Spending Christmas in Kent? Here are our 12 favourite things!
There is so much to look forward to about Christmas. For most, it’s the giving and receiving of gifts, carols on Christmas Eve, seeing family and, of course, a scrumptious Christmas lunch. But there are many other things to look forward to in the run up to the big day. To celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite things that the festive period brings.
1. Real Christmas trees
No matter what age you are, going out to get a Christmas tree is one of the festive season’s most exciting moments. Nothing can beat the smell of a freshly cut fir or spruce in your home, and the ritual of decorating your tree with tinsel, baubles and lights.
2. Local Kent Christmas Markets
We love Kent Christmas markets with their locally produced gifts and goods, their warm lights and the smell of mulled wine and sausages drifting on the cold air. Our favourites include the market at Leeds Castle and that at Whitefriars Shopping Centre in Canterbury. Both have traditional German market-style cabins with everything from wooden tree decorations to homemade candles for sale.
3. Christmas lights switch on
The Christmas lights switch on is a chance to get together with friends and celebrate the official start to the season. We’re especially looking forward to Folkestone’s ceremony, which also heralds the start of the Folkestone Book Festival. Taking place on Friday 17 November, the lights will be illuminated by best-selling author Tracey Chevalier.
Rochester is also promising an exciting switch on event on Saturday 18 November. Actress and presenter Claire Sweeney is doing the honours, and there will be family entertainment from 3.45pm.
4. Visiting Santa
Definitely one for the kids, although even as adults there’s something magical about taking the little ones to meet Santa himself. Our Christmas grotto 2017 pick is at the Hop Farm in Paddock Wood. Children not only get to meet Father Christmas and his elves in a fairy-tale grotto, they will also receive a gift and photograph, and listen to a story told by Mother Christmas.
5. Panto season
One of the most anticipated Christmas events in Kent is the annual pantomime. Fun for kids and adults alike, they’re sure to provide an evening of japes, songs and revelry all in the Christmas spirit. Ex-Eastender Michael Greco, who we fondly knew as Beppe, is the star of Aladdin in Tunbridge Wells’ panto at the Assembly Hall, while in Canterbury, Kent actor Shaun Williamson prepares for a barrage of boos and hisses as Captain Hook in Peter Pan.
6. Christmas cocktails
A festive party always requires some classic Christmas cocktails. Mulled wine is a perennial favourite, but there are lots of others out there that we love. A pomegranate rosemary spritzer makes an ideal aperitif before your Christmas feast, while a Christmas cosmopolitan – infused with ginger wine – is a warming welcome drink for the office party. Keep things sweet after festive meals with a creamy, Kahlua based coffee cocktail and for the non-drinkers, hot apple pie punch with aromatic spices is always a winner.
7. Ice Skating in Kent
When the weather turns cold it’s tempting to hide indoors with a roaring fire. But we find it’s also good to wrap up warm and enjoy it regardless, and that means a trip to a Kent ice rink.If you want to book in advance and not worry about the weather, an undercover rink such as the one at Dover’s Old Marine Station is a good choice. For the first time, Eastwell Manor is hosting a rink this year too. Visitors can skate in beautiful outdoor surroundings between midday and 7pm throughout December.
8. Winter walks
Nothing beats wrapping up and heading out on a crisp morning for an invigorating walk. Luckily, there’s no shortage of stunning countryside to ramble in around Kent. One of our favourite places to go is Sissinghurst Castle. With an estate spanning 450 acres, it’s a pretty location for a gentle stroll or a more energetic walk.
Alternatively, you can add in some heritage to your route and walk the Kent coastline, passing Dover, Deal and Walmer castles. There’s a lovely 10-mile route that introduces you to England’s most heavily fortified coast, with opportunities to stop for a snack or drink in one of the pubs along the way.
9. Christmas recipes
As a midwinter festival, Christmas calls for some hearty dishes that are sure to keep you going during the dark evenings. From turkey with all the trimmings to vegetable platters and delectable desserts, there are some fabulous Christmas food recipes to be found. Chestnut stuffing to accompany your roast is one of our favourites, as is a sumptuous chocolate pudding with piping hot custard or a serving of brandy butter.
10. Christmas wines
Of course, the food is only half the story; finding the perfect Christmas wines to complement your meal is also essential. We’d always recommend Champagne or Prosecco as a light and tasty aperitif, perhaps with a splash of crème de cassis to make it a Kir Royale. White wine drinkers can pair their Christmas turkey with a Chardonnay or Pinot Gris, while red drinkers will love a light and fruity Beaujolais or Pinot Noir to accompany dinner.
11. Christmas parties
There’s always at least one Christmas party to attend over the festive season and they often give us the chance to let our hair down a little. Whether it’s with the office or a sports or music club, a festive party is always great for getting into the seasonal spirit. Small company Christmas party ideas range from the traditional sit-down dinner to paintballing or indoor skiing, so why not get creative with your plans this year?
12. Romantic getaways
Many of us don’t get the opportunity for a romantic getaway very often, so taking one over Christmas is sure to be extra special. New Year’s Eve breaks in Kent offer all the ingredients for a perfect escape – beautiful countryside, cosy inns, historic attractions and fine dining.
To book a romantic getaway or Christmas party to remember, contact The Marquis at Alkham today.