Festival season is upon us!
It’s festival season once again and from now until well into the autumn you can take your pick of the exciting, entertaining and spectacularly different festivals across Kent and beyond.
Who doesn’t enjoy a festival? They’re not all about loud music in muddy fields – although some of the very best ones definitely are! – there are festivals to suit all tastes from rock to electronic and classical music, from arts and crafts to history, and plenty more besides. Whatever you are into and whatever makes you happy, there will be a festival to attend where you can meet like-minded people, relish the carefree atmosphere and soak up the sounds, smells and sights. So, read on to find out about some of the biggest, best and most exciting festivals across Kent this year.
South East Vegan Events // www.facebook.com/SouthEastVeganEvents // 25 May
After the success of 2018, South East Vegan Events is back with five 2019 events across four dates in Kent. New: Saturday 25th May, 2pm-5.30pm: The Cranbrook Vegan Health & Beauty Fair with 18 stalls and pop-up cafe from sponsor, The Fat Carrot. For a pre-booked vegan afternoon tea, email firstname.lastname@example.org. On 30th June there is a double event: the Tonbridge Vegan Food Show and Tonbridge Vegan Health & Beauty Show with talks and 60 stalls. £3 adults, free parking. This event is 11am-4pm at the Angel Centre Sports Hall. New: 25th September is the Cranbrook Eco & Vegan Wedding Fair, 2pm-5.30pm at the Grade II listed Vestry Hall with vegan pop-up cafe area from The Fat Carrot. Sunday 17th November sees the third year of the very popular Tonbridge Vegan Festive Fair. The fair will have vegan food and gifts for the festive season and is open 11am- 4pm at the Medway Hall of the Angel Centre. £3 adults, free parking.
The Food Fest // www.thefoodfest.co.uk // 1-2 Jun
The Food Fest takes place at gorgeous Lullingstone Castle in Eynsford and is the perfect mix of food and music, highlighting just what a diverse and wonderful world it is in which we live. You’ll find amazing unsigned talent, incredible street food that you’ve never tasted before and you can even glamp for the two-day event so that you don’t miss a single moment. Sponsored by Manak Solicitors and Hofmeister.
Woodlands Festival // www.woodlandsfestival.co.uk // 7-9 Jun
Returning for its third year over the weekend 7th–9th June, Woodlands Festival is an intimate, magical family festival set among rolling green fields and woodland in beautiful Hawkhurst. It’s somewhere you feel you can truly relax, have some fun with your family and friends and where kids can be kids again! With entertainment and activities for all ages, plus a woodland spa, outdoor cinema, silent disco and main stage showcasing local talent, there really is something for everyone. Visit for the day or stay for the weekend with camping and glamping options available. (In aid of Alzheimer’s Society and Macmillan Cancer Support, see the website for more information.)
Blues On The Farm // www.bluesonthefarm.com // 14-16 Jun
Lovers of the blues will be treated to a new boutique music festival in Canterbury this June. Blues on the Farm is being staged over three days at Woolton Farm at Bekesbourne, which is the home of Kentish Pip Cider. Featuring some of the biggest names of the genre including Skinny Molly, Nine Below Zero and Dr Feel Good.
Black Deer Festival // www.blackdeerfestival.com // 21-23 Jun
Already boasting a remarkable lineup featuring some of the best Americana and global country superstars, Black Deer Festival is delighted to announce even more names will be coming to Eridge Park in Kent this year. Artists that have been added include: Band of Horses, Kris Kristofferson and the Strangers, Billy Bragg, Yola, Ryan Bingham, Jerron Blind Boy Paxton, The Sheepdogs, Chance McCoy, the Worry Dolls and Emily Mae Winters.
St Edmunds Festival // www.stedmundsfestival.org.uk // 26 Jun-2 Jul
The annual St Edmunds Festival is organised by St Edmunds School in Canterbury and is a celebration of the arts, showcasing the incredible talent that the young people of Canterbury have to offer. Not only that, but there is always an array of worldwide talent, often household names, who are also part of the lineup.The 2019 festival sees the likes of Curtis Stigers, Derek Nash, Louise Marshall, Harry the Piano and the Tippett Quartet among plenty of other performers.
Pelagian Opera Festival // www.pelagianfestival.com // 28 Jun-7 Jul
Pelagian takes inspiration from both the Batignano Festival, which each year delivered stunning productions on tiny budgets in breathtaking surroundings, and Les Florissants festival in France, where music and garden gloriously unite for their sellout festival productions. Likewise, Pelagian will support a tapestry of talent, the common aim being a desire for genuine collaboration, artistic bravery and the very highest standards of what can be achieved with available ingredients; rather like the restaurant and gardens of The Salutation itself and the team who lead and run it. With a profound emphasis on local and seasonal produce, head chef Shane Hughes will create stunning festival menus for both the evening dinners and the afternoon picnic hampers that celebrate the finest ingredients from the Garden of England.
The festival theme for 2019 is ‘as if by magic’. It is presented in association with The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (Cornwall), the Museum of British Folklore (a new museum making its base in Dover) and the Koninklijk Conservatorium (Den Haag), one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious music schools, founded in 1829.
Deal Music & Arts // www.dealmusicandarts.com // 28 Jun-13 Jul
Deal Music & Arts has been bringing the best in arts and culture to East Kent for over 35 years. It inspires, informs, excites and stimulates. You can visit the 15-day summer festival and enjoy world-class music and art in this beautiful and historic corner of England, which encompasses the ancient ports of Deal, Sandwich and Dover.
Prosecco, Gin & Dance // 29 Jun // www.iloveproseccofestival.com/maidstone
Showcasing the finest in Prosecco, gin and cocktails, as well as Italian street food, Prosecco, Gin & Dance returns to Maidstone’s Mote Park on Saturday 29th June for another summer festival, including live jazz/swing music and performances from one of the UK’s best Take That tribute bands.
Wealden Literary Festival // www.wealdenliteraryfestival.co.uk // 29-30 Jun
The Wealden Literary Festival – a two-day event celebrating landscape, nature and place – is being held in the renowned gardens and woodland at Boldshaves, Woodchurch, near Tenterden. Authors taking part include Raynor Winn, Adam Nicolson, Hilary McKay, Isabella Tree, Julia Blackburn, Mark Cocker, Lucy Strange, Horatio Clare, Emma Mitchell, Naoko Abe and Peter Marren.
JAM On The Marsh // www.jamconcert.org/jam-on-the-marsh // 4-14 Jul
Following sellout events and record audiences in 2018, JAM on the Marsh returns in July to set Kent ablaze. Join the critically acclaimed and widely adored King’s Singers making their first visit to this unique shore, be amazed by Jon Foreman’s large scale, daily changing beach art on the sands at Dymchurch, watch the Changeling Theatre’s racy Nell Gwynn under the copper beech tree in New Romney, luxuriate in orchestral music by Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Finzi and Paul Mealor with the London Mozart Players, have a blast of Debussy, Satie and Scott Joplin with one of the finest brass groups, The Symphonic Brass of London, and hear Bach as you never have before with Art of Moog’s Bach on synths.
Children are welcome free at all events with activities created especially for them such as Children’s Sunday, which will be full of storytelling, clowning, nature sculptures and steam trains.
Photo credit: Rebecca Reid
Kent County Show // www.kentshowground.co.uk // 5-7 Jul
It doesn’t get much more Kentish than Detling’s Kent County Show. Held at the renowned Kent County Showground, this show lets visitors in on the secrets of what makes the Garden of England such a superb county to live, work and play in. This three-day event held in the summer brings together food, crafts, animals, farming and a whole heap of fun for the entire family. There are over 400 exhibitors every year and the show just keeps growing. Look out for the poultry and egg show, the cattle, sheep and goats, the wool tent (where you can have a go at spinning), Kent’s own It’s A Knockout, and the best-in-show classes.
Gravesham Riverside Festival // www.visitgravesend.co.uk/riversidefestival // 6 Jul
A great family day out at what is Kent’s biggest free festival. With music, great food, stuff for kids and an active zone of sporting challenges, this is a fun day packed with something for everyone. Pop sensations Liberty X headline the main stage with tributes including Meet Loaf – the world-class tribute, Donna Marie as the Lady Gaga tribute and Ariana Grande tribute, Amilia. The vintage area in Fort Gardens will offer music, a vintage market and cream teas plus lots of entertainment. The Fringe Festival becomes a week-long event starting on Sunday 7th July with performances and installations at venues across Gravesham.
Pub In The Park // www.pubintheparkuk.com // 12-14 Jul
Tom Kerridge’s food and music festival, Pub in the Park, is heading to Tunbridge Wells this summer from 12th to 14th July. Dunorlan Park will be filled with Michelin-starred pub and restaurant pop-ups serving award-winning grub throughout the weekend alongside the UK’s top chefs who’ll be showing off their cooking skills on the Chef Demo Stage.
The bill boasts household names including Rick Astley, KT Tunstall, Will Young, Gabrielle and Basement Jaxx all performing live on the main stage. To quench your thirst, Pub in the Park has an array of bars confirmed from independent makers Weston’s Cider, and gin connoisseurs Sipsmith, to the quintessentially British Pimm’s teapot bar and the country’s leading pub brewer, Greene King – there’s something for everyone.
Leeds Castle Classical Concert // www.leeds-castle.co.uk // 13 Jul
For over forty years people have been enjoying this spectacular outdoor event that brings together one of the country’s greatest orchestras, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and one of its finest conductors, John Rigby. This year for the first time, The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines will be playing the world premier of ‘A Tribute to Leeds Castle’ in celebration of 900 years of the castle’s glorious history.
Ramblin’ Man Fair // www.ramblinmanfair.com // 19-21 Jul
Ramblin’ Man Fair is the must-see event for discerning festivalgoers. It’s a quality musical lineup with a number of UK exclusive performances. The event is a unique experience that is fast becoming a staple of the UK festival calendar. The festival will take place in the beautiful Mote Park in Maidstone and if past years are anything to go by, it’s going to be an event to remember. After all, Ramblin’ Man 2017 saw The Scorpions perform their 50th anniversary gig! The lineup for 2019 so far includes The Darkness, The Wildhearts, Kris Barras Band, Ugly Kid Joe and Scardust.
Photo credit: Mick Hutson
Create // www.createfestival.co.uk // 20 Jul
It’s big and it’s free – two things you need to know about Ashford-based Create Festival. However, what is also important to note is that it is one of the South East’s biggest and most diverse festivals, and it’s jam packed full of original acts encompassing folk, pop, dance and rock. Create 2019 is going to be huge, with a lineup that includes The Lightning Seeds as the main headliner.
This year there is also a special Create Platform event that runs from 15th to 21st July. This will showcase live street art, DJ sets (including some from Terry Hall of The Specials) and a Victorian-themed fun day.
The War & Peace Revival // www.warandpeacerevival.com // 23-27 Jul
The War and Peace Revival is set for a spectacular return to Kent this summer. Thousands of military and civilian vehicles, reenactment groups, living history displays and flying displays recreate history from WW1 to the present day. After an action packed day, evenings can be as relaxed or as energetic as you like with live bands and acts performing in three venues. The Hop Farm, Paddock Wood. Kids go free! Camping available.
A New Day Festival // www.anewdayfestival.com // 2-4 Aug
What a festival this is! Young, fresh and exactly what you need for a hot bank holiday in August (or even a classic British warmish one), A New Day Festival puts fantastic acts together with a gorgeous location at Mount Ephraim and offers it all for you to enjoy. Feast your eyes on the confirmed lineup for 2019: Glenn Hughes, Classic Deep Purple Live, Fish, Wilko Johnson and more.
Rock The Mote // www.rockthemote.com // 3 Aug
Rock The Mote makes its debut in Maidstone’s Mote Park on Saturday 3rd August with a lineup full of some of the best tribute acts in the UK including Coldplay, Pink Floyd, Foo Fighters, Oasis v Blur, Killers v Muse and Fleetwood Mac. There will be a variety of street food also on offer throughout the event, ranging from Mexican burritos and gourmet BBQs to pizza and Greek souvlaki.
Hawkfest // https://5c56044116cb8.site123.me // 4 Aug
A full day of family fun, games, competitions and music. There will be live music from around 3pm until late, lots of activities such as forest school craft corner, circus skills workshops, face painting, inflatables, family games and races, and demonstrations from dance schools. Plus a dedicated gin bar – from Peaky Blinders to Gordon’s Pink, local Mayfield Gin or more traditional London Dry Gin, there will be something to tickle your taste buds.
Broadstairs Folk Week // www.broadstairsfolkweek.org.uk // 9-16 Aug
Broadstairs Folk Week is in its 54th year and is a celebration of English and multicultural folk music and dance. There are venues all over the town, all bursting with music. The 600-seater concert marquee in the town’s park is the festival hub where the main headline acts appear and it’s a great place to meet your friends, have a drink at the bar and chill out. There are over 70 workshops in music, dance and song for beginners to advanced. This could be the year to take up the ukulele or learn English clogging! This year’s headliners include The Outside Track, Megson, Granny’s Attic, Hot Rock Pilgrims and Ninebarrow.
Bee Festival (Made 2 Aid) // www.beethere.co.uk // 10 Aug
The Bee Festival colony wants to invite you to join the hive of inclusion and fun for everyone! A festival that doesn’t discriminate by offering a huge diversity of acts and featured zones that will appeal to all ages and abilities. The two main stages, with performances from a range of comedy and music acts, include a skills showcase open arena for variety acts such as choirs, dog shows and dance acts; a marketplace offering advice and opportunity to purchase items; a have-a-go sports zone with a range of inclusive sports, games and activities; and a mobility zone displaying a number of vehicles and mobility equipment – there’s even a test track to sample some. 50 per cent of all proceeds go to AGE UK Maidstone in aid of ending loneliness in Kent.
Faversham Fringe // www.favershamfringe.co.uk // 24-30 Aug
In the last week of August each year something fabulous comes to Faversham. It is the Faversham Fringe, a performing arts festival that welcomes anyone to apply. You will see new writing, mentalism, cabaret, dancing, singing, musicals, stand-up comedy, sketch shows, poetry readings and anything else that might be termed ‘performance’. There is a lot to fit into a relatively short space of time and it’s a wonderful chance to experience not only genres that you already know and love, but some that you might never have even thought about before.
Image credit: Ashley Cochrane
The Gin Society Festival // http://www.theginsociety.bar // 6-7 Sep
The Gin Society Festival returns to Canterbury in September, bigger and better than before. New for 2019, tickets include a gin and tonic as well as your own copa glass and a booklet of tasting notes. Enjoy a true gin festival featuring 120 gins, cocktail bar, samples from distillers, masterclasses from industry experts, street food and live music…all in a friendly and sociable atmosphere.
Hops ‘n’ Harvest Beer Festival at Kent Life // www.kentlife.org.uk // 7-8 Sep
Enjoy the ‘festini’ atmosphere with a variety of live and local music. Join fellow enthusiasts in the beer tent to sample up to 50 varieties of beer and cider. See the last coal-fired oast house in Britain and have a go at picking hops by hand.
Into The Trees // www.into-the-trees.co.uk // 13-15 Sep
Taking place in mid-September, Into The Trees is held in an enchanting protected ancient woodland in the heart of the Ashdown Forest and brings families together with experts from the outdoor world to inspire visitors of all ages. It’s a chance to explore a host of woodland based arts, sport and environmental activities, either as a day guest, or a weekend camper.
Hidden waterways deep in the woods offer the opportunity to take to the water and try kayaking or canoeing with your family, or why not give mountain boarding or treetop climbing a go? Creating a meaningful connection between the environment and kids isn’t as hard as it may seem.
Younger guests love campfire storytelling, making mud pies and meeting the fascinating wildlife while pond dipping with parents. The hugely popular Woodland Tribe invite parents and kids to pick up tools and create a woodland adventure playground of childhood dreams.
A host of sports activities including disc golf, archery and axe throwing offer the chance to try something new, while those that prefer to sit back and relax can take in the surroundings and enjoy some of the delicious local food on offer.
Tenterden Folk Festival // www.tenterdenfolkfestival.org.uk // 5 Oct
Tenterden Folk Festival takes place over four days including the first Saturday of October each year with folk songs, music, dance, crafts and traditions. Tenterden, situated in the ancient Weald of Kent about 12 miles west of Ashford, is an ideal setting for this family friendly folk festival.