Kent Christmas Lights and Delights
It’s time to start planning your Kentish Christmas activities at some of the county’s best-loved venues.
Ice Rink and Winterland at Bluewater
14 November – 7 January
Believe, the enchanted Christmas experience, is returning to Bluewater with a new look, alongside the ice rink and Winterland. The wondrous Christmas grotto launched at Bluewater for the first time in 2020 to sell out success is set to make a return this year in an all-new format from Friday 1 December. There will only be a limited number of tickets available for Believe, and to ensure entry guests are encouraged to pre-book their tickets online with tickets now on sale.
Winterland is also returning for Christmas 2023, offering a whole host of fun activities for all ages. Opening from 14 November – 7 January, Winterland is a magical outdoor festive event where guests can enjoy winter-themed funfair rides, games, and attractions.
Bluewater will also welcome back its outdoor undercover ice rink from 11 November – 7 January. Located outside The Village, the outdoor rink will sit under a clear roof, making it the perfect activity come rain, snow, or shine this festive season.
For the latest information follow Bluewater on social media: Instagram @bluewatershopping, Facebook @bluewater
Christmas at Bedgebury
Friday 17 November – Sunday 31 December – Selected evenings
A magical trail with new lights for 2023 – an after-dark stroll through an iconic, illuminated tree collection. Firmly positioned as unmissable within the UK’s seasonal calendar, Christmas at Bedgebury has everything you need for an unforgettable time with friends and family including a magical glimpse of Father Christmas along the way. Discover softly lit doves delicately balanced on branches, reed-like neon structures, sparkling tunnels of light and the Pinetum filled with all the colours of the rainbow as you walk under Liquid Sky, just one of the new displays to see this year.
Grab a seasonal snack from the Bedgebury café at the visitor centre, or one of the handpicked street food vendors who bring an indulgent twist to tempting treats on offer. Complete your walk under the stars with a perfectly festive spiced winter warmer, hot chocolate or toasted marshmallow and share it with someone special.
Christmas at Hever Castle and Gardens
This Christmas at Hever Castle, spend quality time with loved ones and enjoy a seasonal experience to remember. Wrap up warm and enjoy a walk under the stars to explore the grounds. Witness the enchantment of the castle, gardens and lake festooned with fabulous colours and twinkling lights all capturing the spirit of Christmas. Bring torches and pop on your wellies to see Hever Castle’s much loved gardens lit up with glorious colour washes, spectacular illuminations and music. In the castle, you will be met with beautiful traditionally decorated rooms, welcoming log fires and twinkling Christmas trees.
Christmas Experience at Kent Life
25 November – 25 December
A festive extravaganza awaits you at Kent Life’s Christmas Experience! Get ready to say “ho ho ho!” as you embark on a magical journey. The highlight of your visit will be meeting Father Christmas himself in his enchanting grotto. Little ones will be thrilled to choose a special gift from the wonderfully stocked toy shop.
But that’s not all! You can immerse yourself in the holiday spirit by graduating from Elf School, indulging in heartwarming Christmas films, exploring the delightful sweet shop, and even building your very own teddy bear*. Be sure to catch an enchanting live show and make a stop at The Snow Inn for delectable festive treats and drinks. And don’t forget to hop on The Jingle Express for a merry ride!
For a tasty treat, head to Mrs Christmas’s Kitchen where you can unleash your creativity and decorate gingerbread. Adults can savour a complimentary cup of mulled wine or a non-alcoholic alternative accompanied by a scrumptious mince pie.
The friendly farmyard animals are excited to meet you too! Don’t miss the chance to visit them and even feed them, or why not make some special reindeer food to take home and ensure Father Christmas’s reindeer are well fed on Christmas Eve?
Rest assured, you’ll receive a detailed itinerary of all the exciting activities from Twinkle Toes the elf prior to your visit. And the best part? Ticket prices include all-day access to Kent Life, so you can arrive at any time and enjoy the festivities to the fullest. Tickets on sale now.
Christmas Lights at Leeds Castle
24 November – 31 December
Returning for its second year, an all-new, reimagined, magical Christmas trail featuring enchanting illuminations and Christmas music will fill the air and light up the glamorous and historic Leeds Castle!
Christmas Lights at Leeds Castle has everything you need for an unforgettable time with friends and family, including a magical glimpse of Father Christmas along the way. It’s a place where you will make new traditions, a place designed for picture-perfect gatherings. Discover sparkling chandeliers delicately suspended in the trees, a laser garden filled with tiny beams of light, a path of twinkling mirrored hearts, and Feast of Light – immersive glowing strings filled with all the colours of the rainbow.
Father Christmas Grotto at Ruxley Manor
Dates TBC. Tickets: Child £18, Under 1 £9, Adult £5
Join Ruxley Manor this Christmas for a magical experience. Meet the head elf and learn what it takes to become an elf in Elf School; join Mother Christmas in her kitchen to make some magical reindeer food; meet Father Christmas privately with your family in his grotto and receive an extra special family gift to take home and treasure. Not forgetting the all-important photo with Father Christmas. Father Christmas will give each child a magical golden ticket that allows them to choose a special gift from his toy workshop.
This year, with some help from their SENCO specialist from Grace’s Day Nursery, Ruxley Manor are also offering SEN sessions which have been created to offer an inclusive and relaxed experience for SEN children. You can find more information on all grotto experiences by visiting: www.ruxley-manor.co.uk/grotto
A Storybook Christmas at Chartwell
25 November to 23 December (normal admission applies)
Step into a magical storybook world seen through the eyes of Sir Winston Churchill’s beloved daughter, Mary Soames, at his family home. Mary spent an idyllic childhood in the grounds of Chartwell. She loved reading, later recalling the evening story read aloud as a ‘treasured highlight’ of her childhood. Chartwell house will be beautifully decorated for a family Christmas in the 1930s with nods to the world of children’s literature of Mary’s imagination. A room full of clocks, a shadow on the stairs and perhaps a crocodile tail… See if you can spot the book references on your way round.
Then make your way down to the Walled Garden to meet characters from classic children’s books. Play games, solve riddles, and plan the ultimate Christmas dinner party. Trail is £3 with a prize. At weekends, local choirs and music groups will be performing carols outside from 2pm to 3pm to get you in the festive mood. Enjoy a warming drink while you listen.
Christmas at Knole
Walking with The Snowman™ trail, Wed 15 November to Sun 7 January
Christmas in the showrooms, Sat 18 November to Sat 23 December
Inspired by Raymond Briggs’ timeless festive tale, The Snowman™, this winter at Knole you can discover 12 giant The Snowman™ sculptures in the parkland and courtyards. Each snowman will be painted with a unique design by a contemporary artist, inspired by a 12 Days of Christmas theme. Walking with The Snowman™ at Knole is presented by the National Trust and Wild in Art in collaboration with Penguin Ventures (part of Penguin Random House UK).
Meanwhile, Knole’s historic Great Hall and selected showrooms will be sumptuously decorated for Christmas. Warm yourself by the roaring fire in the Great Hall as many a visitor to Knole would have done on a winter’s day, taking in the sparkling tree and impressive display on the grand table. Carry on into the showrooms, where we invite you to explore the Ballroom, Reynolds Room and Cartoon Gallery with festive displays.
Continue your journey around Knole, climbing the spiral stairs in the Gatehouse Tower for panoramic views of the parkland. On the climb up, discover the life and loves of a former resident and immerse yourself in a 1930’s inspired festive atmosphere. Pre-book tickets to guarantee entry (including members).
Christmas at Walmer Castle
1 December – 1 January
Produced by the award-winning team at Kilimanjaro Live and in partnership with English Heritage, Christmas at Walmer Castle will see a stunning light trail brought to the Tudor fortress turned country house on the gorgeous Kent coast just outside of Deal for the first time this year. Surprises are around every corner, with festive food, warming cocktails and picture-perfect moments adding to the exciting and unique spectacle that will have you captivated as you enjoy an enchanted Christmas with family, friends and loved ones at this seasonal classic event with a contemporary twist.
Internationally renowned and award-winning creative director Katherine Jewkes will work alongside light art pioneers, Illumaphonium, to bring together a trail of spectacular illuminations and installations. Illumaphonium will bring their self-titled installation, Illumaphonium, to Christmas at Walmer Castle for 2023. Illumaphonium is a dynamic and interactive, multi-sensory, music making installation – the first of its kind.