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Visitors to the Garden of England will be spoiled for choice when it comes to dazzling days out in the lead up to Christmas 2016. From Dickensian markets, sparkling castles and stunning winter scenery, to irresistible shopping opportunities and festive train journeys!
 
So why not get in the mood with our pick of the best festive Kent attractions and book a beautiful cottage for a perfect pre-Christmas getaway.

1 Canterbury at Christmas

Festive Kent Attractions: Canterbury Christmas Market

Canterbury Christmas Market; image courtesy of Impact PR & Design

Details: The Christmas Market in Whitefriars Square, running between November 26 – December 24, offers over 35 colourful cabins selling festive produce, gifts and decorations, in addition to Canterbury’s 60+ top brand stores. Children will love the Santa’s grotto, open December 3-24. With the Marlowe Theatre putting on its world famous pantomime, Dick Whittington, from November 25 – January 8, the Artisan Christmas Gift Fair at the Canterbury Tales attraction (November 26-27) and the annual Saint Nicholas Parade on December 3, Christmas is Canterbury! The grand finale is the show-stopping Norman cathedral’s rousing carol services on December 23 and 24.
Stay at: Our nearest cottages are Manor Farmhouse and Yew Tree.

2 Tenterden Christmas Market

Festive Kent Attractions: Tenterden Christmas Market

Tenterden Christmas Market; image courtesy of Lewis Brockway

When: November 25-27
Details: People love to visit Tenterden and it is difficult to imagine a town that conjures up the tradition and spirit of Christmas more completely. Over the Christmas Market weekend, the High Street will be transformed as local shops blend with visiting stalls over three days to deliver a very special retail fusion. Visitors will be spoilt for choice with a host of market stalls, delicious local food, live music and Christmas lights. Check out the children’s rides, street entertainment and even a Santa’s grotto, bound to keep the kids captivated.
Stay at: Our nearest cottages are Larkin FarmhouseLarkin Oast and Larkin Cart.

3 Chartwell Christmas Market

Festive Kent Attractions: Chartwell Christmas Market

Chartwell Christmas Market; ©National Trust Images/David Levenson

When: November 25-27
Where: Westerham TN16 1PS
Details: If you are after a bit of history with your mulled wine then look no further than Chartwell, the beloved home of Sir Winston Churchill. Stock up on gifts or buy your newest decoration at this popular undercover Christmas market, located in the courtyard. Whilst you’re there, pop into the shop and treat yourself to a mulled wine and seasonal snack from the café. Entry to the market is free and normal admission prices apply for the garden and studio (the house is closed). Chartwell has got December covered too. Enjoy a festive trail from December 3 – January 3, or immerse yourself in a 1920s Christmas like the Churchills would have experienced in the house at weekends between December 3-18. 
Stay at: Our nearest cottage is The Granary.

4 Once Upon a Castle at Hever Castle

Festive Kent Attractions: Christmas at Hever Castle

The illuminated castle and gardens at dusk; image courtesy of Hever Castle

When: November 26 – December 11
Where: Hever, Edenbridge TN8 7NG
Details: Children and adults alike all enjoy a great panto… oh yes they do! Hever Castle celebrates the history of pantomime in Once Upon A Castle this year, adorning its rooms with beautiful themed decorations. Children will be enchanted by the magical grotto (advanced booking essential) and snowy Christmas trail unfolding the story of Jack and the Beanstalk through the magical illuminated gardens as dusk falls. At weekends, and from December 19, ride the carousel and enjoy vintage fairground stalls including a coconut shy, swing boats and a hall of mirrors in front of the castle. Please check the website for booking details.
Stay at: Our nearest cottages are 1 School House Cottages and The Granary.

5 Rochester at Christmas

Festive Kent Attractions: Rochester Christmas Market

Rochester Christmas Market; image courtesy of Medway Council

Details: Enjoy a magical start to your Christmas at the Rochester Christmas Market overlooked by historic Rochester Castle. Running from November 26 – December 11, enjoy a selection of festive foods including mulled wine, hot chocolate with Baileys and roasted chestnuts as you browse around 70 market stalls offering a wide variety of festive gifts. Step back in time to a Victorian Christmas and meet some of Dickens’ heroes and villains under the guaranteed snowfall at the Rochester Dickensian Christmas on December 3-4, on the second market weekend.
Stay at: Our nearest cottage is Manor Farmhouse.

6 Faversham Christmas Market

Festive Kent Attractions: Faversham Christmas Market

Faversham Christmas Market

When: November 27, December 11 and 18
Details: Faversham’s historic Market Place with its beautiful Guildhall is renowned for being the oldest in Kent. Well worth a visit over the festive period, Faversham is renowned for the quality and variety of its food and drink products and an ever-growing industry of local arts and crafts. With a plethora of stalls selling festive goodies, brass bands, music, carol singing and donkeys, there is something for everyone.
Stay at: Our nearest cottages are Manor FarmhouseLarkin Farmhouse, Larkin Cart and Larkin Oast.

7 Christmas at Leeds Castle

Festive Kent Attractions: Faversham Christmas Market

Annual Christmas Market; image courtesy of Leeds Castle

When: December 3 – January 2
Where: Maidstone ME17 1PL
Details: Celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter™ during Leeds Castle’s A Tale of Christmas event. Relive the classic tales with characters expressed through imaginative miniature displays throughout the castle and Peter Rabbit’s ‘muddy’ footprints as part of an enchanting trail across the estate. The annual Christmas Market is also a must see, held on the Cedar Lawn overlooking the Castle on December 3-4, 10-11, 17-18 and 22-23. With a nostalgic fairground that includes a Victorian carousel, a chance to meet their reindeer and birds of prey, and a wintery trail to the beautiful Santa’s grotto, you can keep the family happy while you check out the seasonal gifts, toys and decorations.
Stay at: Our nearest cottages are Manor FarmhouseLarkin Farmhouse, Larkin Cart and Larkin Oast.

8 A Truly Magical Christmas at the Rare Breeds Centre

Festive Kent Attractions: Christmas at the Rare Breeds Centre

A Truly Magical Christmas; image courtesy of the Rare Breeds Centre

When: December 3-23; selected dates
Where: Woodchurch, Ashford TN26 3RJ
Details: The famously festive Christmas grotto is a much-loved tradition here, complete with a few of the centre’s friendly farm animals to meet and stroke along the way. Meet Santa’s Elves and sing-along with the Naughty Snowman before a one-to-one chat (and gift) with the man himself. Your children will love interacting with the Peter Pan and his Adventures Christmas Panto, decorating Christmas biscuits and enjoying all the usual fun at the farm too. Check the website for times and booking details.
Stay at: Our nearest cottages are Larkin Farmhouse, Larkin Cart and Larkin Oast and The Heart of Rye.

9 Father Christmas at The Hop Farm

Festive Kent Attractions: Christmas at the Rare Breeds Centre

Father Christmas at The Hop Farm; image courtesy of The Hop Farm

When: December 3-23; selected dates
Where: Beltring, Paddock Wood TN12 6PY
Details: Father Christmas is back at The Hop Farm, Kent’s iconic and historic landmark. Treat the kids and meet him in his magical grotto, encounter his jolly Elves and enjoy his workshop with lots of fun Christmas activities taking place. From live entertainment to balloon modelling, early arrivals can even write their Christmas letter to give to Father Christmas in person. Please visit the website for booking details.
Stay at: Our nearest cottage is 1 School House Cottages.

10 Santa Specials

Festive Kent Attractions: Christmas at the Rare Breeds Centre

Santa Special; image courtesy of Spa Valley Railway

Details: It’s next stop Santa workshop as Kent’s railways gear up for the Christmas period, with their famous festive specials running from the beginning of December. Check out the Santa Specials on offer at the Spa Valley Railway, the Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway, the Kent and East Sussex Railway and the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. Availability is limited, so early booking is recommended – please see the individual websites for more details. Whichever experience you choose, we have a cosy cottage nearby!

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