Let it never be said that Kent doesn’t deliver the unexpected!
For us, festival season is so much more than music and food - it’s about celebrating passions, embracing your inner nerd and celebrating those quirky obsessions and curious hobbies that put a smile on your face. Whether you’re a dog devotee or a literary lover, check out our round up of some of Kent’s niche festivals below.
Leave the soot behind because Rochester's annual Sweeps Festival returns for 2022. This eccentric event recreates the laughter and joy experienced by the chimney sweeps on their one holiday day a year. With parades, live folk music, Morris dancing, food and drink stalls and so much more, this fabulous festival is sure to put a smile on the whole family's face. What’s more, with the festival’s big 40th celebrations cancelled in 2020 due to restrictions, this year’s event promises to be a memorable one!
"Who run the world? Girls!" For a generous dose of girl power head straight to the Isle of Thanet this March for the Power of Women Festival and Fringe; the area’s annual celebration of women and girls. Featuring art exhibitions, performances, talks and live music in the days around International Women’s Day, events are set to take place throughout Thanet, including in the main towns of Broadstairs, Margate and Ramsgate. Come along to enjoy art and performances by local, national, and international artists, take part in inspiring workshops, and discuss feminist issues. Alongside the main festival, the fringe festival features events programmed by local people and organisations. With something for everyone - including free events and art in public spaces - the whole family is welcome!
On the hunt for a new festival to add to your events calendar? This next recommendation might be just the thing! Introducing Ramsgate Through the Senses; a brand-new weekend festival designed to complement the Ramsgate Festival of Sound with a range of events to inspire each of your five senses. Creators Gemma Dempsey and Helen Emler have between them over 40 years of experience in hospitality, events, music, theatre, and radio production, so believe us when we say that these ladies know what they’re talking about! Featuring a fantastic array of activities and experiences, brought to you by brilliant chefs, artists, and practitioners, Ramsgate Through the Senses is guaranteed to activate the senses and inspire the soul!
Fall in love with literature all over again with a visit to the Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival, with three days of talks, performances and workshops. Take the chance to hear from esteemed writers like Nina Stibbe and Cathy Rentzenbrink, and radio legends Fi Glover and Jane Garvey, as well as prolific children authors like Michael Morpurgo keep the little ones entertained.
We’re pretty proud of our literary claims to fame here in the Garden of England. One of our most notable writers, Charles Dickens, visited Broadstairs in Kent regularly from 1837 until 1859 and immortalised the town as "Our English Watering Place". In 1937, to commemorate the centenary of the author's first visit, Gladys Waterer, the then resident of Dickens House, conceived the idea of putting on a production of David Copperfield and of having people about the town in Victorian dress to publicise it. Fast-forward 85 years and this June will see the annual Broadstairs Dickens Festival overflowing with costumed characters, fascinating talks, performances, and beach outings. So, get ready to don your best Victorian outfit and head straight to the Isle of Thanet for this Dickensian birthday bash!
This next festival is sure to really get those tails wagging! That’s right, Britain’s favourite dog show returns to the Garden of England this September, bringing with it plenty of treats for you and your fur-riends. With plenty of games and activities to sniff out – from flyball and agility to cani-cross and gundog scurries – you and your four-legged pals will be simply spoilt for choice. What’s more, this festival brings superb shopping and even dog-friendly camping to The Kent Showground in Detling. The paw-fect day out indeed!
Head to the Dockyard's 1940s family vintage festival this September and be transported back in time for a weekend of vintage delights! From vehicle parades, live music and entertainment, hundreds of re-enactment actors, live displays, air raid experiences to a range of open galleries and exhibitions, there’s loads to do for all the family. After all that exploring, you’re sure to be hungry and thirsty but fear not, there’s no rations at The Dockyard. Dig into some traditional Fish and Chips at The Mess Deck for dinner before testing your swing moves on the dance floor and dancing the evening away!
Canterbury Festival is a two-week extravaganza of the arts with an exciting array of performers, acts and activities – expect opera, folk, swing, classical, jazz, comedy, circus, theatre, science, cabaret, talks, family shows, visual arts and more. Taking place every October, this festival celebrates the joy of live performance, the heritage of our historic City and brings the people of Kent together. As an independent Charity the Festival works year-round to bring the very best in performance to the City - working with partners across Canterbury to present unique and inspiring experiences and develop emerging talent.
Sail straight towards this postcard-perfect spot on Kent's coastline, and buoy yourself up for two days of nautical fun at the Whitstable Boat Show. From 13th - 14th August, enjoy two family days out with free admission and access to: Dinghy racing in Town Sailing Regatta, RNLI & HM Coastguard Displays, Whitstable's historic oyster yawls & boatyards, Maritime Heritage exhibition, and family workshops. Plus, local artisans, artists and street food. We're sure this fabulous festival will float your boat...
With the abundance of quirky events happening all throughout the year, you may be stuck in a rut of how to get around the county and attend them all. No car? No problem. Southeastern railway, Kent's reliable train service, will take you to and from the festivals without trouble. There are a number of stations planted nearby most of the events, so you can travel around the county with ease.
Get into the festival fever with Stagecoach bus service, providing reliable transport around West and East Kent. Stagecoach have recently introduced an express route which gets you from Canterbury to Greenwich in just under two hours, stopping at a number of Kent's festival destinations including Chatham (a perfect route for the 'Salute to the 40's' event) along the way. With a number of discounted tickets and offers available, you can wave goodbye to hefty taxi fares and wallet strain as travelling just got a whole lot cheaper!