Summer Fun for Everyone in Kent
The long summer holidays are upon us and although that’s great news for school-weary children and their parents, it can sometimes become a little…well, dull, having to fill endless hours with activities. And although that’s all par for the course – when better than the summer holidays to buy new clothes and school uniforms, get a haircut and catch up on all the homework and reading that’s required – a day out every now and then will brighten everyone’s mood. We’ve put together a list of some of the best summer fun that can be found across Kent, each one as different as it is perfect for making summer holiday memories.
Canoe Wild, Canterbury // www.canoewild.co.uk
Messing about on the river (Stour, in this case) is always a worthwhile pursuit and when you can do it in a kayak or canoe, or on a stand up paddleboard (SUP) then it is even more exciting. Under the expert tuition of a guide, or heading out on your own if you feel confident enough to do so, you can paddle your way from Fordwich to Grove Ferry picnic site (or vice versa) which is around 3.5 miles and should take approximately 2.5 hours. For added convenience, you can then be shuttled back to the start to collect your car. Along the route you will see some incredible scenery and be able to enjoy the sights and sounds of the river. You might even spot some wildlife if you look carefully.
Buckmore Park // www.buckmore.co.uk // Chatham
At Buckmore Park there’s a range of activities for everyone including children and family groups. Here you have Europe’s widest choice of karting experiences at a true MSA licensed racing circuit; the very same circuit where Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button honed their skills as youngsters. With two ‘turn up and drive’ circuits catering for drivers from 4 years old to adult and an MSA-approved International Circuit that can be split into two (club and national), Buckmore Park can offer karting for all, from total novice to the most experienced. As for the children, there are go kart birthday parties, laser warfare games, bambino karting for 6-7 year olds, junior kart school and club for ages 8-15 years, as well as turn up and drive go karting for all ages.
So Sussex // www.sosussex.co.uk // Lewes
Just a hop, skip and a jump across the county border into Sussex is the fabulous So Sussex company. This family run business aims to offer exciting outdoor experiences to as many people as possible, throwing in education and personal development at the same time. Many of the activities are designed to help people appreciate their local environment more, which is part of what makes So Sussex so impressive.
Just a few of their activities and events include Elderflower Fields family festival, Into The Trees festival, Schools Without Walls and Byline Festival.
Go Ape // www.goape.co.uk // Leeds Castle
Go Ape is the UK’s number one forest adventure. Days out with Go Ape are about living life a little more adventurously, having fun with friends and family and getting in touch with your inner Tarzan! The classic Go Ape experience is the two to three hour Tree Top Adventure during which you’ll fly down zip-wires, leap off a ‘Tarzan swing’ and tackle tricky crossings; the experience at Leeds Castle is a unique day out for adventurers of all ages.
Survival Adventure at Bore Place // 31 Jul // www.boreplace.org
Kids love to head off on an adventure on their own and at Bore Place they can do just that (with a guide, of course). Here, they will have an entire day without their parents or guardians in the great outdoors made up of a variety of mini adventures so no one will get bored while there’s lots of fun to be had. Just some of the adventures include making a fire, building a shelter, identifying edible plants and finding water sources.
Dreamland // www.dreamland.co.uk // Margate
You really don’t have to trek for miles to find a thrilling, adrenalin-pumping day out – Margate’s famous Dreamland, Kent’s very own adventure theme park, will do very nicely indeed. Packed full of rides including the iconic Grade II listed Scenic Railway, Dreamland has recently been brought back to life and is bigger and better than ever making it a great day out over the summer.
What could be better this summer than taking the family to the beach for a great day out? It costs hardly anything, there are dozens of different beaches and bays to choose from – Kent has an impressive 350 miles of coastline, so you can take your pick depending on what you want to do – and you can make some incredible memories that are really going to last. Here are some of the best Kent beaches to try out this summer holiday:
- Botany Bay
Winner of a Blue Flag Award, Botany Bay is a haven for families, explorers, photographers and those looking for somewhere peaceful and serene to relax for a day. Tucked away between beautiful chalk stacks, this tranquil beach is an excellent place for fossil hunting when the tide is out and there’s plenty of rock pools around that will give children and adults alike many a happy hour of crab hunting.
- Viking Bay
Viking Bay is one of the many things that Thanet’s Broadstairs is famous for. In fact, this is where Charles Dickens himself used to spend his holidays and he wrote an essay on it called Our English Watering Place in which he explains why it is such a perfect place. This long sandy bay has both a vintage boardwalk and a clifftop promenade, as well as a family friendly tidal pool and children’s rides to try out.
Dymchurch’s lovely wide sandy beach is the ideal spot to take some time for yourself to unwind, or to take the family for a fun, traditional day out along Kent’s spectacular coast. Perhaps the most famous element of Dymchurch Beach – certainly the one that seems to be most well remembered by visitors past and present – are the donkey rides, which are still available for everyone to enjoy today. Since the beach is flat and stretches for over three miles, it’s the most wonderful and safe place for children to play in the golden sands for both sunbathing and swimming.
Battle of Britain Airshow // 6-7 Jul // Headcorn // www.headcornevents.co.uk
The Battle of Britain Air Show, with attractions for all the family including flight experiences, a funfair and stalls. Enjoy the Battle of Britain display featuring representative aircraft from the Battle of Britain era. Spitfires, Hurricanes and other aircraft of the period such as the Tiger Moth and Harvard T6 will also take part. This activity is courtesy of the fabulous Aero Legends.
Absolutely Everything The Show // 18-21 Jul // Allington Castle, Maidstone // www.absolutelyeverything.show
Allington Castle is the magical backdrop to this fantastic family show based on the book by Chris Lloyd. This time travelling interactive adventure asks questions such as why do humans stand on two legs? Why does the Magna Carta matter? Why do we need bees? Most importantly, how can we connect all these things together? The show has been specially adapted to take place in the open air at this fantastic location and this is your chance to see it with the family before it heads to London.
A day out in Canterbury
Kent has a number of amazing villages, towns and cities within its boundaries and they all have something special to offer. Canterbury is a great choice of city if you’re planning to get there early and leave late since it has a little bit of everything. Start with the magnificent cathedral (if you time it right you might even get to hear a service or the choir practising) and then head over to the Roman Museum to find out more about Canterbury’s history.
For some culture, The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge is the ideal place to look into. This art gallery and museum holds different events throughout the year and most of them are either free or ask for a donation rather than setting a specific price.
You can’t visit Canterbury without going to the Canterbury Tales. This interactive attraction tells the story of Geoffrey Chaucer’s pilgrims as they travel from London to Canterbury and it really brings the tales to life. Or, why not book a boat tour along the River Stour? A day out in Canterbury can be as busy as you want it to be – there will be plenty to do to keep everyone entertained.
A New Day Festival // 2-4 Aug // www.anewdayfestival.com
What a festival this is! Young, fresh and exactly what you need over 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.
Alice In Wonderland // 7 Aug // www.nationaltrust.org.uk/smallhythe-place
Visit actress Ellen Terry’s 16th-century home and cottage gardens at Smallhythe Place in Tenterden and enjoy a day out exploring this National Trust property. Then finish the day enjoying an open air production of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland. This isn’t ‘just’ a play, though…to make it even more wonderful and even more memorable for the little ones (as well as the older ones in the party), this is a vibrant, exciting musical version.
Port Lympne // www.aspinallfoundation.org/port-lympne
Going on safari is something you would normally associate with the African plains, not the Garden of England, but at Port Lympne you can enjoy a safari without the hefty price tag or having to sit on a plane for hours and hours. It’s ideal! Port Lympne is home to 760 different animals and 90 different species including the only giraffe in Kent. As well as this, there is the spectacular dinosaur forest – the UK’s largest outdoor dinosaur exhibition – plus places to eat, drink and shop. You can even stay overnight and experience what it’s like to glamp there, or enjoy the gorgeous hotel.
Once Upon A Castle at Hever Castle // 27-28 Jul // www.hevercastle.co.uk
Hever Castle needs your help locating a new shield and a princess’s missing cat during this summer holiday! Your little ones will be able to meet Flame the Dragon (he’s friendly…they promise) and go on an adventure through the gardens to find a new shield to replace the one he has accidentally burnt. Then, step into the castle to help look for the princess’s cat and meet fairytale creatures along the way. You will also have a chance to experience what it was like to live in Tudor England. As you wander through the garden you will discover displays of authentic Tudor crafts, armour making and cookery as well as live demonstrations of archery and crossbow.
We’re so lucky in Kent – it’s true that some areas are busy and built up, but there are many that are open and natural and it is in these places that you can enjoy stargazing as a family. You can go by yourselves, find a great spot, drink some hot chocolate (don’t forget the marshmallows!) and sit together on a picnic blanket enjoying the view.
Some incredible places to stargaze include Toys Hill near Sevenoaks; Knole, Sevenoaks; Betsom’s Hill, North Downs; Woodchurch, Ashford; Dungeness; and High Halden.
Or, you can join in with some of the organised events across the county. Over the summer you can attend a variety of them.
Animal Magic // 29 Jul-2 Aug // www.hallplace.org.uk
If your family is animal mad then the Animal Magic event at Hall Place in Bexleyheath is sure to put a smile on their faces. You’ll be able to see meerkats, bearded dragons, pygmy hedgehogs, cute chicks, rabbits and much more. There will be a talk to begin with to explain just what these animals are really like before the floor is opened up to become a petting zoo. If you like your animals up close and personal, book your spot now – advance booking is essential.
A Pirate’s Life For Me // until 8 Sep // www.thedockyard.co.uk
The Historic Dockyard Chatham are delighted to announce that an exhibition from the V&A Museum of Childhood will be joining them from 25th May-8th September this year. Arriving straight from its home in London, A Pirate’s Life For Me will come to the Dockyard for its first stop on a National tour.
Located in the Dockyard’s temporary exhibition space in the No.1 Smithery, the exhibition is included in visitors’ annual tickets. It’s the perfect day out for families to explore a variety of pirate collections exploring the history and impact of pirates in popular culture from Victorian Britain to the present day through displays including toys, books, costumes, illustrations, games and photographs.
The exhibition’s immersive and playful set design leads its young visitors on a journey from a seaside tavern where they will discover a mysterious map, to a pirate boutique and tropical treasure island. There’ll be an opportunity for young buccaneers to take up the challenge to be a pirate in search of hidden treasure within the exhibition, as well as exploring popular pirate stories and the importance behind them.
There’s also the chance to climb on board a wooden pirate ship in the exhibition – once they’ve learnt the skills to sail a ship, visitors can then go on board a real ship at the Dockyard itself and pretend to be at sea.
Circus Berlin // 15-19 Aug // Radnor Park, Folkestone // www.circusberlin.co.uk
Who can resist the lure of the circus? Not many! And when it comes to enjoying a family trip out and doing something different, Circus Berlin fits the bill perfectly. This circus is proud of the fact that everything you see is entirely real – there are no special effects or CGI at play here. Enjoy the show as Angelo the clown introduces you to all kinds of acts including trapeze artists, acrobats, and daredevils.