6 great Kent Summer Festivals to book NOW!

Pub in the Park

Balmy summer evenings at Pub in the Park festival, Tunbridge Wells - Credit: Pub in the Park

As Festival Fever hits the county, here are six family-friendly Kent festivals, offering everything from music to theatre, literature to great food, that need to be on your radar:

1. Delighting in Dickens

June 16-19

Both Rochester and Broadstairs are celebrating their connections with Charles Dickens, creator of some of the world's best-known fictional characters, this month. While Rochester is combining its Dickens celebrations with those for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee (June 4-5), the Broadstairs Dickens Festival runs from June 16-19.

Highlights here include a dramatised version of A Tale of Two Cities at The Sarah Thorne Theatre and the chance to enjoy a round of mini golf in Dickensian costume, plus free events from lectures to a beach party throughout the town, too.

Golf from £4, Theatre: £14.

broadstairsdickensfestival.co.uk, visitmedway.org

Black Deer Festival

Black Deer Festival - Credit: Ania Shrimpton

2. Black Deer Festival

June 17 - 20 

Billing itself as offering us the chance to hear, "music you love and music you're going to love", the brilliant Black Deer Festival of Americana has Van Morrison, The Waterboys, James and Wilko topping the bill, with a host of other performers appearing over the three days.

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Southern-inspired food and drink plus forest-school style children’s activities make this a great choice for a family adventure - and the whole thing takes place in the beautiful setting of England's oldest deer park at Eridge.

Day tickets from £82 adults; £39 6-17 year olds (0-5 free)


3. Sevenoaks celebrates

4 June 18 - July 3

Sevenoaks Summer Festival is back this year and celebrating the 50th anniversary that it was unable to enjoy back in 2020.

An evening with Scottish singer Eddi Reader, perhaps best known for her work with the band Fairground Attraction and her soaring vocals on its mega-hit Perfect, and the chance to listen to David Gower regale the audience with tales of his cricketing life are just two treats on the bill, with plenty more to entertain adults, children and families, including the popular Festival Fair and walkabout street theatre.


Eddi Reader at Sevenoaks Summer Festival

Eddi Reader at Sevenoaks Summer Festival - Credit: Sean Purser

4. Wealden Literary Festival

25-26 June

Wealden Literary Festival returns to Boldshaves Garden in Woodchurch this month, for a family-friendly weekend celebrating nature, creativity and the outdoors.

Simon Armitage will be joined by authors Helen Macdonald and Raynor Winn, with Yuval Zommer and Nicola Davies on hand to delight younger readers, and a raft of activities, from wild cooking and tree-climbing to clay modelling all on offer.

Tickets from £7 (some events free)


5.  Pub in the Park

July 8-10

Pub in the Park rolls into Tunbridge Wells this July, with its enticing mix of food and music. Hosted by top chef Tom Kerridge,  the three-day event features food from Kerridge’s very own The Hand and Flowers and well as Bib Gourmand-awarded The Kentish Hare, based in Bidborough, Will Devlin’s The Small Holding, which holds a green Michelin star, and popular Tunbridge Wells champagne and seafood bar Sankey’s.

Complementing all this deliciousness will be music from Faithless, with a DJ set on the Friday evening, the queen of the kitchen disco Sophie Ellis-Bextor (also on the Friday evening) and former Spice Girl,  Melanie C (Lazy Sunday session).

Tickets from £52.95 adults, £37.98 children for an evening session  


6. JAM on the Marsh

July 7-17

Making the most of the mediaeval churches and stunning landscape of Romney Marsh, JAM on the Marsh is a festival of outstanding music, theatre, poetry and exhibitions.

Highlights include the London Mozart Players and virtuoso clarinettist Michael Collins performing the world premiere of Judith Bingham’s Clarinet Concerto (a JAM Festival Commission), The London Tango Quintet bringing its Latin heat and excitement to the Marsh for the first time, a performance by leading vocal group VOCES8 and a return visit for local heroes, Ashford Youth Jazz Orchestra.

Changeling Theatre opens the festival with its twist on Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest and there are exhibitions featuring sculpture, photography and oils, plus poetry recitals and a stunning Romney Marsh Churches Mosaics Trail, capturing the history and landmarks all 14 of the Marsh’s medieval churches. 


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