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Sophie Hewitt
15th March 2024

The Kent Big Weekend is back. With plenty of fun days out planned, from castles and gardens to wild animal parks, it’s the perfect chance to round up the family and spend the day exploring.

Godinton House and Gardens

One of our top hidden gems, Godinton House and Gardens’ Jacobean mansion is surrounded by 12 acres of gardens to explore. Take the hour-long guided tour of the house for a chance to step into those grand exhibition rooms, before enjoying the first signs of spring in the gardens (trust us, the daffodils are beautiful at this time of year!) Better yet, accompanying under 16s go free so you may as well treat yourselves to cake and coffee in the tea room.

Penshurst Place and Gardens

11 acres of gardens, a fortified manor house, medieval halls and the very place where the likes of The Other Boleyn Girl, Princess Bride and Wolf Hall have been filmed over the years, this 14th century manor is a full on day out. While you’ll love the formal gardens, Italian Garden and horticultural delights, the little ones will go wild for the Toy Museum and the Adventure Playground right next to the Woodland Walk. Round off your day with a picnic in the gardens or lunch in the Porcupine Pantry Café.

Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway

This is one of our absolute favourites for family days out. Running 13.5 miles from the Cinque Port Town of Hythe through Dymchurch, New Romney and then finishing up at the National Nature Reserve of Dungeness, this miniature steam railway is a Kentish icon. Hop on and off with your flexible tickets and enjoy coastal views, traditional seaside fun and rides at Dymchurch, and fish and chips at Dungeness. With plenty of fun to be had, plus the chance to bring your four-legged friend, too, this is one for the whole family.

The WonderWorks Margate

Yes, this is the day out of dreams for the kids! Home to Hornby Hobbies, Airfix, Corgi, Scalextric and Pocher, you and the kids will have the chance to operate model railway layouts, race the Grand Prix Du Margate Circuit, create miniature aircraft, tanks, cars and more. Share toys from your childhood with your little ones, step behind the scenes of Britain’s best-loved model making companies, and take a look at the latest releases.

Canoe Wild

Get out and do something new this Kent Big Weekend! With tickets up for grabs for Canoe Wild, you and the kids can paddle along the River Stour to Grove Ferry and back, keeping your eyes open for wildlife along the way. With nothing but the peace and tranquillity of the river, it’s the perfect chance for you and your little wildlings to reconnect, step away from the screens and try your hands at a totally new experience.

Historic Dockyard Chatham

One of Kent’s biggest and most exciting family adventures, The Historic Dockyard Chatham has so much to see and do to make your Kent Big Weekend a fantastic day out. Take a look at the brand new RNLI 200 Exhibition, which celebrates the lifesaving charity’s history and work, learn the process of ropemaking in the ropery, board HMS Submarine Ocelot and learn about 400 years of seafaring history, heritage and more at this 80 acre family haven!

Leeds Castle 

500 acres of parkland, gardens to explore, a maze, and a majestic castle, who’s ready for a visit to Leeds Castle? Wander the castle’s 1920s and 30s rooms, reminiscent of Lady Baillie’s time here, visit the grotto in the grounds, explore the adventure playground (trust us, you’ll struggle to pull little ones away from the Knight’s Stronghold Playground), have a go at Adventure Golf, come beak to beak with birds in the Falconry Centre, and learn about the seven historic queens who made their mark on the castle in the Queen’s with Means exhibition. There’s so much more we could share, but you’ll have to discover it for yourself.

Hever Castle & Gardens

The home of Anne Boleyn, this is THE place to bring mini historians who are in the depths of learning all about the Tudors! Besides a peek into Anne’s childhood home, you’ll have the chance to turn the page on 600 years of history, and get your first glimpse of Hever’s spring blooms. Take a turn through the maze, let off steam in the adventure playground and keep your eyes open for the glimpses of tulips, cherry blossom, magnolias, rhododendrons, hyacinths, bluebells and more.

Canterbury Cathedral

Yes, you and the family can win tickets to Canterbury Cathedral, part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site and the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. With tombs including King Henry IV, the Black Prince, not to mention the site of St Thomas Becket’s murder by order of King Herny II, the Cathedral has more than a few intriguing stories to tell. Discover fantastical beasts, including dragons in the Cathedral’s stained glass and stone, learn hundreds of fascinating facts, and even take on the task of completing the Cathedral’s bestiary (book about animals) with your very own illustrations.

Battle of Britain Memorial

As such an important reminder of the acts of bravery of Churchill’s The Few, this is another must-visit for the family. Discover the Scramble’s interactive exhibition, which provides a hands-on insight into the Battle that changed history, with the chance to climb into the cockpit of a replica Hurricane. After your experience, it’s time to head outside and see The Memorial and the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall, which marks the names of all those known to have flown during The Battle.

Powell-Cotton Museum, Quex House and Gardens

Discover the adventures of the Powell-Cotton family, with collections, art, archaeology and more to be found in this intriguing museum. Venture across time, cultures and even get hands on with more than 400 objects to be handled in The Cube! Explore the seven acres of gardens, peek at wildlife in the woodland walks and walled garden and enjoy those first peeps of spring. Once you’ve explored, head to the family run Felicity’s Café for afternoon tea and freshly baked treats.