We've hit the jackpot this May half term as we've got stacks of bank holidays (both Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd June) and they always brings plenty of promise - spring is still springing and plenty of mild and even warm days ready for exploring Kent and enjoying our coastline, countryside and more. So, whether you want to get back into nature, enter a painting competition or take it easy on an open top bus around the beach towns, get those plans in!
Be prepared and check the latest updates and guidance before you travel. Remember, one of the best and most sustainable ways to get around Kent is by train, so be sure to check out the Southeastern website for more information.
If you remember the stunning ‘Museum of the Moon’ at Rochester Cathedral, then you will want to visit again as in May they’ve brought in the Earth’s surface. Running from the 24th May to 12th June, Luke Jerram’s seven metre ‘Gaia’ will be suspended above the cathedral’s nave, giving visitors the Overview Effect which will no doubt put you in awe of the planet and its colours. The picture on the left speaks for itself!
A truly unique museum, which takes you through generations of technology from games, computers to toys. A trip along to the Micro Museum in Ramsgate takes you through inventors of digital technology with artefacts from the 1940s to today, while also being a mostly hands on discovery as you can play with some of the pieces themselves! Thankfully, there’s plenty of weekend opens days across the coming weeks which makes for plenty of opportunities to better understand our digital world.
Sitting atop Folkestone’s cliffs overlooking the English Channel is Leas Cliff Hall. After you’ve had a day exploring the town finish it off by soaking in some of best tribute acts whatever your taste of music! On the Saturday 28th May there is Let the Music Play: a Barry White tribute playing hits such as You’re the First, the Last and My Everything, followed up on Thursday 2nd June by Rod Stewart Story “Some Guys Have All the Luck” and before the half term ends, see Uptown Joel on Saturday 4th June with the Hits of Billy Joel sung by Darren Reeves who was spotted on Broadway by one of Billy’s associates, with Billy personally chosing Darren to play the demanding lead role of The Piano Man.
As we promised above, the warm weather will be with us (we’re not Mother Nature but we can hope!), so take a trip to Thanet and bask in the sunshine while touring the coastline. Running on a daily basis throughout half term, Stagecoach will run the open-top route 69 in Thanet for just £2.50 per adult, with kids going for a pound! Whether you want to stop in Ramsgate Royal Harbour or have a beach day in Broadstairs, do it in style.
Celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, take a royally good day out in Dover Castle. Part of the Kids Rule event across the May half term, head to the castle to meet Queen Eleanor. Throwing visitors back in time, be a royal guest and watch entertainment from years past such as Kings Punch and Judy and some royal storytelling, with possibly your days highlight being taught how to joust! If your little ones (and even you!) are up for a fancy-dress competition, take part in their social media competition to feel like a royal family!
If you’re looking to escape it all, then we truly can’t think of a more beautiful place than Elmley Nature Reserve. With acres (we’re talking no less than 3,300) to explore, the reserve is the place to give kids the opportunity to learn about some of our most beautiful wildlife. As you arrive you’ll feel as if you’ve ventured into another country as you head along the reserve's track and waterways spotting a range of wildlife such as egrets and redshanks. Be sure to stock up on some light refreshments at the cowshed café and continue to spot all sorts of wildlife and roam the area as the day goes on and changes before you.
With the stunning Canterbury Cathedral restoration of the nave and west towers being visible to visitors and residents, this half term you have the opportunity to drop in on a Cathedral stonemasonry session during Stone Week. Held in the Community Studio on the 30th May to 1st June, use traditional medieval techniques to carve your initials into stone guided by the artistic stonemasons who work at the cathedral. With your entry ticket giving you access to the wider cathedral too (kids go free until end of October!), take in their lauded Making History: Church State and Conflict exhibition too, which has fragments of Thomas Becket’s shrine and Edward the Black Prince’s battle shield.
Continuing the artistic expression theme, head over to Hever Castle & Gardens during the May half term (28th May to 1st June) to take on the castles art. During interactive 30-minute sessions, children will learn about the artistic techniques kids would have been taught hundreds of years ago and will have the chance to get involved and try it for themselves. If your little one has an ambitious spirit, enter a painting of the castle or its gardens into the painting competition for a chance of it being displayed at the Escape Arts Centre, and for a prize! You can also join the mosaic sand dig to create your own picture or make a corner bookmark with Origami paper in a free craft workshop, finishing your craft day by getting your face painted.
Ah we all know little ones looooove to run around and let off some energy, and we reckon Betteshanger Park is the perfect place to do just that! Archery, a pirate trail, fossil hunting, traffic-free cycling…whatever your young athlete has in mind, you’ll find it here. Better yet, pitch up at the Folkestone Camping and Caravanning Club Site and you’ll be in for an active seaside staycation that’s sure to make little adventurers smile. Reconnect away from Netflix and video games and enjoy that sea air and a night under canvas for the perfect family break.
Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve and Howletts Wild Animal Park are ready to welcome your wild things into their grounds to continue learning, but in the fun way! Discover the county’s only spectacled bears, gorillas, rhinos and monkeys at Port Lympne, before venturing Jurassic Park style (one for the parents) into the Dinosaur Forest. Or, meet those iconic baby elephants, tigers and more within the 90 acres of parkland at Howletts, and don’t forget to chill out at the Animals of the Ice Age exhibition for the coolest day out!
Regardless of budget, weather or even time constraints, Tunbridge Wells has a raft of attractions that are open across the May half term. If you’re wanting to make the day of your transport loving kids, a steam journey on the Spa Valley Railway rolls through the Kent countryside. If you’re looking to keep it simple, head to the Grosvenor and Hillbert Park, a prime picnic spot in the town itself. For more ideas head over to the Visit Tunbridge Wells site.
Known for its 12 acres of stunning gardens that includes a walled garden, rose walk and wood garden, topped off by its viewpoint and maze with views across the Weald countryside, the Riverhill Himalayan Garden is fit for any Queen or King. It’s fitting therefore that they hold a Jubilee Celebration that will be perfect for those wishing to express their perhaps past life as a member or royalty, with a regal dress code and the chance to make your own corgi to escort around the gardens. PS if you bring an actual corgi your entry is refunded!
Plan your journey, track your bus in real-time, buy, store and activate tickets all in on one handy app. Search Arriva UK Bus app in your app store which is free to download or visit www.arrivabus.co.uk/app. Better yet, with the Family Saver tickets offering great value travel this half term, hopping on the bus for your next day out couldn't be easier.