Family days out with the kids in Kent this weekend

by Ellis Stephenson

The countdown to Christmas has officially begun - so get out and make the most of it. Here's seven great family days out for this coming weekend...

1. Ice skating, BluewaterUntil January 72. Woodland Christmas Grotto, Tyland Barn, Sandling

Join in the Christmas fun at Kent's biggest shopping centre. There are seal skating aids for children and bob skates for those unsteady on the ice. New this year, are skating lessons, Friday party nights with kmfm DJs, baby and toddler mornings, ice parties and an after-school skate club. Prices are £9 for young children, £10 for juniors (13 to 16 years), £11 for adults or it's £34 for a family of four. For details go to

Bluewater has an ice rink
Bluewater has an ice rink

All weekend

Open from 11am to 3pm this Saturday and Sunday, the woodland themed grotto at Tyland Barn will give nature loving youngsters a festive treat. They can meet Santa and get a gift at the grotto but there's also plenty more going on at the centre to keep them entertained. Children need to be accompanied by an adult and visitors get a ticket which means they can pop in to see Santa any time during the 45-minute session they have been allocated.A visit costs £6. To book visit

3. Santa Special, Faversham Miniature Railway, Brogdale

Sunday, December 10

Take a winter ride around the only 9” gauge railway in the country open to the public, before being whisked to Santa’s temporary home away from the North pole. He’ll listen to all requests for this year’s presents, before handing out a small (and usually edible) present, for little ones. There may also be a mince pie and mulled wine for parents. Tickets need to be bought from the ticket office at Brogdale, Faversham, on Sundays between 11am and 4pm, and cost £3.50 per child. For details go to

Jump on board this weekend
Jump on board this weekend

4. Santa Experience, Coolings Green & Pleasant

All weekend

Be greeted by the elves, receive a free North Pole passport and then help them make presents in their workshop, before meeting the man himself. The Santa Experience runs from 9.15am to 4.25pm both days. A visit costs £12.50 per child. To book for the experience at Main Road, Knockholt, visit

The Santa Experience takes place all weekend at Coolings Green & Pleasant
The Santa Experience takes place all weekend at Coolings Green & Pleasant

5. Oh Yes It Is! Panto Exhibition, The Beaney, Canterbury

From now until Sunday, February 18

Ready to perfect your boos and hisses? Panto season may be in front of us, but its history is well and truly behind us. A new interactive exhibition celebrating the history of the very British institution comes to The Beaney in Canterbury throughout this winter. Drawing on one of the largest collections of pantomime-related material in the UK, it will feature posters, props, programmes and costume designs, the glitz, glamour and larger-than-life characters which have graced stages across the country through the ages.

Find out the history of the panto at The Beaney
Find out the history of the panto at The Beaney

6. Deer Trail, Knole Park, Sevenoaks

Until January 3

Young visitors can follow the trail and help Father Christmas deliver his presents through the courtyards and park – with a prize at the end. The trail costs £5 and is suitable for ages 10 and under. The deer trail runs daily between 11am and 3pm, but not Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Details at

Get to know the locals at Knole Park
Get to know the locals at Knole Park

7. Farmer Christmas, Broadditch Farm, Southfleet

All weekend

Climb aboard the tractor sleigh and journey into the enchanted wood to be met by an elf who will lead you to Santa’s cosy cabin. Once inside, young visitors will be able to hear Farmer Christmas read a festive story and get a present. Visiting times run every half hour from 10am to 3pm and its costs £10 per child, and £3 for an accompanying adult. Booking is essential at

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