60 Things to do in Kent in 2016

Why not skydive for ellenor.org in 2016?

Why not skydive for ellenor.org in 2016? - Credit: Archant

Fill up the empty spaces on your new calendar with lots of exciting events taking place throughout the year ahead in Kent.


1 Charity Pram Race

Sutton Valence

1 January 2016

The 36th annual pram race heralds in the New Year with teams completing two laps of the loop road in the village, plus a hair-raising ride down a steep hill. Organised by The Queen’s Head Odd Fellows, see website for entry form.

www.queens-head.net/events 2 Into the trenches


Most Read

9 January to 21 February

To mark 100 years since Winston Churchill served on the Western Front during the First World War, a new exhibition at his former home explores his early military career from cavalry charges to the trenches. Families can also explore the garden finding out about Sir Winston’s early military and what to do as an escaped prisoner of war. Normal admission prices apply.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell 3 May the Toys be with You


January to 6 March

The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge

One of the UK’s finest collections of vintage Star Wars posters and toys comes to Canterbury, this exclusive exhibition is a must for big and little kids alike

www.canterbury.co.uk/beaney 4 Burns Night at Eastwell Manor


25 January

Enjoy the experience of a traditional Scottish evening and a five-course dinner in this fabulous Jacobean manor house hotel.

www.eastwellmanor.co.uk FEBRUARY

5 Chilli Dip for ellenor

St Julians Club, Sevenoaks,

6 February

Support Kent Life’s Charity of the Year, ellenor, by braving the cold and taking the plunge in an outdoor swimming pool, £15 per person.

https://ellenor.org 6 Valentine’s Dine and Stay

Hever Castle

13 to 14 February

Spend the most romantic weekend of the year in one of the most romantic castles in the world. Wake up to a Champagne breakfast in Hever Castle’s luxury bed and breakfast accommodation on Valentine’s Day with one of the Dine and Stay packages.

www.hevercastle.co.uk 7 Hellebore Tours

Hadlow College

21, 25 27, 28 February, 5 and 6 March

Led by head gardener Alex Rennie, Hadlow College’s much-loved Hellebore Tours are just £3 per person and can be booked with Pat Crawford, Hadlow College, Hadlow TN11 0AL. Cheques should be made payable to Hadlow College and an S.A.E. enclosed. Broadview Tearoom ise offering a two-course lunch for £8.95 per person or cream tea at £4.75 per person. Places can be secured by paying in full in advance or by making a deposit of £5 for luncheon or £3 for cream tea (per person; include in the cheque for tickets). For more information call Pat Crawford, 01732 852243.

https://hadlow.ac.uk/news-events/category/events MARCH

8 Kent Big Weekend

12 and 13 March

More than 100 attractions across the county will welcome lucky ticket holders for Visit Kent’s special celebration of tourism.

www.kentbigweekend.co.uk 9 Lambing weekend


12 and 13 March

Watch lambs being born in the lambing shed (11am-4pm) with expert commentary by Agriculture students, tour the Animal Management Unit which houses reptiles, invertebrates and small mammals as well as outdoor llamas, pigs, otters and goats, enjoy a tractor ride and stock up at the Produced in Kent Farmers’ Market.

https://hadlow.ac.uk/news-events/category/events 10 Handel’s Messiah

Tonbridge School Chapel

19 March 7.30pm

This great work was first performed by Tonbridge Philharmonic Society in 1946. The choir and orchestra will be joined by the twinned town Evangelische Kantorei Heusenstamm. Tickets from Box Office, starts 7.30pm.

www.tonphil.org.uk/tickets 11 Easter Family Fun

Hever Castle

25 March to 10 April

Hop into action this Easter and enjoy a family day out at Hever Castle and Gardens. Collect your map to follow the trail and find the Gold Bunny’s missing friends and receive a chocolate bunny treat.

www.hevercastle.co.uk 12 Medway Festival of Steam and Transport

The Historic Dockyard Chatham

27 to 28 March

A carnival spectacular for all ages, with an all-inclusive steam funfair, street entertainment, live music, walkabout acts and a fun two day programme to keep family and friends fully entertained.

www.thedockyard.co.uk Don’t forget!

Kent Life launches its seventh Garden of the Year Awards this month, with an added category: Community Garden of the Year. The March edition is on sale from 18 February and also visit our dedicated website.

www.kentgardenawards.co.uk APRIL

13 Hanami Blossom Festival

17 April

Brogdale Collections, Faversham

The Hanami festival is a one-day cultural celebration where you will be able to enjoy traditional Japanese entertainment whilst you picnic under the beauty of the ornamental cherry blossom. Join this stunning and unique day out in Faversham.

www.brogdalecollections.co.uk 14 St George’s Day Dover Castle 23 and 24 April Re-live the story of St George and the Dragon at Dover Castle. Soak up the sights, smells and sounds of a medieval village. Witness the skill at arms horse show and see St George bravely take on the dastardly dragon. www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/dover-castle 15 Sweeps Festival


30 April to 2 May

Now in its 36th year, this mighty musical extravaganza recreates the joy and laughter enjoyed by sweeps on their traditional holiday. Expect Morris dancing, folk music, real ale and plenty of local stalls throughout Rochester city centre. www.visitmedway.org Bluebell season


Emmetts Garden, nr Sevenoaks

A wonderful display of bluebells smother the slope and hillocks beneath the trees, creating a sea of hazy blue.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/emmetts-garden 17 Weald of Kent Craft & Design Show

Penshurst Place

30 April to 2 May

Find unusual hand-made crafts for the home and garden and enjoy a day out for all the family. Meet up to 250 artist crafts people from all over the UK who will be bringing you the very best in unusual and inspiring crafts, not usually found on the high street. www.thecraftshows.co.uk/kent MAY


18 Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival


1 and 2 May

New for 2016, Chiddingstone Castle’s inaugural literary festival is to be held in the castle and grounds over two days during the first May Bank Holiday weekend and will feature creative performances from authors, poets and theatre groups to suit the whole family.

www.chiddingstonecastle.org.uk/events Chilham

21 to 22 May

The Globe theatre is launching its 2016 touring programme from Chilham Castle over the weekend nearest to the birth date of Sir Dudley Digges, who built the Jacobean house in 1616 on the site of the ancient castle. The weekend will include performances of Two Gentlemen of Verona and also the famous Chilham Chase, a race run between teams of ‘Gentlemen and Maidens of good character from Chilham and surrounding parishes.’

www.chilham-castle.co.uk 20 Annual Horse Show

Hadlow College

22 May

Second Year Level 3 Equine Management Students are organising and running the 2016 Horse Show, with classes including: show jumping, dressage, in-hand and ridden showing, working hunter, children’s classes and gymkhana games. For further information, contact Becky Kew on 01732 853257.

https://hadlow.ac.uk/news-events/category/events 21 Grand Medieval Joust

Nr Maidstone

28 to 30 May

Medieval jousting returns to Leeds Castle for 2016. See fully armoured jousters battling it out in a real competition. Enjoy living history encampments, medieval music and mounted skill at arms displays.

www.leeds-castle.com/events Don’t forget!

Kent Life and its sister title Kent on Sunday launches its fourth Food & Drink Awards this month, with a dozen categories ranging from Restaurant of the Year to Custonmer Service and Food & Drink Hero. The May edition is on sale from xxxx and also visit our dedicated website.

http://kentfda.co.uk JUNE

22 Dickens Festival


3 to 5 June

For more than three decades Rochester has celebrated its proud association with Dickens with a festival packed with Dickensian delight and Victorian intrigue.

www.visitmedway.org 23 Perrys’ Charity Golf Day


10 June

Perrys Chartered Accountants is hosting its fifth Annual Charity Golf Day at Chart Hills Golf Club and four-ball teams made up of friends and businesses from across the county are invited to enter. Tickets at £95 per player include a full English breakfast, an 18-hole round of golf, entry into the hole-in-one competition and a three-course evening meal. All proceeds will be donated to The Kent Cancer Trust.

Contact Caroline Hoare for a booking form at: hoare@perry-company.co.uk. 24 Skydive for ellenor

Headcorn Airfield

11 June

Plummet 12,000 feet while raising money for ellenor.

https://ellenor.org 25 Food and Drink Day


12 June

Biddenden Vineyards will be hosting its 10th Food and Drink Day, giving you the chance to taste the best of produced in Kent. There will be more than 40 stalls to browse and you can meet the producers and try before buying their fantastic produce, all in aid of The Kent Air Ambulance.

www.biddendenvineyards.com 26 Delphinium week


17 to 26 June

Godinton House & Gardens

A celebration of the fabulous delphinium in Godinton’s walled garden. Expect the usual expert talks, entertainment and evening walks in the beautiful surroundings.

http://godintonhouse.co.uk 27 Broadstairs Dickens Week

18 to 24 June

Celebrate the life of Dickens at the week-long, eclectic festival on the Kent coast. Each year, Broadstairs revels in a true Dickensian delight with talks, performances, fairs, walks and demonstrations of what everyday life was like in the Victorian era. Highlights include spotting the marvellously costumed ladies and gentleman strolling around town, the festival play, a Victorian country fair and the unforgettable Dickensian beach party.

www.broadstairsdickensfestival.co.uk 28 Tonbridge Arts Festival


20 June to 3 July

A celebration of the arts in the grounds and surroundings of Tonbridge Castle, with music, dance and performances.

www.tonbridgeartsfestival.co.uk JULY

29 Kent County Show


8 to 10 July

The showcase event for farming, countryside and rural life, bringing together the very best of the Garden of England.

www.kentshowground.co.uk 30 Classical Concert

Nr Maidstone

9 July

Leeds Castle stages the original and best classical concert in the county, featuring an emotional finale of stunning fireworks and booming field guns.

www.leeds-castle.com/events 31 Open Studios & Arts Festival


16 to 24 July

Follow the free art trail across Medway, with more than 20 venues taking part, exhibiting work from more than 100 artists. Including a wide range of affordable art and craft, from bespoke jewellery to live street art.

www.medwayopenstudios.co.uk 32 Oyster Festival


23 to 29 July

A week-long celebration of food, drink, music, parades and competitions in the picturesque seaside town, now in its 32nd year as a modern revival of an ancient festival dating back to Norman times.

http://calendarcustoms.com/articles/whitstable-oyster-festival 33 Ramsgate Week

24 to 29 July

Ramsgate plays host to a full programme of racing with lots of sailing and shore-side activities planned all across the town.

www.ramsgateweek.com 34 Open-air cinema

Port Lympne Reserve

30 July

Enjoy an open air cinema experience with a twist, in the exotic surroundings of Port Lympne Reserve. Screenings will be confirmed nearer the date, and proceeds will go towards The Aspinall Foundation’s conservation work.

www.aspinallfoundation.org/port-lympne AUGUST

35 Folk Week


5 to 12 August

Taking place all over this delightful seaside town, thousands of people enjoy around 70 free events a day.

www.broadstairsfolkweek.org.uk 36 Siege of 2016

Dover Castle

13 and 14 August

It is 800 years since Dover withstood the now-legendary siege led by Prince Louis of France, now witness the cut and thrust of a castle under siege brought to vivid life.

www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/dover-castle 37 bOing! International Family Festival


27 and 28 August

bOing! is a festival for all ages at The Gulbenkian Theatre at the University of Kent in Canterbury, bringing together leading companies from across the UK and Europe for a magical weekend of performance and adventure.

www.boingfestival.com 38 Brogdale Artisan Cider Festival


27 and 28 August

Sample an excellent range of local artisan ciders, listen to great music and enjoy local food. Tours of the orchard also available.

www.brogdalecollections.org SEPTEMBER

39 Hop Festival


3 to 4 September

This Shepherd Neame-sponsored festival brings together more than 50 bands, dance acts, circus workshops, magic shows and over 80 trading stalls in the streets of Faversham to remember how hopping families celebrated the last day of their working holiday in the fields of Kent.

www.faversham.org 40 Ride and Stride

Kent churches

10 September

The Friends of Kent Churches Sponsored Ride and Stride sees 50 per cent of sponsorship money raised going to the church or chapel of your choice, with the other 50 per cent going to the Friends, who use it to help the most needy churches and chapels in use in the county (£2.5m raised in Kent so far.)

http://friendsofkentchurches.co.uk/ride-and-stride/ 41 Food Festival & Hop Pocket Race


23-25 September

The festival kicks off with a hop pocket race, where teams from local businesses and organisations compete to carry a giant bag of hops through the city in the fastest time. This is followed by three days of food, drink and entertainment in Dane John Garden.

www.canterbury.co.uk/canterburyfoodfestival 42 Festival of Flowers

Leeds Castle, nr Maidstone

24 to 28 September

Leeds Castle will once again be transformed for a Festival of Flowers by award winning floral designers and budding florists under the guidance of the Castle Florist.

www.leeds-castle.com/events 43 Twilight Walk

Cyclopark, Gravesend

16 September

Take part in an 8km or 12km sponsored walk and raise money for ellenor, £15 per person.

https://ellenor.org 44 Food Festival


30 September to 2 October

Now in its 8th year, the festival is cooking up a few surprises for 2016. Celebrity chats; cookery workshops; children’s activities alongside over 100 stalls of Kent’s finest food and drink.

www.broadstairsfoodfestival.org.uk OCTOBER

45 Turner and Colour


8 October to 8 January 2017

A major exhibition of work by JMW Turner and the fullest survey of the artist’s watercolours of Margate yet to be shown at the gallery. Featuring more than 70 works in both oil and watercolour, the exhibition highlights Turner’s engagement with developments in colour theory and his adoption and exploitation of new materials. www.turnercontemporary.org 46 Brogdale National Apple Festival


15 and 16 October

Kent’s biggest and Apple Festival will display 1,000 apple varieties and a ‘try before you buy’ of the seasonal fruit. Tractor trailer and walking tours of the orchards will be running and the craft and produce village returns to offer your some unique gift ideas. Enjoy live music, local food and entertainment over the whole weekend. Take a miniature train ride to see the farm from a whole new view and children can get crafty and have their face painted in the little festival goer’s area.

www.brogdalecollections.co.uk 47 Canterbury Festival


15 to 29 October

Every year the international arts festival brings a wide selection of arts to the city including music, theatre, dance, comedy and science.

www.canterburyfestival.co.uk 48 Wicked Witches

Penshurst Place

24 to 28 October

Big and little kids can enjoy spooky adventure in grounds of Penshurst Place, with storytelling under a bell tent, hot chocolate and marshmallow toasting around the fire, and plenty of Halloween themed activities.

www.penshurstplace.com 49 Halloween Extravaganza

Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway

Late October

The miniature railway will be spooking passengers over the October half term with Halloween-themed journeys, spooky sights and plenty of mini for passengers! www.rhdr.org.uk 50 Screamland


28 to 31 October

Dreamland will once again transform for its Halloween extravaganza in October, bringing a selection of terrifying horror mazes and immersive attractions to town. Book in advance, and prepare for a fright night you’ll never forget. www.dreamland.co.uk NOVEMBER

51 Fireworks Spectacular

? 5 and 6 Nov | Nr Maidstone

For two consecutive nights, the most incredible display of pyrotechnics will light up the sky over Leeds Castle, synchronised with moving images and glorious music.

www.leeds-castle.com/events 52 Christmas Festival

? 20 Nov | Tonbridge

The Tonbridge Rotary Christmas sees marching bands through the High Street, musical entertainment, a switch on of the Christmas lights by the Mayor of Tonbridge and Malling and stars from the local pantomime. After the light switch on, the music will continue until 6pm when there will be a spectacular firework finale over Tonbridge Castle followed by a special evening service at the parish church.

www.rotary-ribi.org 53 Orange Ball for ellenor

? 4 Nov

Star-studded ball with great food, a charity auction and excellent entertainment.

ellenor.org 54 Open Weekend and Sale ? 26 & 27 Nov | Aylesford Have a go on the potter’s wheel, enjoy free mulled wine and mince pies. Savings on all studio and garden pottery. www.aylesfordpottery.co.uk 55 Christmas Fair

? 26 Nov | Chiddingstone Castle

Choose your Christmas gifts from stalls inside the castle and a heated marquee. Music, mulled wine and mince pies will add to the festive atmosphere.

www.chiddingstonecastle.org.uk 56 Quexmas

? 27 Nov | Birchington

A festive craft fair with more than 70 stalls selling a variety of crafts and gifts.

www.quexmuseum.org 57 Christmas VIP Event ? Nov | Ashford Welcome in the festive season in style and enjoy additional savings at the Designer Outlet, plus free entry to the Christmas VIP Lounge, where you can experience the magic of Christmas. Register to the Privilege Club to ensure you receive your exclusive invite. www.mcarthurglen.com/uk/ashford-designer-outlet/en/signup 58 Winter Wonderland

? Nov to Jan | Bluewater

Enjoy a fabulous day out for the whole family while you start your festive shopping. Activities on offer provide entertainment for all ages, including an ice rink, Santa’s Grotto, rides and more.

www.bluewater.co.uk DECEMBER

59 Dickensian Christmas Festival



Rochester’s Dickensian Christmas has been held annually since 1988. Packed with local shopping stalls, Rochester becomes a feast of Victorian delights, carol concerts and Dickens characters.

www.visitmedway.org 60 Carols at the Cathedrals {+ Dec pic 2}

Canterbury and Rochester


Head to Canterbury or Rochester Cathedral for festive services and beautiful carol services.

www.canterbury-cathedral.org www.rochestercathedral.org