Diary of top events in Kent

Royal Marines in Folkestone

Royal Marines in Folkestone - Credit: Archant

Meet Father Christmas, enjoy ballet, theatre and music with Kent’s most comprehensive guide to days out this December throughout the county

Until 11 Jan 2015


Phil ‘Mister Maker’ Gallagher and Ben Roddy get into the festive swing as they prepare to fly away on a magic carpet to a mysterious desert land. CBeebies star Phil, who was born in Kent and still lives in the county, is Wishee Washee, while Ben will be playing Widow Twankey.

Tickets: £10 to £34 01227 787787 The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury Satnav: CT1 2AS

Until 4 Jan 2015

Sleeping Beauty

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Marc Baylis from ITV’s Coronation Street will take on the role of The Prince in this fun-packed show. Joining Marc as the Good Fairy is 80’s pop icon Sonia. Zoe Birkett will play the role of Carabosse (Bad Fairy), while kids’ TV favourite Jamie Rickers is Silly Billy.

Tickets: £15 to £32 0844 871 7620 Churchill Theatre, Bromley Satnav: BR1 1HA

29 Nov to 23 Dec

Santa in Penshurst ...

Penshurst Place is transformed into a magical world. Step into the wardrobe and push through the fur coats into a magical Narnia-themed grotto to be greeted by Mr Tumnus and escorted by him along the enchanted snowy woodland trail to meet Father Christmas.

Tickets: £9.50 (child); adults free if accompanying a child 01892 870307 Penshurst Place, Penshurst Satnav: TN11 8DG

29 Nov to 24 Dec

... and at the Hop Farm

Father Christmas and his elves welcome families to Santa’s cosy study on The Hop Farm. Booking a visit includes meeting Mother Christmas and the elves and talking to Santa about Christmas wishes before receiving a gift. Included in the ticket price is a glass-framed family photograph.

Tickets: £10.50 (children 1-12) 01622 872068 The Hop Farm, Paddock Wood Satnav: TN12 6PY

Every weekend in Dec

Medieval Christmas at Dover Castle

Dover Castle is situated in spectacular settings above the White Cliffs of Dover and offers a great Christmas atmosphere. Join the court of King Henry for a weekend of medieval festive celebrations at Dover Castle. Enjoy music, dance and storytelling around the roaring open fire.

Tickets: £17.50 to £45.50 0870 333 1181 Dover Castle, Dover Satnav: CT16 1HU

Throughout Dec

Guided winter tours

Created by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, the gardens at Sissinghurst Castle are known for their vibrant planting. During the winter months the gardens take on a different atmosphere. Guided tours bring the wealth of history hidden in the walls and surrounding countryside to life.

Tickets: £6.25, £5.60 01580 710700 Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Nr Cranbrook Satnav: TN17 2AB

Throughout Dec

Magic of Christmas

Nothing says ‘Christmas’ like a visit to see the chap in red. Children will be enchanted by the magical grotto where they will be greeted by elves and then taken to meet Santa in his cabin.

Tickets: Various Hever Castle, Edenbridge Satnav: TN8 7NG

1 Dec

A Russian Spectacular

This music and dance feast boasts one of the finest musical ensembles in the world, the White Russian Central Band (formerly the Red Army Band). There will also be special guest soloists from The Bolshoi and Dancers from The Belarussian National Folk Dance Academy.

Tickets: From £18.50 0844 871 3015 Leas Cliff Hall, Folkestone Satnav: CT20 2DZ

1 Dec

The Rat Pack

Beat the winter blues with a Christmas-themed version of the popular show. Take a trip back in time to the glamorous, glitzy nights of Vegas in the company of three of the world’s most popular entertainers, Frank, Sammy and Dean.

Tickets: £26; £28 01322 220000 Orchard Theatre, Dartford Satnav: DA1 1ED

2 Dec

Dave Gorman

The wonderfully innovative comedy mind behind Modern Life Is Goodish, Are You Dave Gorman? and Googlewhack Adventure is back with a new live show that promises more of his unique blend of stand-up comedy and visual storytelling.

Tickets £21 01322 220000 Orchard Theatre, Dartford Satnav: DA1 1ED

2 to 28 Dec

Canterbury Cathedral

There is no better time to be in Canterbury than during December. The lifesize crib is worth the visit alone, while the music sung by the Cathedral choir is just heavenly. Join in the Mothers’ Union Carol Service, PWRR Carol Service, Canterbury Choral Society Carol Concert, Crib Service and the Canterbury Cathedral Service of Carols.

01227 762862

Canterbury Cathedral, Satnav: CT1 2EH

3 Dec

Royal Marines Band

Seafarers UK, Britain’s leading maritime charity, returns to Folkestone with the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth, the Royal Band. With music from the Corps of Drums to a patriotic finale, the entertainment includes popular tunes from shows and films, plus an added Christmas flavour to this special fundraising concert.

Tickets: From £19.50 0845 871 3015 Leas Cliff Hall, Folkestone Satnav: CT20 2DZ

3 Dec

Swan Lake

The Russian State Ballet and Opera House burst onto the UK stage again with this exciting performance of Swan Lake packed with all the colour and vibrancy associated with this ever-green favourite.

Tickets: £32, £29, £18 (child) 01892 530613 Assembly Hall, Tunbridge Wells Satnav: TN1 2LU

3 Dec

Christmas Wreaths

Held in one of the grand medieval rooms within historic Penshurst Place, this new Christmas wreath-making masterclass will be led by talented florist, Sandra Belton from Unique Floral Designs.

Tickets: £40 01892 870307 Penshurst Place, Penshurst Satnav: TN11 8DG

5 Dec

Alan Carr

The star of Channel 4’s Alan Carr Chatty Man will be trying out new material at this intimate gig before a planned arena tour.

Tickets: £25; £23 01843 292795 Theatre Royal, Margate Satnav: CT9 1PW

5 Dec

Take That Experience

The Take That Experience are back at The Old Brewery Store. The talented tribute group are returning to perform the boyband’s most popular songs, including Relight My Fire and Pray, Patience and Shine.

Tickets: £12.50 01795 542285 The Old Brewery Store, Faversham Satnav: ME13 7DF

5 to 7 and 12 to 14 Dec

Rochester Market

Set against the picturesque backdrop of Rochester Castle, the annual Christmas market boasts luxury and unique gift ideas alongside value goodies and stocking fillers, tasty Christmas treats and a visit from Santa.

Tickets: Free Rochester Satnav: ME1 to ME3

6 Dec

Beer and Food matching

Get into the Christmas spirit with this special festive six-course dinner, hosted by one of the brewery’s beer experts. Shepherd Neame’s popular Christmas Ale will be among the selection of beers served with each course.

Tickets: £49.50 01795 532206 Where: Shepherd Neame Visitor Centre, Faversham Satnav: ME13 7AX

6 Dec

It’s The Manfreds

Original Manfred Mann members Paul Jones, Mike Hugg and Tom McGuinness together with Rob Townsend, Marcus Cliffe and Simon Currie reunite with special guest and former member Mike d’Abo. Expect all the hits, including Do Wah Diddy Diddy, 5-4-3-2-1, Mighty Quinn and Pretty Flamingo.

Tickets: From £25 0844 871 3015 Leas Cliff Hall Folkestone Satnav: CT20 2DZ

6, 7 Dec

Santa at Chartwell

Father Christmas will be giving out a gift to all good girls and boys and helping the elves to make Christmas crafts. Book.

Tickets: Normal admission charges plus £7 (per child) 01732 861159 Chartwell, Westerham Satnav: TN16 1PS

6, 7, 13, 14 Dec

A Churchill family Christmas

Come and see Chartwell open for the winter and decorated perfectly for a 1930’s Christmas, for the first time in many years.

Tickets: Normal admission charges apply

01732 861159

Chartwell, Westerham Satnav: TN16 1PS

6 to 7 Dec

Dickensian Festival

The famous Dickensian Christmas Festival returns to Rochester for an enchanting weekend of traditional Victorian Christmas festivities. Street entertainment, song, dance and classic readings, plus you can rub shoulders with some of Dickens’ most beloved characters.

Tickets: Various Rochester Satnav: ME1 to ME3

6 to 7 Dec

Christmas Art Hub

Three studios will open their doors to the public and 15 local artists will display their work, which ranges from glass and jewellery to ceramics, photography and painting, giving visitors the chance to purchase a truly unique Christmas gift.

Tickets: Free Hadlow Satnav: TN11

6, 7, 13, 14, 20 to 24 Dec

Santa Specials

KESR is celebrating 40 years of Santa Specials. When you arrive at Tenterden station you will be greeted by music from a pipe organ and can enjoy unlimited rides on a traditional Victorian carousel. On board the festively decorated trains, you can get to meet the magical man in red.

Tickets: £19 to £23.50 01580 765155 Kent & East Sussex Railway, Tenterden Satnav: TN30 6HE

6 to 31 Dec

Leeds Castle Christmas

The magic of Christmas will envelop Leeds Castle, celebrating the traditions of the festive season with wonderful things to see and do. The German-style Christmas market will be returning for its second year and the Leeds Castle Winter Trail returns after Christmas Day.

Tickets: Various 01622 765400 Leeds Castle, Maidstone Satnav: ME17 1PL

7 Dec

Madama Butterfly

The award-winning producer Ellen Kent returns to Kent with a stunning production of Puccini’s masterpiece, Madama Butterfly. Expect exquisite sets and fabulous costumes.

Tickets: £17.50 to £36.40 0844 871 3015 Leas Cliff Hall Folkestone Satnav: CT20 2DZ

7 Dec

Light Up A Life

Take part in a wonderfully uplifting occasion with local choirs and musicians, while celebrating the lives of loved ones lost and remembering those who are special to us. Candle Card Christmas tree tags will be available, on which you can write your loved one’s name. These will be included in an act of remembrance and brought back to the Heart of Kent Hospice to hang on the Christmas tree.

Tickets: Contact Heart of Kent Hospice, 01622 790195 The Friars, Aylesford Priory, Aylesford Satnav: ME20 7BX

7 Dec

RTWSO Concert

The RTWSO’s Christmas concert, conducted by Roderick Dunk, features a seasonal selection of enchanting classics by Humperdinck, Rimsky-Korsakov and Anderson. It will also include Alan Silvestri’s suite from the soundtrack of The Polar Express, plus Danny Elfman’s montage from the film score of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Tickets: £14 to £23 01892 530613 Assembly Hall, Tunbridge Wells Satnav: TN1 2LU

7, 14 and 21 Dec

Afternoon tea

Enjoy afternoon tea in the White Rose Drawing Room or Great Hall. Home-made sandwiches, cakes and scones with jam and clotted cream will be served.

Tickets: £18, £9 (child) 01892 870347 Chiddingstone Castle Satnav: TN8 7AD

9 Dec

Carol Concert

The evening’s programme includes the Christmas music from Handel’s Messiah as well as a selection of traditional carols for all to join in. The Cathedral Choir will be joined by the orchestra Rochester Camerata.

Tickets: £12; £8 (concs) 01634 810074 Rochester Cathedral, Rochester Satnav: ME1 1SX

12 Dec to 3 Jan 2015

Peter Pan

Paul Burling and Dawson Chance will be joining up with Craig Revel Horwood in this tale of the boy who didn’t want to grow up. Waspish TV dance show judge Revel Horwood is the dastardly villain Captain Hook.

Tickets: £12.50 to £99 01322 220000 The Orchard Theatre, Dartford Satnav: DA1 1ED

12 Dec to 4 Jan 2015

Peter Pan

Book your tickets for this action-packed adventure, above, featuring stunning sets, amazing flying sequences and a talented cast. Starring Mark Moraghan (from Holby City) as Captain Hook and Gemma Hunt (CBeebies) as Tinker Bell.

Tickets: £12 to £24 01892 530613 Assembly Hall, Tunbridge Wells Satnav: TN1 2LU

12, 13, 19, 20 Dec

Carols in the Courtyard

Sing traditional Christmas carols in the inner courtyard, lit only by candlelight; enjoy a mulled wine.

Tickets: normal admission charges apply, £9.50 (12, 19 Dec); £32.50 (13, 20 Dec) 01732 811314 Ightham Mote, Sevenoaks Satnav: TN15 0NT

13 Dec

Alison Weir

Otford & District Historical Society welcomes the historian and author Alison Weir with Siobhan Clarke, an expert Tudor and costume historian, for a lecture called ‘A Royal Christmas’.

Tickets: £8 01959 524808 St Bartholomew’s, Otford Satnav: TN14 5PD

13 Dec

The Glory of Christmas

Celebrating the 35th season of the Choral Society, the choir introduces a well-loved selection of carols plus a major work in the best of English pastoral tradition. Christmas Cantata describes the Christmas story through the theme of the tenderness of a young mother and her child.

Tickets: £12; £2 (under nine) 01892 822448 St Andrews Church, Paddock Wood Satnav: TN12 6DZ

13 Dec

Christmas Festival

Popular carols and seasonal songs will feature in Maidstone Choral Union’s Christmas concert. The audience is invited to join in and Kent Festival Brass will also perform. The retiring collection is for Help for Heroes.

Tickets: £7 to £16 0845 155 2277 (Leisure Centre Booking Office); 01622 602169 (Maidstone Museum Visitors’ Centre); 01622 726193 (MCU) Maidstone Leisure Centre Satnav: ME15 7RN

13 to 28 Dec

Beauty and the Beast

This classic story for all the family boasts a top-notch cast, including a very cheeky Ricky Groves (from EastEnders, Strictly Come Dancing and Splash) alongside West End Star and local panto Dame Robert Rawles.

Tickets: £7.50 to £48 01843 292795 Theatre Royal, Margate Satnav: CT9 1PW

15 Dec

Remember When

This nostalgic Christmas show will take you on a trip down memory lane and demonstrate why Christmas was and still is a magical time of year.

Tickets: from £13 0844 871 3015 Leas Cliff Hall Folkestone Satnav: CT20 2DZ

16 Dec

Jane Austen’s Birthday celebration

The Jane Austen Birthday Address, Confessions of a Chronic Jane-ite will be given by Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles this year. Ticket price include tea, cake and the lecture.

Tickets: £5 01732 363000 (Mr Books); 03000 413131 (Tonbridge and Sevenoaks Libraries); 01732 452055 (Sevenoaks Bookshop) St Peter and St Paul, Tonbridge Satnav: TN9 1HD

16 to 22 Dec

London International Horse Show

The world’s biggest equestrian Christmas party will be arriving in the capital; the show, now in its 107th year, promises a brand new line-up, showcasing some of the very best horsemanship from around the globe.

Tickets: From £24.50 0871 230 5580 Olympia, London Satnav: W14 8UX

17 Dec

Holly At Christmas

Buddy Holly and the Cricketers herald in the Yuletide festivities with Holly at Christmas, when Holly’s hits, other contemporary classics and some Christmas crackers are all wrapped up in a fast, funny feast of festive frolics.

Tickets: From £16.50 0844 871 3015 Leas Cliff Hall Folkestone Satnav: CT20 2DZ

18 Dec

Family Carol Concert

Featuring the Tonbridge Philharmonic Society and choir and special guest news presenter Ian Palmer, this concert is being held in aid of Kent Life’s charity of the year, chYps. BBC news presenter Ian Palmer will be doing a festive reading, alongside Kent Life editor and chYps patron Sarah Sturt, while musician Joe Stilgoe will also perform.

Tickets: £20 (VIP adult); £8 (standard adult); £5 (child); free (under 5’s) 01732 304241 Tonbridge School Chapel, Tonbridge School, Tonbridge Satnav: TN9 1JP

21, 22 Dec

Christmas choir

Enjoy an introduction to Chartwell, highlighting how Christmas was celebrated by the Churchill family, followed by a tour of the decorated house and ending with festive songs from the Royal Tunbridge Wells Choral Society in the dining room.

Tickets: normal admission charges apply, £10 per person 01732 861159 Chartwell, Westerham Satnav: TN16 1PS

Until 24 Dec

Christmas Past

Walk through the rooms of this fairytale castle, adorned with beautiful decorations and welcoming log fires, find out who made the tradition of sending greeting cards at Christmas popular and how Christmas trees and their decorations changed through the ages. There are Christmas craft sessions and an interactive nativity planned, as well as plenty of opportunities to complete your Christmas shopping in the Hever Shop.

Tickets: Various. 01732 861752 Hever Castle, Edenbridge Satnav: TN8 7NG