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Sophie Hewitt
30th September 2023

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…your trusty Visit Kent elves are here to do what we do best and dish the glitter on the most exciting Christmas events in Kent. From festive trails and visits to Santa, to Christmas festivities, we’ve rounded up a whole load of events with all the trimmings for you and the family to book up and start looking forward to. 

This Christmas switch traffic for treats with Southeastern's Kids for a Quid tickets. Under 5s travel free, while those aged 5-15 can travel for just £1 when travelling with an adult with a valid ticket. 

Leeds Castle

This year Christmas at Leeds Castle is taking on a magical twist as they bring the beloved story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to life on a journey through the wardrobe to Narnia. Meet Mr Tumnus, Aslan and many more favourite characters on this magical Christmas experience set in the glittering 1930s interiors of the castle, transformed into scenes from the book. When evening falls, tickets to for the Christmas Lights Trail are an absolute must, with illuminated paths and Christmas music set in the gorgeous grounds of the castle. Round off your visit with mulled wine or hot chocolate under the stars, and drink in that picture-perfect setting. 

Hever Castle

We’re stepping into Christmas at Hever Castle. The Christmas Lights will be all aglow through the grounds from twilight, so wrap up warm and enjoy a fairy-lit wander under the stars. The Castle, gardens and lake will be transformed with a sprinkle of magic, twinkling lights and the spirit of Christmas. Visit in the day to see the Castle halls be-decked with holly and more, and be sure to grab tickets to visit Father Christmas' grotto, a family memory not to be missed! 

Walmer Castle 

Walmer Castle gardens will be bathed in a glittering light, with a brand new interactive trail full of colour and light this December. Expect the unexpected and let that Christmas spirit take over as you immerse yourself in sparkle and cheer. Warm up with festive food, cocktails and be sure to snap those picture-perfect moments along the way. 

Dover Castle

We know the Twixmas period between Christmas and New Year can be tough, particularly when little ones have already exhausted their presents! So Dover Castle’s festively fun adventure quest from Boxing Day sounds like the perfect way to blow away the cobwebs and blow off some steam! Once you’ve uncovered the clues, it’s time to sit back with a hot chocolate, mull over what you’ve learnt and enjoy those glorious cliff-top views. Tickets must be booked in advance.

Canterbury Cathedral

Held in the hallowed walls of Canterbury Cathedral, Choral Evensong at Christmas is one of our favourite ways to mark the season. Be sure to check out The Song of the Angels special services throughout December. Throughout November and December, join guided tours of the Cathedral's magnificent stained glass windows, from medieval to modern, depicting the Nativity scene. While on 2nd December, Handel's Messiah by Candlelight will bring Handel's most beautiful music to the Cathedral, performed by a stellar line-up of musicians. 


We’re walking in a winter wildland at Wildwood this Christmas (see what we did there?) Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with a visit to Santa's grotto, where Santa and his elves will be welcoming visitors into his enchanting world, with each little one receiving a soft toy, plus the chance to have their photo taken with the big man. Better yet, the Christmas Reindeer Experience will wow your little ones and create a memorable experience as they meet and feed the reindeer, and learn about these incredible creatures. 

The WonderWorks Christmas Grotto

This children's paradise is getting a Christmas transformation with a very special guest - any guesses? The WonderWorks Winter Wonderland Grotto will be a celebration of some of our favourite festive toys, featuring products from Airfix, Hornby, Scalextric and Corgi. Stock up on those last minutes gifts, meet the man in red and enjoy a wonderfully magical day for the whole family to enjoy. 

Rochester Cathedral

Dickens once said, “Christmas comes but once a year” so Rochester Cathedral is well and truly honouring Rochester’s Dickensian roots! See G4 perform in the heart of the cathedral, and enjoy sumptuous harmonies in an idyllic festive setting. Ready to mark this special occasion? “God bless us, every one!”, (Dickens fans, name that character!)

Canoe Wild

Paddle into 2024 with the Canoe Wild guided paddle on New Year's Day and start the year off right with a dash of adventure. While previous years may have seen us nursing a slightly sore head on the first of Jan, this year you'll catch us getting a breath of fresh air, gliding along the River Stour and enjoying the views of a brand new year. 

Ashford Designer Outlet 

Santa is coming to town at Ashford Designer Outlet, and little elves are invited to come on in and meet the right jolly old elf in his grotto. All proceeds for the grotto will be going to the British Heart Foundation this year, so your little one will feel the true spirit of Christmas. 

Canterbury at Christmas 

Winding cobbled streets, Canterbury Cathedral, independent shops, and more cosy pubs than we could ever possibly name, Canterbury is already one of the most perfectly festive spots in Kent, so add to that a Christmas market from 10th November, and the big annual light switch-on that same day, and we'd say you've got yourself one of the most picture-perfect Christmas movie-ready scenes. Pick up plenty of gifts from the wooden huts dotted around the city centre, and enjoy that first taste of seasonal splendour, mulled wine at the ready. 

Chiddingstone Castle Artisan Christmas Fair

25th November

Chiddingstone Castle's Christmas Fair is the perfect chance to purchase those gifts with a little Christmas flare. Here you'll find locally-crafted gifts, one of a kind vintage items, and a touch of seasonal magic, all within the gorgeous setting of Chiddingstone Castle. 

Christmas Catastrophe at the Dockyard 

The Historic Dockyard Chatham is welcoming little ones to the secret sub station on a mission to help Mrs Claus save Christmas from catastrophe! Your guided Christmas story will be packed with interactive activities, a little lesson in magic, plus there'll be a private meet and greet with Father Christmas himself! Each family will have a professional photo taken with Santa, while little elves get a special Mission Christmas storybook as a memento of the day. 

Jingle in Gravesend 

On 2nd - 3rd December Gravesham will be jingling all the way with their Big Christmas Weekend, including entertainment, festive markets, art displays, family activities, Santa's Grotto, and live music throughout the town! Plus, don't forget to tell you're little ones to start writing their Christmas wish lists, ready to be posted the talking Pablo the post-box!

Three-course wine lunch

We love it when our Christmas sparkle comes care of a glass of Kent's finest, so Gusbourne's three-course wine lunch is the perfect way to ring in the season. Enjoy a luxurious lunch, each course paired with Gusbourne's still and sparkling wines. Round up your family and friends and raise a toast to the wonderful season. 

National Trust Lois Leyland

Family fun with the National Trust

This Christmas Chartwell will be stepping into a magical storybook world, as seen through the eyes of Sir Winston Churchill's beloved daughter, Mary Soames. Chartwell house will be beautifully decorated for a family Christmas in the 1930s with nods to the world of children's literature of Mary's imagination. While at Knole things will be getting wintry, inspired by Raymond Briggs' timeless tale The Snowman. Discover a trail of 12 giant The Snowman sculptures across the parkland, each uniquely painted by an artist. Inside, Knole will be beautifully decorated, with a roaring fire and a sparkling tree. While Emmetts Garden will be hosting 'Anta' Claus, his fellow ants and a trail through his magical kingdom. Follow willow sculptures through the gardens and discover how ants prepare for Christmas, not to mention a glimpse of special Christmas characters. 

A vintage Christmas with National Trust

Quebec House will be throwing a Georgian inspired Christmas this year, with a special late night opening on 30th November, complete with lights, greenery and a Georgian feast. Throughout December weekends, the house will be opening its doors to reveal roaring fires, natural foliage and even a Quebec gingerbread house. Ightham Mote is also exploring its historic past, with a Tudor Christmas, packed with sights, scents and sounds on a trail back through history. Families will have the chance to meet Father Christmas, and even enjoy a festive fete, carols and workshops. Fast forward a few hundred years and Scotney Castle is stepping back to the swinging sixties in honour of the last residents of the manor, Christopher and Betty. See original 1960s outfits, rooms set for the season and rarely seen items from Scotney's collection. 

Glittering celebrations at Hythe Imperial Hotel

We love an afternoon tea, but at Christmas it's truly spectacular. Book in at Hythe Imperial Hotel and treat yourself to a sumptuous tea, with some festive treats. We all know Christmas means Buble, so on 7th November Sway with Buble, AKA Mikey JC, as he sings the classics, while you indulge in a two-course meal. 

Christmas World at Dreamland

Dreamland is getting a wintry makeover this December. Entertainment, special rides, family friendly performances, magical grotto experiences with Mr Claus, snowball fights and even sleigh rides in Santa's snow mobile. And for the grown-ups, Steins by the Sea nights are the perfect festive evening. 

Penshurst Place

The Penshurst Place Mini Panto is back for 2023 and this year follows the tale of the elf who lost his voice! Performed in the medieval Baron’s Hall that will be decorated for Christmas, with a crackling central fire, it's a fun festive event for the whole family. Walk up the Lime Walk beneath giant baubles and enter the Hall to be greeted by Father Christmas’ study. Soon, the music will begin and the characters will emerge to perform the tale of the Elf who lost his voice, as traditional panto hijinks ensue on his mission to get it, and his Christmas cheer, back in time for the big day! 

Royal Engineers Museum

The Royal Engineers Museum is injecting a bit of wartime spirit into a modern day Christmas! The weekend of the 25th - 26th November will be the Wartime Christmas Weekend, with plenty of good old fashioned Christmas spirit. 

Skate in Tunbridge Wells

Who doesn’t have this one on the hitlist this season? The Tunbridge Wells ice rink will be returning in December, so you’d better get your skates on! Pirouette, prance, or gingerly make your way around this outdoor rink in the heart of Tunbridge Wells for a Christmas made for the movies. Once you’ve finished, warm up with a mulled wine, or take a spin around the many boutique shops in the nearby Pantiles to start ticking people off your list.

Bewl Water

Bewl Water is getting a magical makeover with their Christmas Experience this year. Set in their enchanted woodland, tickets will include a visit to Santa's Grotto, a gift and live storytelling for the little ones. Enjoy sweet treats from the gift shop, toast marshmallows, and explore the themed magical lands through the woods. 

Christmas has arrived at Chapel Down

Chapel Down are spoiling you this Christmas with a whole host of festivities taking place that you need to hear about! Fancy getting creative with a Festive Wreath Making Workshop? Or perhaps you like the sound of their Festive Wine Dinner? Either way, you're sure to find something magical this Christmas at Chapel Down.

Big Cats at Christmas

A seven-day Christmas event?! Who's excited? The Big Cat Sanctuary will transform into a winter wonderland with Christmas music (we know you can't resist singing along), decorated trees, and a festive atmosphere. There will be festive food and drink, the chance to shop, and of course the opportunity to wander the sanctuary to see the cats! 

Festive afternoon tea

This Boxing Day Pearly Cow at No.42 by GuestHouse will be ditching this leftover turkey sandwiches and presenting a special Boxing Day afternoon tea this year. Expect a spread of the best quality seafood, Bloody Mary's and more in this splendid festive tea.

Wreath Making with Fizz at Balfour Winery

December 1st

Join Balfour Winery this December for a magical day wreath making. Pick up a glass of Balfour bubbly on arrival before getting creative with your Christmas wreath, using natural and sustainably sourced moss, a range of winter foliage and a wide selection of dried embellishments for that extra flourish. There will also be the opportunity to order some delicious food whilst you're busy crafting. Bring a loved-one and get involved with the festive fun at Balfour Winery this Christmas.