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Maidstone: Leeds Castle marks its 900th anniversary in 2019 with music and family events

A series of events including a summer carnival weekend have been unveiled to celebrate Leeds Castle's 900th anniversary next year.

Managers at the "loveliest castle in the world" unveiled a range of events which will take place throughout 2019 today, which mark the year Robert de Crevecoeur built the first stone castle on the estate.

They include a colourful 900 Carnival of History and a special fanfare in the castle's honour which will be composed and premiered during the year.

Leeds Castle will be 900 in 2019 Picture: Scott Wright
Leeds Castle will be 900 in 2019 Picture: Scott Wright

There will also be a 900 Flowerbed and a new children's adventure playground during the year-long celebrations.

Speaking at the launch, chief executive Sir David Steel, said: "It is 900 years since the first castle was constructed here. This is something historic to celebrate. I cannot think of another castle that has celebrated 900 years."

He said the year-long celebration would be something other businesses in the county, which has a tourism economy of £20bn each year, would be able to benefit from too.

The Carnival of History will be held on July 27 and 28, when there will be a parade and display of several hundred costumed re-enactors who will take visitors through nine centuries of history in a riot of colour.

Costumed carnival characters at Leeds Castle
Costumed carnival characters at Leeds Castle

Visitors will be able to come and join the procession, which will wind its way around the estate parkland, and culminate in a finale with a soundtrack commissioned specially and canons firing confetti.

Rosemary Richards from Rosa Productions said: "This is really a spectacle of creative and artistic engagement. A colourful and spectacular romp through 900 years."

The castle will be the official face of Kent Crisps' salt and vinegar with Biddenden Cider flavour during the year and there will be a limited edition Leeds Castle gin - with just 900 bottles being made - using three types of botanicals picked from the gardens, made by Copper Rivet distillery.

Part of the gardens will be redeveloped and given a royal opening. Picture: Scott Wright
Part of the gardens will be redeveloped and given a royal opening. Picture: Scott Wright

The redevelopment of part of the gardens will be officially opened by the castle's patron, Princess Alexandra, and there will be a themed Royal Gardens celebration week to mark the occasion.

A new Knights' Stronghold playground and adventure golf course will be officially opened by Ben Cajee from CBeebies in April.

Leeds Castle 900
Leeds Castle 900

Composer Tom Hodge has been commissioned to write a 900 Fanfare, which will be premiered at the Classical Concert on July 13, 2019.

Castle curator, Annie Kemkaran-Smith added: "It is also about looking to the next 900 years of Leeds Castle and what that may bring us. We want to make sure it is preserved for future generations."

The winners of a children's storywriting competition this year will be revealed by broadcaster Clare Balding and the winners will be invited to see a time capsule buried.

More details of events will be revealed early next year.

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