The Kent Big Weekend – Bigger and Better Than Ever!
The largest number of residents and businesses have taken part in this year’s Kent Big Weekend since the start of the pandemic.
Over the weekend of 24 and 25 June, 72 tourism businesses in the county took part – a third more businesses than in 2022 and over 12,500 local residents entered a competitive ballot to win free tickets to local attractions which is more than double the number of entries received compared with 2022.
Well known Kent attractions took part in the initiative such as Hever Castle and Gardens, The Historic Dockyard Chatham, Dreamland Margate, Penshurst Place and Gardens but also smaller businesses such as the Dickens House Museum and Anno Distillers.
Deirdre Wells OBE, CEO of Visit Kent said: “Although we are not quite up to the level of businesses that took part in The Kent Big Weekend before the pandemic – we are definitely getting there. These statistics demonstrate that businesses are feeling much more confident about the future compared to last year and we are very grateful to all those that took part and provided tickets for local residents. We are also grateful to Kent County Council for enabling free bus travel during the weekend which will help to meet a key aim of their plan to improve bus services across the county by raising awareness of how accessible, environmentally friendly and easy travelling by bus can be around Kent.”
Roger Gough, Leader of Kent County Council said: “We are blessed in Kent to have a fantastic variety of attractions across the county but sometimes we all forget what we have on our doorstep including me! I am very supportive of The Big Weekend as it is a great initiative to help local residents to have a low cost and fun day out at a time when we know that budgets are very tight for a lot of people and it also helps to support and raise awareness of our local tourism and hospitality industry who are still recovering from the impact of the pandemic.”
The idea for The Big Weekend started in Kent in 2006 and came from a desire to make preparations for its welcome in the run up to The Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. Our research told us that local residents hosting visiting friends and family in Kent were surprisingly ill-informed about what was on their own doorstep. We needed to turn residents into better informed advocates and so The Big Weekend was born. Before the pandemic, the county welcomed over 65 million visitors each year, contributing nearly £4 billion to the local economy and a key contributing factor has been the engagement of the friends and family market.