Autumn Bucket List - 13 Cosy Autumn Activities in Kent & Sussex
With the night drawing in and days getting cooler, I am so ready for days out wrapped in scarves and boots and cosy nights amongst candles and pumpkins! If you’re looking for some inspiration for days out and Autumn activities in Kent and Sussex, here’s my ultimate Autumn bucket list…
Go apple and pumpkin picking at Castle Farm
Kick off the cosy season with a visit to Sevenoaks’ charming Castle Farm to pick some lovely local produce.
Nestled in the Darenth Valley, this family-run farm is most well known for its lavender season in the Summer months, but is equally magical come Autumn. Their picturesque orchards are open until mid-September on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for you to pick their signature sweet, juicy Norfolk Royal apples. Then from October, their pumpkin season is in full swing, with cartfuls of beautiful pumpkins and gourds for sale.
From pretty Sweet Lightning pumpkins, all the way through to grand Crown Princes, Castle Farm sells a huge array of pumpkins and squashes which are perfect for decorating and making warming soups and pies. Bring a basket to fill and marvel at all of the delicious, fresh produce in the on-site farm shop, as well as their beautiful home decor items which will make those cosy evenings feel even more special.
Embark on a cosy Canterbury bookshop crawl
Nothing says Autumn quite like snuggling up with a good book whilst wearing a chunky jumper and drinking a pumpkin spiced latte, and one of the best places to find classic bookshops is the cathedral city of Canterbury.
Join a group of book lovers for an afternoon tour of the city via some of its most historic and iconic bookshops, with tea and cake along the way. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to go it alone you can download Bookshop Crawl’s pay-what-you-can style welcome pack.
With a multitude of wonderful book shops lining Canterbury’s cobbled streets, you’ll be spoilt for choice. This is a must-do for any literary lovers.
See the Boston Ivy at Hever Castle
Hever Castle & Gardens is wonderful to visit all year around, but the castle looks particularly stunning as the Autumn months creep in and the Boston Ivy which adorns the castle turns a rich shade of red.
With crunchy leaves underfoot and an abundance of Autumnal flora and fauna to see throughout the gardens, October and November are prime months to visit this former childhood home of Anne Boleyn. Bursting with history and character, there are weekly demonstrations and talks during October for garden lovers, and Halloween half term fun for families.
Visit for a glorious explosion of colour as the Japanese maples, beech and tulip trees all create a mesmerising palette of golds, reds and oranges.
Do a spooky ghost tour in Rye
Led by knowledgeable town crier, Paul Goring, Rye’s 2 hour ‘Murders & Mystery’ ghost walk is a fascinating exploration into Rye’s intriguing – and often grisly – past.
Taking place across Rye’s cobbled streets after dark, this expertly hosted tour encompasses a range of eerie and gruesome tales linked the various areas of the ancient cinque port town. From murdered monks to spooky smugglers; perilous prisoners and inconspicuous inns, this extensive insight into historic Rye is not for the faint-hearted.
If you’re particularly brave, make a night of it with a stay at Rye’s historic Mermaid Inn which is infamous for its ghostly sightings and paranormal activity.
Enjoy a night beneath the stars
With large rural areas undisturbed by light pollution in Kent and Sussex, it makes for a great spot for stargazing as the nights draw in – something incredibly romantic and unique to include in your Autumn bucket list.
As the UK’s only desert, Dungeness is one of the darkest spots in the area and makes for a truly mesmerising experience. Similarly, Elmley Nature Reserve on the Isle of Sheppey is a magical spot for stargazing and is the only nature reserve in the UK where you can sleep under the stars.
The reserve has farmhouse rooms, shepherds huts and bell tents available to stay in, you can spend a memorable night toasting marshmallows, wrapping up in blankets and watching the night’s sky.
Enjoy a candlelit dinner at The Black Horse
Dating back to the 15th century, The Black Horse in Pluckley has been a traditional inn for over 300 years and is renowned as the UK’s most haunted pub.
Whether you believe in the ghouls or not, there’s no denying that this is one of the cosiest and most atmospheric pubs around – especially in the colder months. Featuring beamed ceilings and inglenook fireplaces, it oozes with character and particularly comes to life in the evening when the restaurant is filled with candles.
With high-end food and a romantic ambience, a meal at The Black Horse would be a fabulous way to spend a sophisticated date night this Autumn.
Take a walk through the Autumn colours
We are so lucky to have so many spectacular spots in Kent and Sussex to admire in Autumn. Whether you enjoy collecting conkers, photographing the jewel tones, or crunching through leaves, there are so many options for good Autumnal walks.
Three of my personal favourites are Scotney Castle in Lamberhurst, Sheffield Park & Gardens in Uckfield and Hole Park in Rolvenden. All of them boast magnificent gardens bursting with Autumn colours, along with reflective waters and brilliant walking routes to blow the cobwebs away.
Hunt for the Gruffalo at Bedgebury
Bedgebury Pinetum is renowned for its extravagant Christmas light display, but it also comes alive in Autumn with the breathtaking array of colours on display. Visit on a crisp, Autumnal day and the scenes are spectacular.
Owned and run by Forestry England, Bedgebury Pinetum spans across 128 hectares, and plays hosts to The Gruffalo and friends throughout a 2.5 mile trail. Explore the tranquil lakes and magnificent conifers as you hunt for the Gruffalo and friends through the forest making it high up on the Autumn bucket list for kids.
The forest also boasts a fabulous natural play area, cafe and cycle routes to make a real day of it this Autumn.
Pick pumpkins at Lower Ladysden
There’s no doubt about it, Autumn = pumpkin picking! We are spoilt for choice when it comes to pumpkin picking in Kent, but Lower Ladysden has to be one of my top spots.
Located just outside Goudhurst, Lower Ladysden’s Pumpkin Festival sees their vast field transformed into a massive pumpkin patch. With a wide variety of pumpkins available, along with photo opportunities, face painting, carving areas and a maize maze, it makes for a fun-filled family afternoon out.
For a more grown-up experience, Lower Ladysden also hosts its ‘Pumpkin Nights’ during October, which offer visitors the chance to explore the pumpkin patch after dark. Warm up afterwards with a nightcap or Halloween milkshake from the cafe.
Indulge in a foraged feast at Falconhurst
Nestled just outside of Edenbridge, Falconhurst Estate and Farm Shop is a real hidden gem tucked away in the Kent countryside. Home to the Talbot family since the mid-19th century, this historic house and gardens now celebrates all parts of the local area with events, produce and nature walks.
During the Autumn months, Falconhurst hosts foraging feasts, brunch and supper clubs created using seasonal ingredients grown on your doorstep. Cooked over fire by local chefs and served in Falconhurst’s rustic, historic barn, their Autumn dining experiences are set to be something very special.
Make your own Autumnal candles
As the nights draw in, I’m all about getting my favourite scented candles out to add to the cosy ambience. If you’re a fellow candle lover, you will be in your element at one of The Candle Sanctuary’s brilliant candle making workshops.
Based in Pembury, Rachel from The Candle Sanctuary offers two-hour workshops giving you the opportunity to create one large or two smaller scented candles. Accompanied by coffee and cake or nibbles and fizz (depending on whether you book a morning or evening session), it’s a wonderful way to create some special Autumnal scents for those colder evenings.
Have a night out at Oktoberfest Tonbridge
If you’re looking for a big night out, Tonbridge will once again play host to Kent’s biggest Oktoberfest this Autumn.
Taking place at the Racecourse Sportsground on the 13th and 14th October, expect Bavarian food stalls, live music and plenty of beer in this German-themed event. There are 3 sessions across the two dates, and tickets are available via the website, so grab your lederhosen and stein!
See the fireworks at Leeds Castle
Finally, my Autumn bucket list wouldn’t be complete without the bonfire night extravaganza that is Leeds Castle’s fireworks display.
Taking place on 4th and 5th November, spend the day exploring the glorious castle grounds before the sky is lit up by spectacular fireworks and lasers after dark. Enjoy delicious street food, live music and fairground attractions at this unmissable Kent event which will no doubt captivate those young and old!