10 magical family-friendly Christmas events in Kent
Whether you live locally or are visiting the area for a winter break, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to family-friendly Christmas events in Kent.
From snowman trails to magical illuminations and enchanting theatre experiences to visits to Father Christmas, here are my top 10 family-friendly events to enjoy this festive season.
Walking with The Snowman™ at Knole, Sevenoaks
Inspired by Raymond Briggs’ timeless festive tale, Knole Park is hosting a magnificent trail this winter, featuring 12 beautiful sculptures of The Snowman.
Running from 15th November to 7th January, discover the magical pieces of art around the parkland and courtyards before enjoying the roaring fires and sparkling trees of the house itself. There is also a craft session on Sunday 10th December and film screenings of The Snowman™ and The Snowman & The Snowdog™ on Saturday 17th December.
Entry to the trail is free, but normal admission fees and parking pre-booking applies.
Illuminate & Christmas at the Castle, Tonbridge
A brand new event, Illuminate is part of Tonbridge’s ‘Christmas at the Castle’, and promises an enchanting and immersive light trail around the castle grounds.
Transforming all aspects of the castle grounds into a winter spectacle, the 35-45 minute trail runs from 26th November to 30th December, with tickets available online. Complete your Christmas outing by visiting Christmas at the Castle’s festive market, food village and Alpine bar.
Tickets start from £9.50 (off peak) for children and £13 (off peak) for adults. See the website for more details.
Little Owl & The Christmas Lights, Tunbridge Wells
Featuring puppetry, original music and enchanting animation, The Amelia Scott’s magical production of Little Owl & The Christmas Lights is the perfect family-friendly Christmas event.
Following Little Owl as he goes on a fearless flight adventure encouraged by his woodland animal friends, this visually spectacular show is suitable for pre-school and early school ages. The eagle-eyed amongst you may also spot local attractions and locations in the production.
The Amelia Scott is running multiple shows per day from 8th December to 24th December, with tickets priced at £10.
Hever Castle, Edenbridge
For a truly magical Christmas experience, head to Hever Castle to enjoy their Christmas light trail, fairground rides and the castle itself in full festive mode.
Wrap up warm and take a wintery walk through Hever Castle’s picturesque gardens as they are lit up with spectacular illuminations and music. With this year’s theme being ‘Lost In The Festive Forest’, follow the story of Ted the bear who helps Red the squirrel find his way home.
Afterwards, explore the historic interiors of the castle and indulge in some delicious food and drink on site. There will also be the opportunity to meet some of the festive characters and Father Christmas on select days.
Prices start from £13.50 for children (5-17yrs) and £22 for adults. Children under 5 visit for free.
Christmas at Bewl Water, Wadhurst
Bewl Water is being transformed into a magical winter wonderland this Christmas! On arrival, children will receive a stamp card inviting them on an enchanting journey to take part in 4 festive activities.
Including the opportunity to visit Santa’s post office, decorate gingerbread at Mrs Claus’ bakery and personalise your own wooden ornaments, the experience will end with a visit to Santa’s Grotto to meet the big man himself.
There will also be live storytelling, interactive performances, photo opportunities, hot chocolate and marshmallow toasting, as well as the usual play areas and woodland walks.
Tickets are £40 for children and £15 for adults (includes parking).
Kent Life Heritage Farm, Maidstone
Located just outside Maidstone, Kent Life’s festive extravaganza will no doubt be a fun day out for all the family.
Visit Father Christmas in his enchanted grotto, as well as attending Elf School, making delicious reindeer food and decorating gingerbread biscuits with Mrs Christmas. Visitors will also have the opportunity to hop aboard the Jingle Express, enjoy a heartwarming festive film and build a bear, whilst adults can indulge in a mulled wine and mince pie.
The event opens on 25th November with family tickets available for £65, adult tickets priced at £13.95 and children (1-15yrs) at £18.95. Pre-booking is required via the Kent Life website.
Kent & East Sussex Railway - Santa Specials, Tenterden
Kent & East Sussex Railway’s award-winning ‘Santa Specials’ return for another year. Having run for 50 years, this wonderful event is a traditional staple in the local Christmas calendar.
Tickets include a 70-minute train journey on one of the railway’s historic steam engines, featuring a magician, refreshments and the main attraction – a meeting with Father Christmas as he walks down the train giving gifts to all of the children. Ticket holders will also have access to the station’s Winter Wonderland, as well as a family photograph.
This tends to be a sell-out event, so booking early is recommended!
The Littlest Yak, Canterbury
Kent-based theatre company, LAStheatre, presents this musical adaptation of award-winning children’s book, The Littlest Yak.
A heart-warming tale set in the heart of the Himalayas, The Littlest Yak is a story about celebrating our individual talents and learning to love yourself just as you are. With beautiful puppets and catchy tunes, this charming production will be taking place at Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre and is perfect for pre-school and early school age children.
Tickets are £16 and available to book on the Marlowe Theatre website.
The Enchanted Grotto at Sussex Country Gardener, Mark Cross
Running from 25th November to 24th December, Once Upon A Wish Events’ The Enchanted Grotto is coming to Sussex Country Gardener Garden Centre to create an mesmerising festive experience for all the family.
Join the elves in their whimsical winter wonderland for gingerbread decorating, captivating performances and even a meeting with Father Christmas himself. Once Upon A Wish always presents such brilliant, high-end productions, so I have no doubt that this year’s experience will be just as fabulous.
Tickets are £25 for children, £10 for under 18 months and £6 for adults.
Christmas at Bedgebury, Goudhurst
Another firm favourite during the festive season, Christmas at Bedgebury promises an absolutely magical experience.
Running between 17th November – 31st December, Bedgebury’s after-dark illuminated trail promises all of the colours of the rainbow plus a glimpse of Father Christmas himself on the way. With sparkling light tunnels, neon structures and displays incorporated into the forest itself, the light trail will no doubt be as mesmerising as always.
Complete your walk under the stars with a visit to the Bedgebury cafe for a hot chocolate, toasted marshmallows or winter warmer.