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Christmas lights switch-ons in Kent 2018

By Lauren Abbott

Christmas magic is in the air and the county's festive lights are getting set to sparkle.

Make sure you grab a slice of the seasonal fun with our guide to the big switch-ons near you.

Dig out your woolliest scarves and get ready to see Kent at its shiniest - full details below.

Christmas lights (5177820)
Christmas lights (5177820)

Westwood Cross, Margate

Friday, November 16

kmfm Breakfast Show hosts Garry and Laura will be joining X Factor finalists The Four of Diamonds at the Thanet shopping centre between 4pm and 7pm. The pair will be helping to switch on the shopping centre's Christmas lights just before 6pm, enjoying a performance from the girl band and other bands and groups, and kick starting the Christmas festivities.

Canterbury

Friday, November 16

The 2018 Christmas switch-on will take place in St George’s Street between 4pm and 6pm and will include musicians and entertainment, a snow machine and a guest appearance from the cast of Marlowe Theatre's pantomime Cinderella. The Christmas market will launch the same day and will stay open until 8pm.

Folkestone

Friday, November 16

Folkestone's Creative Quarter will once again become colourful with their Christmas lights switch on at the top of the old High Street from 5.30pm. This year the organisers, the Creative Foundation, are welcoming the author of My Name is Leon, Kit de Waal, to count down to the event and launch the Folkestone Book Festival 2018 which begins the same day. Choirs will be singing to entertain visitors, who will also be able to peruse creative Christmas window displays and shops will have extended opening hours.

Christmas lights switch-on and lantern parade in Gravesend last year. Picture credit: Sarah Knight
Christmas lights switch-on and lantern parade in Gravesend last year. Picture credit: Sarah Knight

Gravesend

Friday, November 16

More than 600 children from 12 local schools will set off from Community Square at 4.30pm when the Gravesham Christmas Tree is lit by the Mayor of Gravesham, Councillor David Hurley. As the parade moves through the town the Christmas lights will turn on and the procession will pass through Windmill Street into New Road, taking in St Georges Shopping Centre before ending up at Gravesend Borough Market for an amazing light show.

As the light show ends a late-night shopping event at the market will begin with Christmas market stalls and crafts, entertainment and refreshments until 8pm. Visitors should also look out for the cast of Peter Pan who will be at the market from 5.30pm.

To learn more visit www.visitgravesend.co.uk

Ashford

Saturday, November 17

The town will be filled with festive fun as its Christmas lights are turned on ahead of the holiday period. Included in the day's events will be a meet-and-greet with The Snowman and The Snowdog, currently residing in the town in the form of the Snowdogs Discover Ashford art trail. The lights' launch will take place in County Square Shopping Centre from 10.30am to 4pm.

The cast of Dick Whittington will be switching on the lights in Rochester this year. Picture: Chris Davey
The cast of Dick Whittington will be switching on the lights in Rochester this year. Picture: Chris Davey

Rochester

Saturday, November 17

This year the lights switch-on event will see family entertainment from 3pm.

Visitors should look out for the stars of Chatham's pantomime, Dick Whittington and his cat, who will be making an appearance at the event. Dancing on Ice champion Ray Quinn, CBBC presenter Joe Trancini and panto veteran Ian Good are just a few of the people starring in the production. The Christmas lights will be turned on at 5pm.

Sittingbourne

Saturday, November 17

The town centre is once again looking forward to a Christmas lights switch-on event following the cancellation of last year's. Although there will be no parade this year, there will be a Christmas market with around 30 traders expected, a fairground and music at a stage in Central Avenue from 11am. From 1pm entertainment will be entertaining shoppers with choirs, dance troupes and other performances from the runners up and winner of the Switch On Talent Show, held by Holiday Inn Coniston. The switch-on itself is planned for between 5.15pm and 5.30pm.

The lights last year in Dartford town centre
The lights last year in Dartford town centre

Dartford town centre

Saturday, November 17

This year's Big Christmas Switch-On in Dartford will begin at 2.15pm at One Bell Corner. The Orchard Theatre Choir, Twist and Pulse, Glenn Owen as Bruno Mars and Chase from Paw Patrol will be among those joining the town's mayor for the event ahead of the lights switch-on which will take place at 5.20pm. To see the event's running order and other details click here.

Royal Victoria Place, Tunbridge Wells

Sunday, November 18

kmfm's Rob Wills is hosting this year's event at the Tunbridge Wells shopping centre, with a range of other activities on offer, including a chance to meet the famous cheese-loving duo Wallace and Gromit, see the biggest teddy in town and, of course, the arrival of Santa himself. He lands in the town from noon, accompanied by panto stars Claire Sweeney and Derek Moran, with his Grotto open to visitors until 4.30pm. The lights will be switched on between noon and 12.30pm.

Strood

Thursday, November 22

Strood's Christmas lights will be turned on at 5pm on Thursday evening. 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.

Christmas Lights Parade in Tenterden last year
Christmas Lights Parade in Tenterden last year

Tenterden

Friday, November 23

Tenterden's Christmas lights will be switched on with an event which takes place from 4.30pm on Friday evening. At 4.40pm a children's candlelit procession takes place from Recreation Ground Road to St Mildred's Church where there will be a short service at 5pm. The congregation will then make their way to the Rotary Club Christmas tree in front of the town hall where the lights will be switched on at around 5.30pm.

Gillingham

Friday, November 23

There will be fun for all the family at the switch-on event in Gillingham this year. The entertainment will start at 3.45pm and Catboy from PJ Masks will be making a special guest appearance. The lights will be switched on at 5pm.

Christmas lights in Deal High Street. Picture: Tony Flashman
Christmas lights in Deal High Street. Picture: Tony Flashman

Deal

Friday, November 16

There's a promise of snow at Deal's switch-on at 7.30pm outside Deal Town Hall in the High Street. The family fun evening will begin at 5pm with background music. Action on the stage will start at 6pm.

The event is organised by Deal Chamber of Trade with an auction, which raises funds to pay for the lights, held at Deal Angling Club on Friday, November 9.

Sevenoaks

Friday, November 30

The lights switch-on in the High Street will include fairground rides, entertainment and craft stalls. More details at sevenoakschristmaslights.com

Sandwich

Saturday, December 1

The big switch on will take place at 7pm on the Guildhall Forecourt following a parade at 6pm through the town. The fun begins at 10am with food and drink stalls plus a funfair. Entertainment starts at 2pm with music from The Rock Choir followed by Hollie Firmin at 3pm, the Bettesteiner Footstompers at 4pm and Ozzie and the Uglies at 5pm.

Faversham Christmas Lights switch on watched by a large crowd..Picture: Paul Amos
Faversham Christmas Lights switch on watched by a large crowd..Picture: Paul Amos

Faversham

Saturday, November 24

Faversham's lights will be switched on just ahead of the opening of the town's popular night market. The festive-fuelled evening will kick off at 5pm on Saturday afternoon with the switch-on by Father Christmas and friends. At 6pm the night market will open with local food and drink and entertainment galore. The market continues until 10pm and visitors are encouraged to wrap up warm to enjoy the entire evening in comfort. Learn more here.

Chatham

Saturday, November 24

This year the whole day will be filled with festive family fun for everyone to enjoy including street magicians, a snow lion, break dancing Santas, a comedic robot and gliding angels. The switch-on event will be taking place at around 5pm. Visitors will also be able to look out for the cast of the Chatham panto Dick Whittington and his Cat, who will making a special guest appearance.

Tonbridge Festival
Tonbridge Festival

Tonbridge

Sunday, November 25

The lights switch on in Tunbridge will be the culmination of the three-day Tonbridge Rotary Christmas Festival which takes place from Friday, November 23 until the Sunday.

A fun fair, music, street entertainers and performances are taking place across the three days.

On Sunday, the lights will be switched on at 5pm by the Mayor of Tonbridge and Malling Cllr Pam Bates and the stars of the Angel Centre Pantomime Snow White. The lights, which are new this year, will stretch the full length of the High Street and along the river.

After the light switch on, the music will continue until 6pm when there will be a spectacular firework finale over Tonbridge Castle.

Lenham

Sunday, November 25

Lenham's Village Square will light up at the event towards the end of the month. Fun for all the family will start from 1pm.

Ramsgate

Sunday, November 25

Enjoy a glass of mulled wine and enjoy festive shopping along High Street, King Street and Queen Street from noon. Christmas lights switch-on at 4.30pm.

The Paddock Wood switch-on in 2017
The Paddock Wood switch-on in 2017

Paddock Wood

Sunday, November 25

Festive fun for all the family is promised in Paddock Wood when kmfm host its lights switch-on event. Market stalls, food and drink, music and dance will be among the family entertainment at the free event. It takes place between 3pm and 6pm.

Iwade, near Sittingbourne

Sunday, November 25

The village's Christmas tree lights are set for a big switch on at 4.30pm. Ferry Road will be closed from 4pm to 6pm for the ceremony. Santa Claus and Mrs Christmas are due to be there, with refreshments served at The Woolpack afterwards and a collection for Demelza Hospice Care for Children.

Rainham

Friday, November 30

Organised by Medway Council, this year Rainham's Christmas light switch-on event will see family fun put on from 3.45pm for visitors to enjoy. Chase from Paw Patrol will make a guest appearance at the event. The lights will be turned on at 5pm.

Lots of Santas Saunter in a conga at the Sheerness Clock Tower, getting ready for the Christmas Lights switch on last year Picture: John Westhrop FM5011600 (5003238)
Lots of Santas Saunter in a conga at the Sheerness Clock Tower, getting ready for the Christmas Lights switch on last year Picture: John Westhrop FM5011600 (5003238)

Sheerness

Saturday, December 1

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.

Minster

Saturday, December 1

Festive fun including carols, Father Christmas and live music with tree lights switch-on.

Takes place between 3pm and 5pm all around the village

Broadstairs

Saturday, December 1

A traditional festive fayre with Father Christmas and choral music from noon. The town's Christmas light switch-on takes place at 5.30pm at Pierremont Park.

A family enjoys ice skating during last year's WhitSparkle Christmas Celebration in Whitstable Harbour
A family enjoys ice skating during last year's WhitSparkle Christmas Celebration in Whitstable Harbour

Whitstable

Saturday, December 1

WhitSparkle is holding its second annual Christmas event at the start of Advent. Although the town will not be decorated with traditional Christmas lights this year, visitors can watch as Christmas tree lights are turned on at locations across the town - including the harbour, the Umbrella Centre, St Alphege Church and Whitstable Library.

Other attractions will include a festive sing-along event, a lantern procession, food and gift stalls and performances.

For more information, visit WhitSparkle's Facebook page.

Dover

Saturday, December 1

The switch on will be part of a wider Christmas event at Market Square including family activities, stalls and music plus performances by dance clubs and theatrical groups. The festivities start at 11am on the Saturday and go on until 4pm the next day.

West Malling

Sunday, December 2

The West Malling Christmas Festival is taking place on Sunday, December 2 between noon and 5.30pm - with the light switch-on at 5pm. Run this year by the Heart of Kent Hospices, the event is free and promises to be a great day out for the family. There will be live entertainment on stage all afternoon, Santa’s Grotto, face painting, bungee trampolines, teacup and carousel rides, stalls, crafts and specialist food and drink.

Father Christmas at Queenborough lights parade last year
Father Christmas at Queenborough lights parade last year

Queenborough

Sunday, December 2

Queenborough and Rushenden's Christmas Lights Parade starts at two points at 4pm: King George's Playing Field in Castlemere Avenue and at the Rushenden Club. It will finish with fireworks on the water's edge.

Westgate-on-Sea

Sunday, December 2

Father Christmas and a funfair for all the family, live entertainment and festive stalls along Station Road. From 10am to 7pm. Switch-on at 4.30pm.

Cliftonville

Thursday, December 6

The Cliftonville Partnership host the Christmas lights switch-on at St Paul's Church on Northdown Road. Children's entertainment and a free mince pie from 4.45pm to 6.30pm

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