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Article by Sarah Hamilton-Walker | 10th July 2018

Fun for all the Family

From the coast or a castle, to a railway or a ruin, if you’re looking for inspiration for great family days out, check out our round-up of what our corner of Kent has to offer.

Whether you’re looking for rolling countryside, dramatic coastline, historic castles or an open green space with a difference Kent, known as the Garden of England, is a jewel of the South East with its rural beauty, rich history and stunning coastline – and offers something for everyone, young and old alike.

Boasting more conservation areas than any other county in England, there are a wealth of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to discover. And you’ll find no excuse not to spend time outdoors in our corner of Kent, with 4,273 miles of footpaths and cycle routes to choose from as well as more than 180 great gardens to visit.

Captivating Kent

Make sure your list of ‘must-visits’ includes Riverhill Himalayan Gardens with its mix of quirky and traditional planting, Lullingstone Castle’s World Garden which combines plant heritage with cutting edge horticulture, the skillfully-designed seven-acre Great Comp Garden and 14th century moated manor house Ightham Mote. Plus there is also Sissinghurst Gardens, Goodnestone Park, Quex Gardens and Hole Park waiting to be explored.

And not only does Kent have more conservation areas than any other county in England it can also claim to have more castles and historical houses than any other county in the UK. Leeds Castle ‘the loveliest castle in the world’, offers up more than 900 years of history and has 500 acres for you to explore.

Heading to the coast? Then the mighty Dover Castle offers the opportunity to search through the wartime tunnels deep in the White Cliffs or enter the medieval royal palace to get a taste of court life.
The beauty of Kent has meant that it has long been a magnet for film locations, especially at the many National Trust and English Heritage sites. Last year’s historical blockbuster Darkest Hour saw filming take place at Chartwell, the family home of Sir Winston Churchill, while Penshurst Place featured in The Princess Bride, and when it comes to films about the Tudor periods, Leeds and Dover castles have both been choice settings. Groombridge Place was the backdrop to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, meanwhile many Bond films have been shot on Kent’s coastline in a nod to creator Ian Fleming, and let’s not forget Hever Castle whose film and TV credits include Inkheart, Anne of The Thousand Days and The Other Boleyn Girl. There are plenty more castles to visit besides, including picturesque Scotney, Chiddingstone, Rochester, Walmer, and Tonbridge to name but a few.

So Much More to Explore

Explore all the county has to offer by rail with a trip on either the Kent and East Sussex Railway or the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, stretching 13 miles across Romney Marsh to Dungeness, a designated National Nature Reserve which is popular with photographers.

The Seven Wonders of the Weald has welcomed Knole in Sevenoaks to its line-up, alongside Chiddingstone Castle, Biddenden Vineyards, Scotney Castle, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Hole Park and the Kent and East Sussex Railway.

Our county’s coastline is also an exciting place to explore and enjoy days out – boasting award-winning Blue Flag beaches and with 15 sandy bays across Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate, there are opportunities galore to create sandcastles while breathing in a bit of fresh air or stopping off at one of the many independent cafes, bars and restaurants for a traditional ice cream, a fish and chip lunch or supper or a refreshing beverage. And when the wind picks up, try a bit of kite flying, surfing or jet skiing. And don’t miss out on a visit to the delightful coastal towns of Whitstable and Rye, or the miles of sandy beaches at Camber.

If towns and cities are more your thing, our county’s cathedral city of Canterbury has much to see, while rich in historic interest and with a royal connection, the spa town of Tunbridge Wells offers the perfect combination of past and modern with the beautiful Pantiles at the lower end and a mix of independent and chain stores, restaurants, bars and cafes throughout the town. Other shopping destinations in Kent to head for include Bluewater and the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet at Ashford, which is currently undergoing a multimillion expansion.

Family Fun

Family fun can be found throughout the county – from Eagle Heights Wildlife Park and Drusillas Park to Port Lympne Wild Animal Park or its sister Howletts for the animal-lovers among us, to the many annual events including the Kent County Show, which takes place 6th, 7th and 8th July, as well as the War and Peace Revival at The Hop Farm from 24th-28th July, jousting at Leeds and Hever castles during the summer months, along with a host of other outdoor events, food and drink festivals in September and October, plus great venues to get active, such as Bewl Water and Bedgebury.

A Fun Day with Thomas the Tank Engine

Thomas the Tank Engine invites little engineers to join him for a day of family fun at Day Out With Thomas this summer, when children can spend a day with their friend Thomas when the number 1 blue engine pulls into Tenterden Station 21st-23rd July.

Tickets for Day Out With Thomas at the Kent & East Sussex Railway are priced £50 for a family (2 adults + 2 children), £18 for adults, £13.50 for children aged 18 months to 15 years and free for children under 18 months.

• Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at www.dayoutwiththomas.co.uk/kentandeastsussexrailway

Summer Activities at Claremont

The Claremont Summer Activities programme, which runs from Monday 9th July-Friday 24th August, is designed for students between the ages of four and 14 and aims to provide a social, active and entertaining experience for each and every student.

The activities are carefully tailored to each age group, including age-appropriate sports and activities. From exploring the 100 acres of grounds, playing sports, swimming in the large outdoor pool, building dens and discovering nature, to taking part in creative sessions, there is fun for everyone!

• Claremont School,
Ebdens Hill,
St Leonards-on-Sea,
East Sussex
TN37 7PW, call
01424 751555 or visit www.claremontschool.co.uk

A Summer of Celebrations!

Celebrating its 400th birthday, The Historic Dockyard Chatham is proud to announce its biggest summer of entertainment ever!

Starting the summer fun from the 6th July is the latest temporary exhibition Brick History: Walk through history in LEGO® bricks. With more than 40 LEGO® models, the exhibition will be on show with pieces that are key to The Dockyard’s own history such as the model of the Battle of Trafalgar.

• From the 28th July, visitors will also see the return of Doc.Yard and his unique take on science fun as well as the Pirates returning to HMS Gannet. Doc, with his able assistant Bunsen, needs the audience’s help with lots of hands-on experiments whilst Captain Knotbeard and the rest of his crew will also be at The Dockyard with an enormous beach equipped with deck chairs and buried treasure ready for those sandcastles to be made – plus much more!
• All of this is included in your annual ticket. For more information, visit www.thedockyard.co.uk

A World of Adventure

Visit Blackland Farm this summer to experience a world of adventure. Set in the glorious Sussex countryside, try a wide range of exciting activities like kayaking, zip wires, climbing and crate challenge. Give us a call on 01342 810493 or email blackland@girlguiding.org.uk to find out more about the tailor-made packages we can offer you.

• Visit www.girlguidingactivitycentres.org.uk/blackland

Beautiful Bewl

Bewl Water is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the heart of the High Weald. With the largest stretch of water in the South East of England, there are plenty of activities for the family both on and off the water.

There is something for all ages including walks around the reservoir or a cycle if you are up to it (cycle hire available), laser challenge, mini golf, pedalo hire, boat trips on The Bewl Belle, adventure playgrounds and much, much more. You can refuel afterwards at The Waterfront Cafe where light refreshments are served all day or in The Boat House Bistro where you can enjoy a sit down meal overlooking the stunning reservoir.

• Bewl Water, Bewlbridge Lane, Lamberhurst TN3 8JH, call 01892 890000 or visit www.bewlwater.co.uk

Cinema Under the Stars

On Friday 20th, Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd July, Tonbridge Castle will be hosting The Luna Cinema – the UK’s leading producer of outdoor cinema events – with open-air screenings of Gladiator (Friday night), Pretty Woman (Saturday night) and The Greatest Showman (Sunday night) against the stunning backdrop of the medieval castle.

Now in its 10th season, The Luna Cinema puts on a nationwide programme of more than 175 screenings across the UK, and this is the fourth season that Tonbridge Castle has played host to The Luna big screen, with sell-out screenings in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Audiences are welcome to bring along chairs, picnics and drinks to the screenings. However, there will also be hot food for sale and a full bar on-site. Premium tickets include a premium seat in a prime position on the lawn and a free drink at The Luna Bar.

• Tickets can be purchased online at www.thelunacinema.com and are priced at adults £15, children £10 and VIP £27.50. Gates open at 7.45pm and films start at 9.15pm.

NR-Gize at Sencio

Children’s summer holiday activities are available from 25th July-31st August at your local Sencio leisure centre. Join us at Edenbridge, Sevenoaks and White Oak for a summer holiday packed full of fun NR-Gize activities such as Nerf battle, roller disco and children’s Pilates. For more information, download a programme at www.sencio.org.uk – or contact your local centre:

• Edenbridge Leisure Centre, 01732 865665, elc@sencio.org.uk
• Sevenoaks Leisure Centre, 01732 470700, slc@sencio.org.uk
• White Oak Leisure Centre, 01322 662188, wolc@sencio.org.uk

Bing Goes to the Theatre

Calling all Bingsters! Bing and his friends are coming to Tunbridge Wells in the first-ever Bing stage show!

Join Bing, Sula, Coco and Pando as they find out how to tell stories by pretending, dressing-up and singing songs. Flop and Amma are there to help, but in this magical world of make-believe things don’t always go according to plan…

Full of fun, laughter and music, Bing Live! is the perfect first theatre trip for all pre-schoolers and their families (running time 1 hour 20 minutes approximately, including interval).

• Bing Live! at the Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells TN1 2LU, call 01892 530613 or visit www.assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk. Performances on 11th September (1pm and 4pm), and 12th September (10am and 1pm), tickets priced from £14.75, children from £12.75 (plus £2 per ticket booking fee or 85p online).

Tiddler & Other Terrific Tales

Four terrific tales, one superb show! Under the sea, out on the farm and into the jungle, these terrific tales are woven together with live music, puppetry and a whole host of colourful characters from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s best-love titles – Tiddler, Monkey Puzzle, The Smartest Giant in Town and A Squash and a Squeeze.

This delightful production, on at EM Forster Theatre, Tonbridge on 24th and 25th July, is brought to you by the team behind Stick Man Live, adapted from the best–selling books by Julia and Axel, creators of The Gruffalo, and is the perfect treat for all ages.

• Performances at 11.30am and 2pm on 24th and 25th July, tickets £12, £10 group rate (10-plus). Call 01732 304241 or visit www.emftheatre.com


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