Free rainy day attractions in Kent
You know what it’s like: the weather is wet and windy, the kids are driving you mad and you’ve already spent this month’s budget on Christmas presents.
We’ve got some great ideas for free days out in Kent where you can run for cover from the rain and enjoy some quality time with the family without breaking the bank…
The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, Canterbury
This free art museum is a great place to take the kids when the weather isn’t looking so great. From the natural collections of birds and butterflies to artefacts from all over the world, there’s plenty to see.
From Saturday, December 2, a new exhibition will open at The Beaney all about the art of storytelling. There will be stunning audio-visual pieces from 23 Kent-based artists, each with their own unique narrative and perspective.
Canterbury’s Christmas market will also be open from Friday, November 10 until Christmas Eve, so if the weather clears up you can browse the traditional festive huts, grab a tasty treat and admire the twinkling lights.
Details: The Beaney, in Canterbury, is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm, and Sunday 11am to 4pm. For more information, click here.
Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats, near Maidstone
While this adorable goat sanctuary does ask for optional donations on the door, it’s still a great place to visit if you’re looking for something to do on a budget.
If your kids are huge animal lovers, they can visit the 140 goats currently living at the sanctuary. The goats have been rescued from all over Kent, London and Sussex and are looking for new homes but, until they find someone to adopt them, they are waiting to say hello to visitors at the sanctuary.
You can even book an experience which will give you a chance to brush and walk with some of the goats along with one of the charity’s dedicated volunteers.
Details: Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats, in Boughton Monchelsea near Maidstone, is open Friday to Monday, 11am to 3pm. For more information, click here.
Eynsford Castle, near Dartford
Duck inside this Norman castle and explore a piece of Kentish history - although you might still want to bring an umbrella as this landmark is missing a ceiling.
The castle, which is nestled within the quaint village of Eynsford, dates back centuries and was abandoned after a dispute regarding its ownership in the 1300s.
The historic curtain wall still stands, at some points to its full original height, as do some remains of the hall building where those who once lived inside the castle would have gone about their daily lives.
Details: Eynsford Castle, near Dartford, is open daily from 10am to 4pm. For more information, click here.
Folkestone Harbour Arm
This year, this festive seaside marketplace returns with even more fun family activities.
Each day of the market - which has plenty of sheltered spots for rainy days - will see a new activity take place, such as outdoor film screenings, live music, snow blizzards and traditional carol services, all of which are free.
There’s also a variety of street food vendors and Christmas gift stalls if you do feel like treating yourself or your loved ones.
Details: Folkestone Harbour Arm is open Friday, from 4pm to 8pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 6pm, from Friday, November 17 to Christmas Eve. For more information, click here.
Fort Amherst, Gillingham
Download the app and follow the Fort Amherst Quest to discover 20 acres of green space, tunnels, ditches, cannons and soldiers’ quarters. As you explore the site, you can find the 10 checkpoints and solve the puzzle to be entered into a prize draw.
But that’s not the only thing you can do while you visit this Napoleonic fort. There’s also a nature trail, talks and lectures, wartime re-enactments and children’s workshops during the school holidays.
Details: Fort Amherst, in Gillingham, is open daily from 8am to 7pm. For more information, click here.
Guildhall Museum, Rochester
This 17th century museum is part of not only Kent’s architectural history but also its literary history. The building was used as a courtroom and council chamber in the 1600s and, in this capacity, was featured in Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations.
Once inside the museum, you can see paintings of Medway’s notable figures, admire historic artefacts and explore the Making of Mr Dickens gallery.
The new gallery documents the writer’s journey from his childhood in Rochester and Chatham to his legacy as one of Britain’s most celebrated authors.
Details: The Guildhall Museum, in Rochester, is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. For more information, click here.
Kent Mining Museum, Deal
Explore Deal’s East Kent coalfield that was in operation for almost 100 years. Find out what it was like to live and work as a miner and learn all about the county’s history when it comes to the mining industry.
The museum features underground exhibitions, historical artefacts and outdoor spaces at the surrounding Betteshanger Park if the sun does decide to come out.
Entry to the museum is completely free, however donations are optional at the door and some activities are priced separately.
Details: The Kent Mining Museum, in Deal, is open from Wednesday to Sunday, 9.30am to 4pm. For more information, click here.
The county town museum, which underwent a refurbishment earlier this year, is now open and bursting with fascinating exhibitions and displays.
With more than 600,000 artefacts and specimens from around the world, including fine art, natural history, costumes, geology and Ancient Egypt, there’s something for everyone. There are also children’s craft workshops during the school holidays.
Details: The Maidstone Museum is open Wednesday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm. For more information, click here.
Turner Contemporary, Margate
This free art gallery is one of the most well-known in the county and has a number of celebrity fans, from Tracey Emin to Kate Moss.
There are currently several different exhibitions and galleries open to the public that will intrigue and entertain visitors of all ages.
In The Offing by Mark Leckey is a group exhibition detailing where the land meets the sea and includes a selection of different musicians. The Oh Dreamland exhibition, which coincides with Mark’s work, is a playful dreamscape designed for young people to enjoy.
Details: Turner Contemporary, in Margate, is open from Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm. In the Offing and Oh Dreamland exhibitions are open until Wednesday, January 24. For more information, click here.
Westwood Cross, Broadstairs
If you need to do some Christmas shopping but don’t want the kids to get bored, a visit to Westwood Cross could be a great way to spend a rainy day.
Over the next couple of months, this shopping centre will be putting on a number of festive activities for free. There’s the Christmas lights switch-on on Friday, November 17 where pop groups Liberty X and East 17 will be performing and there’s also the Christmas market, which opens with the lights switch-on and continues until Christmas Eve.
There will also be chances to meet Father Christmas and pick up festive treats such as Bavarian sausages and sugary doughnuts.
Details: Westwood Cross, in Margate, is open Monday to Thursday, 9.30am to 7.30pm, Saturday 9.30am to 6.30pm and Sunday 10am to 4pm.