Lights, Action, Xmas… Kent’s Festive Treasures
From magical yuletide experiences at one of the county’s historical homes to sparkling discos at Dreamland, Kent is full of festive fun this season.
Christmas at Bewl Water, Lamberhurst
18 November – 24 December, Adult £15, Child £40
One of Kent’s favourite beauty spots is embracing the festive spirit and inviting families to come along and enjoy a myriad of festive activities. Write a letter to Santa, make treats for the reindeer, decorate gingerbread with Mrs Claus, personalise wooden ornaments and indulge in candies and hot chocs. As well as these, take part in storytelling with Santa’s elves, themed magical lands, play zones, and an exclusive meet-and-greet with Father Christmas experience. Don’t forget to capture the magical moments with plenty of photo opportunities along the way and savour seasonal drinks and sweet treats or purchase souvenirs to cherish.
For more information, visit: christmas.bewlwater.co.uk
Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway’s Santa Specials
25 November – 24 December, Price from £15 to £29.50
The much-loved Santa Specials returns for its 42nd year. Enjoy a return train journey from New Romney to Hythe, seasonal refreshments, and the main event – a visit to Santa in his grotto, with a quality, age-related gift for each child aged 1-15 yrs. Arrive early and visit the Model Railway Exhibition at New Romney before your train journey begins.
Add to your experience by selecting an ‘All-Day Festive Breakfast’ before your departure to Hythe. Arrive early, and tuck into your Festive Feast at the Heywood Buffet, before visiting Santa at Hythe. The quiet train will run on Sunday 26 November at 3.20pm this year! This experience will be tailored to our passengers with special needs, autism and enhanced sensory needs.
Bonus rides at Hythe – a steam locomotive will be pulling coaches for families to ride the length of Platform 3 at Hythe (subject to availability).
Pre-booking is essential; please check the website for dates, times and further details: www.rhdr.org.uk/special-events/santa-specials-2023
The Escape Goat’s Christmas Escape Room, Dover
Attention all festive adventurers! Get ready for a sleigh-load of excitement as The Escape Goat presents their brand new Christmas game: ‘Elfy is Missing: wHo wHo wHo done it?’ Step into a whimsical winter wonderland where Christmas magic is on the line! Elfy, Santa’s favourite elf, has gone missing, and guess who’s been slapped with the ‘naughty’ label? You! But don’t let the Jingle Jail dampen your spirits! With just one hour before sentencing, you’re in for a thrilling escape adventure that’ll have you singing carols in no time! Race against the clock as you decipher cryptic clues, unearth hidden secrets, and work together to clear your good name and unveil the true identity of Elfy’s kidnapper! Grab your fellow sleuths and get ready for the ultimate holiday quest.
Christmas World at Dreamland, Margate
15 – 22 December, Tickets from £16.80
Featuring a variety of attractions, activities, entertainment, food, drinks and more, Christmas World will have something to appeal to all ages. There’ll be specially selected rides, family friendly performances, magical grotto experiences with Santa, snowball fights and sleigh rides in Santa’s snowmobile and even Steins By The Sea nights for grown-ups, too. Christmas World will be open from 11am – 6pm on selected dates, with later timings for evening entertainment to be announced.
Christmas at Dobbies, Ashford and Gillingham
Families can enjoy an immersive experience and be guided by an elf through an enchanted Christmas tree forest, before making a special item to take home. Spend time with Santa and receive a special gift and photo momento. Santa’s Quiet Grotto will also be available on 8 December. This experience is designed to assist children with additional needs with customised sound and visual features to minimise anxiety.
Families with dogs will be thrilled to know that Dobbies’ will be offering a Santa Paws Grotto! Dog lovers can bring their furry pals for doggie gifts and photo opportunities with Santa.
Enjoy festive games and receive a gift from Santa at a special Santa Breakfast, or visit for a Festive Afternoon Tea.
Visit dobbies.com/events for more information on times, dates, pricing and even more events such as the Little Seedlings Christmas Party and the late night shopping experience that supports the Teenage Cancer Trust.
A Tudor Christmas at Ightham Mote
18 November to Monday 7 January (closed 24 & 25 December). Selected dates only for some activities, see website for details. Normal admission applies
Immerse yourself in a Tudor Christmas with sights, scents and sounds inspired by festivities from Ightham’s historic past. There’s also a festive fête, traditional carols in the courtyard, cosy late-night openings and workshops. Families will love the new trail and dressing up box, not to mention the chance of meeting Father Christmas himself.
Explore the rich history of the 700-year-old moated manor, decorated for a Tudor Christmas. The roaring fire in the Great Hall and wandering Tudor musicians will transport you back to the times of Henry II and his descendants. Meanwhile, the stunning hand-painted Tudor Chapel will be fully adorned for a festive Tudor mass.
Pick up unique handmade gifts at the festive fête weekend (25 to 26 November). Return to experience the true magic of twinkling lights, flickering candles and greenery from the garden at cosy late-night openings. Festive songs from centuries past will ring true to the Mote’s historic setting. Local groups and choirs will also perform traditional carols in the courtyard throughout the season.
Families will love the new festive trail woven across the house and garden. Can you spot all the hidden Christmas mice? Rummage in the dressing up box and become a king, queen, knight or lady for the perfect festive snap. On selected dates, keep an eye out for a flying visit from Father Christmas himself.
The Swinging Sixties at Scotney Castle
25 November to Monday 1 January (closed 24 & 25 December)
The Victorian mansion house at Scotney Castle will time travel back to the swinging 60s for Christmas. Join the last residents of Scotney, Christopher and Betty, as they host a special Christmas get together for their guests. Immerse yourself in seasonal room sets with gorgeous glittering trees and rarely seen items from Scotney’s vast collection, including Betty Hussey’s original 1960’s outfits, stunning Hussey family silverware, and artwork by John Ward RA and John Piper, friends and contemporaries of Betty and Christopher.
Look out for traditional trees alongside avant-garde decorations inspired by the decade known for flamboyance and excess. Wrap up warm and see the house beautifully illuminated at special late night openings (5pm – 8pm on 16, 17, 22, 23 December, see website for details).
Little ones will be enchanted at Santa’s Storytime in the magical setting of the Old Castle. Step into a world of festival tales and characters, with a special gift to take home. Includes a delicious hot chocolate and gingerbread biscuit too (£14.50 per child, weekends in December excluding 23 & 24 December). There will also be a new family trail in the garden.
An Ant’s Christmas at Emmetts Garden
2 to 31 December, £2 per trail plus normal admission
‘Anta’ Claus has been incredibly busy this year. Now he needs all his ants to help him make presents across the kingdom. Inspired by the name ’emmett’, which comes from a local word for ant, follow the willow sculpture scenes around the 19th-century garden to discover how the ants prepare for Christmas. There will also be surprise sightings of Christmas characters and a picture-perfect spot on the ants’ sleigh.
A Georgian Christmas at Quebec House
Free late night opening 30 November. House opens weekends in December (closed 23 & 24 December) when normal admission applies
Christmas inspired by the Georgian history of Quebec House starts with a special, free late-night opening on 30 November, 4pm to 7pm. Take in lights, greenery and a Georgian feast, as well as carol singing from the children of Churchill School, Westerham. Warm up after with a hot chocolate in the Coach House.
On weekends in December, the doors to the childhood home of General James Wolfe, victor of the Battle of Quebec (1759), will be thrown open to reveal greenery around every bannister and mantlepiece using natural foliage. Roaring fires, a sumptuous Georgian feast, a Quebec gingerbread house and shadow puppets in the schoolroom, all add to the authentic and cosy atmosphere.
In the kitchen, try delicious bakes, prepared from the cookbook of Wolfe’s mother, Henrietta.