rare Breeds Centre

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