Lana Crouch
7th December 2020

The last of the Christmas chocs have been devoured (yes, even the Bountys...) and you’re not entirely set on your original resolution that 2021 really will be the year you run that 10k you’ve never gotten around to. Yes it’s a fresh year, but that doesn’t mean you need to make a whole host of ‘self-improvement’ resolutions that undoubtedly will be broken by January 3rd - particularly after the year we’ve all just had. This year, why not simply resolve to explore a little more of what’s on your doorstep?

To make this resolution even easier to keep, we've only gone and done the legwork for you (see, zero running required...) and come up with a list of the must see and must do things across the Garden of England in 2021. All you have to do is read our round-up and pick which Kent hotspot to head to first!

1. Discover a new foodie favourite

Last year our taste buds were tingled when foodie favourite Macknade Fine Foods opened their brand-new venue, Elwick Place, right in the heart of Ashford. This year they’re tingling all over again as we anticipate Macknade’s latest venture - an expansion which will see the venue almost double in size. Offering all-day dining and drinking, as well an extensive range of groceries (from fruit and veg to cheese and wine), Macknade is the place to head to for your first taste of Kent’s vibrant food and drink scene.

2. Raise a glass to Copper Rivet’s brand-new whiskey

We’ve been counting down the days to the release of Copper Rivet’s eagerly awaited Masthouse Whisky, and we have it on very good authority that this tipple is worth the wait. Made in accordance with the Invicta Whisky Charter, this single estate whisky has been crafted from specially grown Kent grain, aged in American oak bourbon barrels and distilled in Chatham’s historic royal dockyard. Whilst the 2017 Vintage first bottling is already sold out, you can get your pre-orders in now for the second bottling coming this February. We’ll raise a glass to that…

3. Get creative by the coast

Boasting 333km of glorious coastline and cultural hotspots, Kent's dramatic landscape has inspired artists for centuries. In 2021 England’s Creative Coast will offer visitors the chance to explore seaside towns alive with creativity, the breath-taking coastal landscape, thought-provoking art commissions and geocaches created by the communities that live there in a digital treasure trail that extends into the surrounding landscape. Don't miss your chance to catch seven new site-specific artworks by seven international contemporary artists as part of the inspirational, new Waterfronts series.

4. Festival fun in Folkestone

Pay a visit to vibrant Folkestone this autumn and you'll see a town transformed into a gallery, with striking new installations from artists, reflecting the town's rich cultural history. The Folkestone Triennial is the flagship project of Creative Folkestone and the largest exhibition of newly commissioned work in the UK - one not to be missed!

5. Excitement along the estuary

Estuary 2021 is a 23 day, curated festival of visual art, literature, performance, film and discussion running from 22nd May to 13th June. Taking place on the river itself, and along the 60 miles of South Essex and North Kent coastline, this programme of new and existing artworks and events will explore and respond to powerful themes resonant to the Estuary. It’s all happening down by the river!

6. Putt, putt, and away… 

If you’re a keen golfer, you’ll know exactly what we’re getting excited about for 2021. That’s right, following a year’s postponement, The Open will finally return to Kent for the 15th time between 11th and 18th July. We couldn’t be more thrilled to watch the 149th Championship tee off, and the Claret Jug get lifted at Royal St George’s, Sandwich this summer.

7. Enjoy a grape day at Gusbourne

For a true grape to glass experience, there’s no better place to head than glorious Gusbourne Vineyard, situated just outside the picturesque village of Appledore. With a packed calendar with events, including wine tasting with a Master Sommelier, atmospheric dinners in the vineyard, and summer picnics, it makes sense to programme this location into your SatNav as we expect you’ll be making multiple trips this year! Sign-up to Gusbourne’s mailing list, and be the first to nab your space amongst the vines.

8. Discover Hidden Heroines at the Historic Dockyard, Chatham

"Who run the world? Girls!" For a generous dose of girl power head straight to The Historic Dockyard, Chatham this spring for your chance to catch their latest temporary exhibition “Hidden Heroines: the untold stories of the women of the Dockyard.” Here, discover all there is to know about the valuable roles women have played throughout the Dockyard’s 400-year history, right up to present day.   

9. Celebrate an artistic anniversary 

Stunning sea and sky-scapes famously drew artist JMW Turner to Margate, fittingly home to the acclaimed Turner Contemporary gallery. This year this internationally-renowned gallery turns double digits, making it the perfect time to head beside the seaside and explore the impressive range of contemporary and historical art on offer here. Psst! There may even be a birthday celebration or two to join in with whilst you’re there…

10. March to Maidstone for Elmer’s Big Heart of Kent Parade

Maidstone town centre is being taken over by elephants - 50 of them to be exact! This summer take Elmer's trail along the river and through the town, past colourful Elmer sculptures, individually designed by local and national artists. While the trail itself is completely free (perfect for a school holiday jaunt), each of the sculptures will be auctioned to raise funds for Heart of Kent Hospice to help continue their outstanding hospice work for families in the area. 

11. Let the good times be gin at Maidstone Distillery

Fancy yourself as a bit of a gin connoisseur? In the heart of Kent’s county town, step through the doors of Maidstone Distillery to experience the art of distilling in a fun and exciting way. Join one of the distillery’s Gin Tours - new for 2021, get hands in as you take part in a blending workshop, or simply relax and enjoy a drink in modern surroundings. Now, that’s the spirit!

12. Let happiness bloom at Hever Castle

With its charming castle exterior, picture-perfect gardens and tranquil lakeside vista; this year start your very own love affair with idyllic Hever Castle & Gardens. This castle’s grounds are breathtaking at the best of times, but we recommend paying a visit during the spring months to catch sight of the stunning snowdrops, or take in the tremendous tulips.

13. Swap cricket bats for Bublè in Canterbury

Come on, who doesn’t love a bit of Bublè? Fans of the Grammy-award winning megastar had better steel themselves, because opportunities like this don’t come around very often. That’s right, tickets for An Evening with Michael Bublé at Kent Cricket Club’s famous Spitfire Ground (Saturday 10th July) are now on sale. So, get playing his songs on repeat, and prepare for a night waving your phone torch above your head; after spending an evening with Bublè we don’t think you’ll “wanna go home...” 

14. Get back to nature at Bore Place

If you’re someone who’s motivated by the thought of ticking a new skill off your bucket list, there’s really no better place to head to this year than brilliant Bore Place in Sevenoaks. Set in 500 acres of countryside, this rural retreat provides a plethora of bespoke opportunities for people to learn, grow and reconnect with themselves and the environment. Whether you fancy trying your hand at winter pruning, basket making, or even spoon whittling, there are plenty of chances to get hands on and learn something new here.

15. Experience Chiddingstone Castle’s Year of Japan

2021 is set to be a very exciting year at Chiddingstone Castle, with a host of events planned in celebration of their Year of Japan. Whilst the castle’s event programme is yet to be announced, it is likely to be filled to the brim with cultural events, activities, and themed days for all ages. So, keep those eyes peeled for details in the coming weeks!

16. Zip, zip, hooray!

Thrill seekers, this one’s for you! Head to Bluewater Shopping Centre from February onwards and you’ll find the brand-new Hangloose Adventure zip wire - the longest and fastest of its kind in the UK - offering a chance to zoom sky high over 50 acres of Kentish parkland. What’s more, the zip line is to be just the first of several adrenaline-fuelled attractions erected at Bluewater, with a giant slide, 360-degree swings, outdoor skydiving machine and Europe’s largest outdoor climbing wall all to look forward to in the next three years. Feeling brave? 

17. Get a taste of adventure at Go Ape, Leeds Castle

And, if Bluewater’s zip line has you feeling the need for speed, we’ve got plenty more in store for the adrenaline junkies among you! Head high up into the treetops this year and take to the ropes with Go Ape, located at both Go Ape Leeds Castle and Go Ape Bedgebury Pinetum. It’s time to take on your fears and climb to the top - perfect for the whole family to discover their inner Tarzan!

18. Take a walk through Kent’s history books

Last year marked a momentous anniversary for the city of Canterbury; 850 years since the dramatic murder of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, and 800 years since his body was moved from a tomb in the crypt of the cathedral into a glittering shrine. Whilst 2020 saw a slight pause put on the commemorations of these important historical events, a revised programme of activity is due to be announced in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out at for your chance to get involved.

19. Escape to Canterbury at the touch of your controller

Opting to stay in rather than head out this year? You may still end up discovering a slice of the Garden of England that you weren’t quite expecting to. Confused? Fans of the hugely successful Assassin’s Creed series will have the opportunity to take a trip to Kent as part of the franchise’s latest game, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Two missions in the game – ‘A Bloody Welcome’ and ‘Search for Fulke’ – take place within Canterbury itself, requiring you to ride cross-country, infiltrate the city and then gain entry to the Anglo-Saxon Cathedral. Game on!

20. Start planning that next staycation with Kent & Sussex Cottages

Whether you’re celebrating a big birthday this year, booking a surprise getaway, or simply looking to spend a bit of quality time with loved ones, you needn’t look beyond the Garden of England when thinking about planning your next special staycation. With over 350 properties located in stunning countryside, or close to an award-winning beach, Kent and Sussex Cottages have the perfect holiday home waiting for you to make treasured memories in 2021.

21. Experience Kent like never before… 

Already crossed the threshold of each of Kent’s castles? Ticked off a visit to all of our award-winning beaches? Tasted your way around all the pubs and cafes you can think of? If you’re looking for a new way to discover our wonderful county, we have fantastic news for you. Visit Kent are currently working with a whole host of exciting businesses county-wide, developing new and unique ways to get hands on and see the Garden of England from a whole new angle. From Axe Throwing to Forest Bathing, prepare to experience Kent like never before…

Before you embark on your 2021 bucket list quest, please do check our partner websites as many attractions and locations now request that you pre-book. There may also be new procedures in place in order to keep their staff and visitors safe. Take a look at our guidance on how to best Respect, Protect and Enjoy our wonderful Kent attractions and landscapes.