Christmas in Kent: Best Festive Events for 2023

spellbound travels Christmas in Kent 2023

Christmas in Kent is the most wonderful time of the year, where the holiday spirit, Christmas lights and festive decorations turn this beautiful county into a winter wonderland. The whole family can enjoy a plethora of exciting events, from visiting Santa’s grotto to exploring stunning Christmas trees and tasting festive treats. In this guide, I’ll take you through the best Christmas events in Kent, showing you why it’s the perfect palace to celebrate the holiday season!

Magical Grottos and Enchanting Castles

Kent offers a diverse range of Christmas events that cater to all ages. For those eager to meet Father Christmas, Hever Castle’s Santa’s Grotto is a must-visit. Your little ones can enjoy a magical journey at this unique grotto. 

Meanwhile, Leeds Castle provides a Christmas experience straight out of some Christmas films. With live entertainment, festive decorations and ice skating, it’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit! 

Kent’s Christmas Markets

Kent boasts some of the best Christmas markets in the country. Here are a few you need to check out this holiday season: 

  • Rochester Christmas Market This is a fantastic place for holiday shopping, offering unique gifts and tasty treats, including mince pies and hot chocolate! 
  • Canterbury Christmas Market – If you’re after a traditional market experience, this one will be right up your alley. Enjoy their festive stalls and Christmas crafts.
  • Whitstable Christmas Fair Nestled by the sea, this fair offers a twist to the traditional Christmas market experience. With artisanal crafts and a picturesque backdrop, it’s a must-visit!
  • Faversham Christmas Market – Known for its historic charm, Faversham hosts a market with a range of stalls selling local produce and crafts. It’s the ideal place to find one-of-a-kind gifts. 
  • Chiddingstone Castle Christmas Artisan Fair – For a more refined and artsy experience, this fair is your best bet! Explore the grounds of the castle while perusing a selection of handcrafted items. 
  • Reuthe’s Christmas Market – Found in the lush Walden countryside, this market has a cozy and rustic setting. You can browse through handcrafted goods while enjoying the beautiful surroundings. 
  • Folkestone Harbour Arm Festive Market – Combines seaside charm with a festive atmosphere. The main event is the steam train ride at the Polar Express but you can also explore unique gifts and indulge in local foods. 
  • Traditional Christmas Market Fremlin Walk, Maidstone – This market adds a touch of magic to your holiday shopping. With festive crafts and tasty treats, you can’t go wrong. 
  • Gravesend Christmas Market – Whether you’re looking for festive decorations or simply wish to experience the holiday cheer, this market has it all. 
  • Sheerness Christmas Market – Find festive crafts, tasty treats and amazing Christmas gifts. 
  • Castlemas (Tonbridge Castle) As mentioned earlier, Tonbridge Castle hosts this event, featuring elf schools and carvery meat selections. It’s an all-encompassing festive experience that’s perfect for everyone in the family. 
  • The Creative market – Tenterden – This market provides a platform for local artisans to showcase their unique creations. It’s a treasure trove of artistic and handcrafted gifts that will surely impress your loved ones. 

Light Trails and Festive Food 

If you’re looking for a winter wonderland experience, Spa Valley Railway offers the pleasure of a steam train ride through beautifully lit landscapes. Follow the light trails as you enjoy the festive extravaganza. And the Jinger Bell Bar awaits you at the end of your journey, serving up some Christmas spirit in the form of delicious foods.

Family-Friendly Fun 

Tonbridge Castle is a fantastic spot for festive family days. Children can join Elf School and enjoy fairground rides, while parents savour carvery meat selections. Kent Life provides a glimpse into the past with its annual Christmas market and Santa’s sleigh. It’s a great place for the entire family to relish the holiday cheer and find unique Christmas gifts. 

Ice Skating in Kent

In the heart of the festive season, Kent has another exciting way to embrace the wintery wonderland – ice skating. Ice skating has become an integral part of Christmas traditions and Kent ensures you get to twirl and glide your way into the holiday spirit. 

Ightham Mote Ice Rink:

Set against the backdrop of the magnificent Ightham Mote, the ice rink here transforms the historical estate into a winter wonderland. It’s a magical experience, especially when the sun sets and the Christmas lights come to life. The whole family can enjoy their time of the ice, creating lasting memories. 

Tunbridge Wells Ice Rink: 

Royal Tunbridge Wells welcomes visitors to its seasonal ice rink. The rink is nestled amidst the beautiful trees and decorations of Calverly Grounds, providing a picturesque setting for a joyful skating experience. It’s an ideal place to enjoy quality time with family and friends.

Cobtree Manor Park Ice Rink: 

This rink is known for its friendly atmosphere. Here, you can skate to your heart’s content and enjoy the crisp winter air. It’s the perfect place to practice your skills or simply revel in the joy of gliding along the ice.  

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

The Polar Express at Folkestone Harbour Arm is a magical journey inspired by the classic story. This themed event features Santa Claus and a local food village, offering a selection of tasty treats. You can also find Santa at Hop Farm, Ruxley Manor, Fenn Bell, Bewlwater and Bredgar and Wormshill Railway!

Don’t forget to book your tickets in advance, as this event is fast approaching and is sure to be a special gift for the little ones. 

Kent Christmas Activities

Throughout Kent, the air is filled with the sound of Christmas music and the twinkle of Christmas lights. High streets in various towns are beautifully decorated, creating a festive atmosphere for all. For those who appreciate live music, special events in Royal Tunbridge Wells feature live entertainment that will put you in the Christmas spirit. 

Here are some other Christmas activities you shouldn’t miss! 

  • Winterland at Bluewater – From November 11 – January 7th, you can enjoy Christmas treats, rides, games and more!
  • Laser Light Show at Herne Bay Pier – Get the festive season started on December 17th at Herne Bay Pier. Book from 4 different time slots starting at 4:30 pm for £5.00 PP.
  • Silver Ring Workshop – Want to add a little romance to this Christmas in Kent? Look no further! Enjoy making a personalized Silver ring with a loved one while sipping on tea. This would be such a great surprise experience gift for a parter!
  • Full Day Wine Tour in Sussex and Kent – Mix things up and enjoy ma wine tasting experience over Christmas – it is after all the time to relax and unwind.

Traditional UK Christmas Foods to Try

Christmas isn’t just about the festive events and winter markets; it’s also an opportunity to indulge in traditional British Christmas foods that have been enjoyed for centuries. Here’s a glimpse of the different foods you can savour during the holidays!

  • Christmas Pudding – This rich and fruity dessert, often set ablaze with brandy before serving is a must-try. It’s typically served with brandy butter, custard or cream. At a Canadian who only just tried Christmas pudding last year, I can tell you it’s certainly an acquired taste!
  • Mince Pies – These sweet, spiced pastries filled with a mixture of dried fruits and spices are a Christmas essential. Whether homemade or store-bought, they’re perfect paired with a cup of tea or mulled wine.
  • Christmas Cake – A rich fruitcake, covered with marzipan and icing, is often adorned with festive decorations. it’s usually enjoyed throughout the entire holiday season.
  • Stuffing – Served alongside the roast turkey, stuffing comes in various flavours and styles, from traditional sage and onion to more creative variations.
  • Sprouts and Chestnuts – Brussel sprouts cooked with chestnuts and bacon provide a flavourful and essential side dish for a British Christmas dinner.
  • Mulled Wine – A warming drink made from red wine, spices and citrus fruits, mulled wine is a comforting choice for keeping the cold at bay during the holiday season.

How Will You Spend Christmas in Kent? 

Christmas in Kent offers a wide array of magical and festive events for the entire family. From the enchanting Santa’s grotto at Hever Castle to the delightful markets, there’s no shortage of holiday spirit in this county. 

Make the most of the season by exploring the best Kent Christmas events and create unforgettable memories with your loved ones during this most wonderful time of the year. Don’t forget to check the ticket prices, as some events offer free entry, while others require advance booking.

After more UK content? Here’s some more you might enjoy!

I’ll be back shortly with a new blog but in the meantime, you can follow my adventures as a full-time traveller and digital nomad on InstagramTikTok and YouTube! 


Amy xx 

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