Christmas in Kent (and beyond!) 2022
Now it may only be November and I’m loathed to mention the ‘C’ word yet but the organised among you will know that Christmas events are already beginning to sell out. So even if you’re not feeling the slightest bit festive yet it might be a good idea to start booking in those Santa visits and Christmas light trails in now.
Below is a round up of all the best events to help you get the most out of Christmas in Kent! (I’ve tried not to include any that are sold out!) And as money is tight for many of us, I’ve tried to include a range of events to suit all budgets, including free events such as markets and light switch ons so that we can all enjoy Christmas in Kent. As well as this I’ve have included reviews of the fab events I visited last year.
Christmas at Bedgebury
This had been on my to do list for a few years now and it didn’t disappoint! We went at the very start of December and it got us all feeling very festive. The illuminated trail through Bedgebury Pinetum was absolutely stunning and felt really magical. There are a range of amazing installations each accompanied by music, a crowd favourite definitely being the tunnel of lights – don’t forget that selfie! Around the trail there are different stalls to grab drinks and snacks and the cafe is also open. I think this is definitely my favourite way to spend Christmas in Kent.
Top tip: make sure you book early as this sells out quick!
Castlemas at Tonbridge Castle
This was a new event last year so I was really pleased to be invited to the opening night. Set in the grounds of Tonbridge Castle, Castlemas has a Christmas market with gifts and different food and drinks stalls. There is also the Jingle Bell bar where you can get yourself a mulled wine and enjoy some free festive entertainment. Castlemas have a fantastic range of shows which you’ll find at the Igloo Stage. There is lots to entertain the kids, including The Snow Queen and Rock the Tots. if you fancy a night off from parenting there is great evening shows including The Best of Burlesque and Masters of the Musicals.
Top tip: Catch the snowfall daily at 2:30 and 6:30
Legoland at Christmas
Ok so this isn’t Christmas in Kent but we had such a great time last year I just had to include it! The park was decorated beautifully with the most Christmas trees I’d ever seen. There were loads of festive Lego models all over the park, as well as Christmas shows and the chance to see Father Christmas. It also was a great time to go as the park wasn’t overly busy. We didn’t have to queue for the rides, meaning we got to experience so much more of the park than when we have been in the summer.
Top tip: book for a school day if you can!
The Elf Express, Quex Park
This was my son’s first year seeing Father Christmas so I wanted to make sure it was extra special. The Elf Express was really magical and combined a trailer ride (The elf Express) and an interactive trail. This culminated in getting to meet the big man himself! There were lots of characters along the way and we also got to meet some festive animals. Father Christmas was a great one, even though my little one was terrified! He got to choose a toy at the end and even got to pose in Santa’s sleigh. Quex have lots of different Christmas events on so do check out their website.
Top tip: it can get muddy so bring wellies!
Christmas Trail, Betteshanger
After doing the Halloween trail that year we just knew we wanted to come back and do the Chritsmas one! The kids loved following the trail through the beautiful woodland decorated with twinkling lights and festive characters. At the beginning they were given a sheet and they had to find the clues around the trail in order to work out the password. They could then meet Rudolph at the end and receive their gift. Halfway round the trail there was the chance to grab a warm drink, perfect for those chiller days! This year the theme is A North Pole Adventure with Father Christmas. We were a little disappointed by the Halloween trail this year so hoping this one is back to its best.
Top tip: This is another muddy one so don’t forget those wellies.
Festive afternoon tea at The Lane
When I think of afternoon tea I think of the Lane! So when spending Christmas in Kent I just had to head there for their festive version. I made the right choice! What I love the most is the great vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options. No one has to miss out! They even do a children’s version. The festive afternoon tea has everything you would expect; pigs in blankets, mince pies, alcohol free mulled wine and even crackers. My vegetarian version had meat free sausage rolls, brie sliders and halloumi wrapped in aubergine.
Christmas afternoon tea begins on 28th November – must be booked 48 hours in advance
Top tip: Make sure to ask for a doggy bag to take home.
Mission Christmas, The Historic Dockyard, Chatham
This is a new experience for 2022 and we are really excited to have been invited to the location of one of our favourite Kent days out. Mission Christmas is a magical, interactive journey into Santa’s substation, hidden deep in the Dockyard where we will uncover the secrets of how every child is found each Christmas Eve. It includes:
An immersive, guided 45-minute Christmas story with interactive activities
Meeting Father Christmas
A gift from Father Christmas
The opportunity to take your own photo with Father Christmas
Christmas Lights at Leeds Castle
This is another new experience this year. We are really looking forward to exploring the beautiful grounds of one our favourite castles in Kent lit up with enchanting illuminations. Over a million lights, lasers and seasonal soundtracks will fill the air with festive fun in the gardens of the iconic country retreat that is Leeds Castle.
There will also be Independent street food vendors bringing a delicious twist to tasty treats on offer.
More Ways to Enjoy Christmas in Kent
Experience Christmas at Kent Life
There is lots to do here including festive films and shows, Christmas crafts, riding the Jingle Express, festive food and drink and a visit to Santa’s Grotto.
Includes access to Kent Life. Book in advance
Glow Illumination Trail, Cobtree Manor Park
Maidstone’s stunning Cobtree Manor Park is lit up with a twinkling display inspired by this year’s theme, ‘Nature After Dark.’
There will be a festive food village.
A selection of rides, games, attractions and festive treats.
Begins Sat 12th Nov
Christmas at Hever Castle
Includes a Christmas light experience, Christmas trail in the Festive Forest, traditionally decorated rooms in the castle, fairground rides, Christmas shopping and a meet the huskies experience.
Light trail around the beautiful grounds and gardens of Walmer Castle. Festive food and drink will be available.
Rochester Dickensian Christmas Festival
Experience street entertainment, readings, song and dance in Victorian style.
3rd December – 4th December
Meet the Snowman and the Snowdog
Head to Betteshanger to meet these beloved festive characters with an exclusive screening of the film. There will be festive food and drink available.
Kent Drive-In Cinema
Catch your favourite festive movies from the comfort of your own car at Betteshanger.
More details to be released soon.
ice skating in Tunbridge Wells with a toddler and parent dedicated rink during the daytime. There is also a bar for mulled wine and local beers aswell as a coffee shop.
There are a number of railways that provide train rides with Santa, these are hugely popular and sell out quickly. I’ve missed them again this year! My advice is to sign up to their emails and book as soon as tickets become available.
THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride at Spa Valley Railway
Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway Santa Specials
Kent and East Sussex Railway Santa Specials
Light Switch Ons and Parades
Broadstairs Christmas Lights
Saturday 26th December from noon
Chatham Christmas Lights
Saturday 19th November from 3:45
Dartford Christmas Lights
Saturday 19th Nov. Stage performances from 2pm
Dover Christmas Lights
The Fire Garden and lantern procession
2nd – 3rd December
Folkestone Christmas Lights
Saturday 19th November from 3:30pm
Gillingham Christmas Lights
Friday 25th November from 2pm
Gravesend Christmas Lights
Friday 18th November from 4pm
The Gravesham Festival of Christmas Lights
Friday 18th November from 4:30pm
Maidstone Christmas Lights
Thursday 17th November from 5pm
Rochester Christmas Lights
Saturday 26th November from 3:45
Strood Christmas Lights
Friday 18th November from 2pm
Tenterden Christmas Lights
From Friday 25th November
Tunbridge Wells Christmas Lights
Saturday 19th November from 5pm
Westwood Cross Christmas Lights with East 17 performing
Friday 18th November from 3:30
Whitstable Christmas Lantern Lit Parade
Sat 26th November. Entertainment from 2pm
Aylesford Christmas Market
26th – 27th November. Tickets cost £4.50
Canterbury Christmas Market
From Friday 11th November
Chartwell National Trust Christmas Fair
17th – 20th November
Dartford Christmas Market, Hall Place and Gardens
12th – 13th November
Faversham Christmas Market
9th – 11th December
Folkestone Christmas Market
From 19th November
Maidstone Christmas Market, Maidstone Museum
Saturday 10th December
10th and 11th December
Rochester Christmas Market
26th November – 11th December
Tenterden Christmas Market
25th- 27th November
Water Lane Christmas Market
3rd – 4th December
3rd and 4th December
Wildwood Trust Christmas Market
3rd – 4th December