Bring out the tinsel, roll out the wrapping paper and start pouring that mulled wine, it’s time to step into Christmas in Kent.
Whether you’re looking for first visits to Father Christmas, the ideal gift for that one relative who already has everything, or the chance to lace up your skates and show off your skills on the ice, our festive guide will soon have kids big and small counting down the days until 25th December.
And, less than an hour from London with Southeastern trains, you’ll be out of the city and enjoying the gifts of the Garden of England before you know it.
So what are you waiting for? Jump into the celebrations and soak up that festive feeling in Kent. After all, they do say it’s the most wonderful time of the year…
All Aboard the Christmas Express
When it comes to festive firsts, it doesn’t get much more magical than a visit to Santa on a steam train. This year, Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, Kent and East Sussex Railway and Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway will all be welcoming Father Christmas on board during selected weekends throughout the season.
Have a Historic Christmas at a Castle
This year the fairytale Leeds Castle will be celebrating the traditions of Christmas with dressed trees, roaring fires and state rooms decked for the season. Make a day of it with a visit to the Leeds Castle Christmas Market for the traditions of Christmas.
At Hever Castle the estate will be transformed around the history of Christmas Carols with decorations across the house and gardens and even a “twelve days of Christmas trail” from 25th November to 24th December.
Alternatively, why not visit the Canterbury Tales on 16th and 17th December to find Father Christmas in the Middle Ages? Enjoy songs, games and dressing up before a visit to Santa’s grotto.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the high street this year at the Penshurst Place Christmas gift shop and discover gift ideas, ornaments and goodies right up until Christmas Eve. Choose from jewellery, home-ware and decorations, all within the setting of the stunning Penshurst estate.
Lace up your skates and practice your pirouettes! An outdoor ice skating rink arrives in the grounds of Eastwell Manor for the first time ever on 1st December. See Santa’s reindeer, sip mulled wine and scoff mince pies, and tick off some shopping at Eastwell’s Christmas boutique.
Bluewater’s spectacular covered outdoor ice rink, with its backdrop of the beautiful surrounding lakes, promises a great skating experience this December. Twirl and glide an afternoon away, skate into the weekend at one of the Friday party nights with KMFM DJs, or take the kids along to an exciting after-school skate club.
Head to The Port of Dover from 25th November to enjoy a White Cliffs Christmas with a loop around their real ice rink, a browse through their Christmas market, and a visit to Santa and his reindeer!
The Frosted Fairground returns to the UK’s original pleasure park, Dreamland Margate. This December, The Frosted Fairground will transform Dreamland into a magical winter experience filled with every trimming you could imagine.
Santa Clause is Coming to Town
This year Father Christmas and his elves will be making the journey from the North Pole to Bewl Water to save Christmas! Jump aboard the Santa Express from 9th to 24th December on a Christmas mission from Santa’s lake-side grotto.
At the Rare Breeds Centre near Ashford, Santa’s elves are ready to welcome visitors into the magical Grotto from 21st to 23rd December.
You can’t have Christmas without a visit to the pantomime, oh no you can’t! At the Hazlitt Theatre, Cinderella is perhaps the most magical pantomime of them all! Or is it? At the Theatre Royal Margate Dorothy and the gang will be following that yellow brick road on a magical tale to the enchanted Land of Oz.
Discover favourite festive finds at Christmas markets all across Kent this year, with handmade gifts, treats for the table, and even a glass or two of something warm while you seek out those stocking fillers. Here you’ll find gift ideas and inspiration for even the trickiest loved ones on your list, all while enjoying the twinkling lights, decorations and festive cheer of a traditional Christmas market. Enjoy a Dickensian Christmas in Rochester framed by the fairytale castle, or pay a visit to historic Canterbury where you’ll find a traditional German Market set up in Whitefriars between 25th November and 24th December.
Tick off that Christmas List
Take the stress out of holiday shopping by combining the best deals with a great day for the whole family. At McArthurGlen Designer Outlet, Ashford find your favourite brands for up to 60% less, and there’s something for everyone this Christmas with a children’s playground, reindeer experience and even a German bar complete with mulled cider!
For a day that covers all the bases, head straight for Bluewater, and make sure to visit The Giving Tree, where you can donate gifts for less fortunate children. Better still, expert gift-wrapping services are available for those who hide from the sellotape and scissors – we won’t tell if you don’t!
For all your food and drink needs, head to Macknade Fine Foods in Faversham. Their huge farm shop offers a wide variety of locally produced, delicious seasonal food and tastings from local suppliers.
Nothing beats raising a glad tidings toast with a glass of Kentish sparkling wine, and the Biddenden Vineyard Christmas Shop means you can stock up on award-winning wines to ring in the festive season. Choose from specialist hand-made goodies, or craft the perfect hamper for those foodies on your Christmas list.
Twas the Night Before Christmas
If you’re looking for a Christmas retreat this December, Kent has some wonderful places to stay across the county. Curl up with a hot drink by a roaring fire, kick back to open your presents in a luxurious suite, or wrap up warm and head outside for a bracing Christmas day walk at one of these fabulous accommodation offerings: